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Dynamics of a stressful encounter: Cognitive appraisal, coping, and encounter outcomes

Dynamics of a stressful encounter: Cognitive appraisal, coping, and encounter outcomes,10.1037//0022-3514.50.5.992,Journal of Personality and Social P

Dynamics of a stressful encounter: Cognitive appraisal, coping, and encounter outcomes   (Citations: 814)
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Despite the importance that is attributed to coping as a factor in psychological and somatic health outcomes, little is known about actual coping processes, the variables that influence them, and their relation to the outcomes of the stressful encounters people experience in their day-to-day lives. This study uses an intraindividu al analysis of the interrelations among primary appraisal (what was at stake in the encounter), secondary appraisal (coping options), eight forms of problem- and emotion- focused coping, and encounter outcomes in a sample of community-res iding adults. Coping was strongly related to cognitive appraisal; the forms of coping that were used varied depending on what was at stake and the options for coping. Coping was also differentially related to satisfactory and unsatisfactory encounter outcomes. The findings clarify the functional relations among appraisal and coping variables and the outcomes of stressful encounters. The recent burgeoning of research on coping is indicative of a growing conviction that coping is a major factor in the relation between stressful events and adaptational outcomes such as depression, psychological symptoms, and somatic illness (e.g., Andrews, Tennant, Hewson, & Vaillant, 1978; Baum, Fleming, & Singer, 1983; Billings & Moos, 1981, 1984; Collins, Baum, & Singer, 1983; Coyne, Aldwin, & Lazarus, 1981; Felton, Revenson, & Hinrichsen, 1984; Menaghan, 1982; Mitchell, Cronkite, & Moos, 1983; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978; Schaefer, 1983; Shinn, Rosario, M0rch, & Chestnut, 1984; Taylor, Wood, & Lichtman, 1983; Vaillant, 1977). This new body of research is characterized by an interest in the actual coping processes that people use to manage the demands of stressful events, as distinct from trait- oriented research, which focuses on personality dispositions from which coping processes are usually inferred, but not actually studied (e.g., Byrne, Steinberg, & Schwartz, 1968; Gaines, Smith, & Skolnick, 1977; Kobasa, Maddi, & Courington, 1981; Kobasa, Maddi, & Kahn, 1982). A critical difference between the trait-oriented and the process- oriented approaches is the significance given to the psychological and environmental context in which coping takes place. In the trait-oriented approach, it is assumed that coping is primarily a property of the person, and variations in the stressful situation are of little importance. In contrast, the context is critical in the process-oriented approach because coping is assessed as a re- sponse to the psychological and environmental demands of spe- cific stressful encounters. However, although coping processes are usually assessed contextually, with few exceptions (e.g.,
Journal: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology - PSP , vol. 50, no. 5, pp. 992-1003, 1986
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