Benefits of daily support visibility versus invisibility across the adult life span

Brittany K. Jakubiak, Brooke C. Feeney, Rebecca A. Ferrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Amid growing disagreement about the benefits of visible and invisible support, we tested daily associations among support visibility and changes in individual and relational well-being in young adult newlyweds (Study 1) and older married couples (Study 2). To extend past research, we assessed emotional and practical support visibility in 3 contexts (context-general, stress-related, and goal-related) each day. In both samples, reporting context-general or goal-related support receipt predicted increases in personal and relational well-being day-to-day. Further, direct comparison between visible and invisible support days revealed relative personal and relational benefits associated with visible support days. In contrast, reporting stress-related support receipt was related to decreases in personal well-being in both samples, despite increases in relational well-being. This relative personal benefit associated with invisible stress-related support is consistent with past work showing benefits of invisible support for people experiencing major stressors. The current research highlights the need for a nuanced approach to understanding support visibility. Although invisible support may be preferable to protect self-efficacy and prevent distress in some situations (high stress or stressor-related support contexts), its benefits may be less wide-ranging than originally thought. In nonstress contexts and for relational outcomes, visible support may instead prove advantageous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1018-1043
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Close relationships
  • Invisible support
  • Life span
  • Social support
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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