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The role of personality and situation factors in three modes of coping : emotion-focused, problem-focused,… O’Brien, Teresa Byrd 1992

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THE ROLE OF PERSONALITY AND SITUATION FACTORS INTHREE MODES OF COPING:EMOTION-FOCUSED, PROBLEM-FOCUSED, AND RELATIONSHIP-FOCUSEDbyTERESA BYRD O'BRIENB.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1977A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESClinical PsychologyWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standard.THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch, 1992© Teresa Byrd O'Brien, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.Department of PsychologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThis study provides preliminary work in elucidating andmeasuring interpersonal dimensions of coping. It has beenassumed that a two-function model of coping adequatelydescribes the structure of coping (i.e., problem-focused andemotion-focused coping). However, this study suggests athird function of coping, "relationship-focused," which isaimed at the maintenance of relationships. Factor analysisof data obtained on 270 undergraduates supports a three-function model. One of the major contributions of thisstudy is the development of a relationship-focused copingscale, which has sound psychometric properties and highinternal reliability.As well, the influences of personality and situationfactors on coping were examined. In general, bothpersonality and situation factors contributed to theprediction of coping, thereby supporting a process-orientedapproach to the study of coping. Personality dimensionswere most potently related to the emotion-focused copingmodes of positive reappraisal, accepting responsibility, andescape-avoidance; whereas, situation factors were morestrongly related to the use of relationship-focused copingand planful problem-solving. In support of a transactionalmodel of the stress process, when the situational context ofthe stressor was considered, personality was an importantiipredictor of relationship-focused coping, confrontativecoping, and planful problem-solving. Collectively, theseresults suggest that a more sophisticated model of copingwhich includes interpersonal dimensions of coping andconsiders personality and situation factors in tandem isneeded to increase the predictive ability of current models.iiiACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI wish to gratefully acknowledge my supervisor, AnitaDeLongis, as one of my most articulate and compassionatementors. The enthusiastic collaboration that we haveenjoyed has greatly furthered both my academic and personalevolution. I also wish to acknowledge Del Paulhus andDimitri Papageorgis for their most helpful suggestions andassistance with this study. As well, I wish to acknowledgeJanet Werker, whose exuberant fascination with her workinitially inspired me to pursue an academic career.Moreover, I wish to acknowledge my husband, Ron Pound,whose constant nurturance and affection carried methroughout this endeavor, and my family and friends, whohave been a steadfast source of support and inspiration.This research was made possible by grants from theMedical Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciencesand Humanities Research Council of Canada.ivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract 	 iiAcknowledgements	 iiiOverview 	 1Background, Significance, and Theoretical Perspective 	 5Cognitive-Transactional Perspective 	 5Issues in the Measurement of Coping 	 8Methods of Coping Measurement 	 8Conceptualizations of Coping:Trait or Process' 	 13The Role of Personality and Situation Factorsin Coping 	 16The Role of Personality in Coping	 16The Role of Situation Factors in Coping	 23The Interpersonal Context 	 25Relationship-Focused Coping 	 35Hypotheses 	 47Structure of Coping	 47The Role of Personality and Situation Factorsin Coping 	 48The Influence of Situation Factors in Coping	 49The Influence of Personality Dimensionsin Coping	 52Person-Situation Interactions in Coping	 54Methods 	 57VviResults 	 62The Structure of Coping 	 62Scoring Method for Coping Measure 	 65The Role of Personality and Situation Factorsin Coping	 67Descriptive Findings 	 67Correlational Analyses 	 69t-Test Analyses 	 75Multiple Regression Analyses 	 77Discussion 	 89Conclusions 	 112Footnotes 	 118References 	 119Tables 	 131viiIndex of Tables 	 1311. Situational Contexts of Stressors	1332. Factor Loadings of Relationship-Coping Items 	 1343. Intercorrelations: Raw Score Coping Scales	1354. Mean Proportions of Total Coping 	 1365. Mean Personality Scores 	 1376. Intercorrelations: Personality Dimensions	1387. Correlations between Coping andPersonality Dimensions 	 1398. Correlations between Coping andSituation Factors 	 1409. Correlations between Situation Factors andPersonality Dimensions 	 14110. Correlations between Relationship-FocusedCoping and Social Desirability 	 14211. t-Tests 	 14312. Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for bySituation Factors 	 14413. Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPersonality	 14714. Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPerson-Situation Interactions 	 150viii15. Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Relationship-Focused Coping	 15316. Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Confrontative Coping 	 15417. Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Planful Problem-Solving 	 15518. Multiple Regression Analyses: Specific Hypothesesabout Interactions of Personality and SituationRelationship-Focused Coping 	 15619. Multiple Regression Analyses: Specific Hypothesesabout Interactions of Personality and SituationConfrontative Coping 	 157OVERVIEWThe current zeitgeist has focused primarily on thecognitive aspects of stress and coping and has given littleattention to the role of interpersonal factors in the stressand coping process. With the notable exception of theliterature on social support, relatively little is knownabout interpersonal dimensions of stress and coping. Theforemost objective of this study is to increaseunderstanding of interpersonal dimensions of stress andcoping, and thereby extend the predictive ability of currentcognitive models of stress and coping. This researchaddresses two central issues.First, the structure of coping is examined. It hasbeen assumed that a two-function model of coping adequatelydescribes the structure of coping (c.f. Lazarus & Folkman,1984): active management of the situation (problem-focusedcoping) and emotion regulation (emotion-focused coping).However, a third function of coping has been posited byDeLongis and O'Brien (1990), relationship-focused coping,which is aimed at maintaining social relationships in theface of stress. DeLongis and O'Brien have argued thatsuccessful coping involves not only solving the problem(problem-focused coping) and managing negative emotionsgenerated by the stressor (emotion-focused coping), but alsoinvolves maintaining one's interpersonal relationships1(relationship-focused coping) during stressful periods,particularly when stressors impact the family or some othersocial unit.For this study, two scales were developed to assess thecognitive and behavioral dimensions of this relationshipmaintaining function (empathic coping and supportprovision). These scales were added to the Ways of Copingscale (WOC) (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), which assessesproblem-focused and emotion-focused modes of coping. Aprincipal components analysis was done to determine whetherrelationship-focused coping dimensions are indeed separablefrom problem-focused and emotion-focused dimensions ofcoping.The second issue addressed in this research is theextent to which particular person and situation factorsinfluence coping. Hypotheses were derived from Lazarus'stransactional model of the stress process (e.g., Lazarus &DeLongis, 1983; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), which suggeststhat coping behavior in a given situation should bepredictable from a consideration of both person andsituation factors.A growing body of evidence indicates that theinterpersonal context may be one of the most importantsituational