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Friendliness and perception of social support

Friendliness and perception of social support

student and to examine the relationship between friendliness and social support. A total of 120 participants aged between 17 to 24 years was surveyed. The participants are local college student (n=30 males and n=30 females) and out-of-state college student (n=30 males and n=30 females) from the Sunway University College. The instrument used to gather the data are Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) (Zimet et al., 1988) and Friendliness-Unfriendliness Scale (SACRAL) (Reisman & Billingham, 1989). It is found that local student received more social support as compared to out-of-state student. Moreover, a very significant positive relationship was also found between friendliness and total perceived social support.

Students these days face difficulty in college or even university as it is hard for them to adapt to new environment, subjects and also friends, hence it will be difficult especially for the international student to adjust themselves in another country due to so many factor that can affect their level of stress as compared to the local students (Mista, Crist & Burant, 2003). However, researchers (e.g. Cohen & Wills, 1985; Baron and Kenny, 1986), noted that social support helps to buffer stress.

As defined by Lahey (2007, p.510), social support is a form of support given by any family members and friends given that they advise or lend a hand to an individual whom needs reveal their personal feeling. Cohen (1982) categorizes social network, perceived social support and supportive behavior under social support, where the three categories are inter-related such that perceived social support is defined as “perceived social support refers to the function of social relationship as the perception that social relationship will (if necessary) provide resources such as emotional support or information” and “supportive behaviours refer to the mobilization and receipt of behaviors intended to aid persons in the face of stressful events” (p.109). In addition, Demaray and Malecki (2002) defined perceived social support as a type of “general support or specific supportive behaviors” from any of their friends, family or relatives given that they may help to buffer the unpleasant feeling or emotion of an individual.

Researchers for this study, defined local student as student who are brought up by their parents or guardian and live in the state of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia whereas, out-of-state student is to be define as the student who are brought up in other states in Malaysia (excluding Selangor and Kuala Lumpur) or student who are from other country also known as international student but studying in Malaysia.

As for friendliness, it is defined by Reisman (1983) saying that “friendliness is a construct or dispositional tendency or attitude that implies kindliness, cordiality, and goodwill” (p. 405). Reisman also added that friendliness is also “a belief or feelings that people have about themselves, as well as to overt behaviors, such as smiling, greeting, and cooperating”(p. 406).

Past research, Misra, Crist and Burant (2003), found that International students whom are studying in American universities faces more problem such as adjusting and getting use to a new environment. The international student feel stressed up and uncomfortable for example, they have to adapt new culture and even new subject. At the same time, they also have workload that needs to be complete within a time period therefore this also causes stress. Therefore a study was carried out with a total sample of 143 participants whom are students from Africa, Asia, Middle East and America and it was found that social support do help buffer stress.

Social support can act as a buffer for in many aspects. According to Demaray and Malecki (2002) social support is said to become an important role in student’s life because it is found that “students with low perceived support obtained significantly higher scores on problematic behavior” (p. 238). It is also noted by Rodriguez et al. (2003), that a person can be influence strongly by anyone that is not a family member of that person as it has been verify by research. However, it is proven that individual with social support will be able to deal with their unpleasant situation better than those individual who do not have social support (Rodrigeuz et al., 2003). In addition, social support is also important to buffer stress for college student (Cohen & Wills, 1985)

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Nonetheless, opposing opinion was stated in Taylor et al. (2004) that it is more beneficial for social support which are not make use of rather than social support that are being utilized due to the result found by Wethington and Kessler (as cited in Taylor et al., 2004) that “perceived social support was a stronger predictor of adjustment to stressful life events than received support” (p. 355). Another result was found by Boron and Kenny (1986), indicating that the level of stress is affecting an individual social support that is received.

At the same time, friendliness is also related to well being (Gill, 2008) when a place have more friendly people a children well being can be improve and through that the children will receive more social support. In addition, friendly people will gain more support as seen in Sullivan (1999), shows that friendly student will be able to blend in a group and help each other and provide support. Besides, Berndt and Perry (1986) also found that friendship helps when an individual is in a stressful situation and social support from friends is gain.

