Definition Of Social Support

This chapter provides a review of previous and current finding on social support definition, social support in education, decision-making definition, factors influence decision-making. Subsequently, this chapter will discuss conceptual framework which become the basis of the research.


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There are many definitions of social support that can be found in the literature. In early studies, social support definedas interpersonal relationship of person that might affect to psychological and social functioning (Caplan, 1974). Social support can also be identified as information that are accepted from others who loved, valued, esteemed, and cared for (Cohen & Wills, 1985; Shumaker & Brownell, 1984).

Interms of pyschology, Folkman and Lazarus (1988), believed that person who had a good relationship with family and peers are more resilient when faced with problems in their lives and likely to cope more effectively with life’s adversities and experience positive adjustment and mental health outcomes. Thus, it can be justified that social support first originates from members of an individual’s family and then from one’s peers.

Recently, social support definition more emphasize on the importance of perception. For example, Demaray and colleagues (2005) defined social support as an individual’s perception that he or she is loved and valued by people in his or her social network. Meadows (2007), identifies social support as beliefs and/or perceptions that indicate an individual is part of an interpersonal relationship that includes parents and peers. However, Davison et al, (2000) believe that social support talks about the person needs for support with close others and provide it when others experience distress. In addition, social support might provide a person with a forum to share and deal a wide range of issues.

Thus, the concept of social support has been defined in various ways. Some studies on social support conceptualized it as the existence of interpersonal relationships (structural support) and the functions served by such interpersonal relationships (functional support). On the other hand, social support defined as an individual’s perceptions of specific or generalsupport (emotional, informational, appraisal, instrumental) from people in theirsocial.


When people are young, most social support is likely come from parents and family, but when they grow older naturally their networks of social contacts become expand. It can be seen that when children attend schools, they social relationships develop in and around schools with teachers and peers. Social support is an important element in students’ life. However, social support is to be one of the factors that might influence students’ academic achievement. In addition, social support provide a sense of trust, confidence, and psychological safety that allows students to take risks, admit error, ask for help, and experience failure along the way to higher levels of learning (Coleman, 1988).

Researchs demonstratethat there are relationship between social support and academic achievement of the students. According to Wentzel (1998), parental support can positively influence students to engage in the process of learning, to feel satisfied and competent, and to receive positive evaluations. However, students who have a good friend in school show increased levels of pro social behavior and academic achievement (Wentzel, McNamara, & Caldwell, 2004; Steinberg & Darling, 2005). Thus, social support from both family and friends influence students’ educational achievement and long-term educational plan.

According to Brooks and Goldstein (2001) that students are more likely to succeed in aschool environment where they can identify at least one supportive adult who knows andcares for them. However, parents have a great deal ofinfluence in students developing in terms of resilience, low self-esteem,self-doubt, and a less hopeful outlook. Students who feel loved and respected by their parents are more ableto navigate their way, more tolerant, more compassionate, andmore able to take responsibility.

Safree and adawiah (2009) have conducted a study on 120 undergraduate university students to measure the social support of low and high achieving students. They found that students with high social support tend to perform well in their academic as compared to students with low social support. Whereby, Wentzel (1998) studied about motivation at school and found that the parents, peers, and teacher were positive predictor for students. However, the parents support included on school-related interest and goal orientations, the peer support on pro-social goal pursuit, and the teacher support on both of interest.

Parents Support

There were several studied that have been investigated about parents could influence their children achievement. Previous studies believed that parents play a significant role in providing academic support for children. The researchs documented that there was positive relationships between parents and educational outcomes for children (Richman et al., 1998; Chen & Stevenson, 1995). The parent support included intellectual aspect such as guiding their children homework, discussing the academic matters, providing cognitive stimulation resource such as books, computers, and courses (Bright, 1995; Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994).

Some people argued that parents support are essential for children only, but when children grow up it does not has effect at all. Studies found that supportive relationships with parents are essential not only for children, but also for teenagers, as they enable them to deal successfully with developmental tasks, amongst which are school tasks. More specifically, parental support contributes to improved academic outcomes (Domagala-zysk, 2006), and decreased dropout rates (Teachman, Paach, & Carber, 1996). In contrast, lack of support from parents causes problems behaviors (Domagala-zysk, 2006; Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch 1991). A study has been conducted in Poland found that students who succeeded at school reported getting nearly twice as much emotional support from their mothers and fathers than those who failed (Domagal-zysk, 2006).

The results of Domagala-sysk (2006) study showed that teenagers mostly wanted to be given emotional support such as help in dealing with personal problems, praise, and encouragement, motivation to do well at school, advice, and love. Thus, it is important to point out that studies have shown the social support from parents plays a role in positive outcomes for children and adolescents.

In opposite, some studies have found that there is no significant relationship between parent support and student achievement (Anderson & Keith, 1997; Fan & Chen, 2001). a study believes that students’ perceived parental involvement in indirectly way, they affected students achievement through inner resources such as self perceived cognitive competence (Grolnick et al., 1991; Wentzel, 1994). Malecki and Demaray (2006) found that no significant relationship between social support and grade point average for students who are from higher socioeconomic status, there were moderate and significant relationships among social support scores and grade point average for students with lower socioeconomic status. Thus, the study attempts to identify parent support effect on students decisions and tries to relate it with their achievement.