determinants of coping (see DeLongis & O'Brien,1990, for a review). Nevertheless, few studies haveexplicitly contrasted interpersonal and noninterpersonalcontexts to examine their situational influence on coping2(Rook, 1990). Therefore, one goal of this research is todevelop a better understanding of the distinctive role ofthe interpersonal situation in coping. To do this,interpersonal and noninterpersonal contexts have beencompared to determine whether and to what extent theinterpersonal context differentially influences coping.As well, the influence of personality on coping overand above that of situation factors has been evaluated. Inlight of the recent studies providing evidence for the roleof personality in coping (e.g., Bolger, 1990; Endler &Parker, 1990), it was expected that personality would be asignificant predictor of coping. However, consistent with atransactional model of the stress process (Lazarus &Folkman, 1984) and with an interactional model ofpersonality (Endler, 1983; Endler & Edwards, 1986), it wasalso expected that the effects of personality will, in part,depend upon situation factors. To address this possibility,interactions between personality and situation factors havebeen analyzed via hierarchical regression analyses todetermine if they contribute unique variance to theprediction of coping over and above that accounted for bypersonality and situation factors considered separately.This research utilizes undergraduate respondents in across-sectional correlational design, in which respondentswere asked to complete a series of questionnaires assessingpersonality, stressful situations, and coping. It isrecognized that the design of this study does not permit3causal inference, but this research is seen as anexploratory first step in testing my formulations and inexamining the psychometric properties of the newrelationship-focused coping scales. It is hoped that thispreliminary work will identify promising relations betweenvariables that can be programmatically investigated infuture, more costly, longitudinal studies which will permitcausal inference.4BACKGROUND, SIGNIFICANCE, AND THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVECognitive-Transactional PerspectiveThe past few decades have witnessed a burgeoninginterest in coping and its role in adaptation (c.f. Moos,1986) that extends across numerous disciplines, includinghealth psychology, social psychology, developmentalpsychology, personality psychology, clinical psychology,community psychology, medical sociology, and socialepidemiology. The current zeitgeist in the field of stressand coping is primarily working within and building upon thecognitive-transactional model of stress and coping put forthby Lazarus and his colleagues (c.f. Folkman, Lazarus,Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986b; Folkman, Lazarus,Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986a; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Thecognitive-transactional perspective depicts the person andthe environment as "being in a dynamic, mutually reciprocal,bidirectional relationship" (Folkman et al., 1986a, p. 572).This framework specifies two dominant constructs, cognitiveappraisal and coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), as beingcritical mediators in the stress process and crucialdeterminants of both immediate and long-term adaptation.The first construct--cognitive appraisal--refers to theway that the individual evaluates the situation and assessesits personal significance. According to the transactional5model, when assessing a situation, the individual initiallymakes a primary appraisal, asking what is at stake in thissituation. The answer to this question is thought toinfluence the intensity and quality of emotions felt aboutthe situation (Folkman & Lazarus, 1988). Evaluating theimplications of the situation, the individual perceives itas stressful if harm has been experienced or is anticipated,or if obstacles must be overcome to ensure a positiveoutcome and failing to do so could result in harm. Next, asecondary appraisal is made as the individual evaluates theoptions and resources available to deal with the situation.The second construct--coping--refers to cognitive andbehavioral efforts to manage demands that are appraised asexceeding or taxing personal resources and as havingrelevance to the individual's well-being. Two primarycoping functions have been identified in previous research(Folkman et al., 1986a; Folkman et al., 1986b; Folkman &Lazarus, 1980; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984): active managementof the situation (problem-focused coping) and emotionregulation (emotion-focused coping). In terms of problem-focused coping, seeking information, direct action, planfulproblem-solving, and interpersonal confrontation have beenidentified as ways of coping which are directed at alteringthe stressful situation itself. In terms of emotion-focusedcoping, avoidance, denial, wishful thinking, and positivereappraisal have been delineated as modes of coping whichare directed at regulating negative emotions engendered by6the stressful situation. Research suggests that moststressors elicit both functions of coping (c.f. Folkman &Lazarus, 1980; 1985); however, problem-focused forms ofcoping tend to be used more often when the stressfulsituation is appraised as being amenable to change, andemotion-focused forms of coping tend to be used more oftenwhen the situation is perceived to be unalterable (Folkman &Lazarus, 1980).To assess problem-focused and emotion-focused modes ofcoping, Lazarus and his colleagues have developed a self-report measure, The Ways of Coping Scale (WOC), which hasbecome the most widely used coping measure. In its currentversion, it contains 67 items that describe a broad array ofcognitive and behavioral strategies that people use tomanage stressful situations. Previous factor analyses haveyielded eight factors or modes of coping that the scaletaps: confrontative coping, distancing, self-control,seeking social support, accepting responsibility, planfulproblem solving, and positive reappraisal (Folkman et al.,1986b). One limitation of this measure is that it containsvery few items that tap coping strategies used to deal withinterpersonal aspects of stress. For example, the use ofempathy has been identified as being an important dimensionof coping with interpersonal conflicts (Beach, Sandeen, &O'Leary, 1990). However, this dimension is not tapped bythe WOC or other existent standard measures of coping.7Issues in the Measurement of CopingMethods of Coping Measurement Driven by an intensifying interest in the role ofcoping in adaptation, a proliferation of research aimed atidentifying important dimensions of coping has ensued.Pursuant to these efforts, a wide variety of coping measureshave been put forth (e.g., Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub,1989; Endler & Parker, 1990; Jalowiec, Murphy, & Powers,1984; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; McCrae, 1984; Moos, Cronkite,Billings, & Finney, 1983; Stone & Neale, 1984).Spawned by these increasing attempts to characterizecoping dimensions, numerous issues in the measurement ofcoping have surfaced. For example, controversy concerningthe efficacy of differing methods for the assessment ofcoping has sparked discussion in the literature. Threeprimary self-report methods have been used to assess coping:1) asking the respondent to describe what was done to copein a completely open-ended fashion (e.g., Shinn, Rosario,Morsh, & Chestnut, 1984), 2) asking the respondent tochoose from a short list of broad abstract categories thetype of coping that was employed (e.g., Stone & Neale,1984), and 3) asking the respondent to endorse thestrategies used in dealing with a particular stressfulencounter from a checklist containing a wide array ofspecific cognitive and behavioral coping strategies (e.g.,.8Carver et al., 1989; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). There areadvantages and disadvantages connected with the use of eachof these self-report methods.Although capable of gleaning rich phenomenologicalaccounts of coping processes, the open-ended method carriesclear disadvantages, which include individual differences inverbal fluency, recency effects