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The Paradox of Support: The Impact of Emotional and Practical Support On Physiological Stress
Stress is a major contributor to conflict and when people are stressed, they are more prone to negative emotions, mistrust, and reduced empathy which makes resolving conflict challenging. An effective way to alleviate stress is by receiving support from others. However it is unclear which types of support, practical or emotional, are more effective at alleviating stress in highly demanding interactions. Thus, this study aimed to examine the effects of practical versus emotional support on individuals' physiological responses to stress (p = .047). One hundred forty undergraduate students participated in the study, and results showed that participants in the emotional support condition experienced a better stress response, while those in the practical support condition experienced a worse response. The study highlights the impact individuals can have on the stress levels of others, which has important implications for how we can help others effectively manage conflict.