Issues of gender effects, consistency, and assessment in coping



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Texas Tech University


Based on an overview of the current literature regarding stress and coping, there appear to be several areas in need of further research. One is the relation between psychological distress and coping. Another is the basic question of whether people rely consistently on a limited nimiber of coping strategies or whether they are more likely to use a variety of coping strategies depending upon the characteristics of the problem situation. Finally, there is still much we do not know about gender differences in coping with regard to the above-referenced issues. The current study assessed undergraduate students' perceptions of their overall coping style (i.e., dispositional coping) and asked them to describe actual problems they have experienced in various situations (i.e., job-related, interpersonal, academic, and physical problems). Also assessed were participants' appraisals of those situations and the specific coping strategies they reported using to deal with each problem. Coping was assessed using the Coping Strategy Indicator (Amirkhan, 1990). General mental health functioning was assessed using the Mental Health Inventory (Veit & Ware, 1983). Participants' reported dispositional coping styles were most similar to the coping behaviors they reported using to deal with interpersonal problems, especially for women. Men and women reported using problem solving strategies to a consistent degree across problem domains. Women reported more flexibility in coping than men. No relation was noted between psychological distress or well-being and coping flexibility. Contrary to previous research, no consequential gender differences in mental health were noted. There were no significant gender differences in problem solving or avoidance; however, women reported significantly higher levels of dispositional support seeking coping than men. Avoidance was negatively correlated with mental health. These findings are discussed.



Adjustment (Psychology) -- Sex differences, Stress management -- Sex differences