This present study will look into which group of student: local student and out-of-state student will receive more social support and also to study from who the social support is receive from: family; friends; significant other. According to Eker, Arkar and Yaldiz (2000) the term ‘significant other’ is defined as “somebody outside one’s family and friends (e.g. fiancé (e), boy/girlfriend, relative, neighbor, doctor). Simultaneously, friendliness will also be analyze with social support to examine whether is there a significant relationship between friendliness and social support.

Hypothesis

The first hypothesis for this study is local student receive more social support as compared to out-of-state student. The second hypothesis for the study is there is a positive relationship between friendliness and social support.

Method

Study Design

Survey design consists of two types of method which are questionnaire and interview. However questionnaire was picked to conduct the survey instead of interview because the research involves a large number of participants. The questionnaire consists of two types of scale; Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) (Zimet et al., 1988) and Friendliness – Unfriendliness Scale (SACRAL) (Resiman & Billingham, 1989). For the first hypothesis, the dependent variable is perceived social support and the independent variable is the type of student; local student or out-of-state student. Whereas for the second hypothesis, the dependent variable is friendliness and the independent variable is social support.

Participants

A total number of one hundred and twenty students from the Sunway University College were surveyed (refer to Table 1). The participants comprised of 60 males and 60 females. For each gender, 30 students are local student and another 30 are out-of-state student. The students surveyed are 17 years old to 24 years old (M=19.39, SD=1.34) (not shown in table). Most of the participants are Chinese with a total percentage of 62.5% whereas 10.8% are Malay, 7.5% are Indian and 19.2% are others. However, the highest percentage for the religion is Buddhist with a percentage of 45.0%. Whereas the percentages for each of remaining religion of the participants are 14.2% Muslim, 26.7% Christian, 5% Hindu and the remaining 5% are others. The highest educational level achieved by most of the students is secondary school and diploma or equivalent with a percentage of 25.8% and 45%, whereas 28.3% had achieved a bachelor degree or equivalent and only 0.8% had achieved a postgraduate degree (master/doctoral level). Students were selected to be the participant for this survey because the research is studying about local students and out-of-state students therefore out-of-state students comprise of international student or student from other states in Malaysia besides Selangor and Kuala Lumpur and the local student are those who are raised up in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

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Table 1

Demographics

Demographics

Number

Valid percent

Gender

Male

Female

60

60

50.0

50.0

Hometown

Local

Out-of-state

60

60

50.0

50.0

Race

Malay

Chinese

Indian

Others

13

75

9

23

10.8

62.5

7.5

19.2

Religion

Muslim

Buddhist

Hindu

Christian

Others

17

59

6

32

6

14.2

49.2

5.0

26.7

5.0

Highest level of education achieved

Secondary School

Diploma or equivalent

Bachelor degree or equivalent

Postgraduate degree (Master/doctoral level)

31

54

34

1

25.8

45.0

28.3

0.8

Note. Percent are calculated using SPSS.

Measurement

The measurements used to measure perceived social support in this study is Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) which was design by Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet and Farley in 1988 where scores are obtained from a 7-point Likert scale beginning with 1 for disagree very strongly to 7 for agree very strongly . This scale contain 12-item that measures three types of perceive social support from family, friends and significant other. For family, it has four item that are item 3, 4, 8 and 11, whereas friends has seven items which are item 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 12 and for significant other, it has 4 items but three item are the same item for friends which are item 1, 2, 5 and 10. Every item is summed up by itself and each total are then divided among the number of items it consist. Lastly, the score obtain will show the level of perceived social support, thus a higher score obtained shows that more perceived social support gain. Zimet et al. noted that MSPSS has good test-retest reliability and known to have an outstanding scale due to its constant alphas (0.91) overall and the subscales tend to have alpha ranging from 0.90 to 0.95. Since it has a achieve a good reliability therefore, the validity for construct validity is at the same level as the reliability, whereas both factorial and concurrent validity is also excellent when it is associate “with depression and with degree of coronary artery disease in type A patients (inverse correlation)”.

