First Advisor

Cynthia Mohr

Term of Graduation

January 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type





Interpersonal Capitalization, Military Veterans, Partner Support, Positive Support

Physical Description

1 online resource ( pages)


Prolonged stress, a pervasive experience in the United States, has been linked to numerous adverse outcomes (Mayo Clinic, 2019). The workplace commonly operates as a source of chronic stressors (Colligan & Higgins, 2006), in fact 25% of Americans find their job is the most stressful part of life (NIOSH, 2021). This tendency is particularly true for military veterans, who reliably experience elevated stress and burnout (Smith et al., 2017) and low job satisfaction (Teclaw et al., 2016). Inspired by the pervasiveness and seriousness of the chronic stress issue, the current study addresses chronic stress in a veteran sample by examining the stress-protecting effects of social support. Whereas social support has traditionally been conceptualized as providing aid when a person is in need, I advocate the need for research on more positive forms of social support, in this case capitalization support (CS). Capitalization entails the sharing of positive news; the effectiveness and enthusiasm of the partner’s response to the positive news determines support received (Gable et al., 2004). Thus, the current study investigated the effects of CS, as a form of positive social support, on experiencing workplace stress among separated service members (i.e., veterans) who work in civilian organizations. Specifically, I examined veterans’ rated CS, measured to capture the degree to which they felt that their romantic partner was responsive to their capitalization attempts.

Based on functional models of social support (Cohen & Wills, 1985), I hypothesized a direct effect of CS on stress, such that CS would be negatively related to subsequent perceived stress (controlling for baseline perceived stress). Second, I examined whether veteran CS acts as a buffer against job demands on their psychological stress as described by the stress-buffering model of Cohen and Wills (1985). This hypothesized buffering relationship is based in part, on modern arguments for the inclusion of personal resources as buffers in the Job-Demand Resources Model (Bakker et al., 2023). Specifically, I anticipated that these personal resources (in the form of CS) act as job resources to both directly prevent and buffer against job-related stress (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007).

To examine these research questions, I conducted a secondary data analysis of data collected in the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe), which recruited veterans from civilian workplaces in Oregon. The participants (N = 160) were veteran military service members (SMs) and had previously served active-duty in various branches. As part of this longitudinal study, veterans completed a 32-day Internet survey of job demands and CS, which were aggregated to capture mean levels of job demands and CS. Perceived stress measures were assessed at baseline, prior to the daily survey, and again at 3-month follow-up. Data analyses revealed support for the hypothesized direct effect, in which higher CS was associated with veterans' lower perceived stress. However, the hypothesized stress-buffering effect of CS was not supported. Implications to theory and application, most notably to inform interventions, are discussed. Present findings support the examination of CS as a form of social support which reduces stress directly.


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