Peers Support

It is a popular belief that support for adolescents comes mainly from peers, middle and high school at risk students perceive their parents and teachers as their primary sources of support. As students move from childhood to adolescence, there is anincreasing reliance on peers for social support that relates to adjustment, academic and psychosocial functioning and a positive school experience (Demaray & Malecki, 2003; Levitt, Crooks, Hodgetts, & Milevsky, 2005; DeSantis King et al., 2006). Research found that social support from peers could positivelycontribute to students’ academic achievement as well as to their social lives and adjustment (Natvig et al., 2003). Students who receive support from peers are more engaged in academic and social-responsibility goals and report a morepositive school experience (DeSantis King et al., 2006). Those students who do not receive peer social support are at risk forpoor adjustment (East et al., 1987).

Regarding to motivation influence, students’ activities such as extracurricular had a positive for peer interactions. Dollete et al (2004) reported that motivation influence come up toward student activities. The study showed that who’s the activity did not follow with strong of positive peer relationship, the motivation influence could be in the lower levels. Thus, peer relationship has a big deal on motivation influence among students.


Many people make decisions in their life. The decision making process is known as the most complex mechanisms of human thinking. Decision making might be known as the process of selecting an alternative in order to accomplish a desired result. There are alternatives of choices to be considered, and in such a case a person wants not only to identify as many of alternatives as possible, but also to choose the best of objectives, desires, and values (Harris, 1980). Thus, it can be concluded that decision making is about a process of making choices among the options.

However, students have to make decisions that are important for their future. A study found that students’ make decisions are sometimes made with impulsivity, emotionalism, risk-taking, and sensation-seeking, without fully understanding the nuances of their decisions orhaving sensitivity to the consequences (Reyna & Farley, 2006). On the other hand, the college students do not fully understand the consequences that involved in their decisions until some point in the future. Decisions that make during younger years usually happen without consideration of future consequences, and it can erupt into full-blown established patterns contributing to life-long negative outcomes (Slovic, 2000).


The decisions that people make could be affected by several factors. The factors that affect the process of decision making might also affect the decision outcomes. Juliusson, et al (2005) believes that past experiences can impact future decision making. If the result from past decisions were positive, people are more likely to decide it again with similar situation. While, if people have mistakes when make decision on their past, they will avoid it (Sagi & Friedland, 2007). Thus, it indicates that past experiences could be one of factors that affect individual decisions.

Bruin et al (2007) and Stanovish and West (2008) noted that age, cognitive biases, and individual differences are factors that might influence decision making of person. In addition, cognitive abilities and socioeconomic status also could be impact decision making (Finucane, Mertz, Slovic, & Schmidt, 2005).

In terms of age, De Bruin et al (2007) claim that older people are more confident for making decisions, they more have ability to apply strategies when make decisions compared to young people. Sometime people likely to make a decision when they believe it was alright for them. Thus, the belief in personal relevance could influence decision making (Acevedo and Krueger, 2004).

However, decision making on students side might be influenced by various factors, which are external and internal. Specific external factors influencing the process include parents, siblings, peers,counselors and other significant high school personnel, and college and university communication. Internal factors, or characteristics of the students themselves, that sway the decision-making process are the student’s socioeconomic status, level of educational aspiration, and academic achievement (Joseph & Joseph, 2000; Mazzarol & Soutar, 2002).

In addition, the parental involvement in student decisions can be critical in the role of family. Previous study indicated that parents go through a similar process as their children during the selection of decisions process and define their attitudes similarly to their children (Reynolds, 1981). However, several cases found that parents influence on students choice. For example, study found that although there are several influences to college choice (parents, friends, teachers, and counselors) that have varying levels of influence, the extent of that influence varies from person to person (Berdie & Hood, 1966).

When college students move away from home for the first time and are free of parental restrictions, they sometimes make decisions, which are risk behaviors; it is caused due to peers involvement. The risk behaviors that students decide to attend such as drug use (Clayton, 1992), heavy drinking (Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2006), binge drinking (Wechsler, Davenport, Dowdall, Moeykens, & Castillo, 1994), unprotected sex (Eaton, et al., 2006). It can be conclude the parents and peers have role on students’ decision and it could affect on students life. However, the study attempts to analyze parents and peers influence on decision making of students and related to their achievements.


Based on social support effects, this study lays down a number of variables as predictors of decision making and academic achievement of university students. This study concentrates on social support influence on decision making and in relations to academic achievement.

The predictor variables, which become the focus in this study is social support involvement on students’ daily life especially when students make a decision. Those who have high level of social support involvement are likely to affect their decision making and to perform well in academic. On the other hand, those who have low level of social support involvement are less likely to affect their decision making also less perform in academic.

Social support in this study is postulated to act as a moderator variable in the relationship between decision making and academic achievement. As mention before, studies found that social support could influence decision making and also academic achievement (Hayes, 1989;Wentzel, 1998; Joseph & Joseph, 2000; Brooks &Goldstein, 2001; Mazzarol&Soutar, 2002). However, some of these studies have been conducted in different context and population. For this study will be conducted among university students.

Thus, the present study will be conducted to investigate the effect of decision making on academic achievement among university students. The relationship between these two variables might be moderated by social support. The comparison will be made between low and high achieving groups of students in terms of decision making and social support.


Based on the literature review, the following hypotheses are generated:

H1: Social support will moderate the relationship between decision making and academic achievement.

H2: Decision making will correlate with social support influence.

H3: Decision making will correlate positively and negatively with students’ achievement.

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