Mixed messages: implications of social conflict and social support within close relationships for adjustment to a stressful life event

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 Jun;72(6):1349-63. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.72.6.1349.


The authors examined the impact of women's perceptions of negative (conflict) and positive (support) exchanges with their mothers, partners, and friends before having an abortion on negative (distress) and positive (well-being) indexes of adjustment after the abortion. Preabortion conflict and support from the partner predicted postabortion adjustment in the same affective domain: Conflict uniquely predicted distress, whereas support uniquely predicted well-being. Within-source interactions were observed between support and conflict from mothers and friends. Women who perceived high support from their mothers or friends were more distressed if they also perceived them as sources of high conflict than if they perceived them as sources of low conflict. Among women who perceived their mothers or friends as nonsupportive, no relationship was observed between conflict and distress. Cross-source buffering was not observed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Life Change Events*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Social Support*