Nov 16, 2020  |   2 minute read

Perceived Social Support | MSPSS

Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS)

Recommended frequency: Every 4 weeks


The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (“MSPSS”) is a short instrument designed to measure an individual’s perception of support from 3 sources: family, friends and a significant other. This instrument is 12 questions long and has been widely used and well validated. Some research has identified high levels of perceived social support as being associated with low levels of depression and anxiety symptomatology.

Psychometric Properties

Across many studies, the MSPSS has been shown to have good internal and test-retest reliability, good validity, and a fairly stable factorial structure.



The Scale

We are interested in how you feel about the following statements. Read each statement carefully. Indicate how you feel about each statement.

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To calculate total score: Sum across all 12 items. This total score can also be calculated as a mean score (divide by 12).

To calculate the mean subscale 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.

Note that 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.

To divide respondents into groups on the basis of MSPSS scores, 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. Note that Greenspace has not calculated a mean score (dividing the total score by 12 questions), and as a result the response scale ranges from 12 to 84 (as opposed to 1 to 7).

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Copyright Information

Zimet GD, Dahlem NW, Zimet SG, Farley GK. The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Journal of Personality Assessment 1988;52:30-41.