Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology: Clinical-Counseling Psychology

First Advisor



This thesis reports the results of a research project that investigated the causal effects of the frequency of affective processes on ratings of emotional distress of a simulated online post. Second, this research investigated whether the levels of affective processes within the simulated online post influence the levels of affective processes within a natural support response. Lastly, the research explores the influence of positive-emotion words and insight words within simulated supportive responses on ratings of effective emotional support.

Four-hundred and forty-two undergraduate and graduate students were randomly assigned to one of twelve experimental conditions. Simulated posts with low frequencies of positive-emotion words and high frequencies of negative-emotion words were associated with higher ratings of emotional distress and lower ratings of ability to cope.

When participants were asked to provide a supportive response, there was an interaction effect of positive-emotion words within the response for the post with a high level of positive-emotion words and low level of negative-emotion words. Lastly, in the third purpose, high levels of positive-emotion words within the supportive response were associated with higher ratings of the effectiveness, helpfulness in alleviating distress, and greater success in making the poster feel better.

These findings provide support for the influence of emotion on the perception of coping resources, as well support for online experimental research of affective processes. These findings suggest that individuals are likely to reinforce positive disclosure on the Internet with high levels of positive-emotion words. Lastly, positive-emotion words are associated with effective support, suggesting that these words may be seen as promoting resiliency and coping resources.


Imported from ProQuest Biehl_ilstu_0092N_10181.pdf


Page Count


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Psychology Commons