Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Paul E. Spector, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael T. Brannick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer K. Bosson, Ph.D.


workplace help, social support, strain, unhelpful support, job stressor


While support is generally a helpful resource for employees, support can also serve as a job stressor. Unhelpful workplace social support (UWSS) is any action taken by a supervisor and/or colleague that is intended to benefit another worker but is perceived as unhelpful or harmful by the recipient. A series of three studies identified types of UWSS, developed a measure of UWSS, and established a nomological network of variables related to UWSS. In Study 1, critical incidents were collected from 116 employees, and a content analysis revealed 11 distinct categories of UWSS. A measure of UWSS was developed in Study 2, and a nomological network of variables related to the construct was examined using responses from 176 employees. Results demonstrate that UWSS is associated with higher negative affect, lower competence-based self-esteem, lower coworker satisfaction, higher work-related burnout, higher organizational frustration, and higher physical symptoms (e.g., headache, nausea, and fatigue) among recipients. Study 3 replicated the findings using data from 496 registered nurses to mitigate the chances of reporting Type 1 errors. Together, the studies demonstrate that unhelpful workplace social support is a meaningful job stressor worthy of further investigation.