Provision of Invisible Support: the Other Side of the Coin


  • C. König
  • U. Scholz
  • S. Ochsner
  • N. Knoll
  • G. Stadler
  • R. Hornung


Social support, which is unnoticed by the receiver (i.e., invisible support) seems to be most beneficial for the receiver`s well-being. The provider`s perspective has rather been neglected so far. This study sheds light on how invisible support is related to the provider`s well-being. Around a self-set quit attempt we examined 106 smokers and their non-smoking partners, assessing their smoking-related received and provided support to determine the degree of invisible support. In addition, the partner’s relationship satisfaction and three weeks after the smoker’s quit attempt the partner`s positive and negative affect were assessed. Invisible support was negatively related to partners’ positive affect. Relationship satisfaction moderated the relation of invisible support and negative affect: For partners with higher relationship satisfaction more invisible support was related to less negative affect, while for partners with lower relationship satisfaction no such association emerged. The study`s results emphasize that invisible support might have emotional costs for the provider. Relationship satisfaction seems to serve as a protective factor.