Perceived social support, received social support, and depression among clergy


We argue that perceived support is best conceptualized more as a measure of how an individual appraises his/her situation rather than a true reflection of how much support he/she receives. To test this theory, we used survey data from the Clergy Health Initiative Panel Survey to examine the relationship between perceived and received social support and their association with depressive symptoms in clergy (N ¼ 1,288). Overall, analyses revealed perceived support had a weak association with received support. Greater perceived support had a significant relationship with lower depressive symptoms. In contrast, greater received support had only a small relationship with lower depressive symptoms, which was fully mediated by perceived support. Our results raise questions about the effectiveness of many clergy social support interventions, which often aim to boost the quality and/or quantity of received social support. We suggest it may be more advantageous to boost perceptions of social support, possibly through cognitive reframing or positive mental health interventions.

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships