Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology, Applied

First Advisor

Siamak Movahedi

Second Advisor

Emmett Schaefer

Third Advisor

Milton Butts, Jr.


This study examines the role of cultural and social structural factors in shaping the pursuit and avoidance of support-seeking, as well as help-seeking attitudes and behaviors. This research builds upon other cross-cultural sociological and psychological studies of social support, and entailed a mixed methods research project, with two survey instruments containing both open and closed ended questions. I interviewed 41 respondents, students at UMass, Boston, from Italian, African American, Dominican, and other Hispanic ethnic backgrounds. This was a cross-sectional study that included collecting data about perceived and received support, as well as detailed information about each participant's social support network. The results did show some evidence of cultural differences in help-seeking, and supported the importance of assimilation forces and exposure to American culture in shaping the respondents avoidance of support-seeking, regardless of specific ethnic background. While, socio-economic status did appear to be especially important in shaping the use of social and instrumental and substance abuse coping strategies, the limitations in the sample and project made it difficult to determine the role of socio-economic status in other areas of support-seeking. The qualitative data in particular supports the common experiences of being stigmatized in shaping how non-white minorities select supporters and define notions of support.


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