which could lead respondentsto preclude strategies employed in the beginning and middlephases of the stressful encounter, and the daunting andlabor intensive challenge of converting qualitative datainto quantitative form. With this method, extensive time isrequired initially in the training of raters andsubsequently in having them make multiple ratings. Inaddition, the open-ended method may suggest to therespondent that the researcher is looking for a consistentstyle of coping (Tennen & Herzberger, 1985) and therebylimit the range of strategies articulated.The broad category method possesses the advantage ofbrevity and allows respondents to essentially code their owndata by permitting them to choose the category to which theythink their strategies belong (Tennen & Herzberger, 1985).However, this method does not allow for the generation ofempirically determined dimensions of coping. Therefore,with the broad category method, researchers may be limitingtheir findings to those modes of coping that are ofparticular theoretical interest to them. It is also9plausible that this method may tap the subjects' owntheories about how they cope more than their actual coping.The most widely used broad category coping measure(Stone & Neale, 1984) employs the categories of distraction,direct action, situation redefinition, catharsis,acceptance, seeking social support, relaxation, religion,and a miscellaneous "other" category in which respondentsare asked to report any strategies that do not fit into theother eight categories. There are a number of potentialproblems with using this method of measuring coping. Mostimportantly, there may be immense individual differences inthe ability to think abstractly about coping responses(spurred in part by varying levels of education and verbalfluency). Indeed, a great deal of evidence suggests that"there may be little or no direct introspective access tohigher order cognitive processes" (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977,p. 231), and hence subjects may be "telling us more than wecan know" (p. 231). By asking subjects to report onprescribed higher order abstract categories of coping,researchers are inviting subjects to interpret what they doin a manner that fits within the framework of the proposedcategories. As well, respondents may perceive that theresearchers are primarily interested in the eight prescribedmodes of coping and therefore limit their responses toconform with this perception. Moreover, the Stone and Nealemeasure employs a yes-no format to indicate use of aparticular coping mode. This response format does not offer1 0information as to the extent of usage available in othermeasures which employ a Likert scale (e.g., Lazarus &Folkman, 1984) for respondents to indicate the extent ofusage for each item (e.g., a response scale ranging from notat all to a great deal).In contrast, the checklist method permits respondentsto choose from a wide array of cognitive and behavioralcoping strategies, thereby increasing the likelihood thatthey will be able to recall and endorse many differingstrategies used to cope with the stressor. This methodenables underlying dimensions of coping to be derivedempirically. As well, the factor structure of a particularscale can be investigated across many different populationsto ascertain the stability of the coping dimensions acrossdiverse populations. Further, this method allows forstandardization and thereby permits investigators to compareacross samples specific coping thoughts and acts utilizedand to assess their effectiveness within particularpopulations facing varying stressful encounters.One disadvantage to this method is that, even thoughrespondents are given a number of coping strategies tochoose from, important dimensions of coping may be missed ifitems are not included that tap them. Another disadvantage,mostly felt by researchers using repeated measure designssuch as the daily diary methodology (DeLongis, Hemphill, &Lehman, in press; DeLongis & O'Brien, 1989), is that thesechecklists tend to be too lengthy for use in these studies.11Despite these disadvantages, the checklist method ofmeasuring coping is the most extensively used method forcollecting data on coping.Whether open-ended, broad category, or checklist, allof these methods share the methodological problems inherentin self-report data, including problems of memory,retrospective falsification, possible response contaminationengendered by a desire to appear socially desirable or otherresponse sets, and language ambiguity (Lazarus & Folkman,1984). Further, all these methods may be prone to problemsof method variance because the method of measurement mayhave a marked effect on the contents of the findings and thevariance observed. These findings may not extend to othermethods of measuring the same concepts (Lazarus & Folkman,1984).Despite these shortcomings, there are clear benefits tousing self-report measures and concomitant costs involved inusing other types of data. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) arguethat "people are extraordinarily capable of revealing richpatterns of thought and feeling through language" (p. 322).They note that all other sources of data, includingphysiological indices, face the same dilemmas regarding thevalidity of making inferences about psychological processesfrom the data obtained. Lazarus and Folkman also point outthat collecting observational data concerning coping (eithercarried out by the investigator or gained from a significantother) is virtually impossible. It is usually not12logistically feasible to follow around an entire populationthrough the course of a stressful circumstance. Even if itwere possible to collect such data, it is exceedinglydifficult (if not impossible) to infer covert cognitivecoping strategies from mere observation. Consequently,despite the shortcomings of self-report data, the vastmajority of researchers in the stress and coping fieldemploy self-report measures because of their demonstratedcapacity to tap a wide array of cognitive and behavioralcoping strategies employed by individuals to deal with aparticular stressful situation.Conceptualization of Coping: Trait or Process? Another issue that has implications for how coping ismeasured concerns the conceptualization of coping. A greatdeal of debate in the coping literature has focused uponwhether coping is to be considered in primarily trait-oriented terms or, alternatively, in more process-orientedterms. Traditional trait-oriented views of coping tend tocharacterize coping as a style, and assume that people arefairly stable across time and situations in the ways thatthey cope (e.g., Haan, 1977; Vaillant, 1977; for a review,see Paulhus, Fridhandler, & Hayes, in press). In thisperspective, individuals are seen as possessing "copingtraits" or "coping styles" which dispose them to react in acertain way. Earlier studies of coping often used their13measurement of personality traits as a proxy to infer copingpatterns, without any separate measurement of actual copingbehaviors (see Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, for a fullerdiscussion).In contrast, Lazarus and his colleagues have arguedthat coping is best considered in process-terms becausecoping is expected to vary greatly by situation (e.g.,Lazarus, Averill, & Opton, 1974; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).The process-oriented approach also acknowledges thatpersonality may play a role in coping, but proposes thatcoping is best predicted by a consideration of both personand situation factors. Consistent with currentinteractional models of personality (e.g., Endler & Edwards,1986), this approach suggests that the effect of personalityon coping will vary by situation. However, it has beenhypothesized that some stability in coping should be derivedfrom the influence of personality and from the individualbeing in analogous types of situations or contexts (c.f.Folkman et al., 1986a).Therefore, one of the primary theoretical differencesbetween the two approaches is the weight that each gives tosituation factors in the prediction of coping. Process-oriented approaches consider situation factors to becritical determinants of coping because "coping is assessedas a response to the psychological and environmental demandsof a specific stressor" (Folkman et al., 1986b, p. 992).Strict trait-oriented perspectives view coping as being14primarily a function of personality, and situation factorsare given little weight.In addition to theoretical differences, the twoapproaches differ in their approach to measurement. Whereastrait-oriented researchers are concerned with measuring whata person usually does or would do, process-orientedresearchers are concerned with assessing what a personactually does and thinks in response to a particular stressful situation. