Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (Gregory Zimet, English)
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About Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support
The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) is a brief research tool designed to measure perceptions of support from 3 sources: Family, Friends, and a Significant Other. The scale is comprised of a total of 12 items, with 4 items for each subscale. My colleagues, Nancy Dahlem, Sara Zimet, Gordon Farley, and I (Gregory Zimet) first published on the MSPSS in the Journal of Personality Assessment in 1988.
Across many studies, the MSPSS has been shown to have good internal and test-retest reliability, good validity, and a fairly stable factorial structure. It has been translated into many languages, including Urdu, Hebrew, Tamil, Danish, Farsi (Persian), French, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Hausa, Norwegian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Slovene, Malay, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Thai. For linguistically-validated translations, consider using TransPerfect.
To calculate mean scores: Significant Other Subscale: Sum across items 1, 2, 5, & 10, then divide by 4. Family Subscale: Sum across items 3, 4, 8, & 11, then divide by 4. Friends Subscale: Sum across items 6, 7, 9, & 12, then divide by 4. Total Scale: Sum across all 12 items, then divide by 12.
Other MSPSS Scoring Options:
There are no established population norms on the MSPSS. Also, norms would likely vary on the basis of culture and nationality, as well as age and gender. I have typically looked at how social support differs between groups (e.g., married compared to unmarried individuals) or is associated with other measures (e.g., depression or anxiety). With these approaches, you can use the mean scale scores.
If you want to divide your respondents into groups on the basis of MSPSS scores there are at least two ways you can approach this process:
- You can divide your respondents into 3 equal groups on the basis of their scores (trichotomize) and designate the lowest group as low perceived support, the middle group as medium support, and the high group as high support. This approach ensures that you have about the same number of respondents in each group. But, if the distribution of scores is skewed, your low support group, for example, may include respondents who report moderate or even relatively high levels of support.
- Alternatively, you can use the scale response descriptors as a guide. In this approach any mean scale score ranging from 1 to 2.9 could be considered low support; a score of 3 to 5 could be considered moderate support; a score from 5.1 to 7 could be considered high support. This approach would seem to have more validity, but if you have very few respondents in any of the groups, it could be problematic.
Permission and Reference
The MSPSS is free to use. Please simply credit the following paper (and any others that are relevant), if you use the scale:
Zimet GD, Dahlem NW, Zimet SG, Farley GK. The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Journal of Personality Assessment 1988;52:30-41.
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