Stress has a negative effect on day-to-day behavior and cognition. Face-to-face social interactions often induce feelings of social support, which works to counteract the negative effects of stress. However, it is unclear if virtual interactions offer the same benefits as face-to-face interactions. This study explores the relationship between perceived stress levels and their effect on perceived social support and working memory functioning. We also explored how mood is affected by stressful experiences. Participants engaged in a laboratory stressor, where participants submerged their hand in cold water, to elicit an appropriate stress response. After the stress task, participants engaged in a supportive imagined interaction and completed a working memory task. We found that an imagined virtual interaction does not induce feelings of social support when compared to a control condition. We also saw no significant difference in positive or negative affect after the supportive interaction and no effect on working memory performance. Our findings suggest that imagining supportive interaction is not an effective way to induce feelings of social support and does not increase positive affect after experiencing a stressful event.
Perry, Erin, "An Investigation on the Effects of Virtual Social Support on Working Memory and Stress" (2014). Honors College. 156.