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have arguedthat "the unidimensional quality of most trait measures doesnot adequately reflect the multidimensional quality ofcoping processes used to deal with real-life situations" (p.129).Several researchers have asserted that a distinctionbetween conceptualizations of coping and of personality iswarranted and necessary to properly address the role thatpersonality plays in coping. A distinction offered byMenaghan (1983) maintains that coping efforts are bestunderstood as specific behaviors, rather than as enduringdispositions. McCrae and Costa (1986) have contended that"assessing or defining personality in terms of typicalstyles of coping not only reduces the question of whetherpersonality influences coping to a tautology: it also begsthe question of whether specific coping behaviors actuallycohere to form a consistent style" (p. 386). Thus, theyhave concurred with Lazarus' recommendation that these15questions can only be addressed by obtaining independentassessments of personality dimensions and coping strategies.The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of interestin the role of personality in coping. Not only areresearchers examining relationships between personality andcoping (e.g., McCrae & Costa, 1986), they are alsoinvestigating the extent to which particular forms of copingdisplay stability or specificity across situations (e.g.,Compas, Forsythe, & Wagner, 1988). By obtaining separatemeasurements of coping and personality, investigators arebeginning to delineate whether personality and situationfactors exert a direct effect in the prediction ofparticular forms coping. However, relatively little workhas addressed the possibility that the effect of personalityon coping may vary by situation.The Role of Personality and Situation Factors in CopingThe Role of Personality in CopingA number of recent studies have supplied evidence thatpersonality influences coping. For example, several studieshave documented a relationship between self-esteem andcoping, which indicates that persons with high levels ofself-esteem are more likely to engage in active copingstrategies (Holahan & Moos, 1987) and in support-seekingstrategies (Folkman et al., 1986a), and less likely to rely16upon avoidance coping strategies (i.e., strategies aimed attension reduction such as increased use of alcohol,cigarettes, or tranquilizers) (Holahan & Moos, 1987).Additional evidence indicates that individuals with aneasy-going disposition are more likely to use active copingstrategies and less likely to rely on avoidance copingstrategies (Holahan & Moos, 1985). Also conveying a role ofpersonality in the prediction of coping, findings across anumber of studies conducted by Lazarus and his colleaguesreveal that certain modes of emotion-focused coping(positive reappraisal and self-controlling) tend to be morestable than variable across diverse sources of stress (for areview, see Lazarus & Folkman (1987). Lazarus and Folkman(1987) conclude that these forms of emotion-focused coping"appear to be more heavily influenced by person factors" (p.154). However, the particular person factors that might beinfluencing coping were not specified in their research andremain to be identified in future research.Further, recent research also suggests a number ofpersonality traits that may influence coping responses. Forexample, Carver et al. (1989) found that the traits ofoptimism, internal locus of control, and self-esteem werepositively associated with the use of active coping,planning, and positive reinterpretation; as well, thesetraits were negatively associated with the use of denial andbehavioral disengagement. In addition, trait anxiety waspositively related to the use of focus upon and ventilation17of emotions, denial, behavioral disengagement, and mentaldisengagement, and negatively related to the use of activecoping, restraint coping, and positive reinterpretation.However, Carver et al. noted that the correlations betweenpersonality and coping dimensions "were not overly strong"and argued that "this implies that the personality variablesand the coping styles are not identical" (p. 276).Even so, the findings of Carver et. al warrant cautiousinterpretation because Carver et al. did not assess copingin an actual situation for these analyses. Rather theyasked subjects to "indicate what you usually do and feel,when you experience stressful events. . .think about whatyou usually do when you are under a lot of stress" (p. 271).Because the type of stressor is not specified, it is unclearwhether respondents were basing their responses on theirexperiences with major traumatic events or more ordinarymundane stressors. As well, it seems likely that subjectsmay have been biased by the experimenter demandcharacteristics of these instructions to present a pictureof being more stable in coping than they actually arebecause their responses were not tied to any particularstressor. It appears that Carver et al. assumed stabilityin coping, but just because respondents replied in a mannerconsistent with their expectations does not actuallydemonstrate that personality influences their copingresponses. It could be possible that individuals arerepeatedly experiencing the same or similar stressful18situations (Stone & Neale, 1984) and that their copingresponses are situationally influenced. This methodologyinfers that subjects are reporting their coping style, butthis inference remains to be tested by obtaining repeatedmeasures of actual coping behavior across situations.Further delineating the influence of personality oncoping, several studies have examined relations betweencoping and the "Big 5" personality traits: neuroticism,extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, andconscientiousness (c.f. McCrae & Costa, 1985). For example,Endler and Parker (1990) documented that in females thetrait of neuroticism is associated with less task-focusedcoping (such as problem-solving) and greater emotion-focusedcoping (such as self-blame and daydreaming). In a study ofstudents who were in the process of preparing for medicalschool entrance examinations (MCAT), Bolger (1990) foundthat those high on neuroticism were more likely to employdistancing, wishful thinking, and self-blame than were thoselow on neuroticism at two time points, five weeks and tendays prior to the examination. Further, two and a halfweeks after the examination, those high in neuroticism werestill more likely to engage in distancing but their use ofwishful thinking and self-blame had diminished. Thesefindings lead Bolger to conclude that the effects ofneuroticism on coping are greater during high stressperiods, thereby conforming to an interactional perspectiveof personality which suggests that the effects of19personality will be seen only at particular times in thecoping process.In addition, McCrae and Costa (1986) found thatneuroticism was associated with the use of the followingcoping behaviors: hostile reaction, escapist fantasy, self-blame, sedation, withdrawal, wishful thinking, passivity,and indecisiveness. In contrast, extraversion wasassociated with the use of rational action, positivethinking, substitution, and restraint. Individuals high inopenness to experience were more likely to employ humor inthe face of stress; whereas, closed individuals were morelikely to rely upon faith to cope with stress.However, it must be noted that McCrae and Costa'sfindings may suffer from problems with retrospectivecontamination because the stressful event that each subjectreported occurred up to 21 months prior to assessment.Previous research has suggested that the more time thatelapses between the event and the assessment, the morelikely subjects will become