Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Social Support for Behavior Change (An Informative, If Not Sexy, Title)

We all know that our friends help us out when we want to change our behavior.  The support of friends can make the difference between success and failure.  Support comes in four flavors and we may not be able to find all of them in one person.

Perhaps the most obvious form of support is emotional support.  People who give us this kind cheer us on.  They listen when we complain about eating kale (again) or celebrate with a nice sparkling water when we report we lost that stubborn five pounds.

Then there are the people who give us instrumental support.  No, not by accompanying us on the piano while we work out.  These are the people who drive us to the gym or lend us a yoga mat or give us weights for Christmas.

Other people help us out by giving informational support.  This is a sneaky category because it sometimes hides people who are not all that supportive.  They provide “helpful” advice that tears us down.  Real informational support comes from knowledgeable people who really want what is best for you.  Think nutritionists, trainers, doctors, and knowledgeable friends.

Finally, some people give appraisal support.  These are the folks who give you feedback.  They say things like, “You’re almost there!” or “You skipped the fries!  Good on you!”

We need all those kinds of support.  Who’s on your team?

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