Graduate Program

Clinical Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Steven J. Scher


The current study set out to examine how adolescents perceive social support from their peers, parents, and teachers and how this relates to depression. This study used the critical incident technique to gather open ended descriptions of incidents that participants identified as being the most socially supportive and non-supportive behaviors. Participants identified encouragement, concern, teaching, economic support, non-economic support, attendance, listening compassionately, advice, consoling, advocating, and prayer as the socially supportive behaviors they received from others. They identified criticism, ignoring, neglect, deterrence/discouragement, favoritism, inappropriate discipline, and distrust as the socially non-supportive behaviors. Parents displayed more encouragement, consoling, economic support, non-economic support, and attendance. Peers displayed more encouragement, consoling, economic support, attendance, listening compassionately, concern, advocating, and prayer. Teachers displayed more advice and teaching as types of support. In regards to the impact of depressive symptoms being present, teaching, economic support, and non-economic support were all identified as being supportive behaviors that participants with some depressive symptoms identified with, while neglect and ignoring were non-supportive behaviors that depressed participants identified with. In total we did find that depressed people tend to find emotionally based types of support like encouragement, listening compassionately, and attendance more supportive due to participants with no depressive symptoms present reporting these behaviors more. Participants displaying some depressive symptoms reported receiving types of support like teaching, economic support, and advices, which are less emotionally, based which can suggest that less emotionally based types of support do not protect against the development of depressive symptoms. Explanations for the results and future areas of research are discussed.