The second type of measurement used is Friendliness – Unfriendliness Scale (SACRAL) (Reisman & Billingham, 1989). SACRAL is used because it measures friendliness as related to self-concept, accessibility, rewardingness, and alternation and also unfriendliness. As for this scale, it is made up of 20-item instrument out of 40-item since friendliness is rather complicated to be measure since it associate with one particular person skills and beliefs and it is able to distinguish between high-SACRAL and low-SACRAL through the sum of the scores. It is divided into four different subscales that comprise of self-concept, S (item 1, 5, 9, 13, 17), accessibility, AC (items 2, 6, 10, 14, 18), rewarding, R (items 3, 7, 11, 15, 19), and alienation, AL (items 4, 8, 12, 16, 20). To obtain the friendliness scores, all four subscale item are added up together. Moreover, item 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, and 19 has to be score differently because they are in positive direction, so if 0 and 1 are rated, it will be 0. Whereas for the other item, reverse scoring will be done, so if 3 and 4 are rated, it will be recoded as 0 instead.

Reisman (1983) noted that, the reliability of SACRAL “may obscure in information and the prudence of maintaining subscale scores is supported” after being tested with coefficient alpha. However, the study done by Reisman for concurrent validity, shows that there is an agreement of 81% concerning the “friends in the direction of endorsement of the items, which is to say that on about 8out of 10items one friend correctly indicated whether the other agreed or disagreed”. According to Reisman and Billingham for the construct validity, “94% agreement rate between subjects’ SACRAL scores and the assessment of raters of subject responses in a laboratory setting”.

Procedure

This study is assign as a group research and 120 questionnaires were divided among six of the group member. Each and every member approaches approximately 20 students in Sunway University College. Convenience sampling a type of non-random sampling (Mcburney & White, 2007, pp. 257) is used because the participant needed are students therefore it is easy and simple for the data to be collected since we are studying in a college where we can approach to the participant easily and it also not time consuming. Besides, the student approached were generally in the college cafeteria, foyer and the library, which mean the students are having their breaks, so they will have time to answer the questionnaire.

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First of all, a consent form is given to each of the participant to allow them understand about the research conducting by our group, to know roughly how long will it take up their time to answer the questionnaire and to inform them that their personal information will be kept private and confidential then it come along with a set of questionnaire that consist of 12 social support item and 20 item that measures friendliness. A demographic form is enclose together with the questionnaire that contain personal information like age, gender, ethnicity, education level achieved, religion and hometown. After filling up, the questionnaires are collected from the participant to be analyzed.

Result

The aim of the t-test analysis is to help measure whether local student perceived more social support or vice versa. T-test is used because it analyzes on one categorical variable and one continuous variable plus t-test is also used because the independent variable for the first hypothesis is a two level independent variable. In addition, it also determines whether there is a statistically significant difference for both the variable (Pallant, 2007, p. 232). As for the Correlation analysis, it will determine whether there is a positive or negative relationship between the two variables and its strength (Pallant, 2007, p. 126). Hence, this fits for the second hypothesis since the research is to find out about the relationship between friendliness and social support.

Using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) data analysis program to test on both t-test and correlation coefficient for the two hypotheses, the results obtain are shown in Table 1 and Table 2. From the t-test analysis (refer to Table 2), the result shows the total amount of perceived social support received by both local student (M = 5.46, SD = 0.96) and the out-of-state student (M = 4.94, SD = 1.06). The result achieve is significant as hometown affects the total social support received by the local student and out-of-state student, t (118) = 2.81, p ≤ 0.01. The only variable that was found no significant difference is the social support from family. Hence, hometown do not significantly affect students social support from family, where the mean of local student vs. out-of-state student is 5.45 vs. 5.12, t (118) = 1.50, p ≥ 0.05.

However, significant difference was found between local student and out-of-state student (M = 5.44, SD = 1.05 and M = 4.85, SD = 1.09) for social support from friend. This shows that hometown significantly affect students’ social support from friend, t (118) = 3.06, p ≤ 0.01. Thus, local student receive more social support from friends as compared to out-of-state student. As for social support from significant other, it is found to be significantly different also. It is showed in Table 2 that hometown significantly affect students’ social support from significant other as the mean obtain for out-of state student (M = 4.92, SD = 1.35) is lower than the mean for the local student (M = 5.42, SD = 1.26) and the t-value is as follow, t (118) = 2.08, p ≤ 0.01. Therefore, more social support from significant other is received by local student instead of the out-of-state student.