biased toward givingdispositional reports of their behavior (Moore, Sherrod,Liv, & Underwood, 1979; Peterson, 1980).Collectively, these studies provide preliminaryevidence that personality plays an influential role incoping. Nonetheless, the role of personality dimensions inthe larger stress process has not been fully addressed. Forexample, does the consideration of person and situationfactors in tandem allow for a better prediction of coping?20The expectation that the effect of personality on coping mayvary by situation is consistent with an interactional modelof personality (Endler, 1983; Endler & Edwards, 1986) andthe transactional model of the coping process (c.f. Lazarus& Folkman, 1984). Although personality may not be asignificant predictor of coping in a given situation byitself, this might be because particular personality typesbehave differently in various situations. For example, theeffects of personality may depend upon whether someone closeto the respondent was involved in the stressful situation.Despite the theoretical importance of person-situationinteractions in the prediction of coping, the extent towhich the role of personality in coping varies by situationremains relatively unexamined in the coping literature.Moreover, the role-theoretical perspective suggeststhat "personality traits assume meaning only when they haveimportant interpersonal consequences" (Hansson & Carpenter,1990, p. 144). This view implies that different personalitytraits may elicit varying coping responses in theinterpersonal context. The role-theoretical approach mayhelp to explain individual differences in coping withinterpersonal stressors and warrants further investigation.Another issue that remains unexamined is the role ofpersonality in determining the extent to which individualsare flexible in coping with diverse sources of stress.Across various conceptualizations of coping, it has beenhypothesized that coping flexibility (the ability to employ21different coping strategies to meet various demands ofdiverse stressors) characterizes effective adaptation, andthat coping rigidity (the tendency to employ a constrictedset of coping strategies across diverse sources of stress)characterizes maladaptive adaptation (see Compas et al.,1988, for a review). Although it is generally thought bytraditional trait theorists that personality traits promotea certain degree of cross-situational and temporalconsistency in behavior, it is also plausible that variouspersonality traits could account, in part, for individualdifferences in coping consistency. Thus, it is possiblethat particular personality traits may generate moreflexible or more rigid coping patterns.For example, the personality trait of openness toexperience, which is associated with a preference forvariety and an elevated capacity for divergent thinking(McCrae & Costa, 1987), may engender a greater ability toconsider and utilize differing coping strategies to managevarious kinds of stressful situations. In other words,those high in the personality trait of openness toexperience may be disposed to be more flexible copers; thus,they would be more likely to vary their coping responses tomeet the particular demands of differing situations.In contrast, it is also possible that persons high onthe trait of neuroticism, which is associated with worrying,insecurity, and self-consciousness (McCrae & Costa, 1987),may be disposed to rely upon a more rigid set of emotion-22focused coping strategies (such as escape-avoidance, wishfulthinking, and distancing) in an effort to manage theirpersonal distress surrounding stressful circumstances andmay be thereby less likely to engage in planful problem-solving strategies. Costa and McCrae (1987) propose thatthose high in neuroticism "may more frequently useinappropriate coping responses like hostile reactions andwishful thinking because they must deal more often withdisruptive emotions" (p. 87).It is also plausible that different personality traitsplay a role in determining the types of stressors thatindividuals experience, the appraisals that are made, and inturn, the coping responses which generate varyingadaptational outcomes. A process-oriented approach mayprove useful in explicating the manner in which personalityinfluences coping and adaptational outcomes.Situation Factors in CopingAlthough much of the recent work on personality hasassumed that individuals possess consistent coping stylesacross diverse situations, a number of studies suggestspecificity in coping behaviors across types of stressors.These studies provide within-subject evidence whichindicates that similar situations tend to elicit similarpatterns of coping and that diverse sources of stress elicit23diverse patterns of coping. For example, Stone and Neale(1984) found that people showed moderate levels of within-subject consistency when they were coping with the sameproblem over time; however, Stone and Neale did not examinecoping consistency across diverse sources of stress. In astudy of undergraduates assessed once a week for four weeks,Compas et al. (1988) found that individuals show aconsistent pattern of coping when dealing with the samestressor over a period of time. However, when individualcoping was evaluated across different stressors, levels ofconsistency were low. For example, Compas et al. (1988)reported that the use of support seeking was greater inresponse to interpersonal stressors than to academicstressors.Further attesting to the important role of situationfactors in coping, several researchers have noted thatcoping varies as a function of the situational context ofthe stressor. To illustrate, Hart (1991) found that thecoping of adolescents varied across academic andinterpersonal contexts, noting that the use of detachmentwas significantly greater in the interpersonal context thanthe academic context. As well, Folkman et al. (1986b) foundthat, in response to work demands, individuals were morelikely to use the coping strategies of planful problem-solving and self-control than other coping strategies.Other examples of specificity in coping include Pearlinand Schooler (1978) who noted that negotiation and24substitution of rewards were used primarily to cope withwork and marital stressors, but were not frequently used tocope with parenting and financial stressors. Also, Holahanand Moos (1987) found that current circumstances accountedfor a greater amount of variance in coping than did morestable socioeconomic and educational factors. Further, thefindings of McCrae (1984) led him to conclude that "the typeof stressor systematically influences the selection ofcoping mechanisms" (p. 927).Taken together, these findings indicate that situationfactors act as important determinants of coping. Moreover,increasing evidence suggests that the interpersonal context,in particular, may be one of the most powerful situationaldeterminants of both coping and well-being.The Interpersonal ContextAlthough current theory and research in stress andcoping have primarily focused on the cognitive aspects ofthe stress and coping process, a growing body of work pointsto the central role that interpersonal context plays indetermining virtually every aspect of this process,including the occurrence and appraisal of stressful events;the selection, sustainment and efficacy of copingstrategies; as well as the impact of stressors on physicaland psychological well-being (see DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990,for a review). It is becoming increasingly evident that agreat deal of coping activity takes place in the25interpersonal context (Hansson & Carpenter, 1990) and thatcomprehensive models of stress and coping must address thecritical role that interpersonal factors play in adaptation.Much evidence substantiates the personal significanceof close relationships in the lives of individuals (seePerlman & Fehr, 1987; Snyder & Simpson, 1987; for reviews).In response to the question, "What it is that makes yourlife meaningful?", Klinger (1977) found that 89% ofrespondents mentioned close relationships as giving meaningto their lives, and for many respondents close relationshipswere the only source of meaning reported. Given theimportance of close relationships to most people, it is notsurprising that much research has documented a