Using a sample of volunteers, we examine whether providing and receiving emotional and instrumental support is associated with self-esteem and mastery. Drawing from social psychological theories of social exchange, we also assess the psychological effects of over-benefiting, under- benefiting, and reciprocal support exchanges. We use data from the Social Support from Peers: Mended Hearts Visitors Study. The sample is comprised of volunteers for Mended Hearts, a national and community-based organization. We find that giving emotional support was associated positively with self-esteem. Reciprocal instrumental support exchanges were associated positively with self-esteem and mastery. This study draws attention to the importance of social support for maintaining the psychological well-being of those who give generously of their time through volunteering.

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