Table 2

Local Student and Out-of-state Student Perceived Social Support from Family, Friend, and Significant Other

Variable

T

df

Hometown

Out-of-state

Social Support from family

1.50

118

5.12

(1.34)

Social support from friend

3.06**

118

4.85

(1.09)

Social support from significant other

2.08**

118

4.92

(1.35)

Total perceived social support

2.81**

118

4.94

(1.06)

Note. ** = p ≤ .01 Deviations appear in parentheses below means. Standard

The results for correlation analysis are shown in Table 3. It is observed that there is a very significant relationship between friendliness and total perceived social support at r = .303, p ≤ 0.01 and according to Cohen (as cited in Pallant, 2007, p. 132) friendliness and total perceived social support has a moderate positive relationship. This means that the friendlier the students’ are, the more perceived social support. A coefficient determination is also obtained which is 9.18per cent of variance being shared. Therefore, friendliness affects about 9.2 percent of the variance found in perceived social support.

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As for friendliness and the subscale of social support from friend and from significant other, it is found that both subscales have a very significant relationship with friendliness (refer to Table 3). Therefore, the Pearson correlation coefficient (r) for friendliness and social support from friends is r = .367, p ≤ 0.01 and for friendliness and social support from significant other is r = .338, p ≤ 0.01, meaning that there is a moderate positive relationship between friendliness and social support from friend and also between friendliness and social support from significant others. Besides, it also tells that the more friendly one is, the more social support is received from friend and significant other. Despite the fact that, there is no significant relationship between friendliness and social support from family at r = .1.26, p ≥ 0.05.

Table 3

Pearson Correlation of Perceived Social Support and Friendliness

Variable

Social Support from Family

Social Support from Friend

Social Support from Significant Other

Total Perceived Social Support

Friendliness

.126

.367**

.338**

.303**

Social Support from Family

.544**

.557**

.801**

Social Support from Friend

.902**

.932**

Social Support from Significant Other

.896**

** p ≤ .01 (2-tailed)

Discussion

The main purpose of this study is to investigate whether local student receive more social support than out-of-state student. At the same time, the study also examines the relationship between friendliness and social support. The results that have been analyze indicates that the local student receive more social support from friend and significant other as compare to out-of-state student. But the unexpected finding was for the social support from family as it is not significant, this is comparable with Misra, Crist and Burant where they. From the result, assumption such that local student have the advantage to receive more social support because local student can easily adapt to their own country culture whereas it will be slightly more difficult for the student from out-of-state Similar prediction was achieve by Yue and Thao (2007).

From the findings, it shows that out-of-state student receive lesser social support from friends and also lesser social support from significant other compare to local student. This result was also obtained by Demaray and Malecki (2002) showing that the Native American student perceived lesser social support while the ethnic student receive higher social support. Hence, the first hypothesis, local student receives more social support as compared to out-of-state student is accepted. The result is accurate because of the reliability and validity of the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) used in the survey.

The correlation test indicate that there is a very significant positive relationship between friendliness and social support and this means the friendlier one is, the more social support is gain. Similar result can see in Sullivan (1999) research. The benefit of this study is that every subscale is analyzed and a very significant result are attain for both social support from friend and significant other. The reliability and validity of the Friendliness – Unfriendliness scale (SACRAL) also contribute to the strength of the study. Thus, the second hypothesis, that there is a significant positive relationship between friendliness and social support is accepted.

The limitation of present study is that the data collected is a small sample size only, thus the study is less likely to be accurate since the amount for each local student and out-of-state student and gender are controlled which it will give 30 subject for each hometown and gender. Besides, another limitation is that the number of year out-of-state student have been leaving in Selangor or Kuala Lumpur, where they might have gotten used to the environmental and may be their family live in a nearby state or country, which is now very easy n convenient to travel back n fro. Hence, the student might feel that they have enough social support.

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Nevertheless, future study is to help find ways to make the study a better one is that collect a larger sample, try collecting data from a wider range and use random assignment instead of convenience sampling. Besides, the number of year the student have been in Malaysia should be place in the demographic form, so that we can tell how long the out-of-state student have been living in Malaysia and that variable can be control.

In conclusion, both hypothesis are accepted, as a significant result is obtain and the mean shows that local student receive more social support than out-of-state student. Plus, a very significant positive relationship is found between friendliness and social support. Hence, the more friendly the individual the more social support is gain by the individual. The research should have include the number of year an individual have been living in Malaysia, so that the limitation can be remove and the result achieve will be more accurate.



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