strikingimpact of close relationships and of the quality of thesocial environment on individual coping and adaptation.The few studies that have explicitly contrastedinterpersonal and noninterpersonal stressors (see Rook,1990, for a review) illustrate the special role thatinterpersonal factors play in determining well-being and"testify to the uniquely upsetting effects of interpersonalstressors" (Rook, 1990, p. 177; see also Thoits, 1982). Forexample, the type of stressor experienced (e.g.,interpersonal vs. time-pressure) has been found to impactdifferentially on mood, with stress or tension occurring insocial relationships accounting for more than 80% of theexplained variance in daily mood (Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler,& Schilling, 1989). As well, Bolger et al. found that26negative effects of interpersonal stressors tended topersist over several days, whereas emotional habituationtypically ensued much more rapidly in response tononinterpersonal stressors. They suggested that mood may bemore strongly affected by interpersonal stressors becausethe very people who could have positively influenced theindividual's appraisals and coping may now have become asource of stress. These findings are consistent with thelarger literature indicating that problems in a relationshipwith a family member (e.g., Gotlib & Whiffen, 1989; House,Umberson, & Landis, 1988) are quite serious in theirimplications for well-being.Additional findings suggest that the presence ofupsetting interpersonal events in one's social network mayplay a critical role in the etiology and maintenance ofemotional problems. For example, the presence of upsettinginteractions in the support network has been found to be asignificant predictor of both depression and generalpathology (Fiore, Becker, & Coppel, 1983; Fiore, Coppel,Becker, & Cox, 1986). Further, changes in upset over timepredicted changes in levels of depression (Pagel, Erdly, &Becker, 1987). On the other hand, levels of perceivedsupport were found to be unrelated to depression.A great deal of evidence corroborates the deleteriouseffects of negative social exchanges on well-being (see Rook& Pietromonaco, 1987, for a review). For example, Vaughnand Leff (1976) found that depression relapse was better27predicted by the number of critical comments made by thepatient's spouse during hospital admission than by thepatient's symptomatic status. Further, it has been foundthat depressed patients with marital problems derive lessbenefit from antidepressant medication (Rounsaville,Weissman, Prusoff, & Herceg-Baron, 1979) and from individualpsychotherapy (Courney, 1984) and are more vulnerable tosubsequent problems and depression (Coyne, 1989) than thosepatients with supportive marital relationships.These findings are consistent with other findings whichsuggest that adaptation is affected by the presence ofcriticism or hostility from members of the social network.Several studies have shown that the relapse rate ofpsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression,is significantly higher when the family environment ischaracterized by criticism, hostility, and overinvolvement(for reviews, see Hooley, 1985; Kuipers & Bebbington, 1988).Further, it has been shown that interventions with thepatient's family members aimed at reducing levels ofcriticism, hostility, and overinvolvement significantlydecreased relapse rates (Leff, Kuipers, Berkowitz, Eberlein-Vries, & Sturgeon, 1982).Moreover, there is evidence suggesting that thenegative effects of criticism and overinvolvement on well-being are not limited to the domains of depression andschizophrenia (see Coyne et al., 1988, for a review). Thefindings of a study examining the role of spousal criticism28and support in women coping with rheumatoid arthritis (Manne& Zautra, 1989) indicate that the presence of spousalcriticism is associated with the use of coping strategiesthat appear to be more maladaptive. That is, women with ahighly critical spouse were more likely to engage in wishfulthinking, and the use of wishful thinking was associatedwith poor psychological adjustment. Conversely, women witha supportive spouse were more likely to engage ininformation seeking and cognitive restructuring, and the useof these coping strategies was associated with betterpsychological adjustment.Taken together, these findings signal the need forfuture research to attend to the interpersonal dimensions ofstressors. Although a great deal of evidence testifies tothe harmful impact of interpersonal stressors, more researchis needed to ascertain if this impact is derived viaappraisal and coping. Further, the potent effects ofnegative social exchanges found in the studies describedabove suggest that it would be advantageous for individualsto cope with interpersonal stressors in a manner thatreadily resolves or soothes interpersonal tension, therebydiminishing the chances that the relationship will bedamaged or become a source of chronic strain. Additionalinvestigation is required to distinguish modes of copingwith interpersonal stressors that are relationship damagingfrom those that are relationship enhancing. Moreover,29little is known about the influence of personality in copingwith interpersonal stressors.In contrast to the health-damaging effects of negativesocial exchanges, there is mounting evidence that theavailability of a close, confiding relationship reduces anindividual's risk for various physical and psychologicaldisorders (Brown & Harris, 1978; Cohen & Wills, 1985) and isassociated with greater individual well-being (see Fehr &Perlman, 1985; Reis, 1984; for reviews). Recent researchindicates that the protective effects of close relationsare, in part, due to the social support of close others thatis extended to the individual during stressful periods(Cobb, 1976; Krause, Liang, & Yatomi, 1989; Lehman, Ellard,& Wortman, 1986; see also Perlman & Fehr, 1987, for areview).Attesting to the protective function of closerelationships, the findings of Hobfoll and Lieberman (1987)suggest that the effects of relationship quality onindividual adaptation to stressful situations are bothadditive and interactive. In a study examining the rolethat personality and social resources play in adaptation tochildbirth, they found that women high in self-esteem wereless depressed than those with low self-esteem, and thatwomen high on spousal intimacy were less depressed thanthose who were low on spousal intimacy. Interestingly,women who were low on self-esteem but high on spousalintimacy fared nearly as well as those who were high on30self-esteem. Further, a growing body of evidence indicatesthat the ameliorative effects of support from a closerelationship outweigh those from other sources of support,and when support is lacking in a close relationship, othersources of support generally fail to sufficiently compensatefor this deficit (e.g., Brown & Harris, 1978; Coyne &DeLongis, 1986; Coyne, Wortman, & Lehman, 1988).Supportive relationships have been found to exert apositive influence on well-being and coping in a number ofways, which include providing opportunities to discloseone's feelings (Lehman et al., 1986), furnishing reassurancethrough empathic understanding (Thoits, 1986), engendering asense of emotional relatedness and of being loved (Sarason,Shearin, Pierce, & Sarason, 1987), offering companionship(Rook, 1987), enhancing self-esteem (Heller, Swindle, &Dusenbury, 1986), bolstering feelings of control (Blaney,1985) and self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986), affectingappraisals of the stressful situation (DeLongis & O'Brien,1990), extending coping assistance (Thoits, 1986), providingcomfort during stressful times (Burleson, 1985), encouragingthe use of social comparison (see Wood, 1989, for a review),supplying tangible assistance and material resources (Cohen& McKay, 1984), and inducing positive affect (c.f. Beach &Tesser, 1987; Weiss, 1974). Interestingly, Thoits (1986)argues that social support may function like coping in thatit helps individuals to alter the situation, to change their31appraisals of the situation, and to modify their emotionalresponses to the situation.Moreover, levels of support have been shown toinfluence the use of particular modes of coping. Forexample, Cronkite and Moos (1984) found that women who lackfamily support were more likely to use avoidance coping.Similarly, Billings and Moos (1982) reported that levels offamily support predicted modes of coping. Specifically,individuals with supportive families relied more uponproblem-focused modes of coping and less upon avoidancemodes of coping than did those with less supportivefamilies. Likewise, Fondacaro and Moos (1987) found thatseverely depressed women who report receiving less supportfrom family and friends were less likely to engage inproblem-solving and emotion regulation coping strategies,and more likely to engage in emotional discharge coping.Information-seeking was found to be positively associatedwith family support in depressed women and to the quantityof close friends reported by depressed men and women. Ofrelated interest, Scott, Roberto, and Hutton (1986) foundthat, among caregivers of family members with Alzheimer'sdisease, emotional support from family members waspositively associated with the use of more effective copingstrategies. Given the findings that show important linkagesbetween coping and support, Holahan and Moos (1987)recommend that future research should examine more specific32coping behaviors that aid in the formation and maintenanceof social relationships (Holahan & Moos, 1987).Further elucidating the role of close others in thecoping process, recent evidence suggests that thesustainment of coping efforts and the efficacy of a givencoping strategy depends heavily upon the response ofinvolved others to the strategy (c.f. Coyne & DeLongis,1986; DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990; Kahn, Coyne, & Margolin,1985). In a longitudinal study examining the copingbehaviors of recently bereaved respondents (DeLongis,Lehman, Silver, & Wortman, 1991), the receipt of a negativeresponse from members of the social network predicted areduced desire to cope over time, reduced effort put intocoping over time, and reduced effectiveness of the copingstrategy when it was used. Even after controlling for theirdesire to cope, their coping efforts, and their prior levelsof depression, individuals who received a negative responsefrom others to their coping efforts in the first three weeksfollowing the traumatic stressor were more depressed at 18months post-event than were those who had received apositive response from others.Collectively, these findings point to the importance ofthe interpersonal context in determining the occurrence ofstressful encounters, the manner in which people cope, andthe effects those coping strategies will have if used.Indeed, this evidence suggests that the interpersonalcontext is perhaps one of the most critical situational33determinants of coping and adaptation. However, currentlyavailable coping measures contain few items which tap waysof coping with the interpersonal dimensions of stressors.Confrontative coping and seeking social support areamong the only interpersonally oriented modes of copingtypically found on standard measures of coping. The use ofconfrontative coping has been consistently linked withnegative psychological outcomes (Folkman et al., 1986a;Folkman & Lazarus, 1988). DeLongis and O'Brien (1990)contend that the negative effects of engaging inconfrontative coping are most likely due to the potentiallydamaging repercussions on the relationship. They note thatindividuals who use confrontative coping may be able tocoerce involved others into acquiescing to their position orto doing what is needed to solve the immediate problem.Nonetheless, the gains of using confrontational strategiesmay be terribly outweighed by the injurious interpersonalconsequences. For example, others may become antagonized orhostile, have their sense of adequacy impaired, or respondin a way that perpetuates a coercive pattern ofcommunication. Thus, with its potential to harm therelationship and to diminish the self-esteem of thoseinvolved, a reliance on confrontative coping strategies maycontribute to both long and short-term problems ofadaptation (c.f. Coyne, Wortman, Lehman, & Turnbull, 1985).Modes of coping that damage social relationships diminishthe social support available in both ongoing and future34stressful circumstances. In light of the negativeconsequences connected with the use of confrontative copingin their community sample, Folkman & Lazarus (1988)concluded that "interpersonal strategies that have a lessaggressive tone should be evaluated" (p. 474).Relationship-Focused CopingGiven the importance of social relationships in stressand coping, the ability to maintain positive socialrelationships may be a critical determinant of copingefficacy and outcomes. DeLongis and O'Brien (1990) refer tocoping efforts that are primarily aimed at maintainingsocial relationships as "relationship-focused coping." Moststressful episodes impact on more than one person, such asthe marital dyad or the family (DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990),and the ability to sustain one's relationships is expectedto be important to the successful resolution of thesestressors. Particularly during a stressful interpersonalencounter, successful coping may depend not only on keepingemotions under control and solving the problem per se, butalso on maintaining relationships with involved others.Given that well-being is strongly affected by socialrelationships, it may be critical for individuals to cope inways that solve problems without alienating or upsettinginvolved others or without creating problems for them.35Considering the potent linkages between interpersonalstressors and well-being, examination of the modes of copingthat help to sustain relationships during stressful periodsis warranted. Whereas emotion-focused modes of copinginvolve intrapsychic regulation processes, relationship-focused modes of coping involve interpersonal regulationprocesses. Interpersonal regulation comprises processesaimed at establishing, maintaining, or enhancing socialrelationships (c.f. Campos, Campos, & Barnett, 1989).Strategies which may be relationship-maintaining orrelationship-enhancing include cognitive/affective effortsaimed at being empathic and understanding, and behavioralefforts aimed at providing support or comfort to involvedothers (DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990).The quality of relationship that the individual is ableto sustain with others involved in the stressfulcircumstance may be largely determined by the extent towhich the individual engages in relationship-focused modesof coping. It has been suggested that being an empathicresponder "creates a foundation for the continuation of asatisfying and meaningful relationship" (Tune, Lucas-Blaustein, & Rovner, 1988, p. 128). Both empirical andclinical observations suggest that a lack of empathicresponding may contribute to the etiology and maintenance ofproblematic interpersonal relationships (e.g., Beach et. al,1990; Dix, 1991; Safran & Segal, 1990). Dix (1991) arguesthat "relationships characterized by high negative emotion36and low positive emotion may reflect the inability of dyads,because of complex individual and contextual factors, tofeel empathic emotions and to coordinate interactions inways that are satisfactory to both" (p. 9). Because thequality of close relationships has been shown to be animportant predictor of coping and coping outcomes, it seemslikely that modes of coping which maintain or enhancerelationship quality would be most efficacious when closeothers are affected by or directly involved in ongoingstressors.Further, for those managing stressors that involveclose others, the use of coping strategies which maintain orenhance relationships may deter the dyadic partner fromusing strategies that could damage the relationship, therebyfacilitating a more positive social environment. Recentevidence suggests that a symmetric pattern of coping oftenoperates in interpersonal situations. DeLongis, Bolger, andKessler (1987) have found that in coping with maritalconflict, the use of a particular strategy by one spouseseems to elicit a similar strategy in the other. Forexample, they found that compromise tends to elicitcompromise, withdrawal elicits withdrawal, and confrontationelicits confrontation. The findings of Kahn et al. (1985)suggest that the symmetric coping patterns of depressedpersons and their spouses may contribute to theintractability of depression in persons with troubledrelationships. They found that in problem-solving37interactions these troubled couples employ similar patternsof coping. In general, the dyadic pairs were high inhostile reactions, avoidance, and withdrawal, and were lowin constructive problem-solving. Further, many studies (forreviews see Orford, 1986; Wiggins & Pincus, 1992) havedemonstrated that expressions of nurturance elicitcorresponding expressions of nurturance in the individual'sdyadic partner. In contrast, expressions of hostility begetexpressions of hostility in the dyadic partner.In light of these findings, it seems likely that theuse of relationship-focused coping by the individual mayelicit a corresponding use of relationship-focused copingstrategies in involved others. To the extent that thishappens, the use of relationship-focused coping may alsoserve to create and sustain mutually empathic and supportiverelationships. These findings also imply that the use ofrelationship-focused coping may inhibit the dyadic partner'suse of other coping strategies, such as confrontation,distancing, and escape-avoidance, which have been shown tobe damaging to both individual well-being and socialrelationships in the context of interpersonal stressors(e.g., Folkman & Lazarus, 1988; Beach et al., 1990). Giventhe findings which depict the heavy toll on well-beingexacted by hostility and criticism within the socialenvironment (e.g., Coyne et al., 1988; Hooley, 1985; Leff etal., 1982; Manne & Zautra, 1989), it appears likely that theuse of relationship-focused coping with interpersonal38stressors may discourage the creation or maintenance of ahostile or problematic social environment.Dimensions of Relationship-Focused CopingThe use of empathic coping strategies may be ofparticular importance in managing many interpersonalstressors (DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990). Although rarelybrought into the stress literature, empathy has long beenconsidered a mediator or contributor to positive socialinteraction and is thought to play a role in the developmentof affective bonds, understanding, and caring actionsbetween people (see Eisenberg & Miller, 1987; Eisenberg &Strayer, 1987, for reviews). As well, the clinicalliterature suggests that the use of empathy by therapists isimportant in establishing and maintaining positivetherapeutic alliances, which have been consistently relatedto treatment outcomes (see Orlinsky & Howard, 1986, for acomprehensive review of the relations between psychotherapyprocess variables and psychotherapy outcomes). Further, theuse of empathy has been identified as being a key componentin the maintenance and enhancement of social relationshipsin general (Hansson & Carpenter, 1990).Maintaining a sense of emotional relatedness withothers may be one of the major factors which influences theability to sustain individual coping efforts and well-being.Failure to do so often results in depression (Brown &Harris, 1976; Lin, Dean, & Ensel, 1986) and withdrawal of39efforts (DeLongis et al., 1991; Kuiper & Olinger, 1989) aswell as guilt about being unable to cope with othersinvolved in a stressful situation (c.f. Coyne, 1989).Success in being emotionally responsive and in having othersin their lives who are emotionally responsive may criticallyinfluence individual coping efficacy (DeLongis et al., 1991;Thoits, 1986).Because empathic processes mediate the individual'sresponse to the situation (Buck, 1989; Dix, 1991; Thoits,1986), the use of empathy may be viewed as part of thecoping process (DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990). Drawn fromprevious research regarding empathic processes (see,Hoffman, 1984; Strayer, 1987; for reviews), empathic copingcan be seen as involving the following dimensions: 1)cognitive efforts to engage in perspective taking or to takethe role of the other by attempting to view the world as theother sees it; and (2) vicariously experiencing theinvolved other's feelings and subsequent efforts to beconsiderate and responsive to the other's feelings.There are undoubtedly individual differences intendencies and abilities to engage in empathic processes(Davis & Oathout, 1987; Strayer, 1987). For example, Marcia(1987) asserts that "empathy essentially requires anattitude or stance of openness to another's experience" (p.83). Nonetheless, many have noted that empathy may be alsoviewed in more process-oriented terms. To illustrate,Lazarus (1991) argues that empathy is best thought of "a40capacity and a process" (p. 821). As well, Buck (1989)contends that "empathy operates in a transactional context"(p. 159), noting that empathic processes are oftensituationally determined (for reviews, see also Hoffman,1984; Strayer, 1987).Several features of the interpersonal situation havebeen shown to influence the occurrence of empathicprocesses: they include the other person's overt behavioralcues (postural, facial, tonal) (Goldstein & Michaels, 1985),another person's expression of emotion or distress (Buck,1989), concern for the welfare of the particular involvedother (Davido, Allen, & Schroeder, 1990), and the presenceof close others in the situation (Burleson, 1985; Cramer,1985, 1987; Ritter, 1979; Zahn-Waxler, Iannoti, & Chapman,1982). Particularly when close others are involved in thesituation, the use of empathy has been shown to fosterhigher levels of self-esteem in the involved other (seeCramer, 1988, for a review), to be positively associatedwith relationship satisfaction (Davis & Oathout, 1987;Franzoi, Davis & Young, 1985), and to maintain and enhancerelationship quality (Long & Andrews, 1990).It has been hypothesized that the use of empathicstrategies enhances relationship quality through a number ofroutes, including facilitating effective dyadic problem-solving and successful problem resolution (Beach et al.,1990), fostering in the dyadic partner the perception thatthe individual is concerned about the partner's needs and41desires (Long & Andrews, 1990), promoting affection andprosocial behavior (Davis & Oathout, 1987), improving andenriching interpersonal communication (Beach et al., 1990;Safran & Segal, 1990), encouraging involved others to seekand accept support provision (Thoits, 1986), and increasingthe likelihood that support offered to the dyadic partnerwill be appropriate to the partner's needs (DeLongis &O'Brien, 1990; Strayer, 1987). Given the potential socialbenefits of the use of empathic strategies, DeLongis andO'Brien (1990) argue that engaging in empathic coping may bea highly adaptive way of dealing with the stress arisingwithin families and other social units, suggesting that thistype of coping may influence one's ability to reduce ortolerate the negative realities of stressful lifecircumstances, one's ability to maintain emotionalequilibrium, one's ability to continue satisfyingrelationships with others, and one's sense of copingefficacy. However, a particularly important function ofempathic coping might be that it facilitates positiveinteractions between individuals and others involved in astressful circumstance (c.f. Dix, 1991). This may occurthrough a shift in the individual's responses away from anexcessive blame-imposing orientation to a more acceptingorientation that enables the individual and others involvedto enjoy a better sense of emotional relatedness (seeDeLongis & O'Brien, 1990, for a fuller discussion).42Empathic coping may also promote better affective synchronybetween those involved in a stressful encounter.There are some factors, however, that may inhibit theuse of empathic coping strategies. For example, high levelsof personal distress and high intensities of anxiety oralarm have been found to inhibit empathic processes (seeBatson, Fultz, & Schoenrade, 1987, for a review).Individuals who experience high levels of personal distresswhen interacting with others may be more inclined to theexclusive use of emotion-focused forms of coping to regulatetheir feelings of alarm and anxiety. These findings suggestthat those high on neuroticism, which is associated withtendencies to experience personal distress (McCrae & Costa,1987), may be less likely to use empathic coping to manageinterpersonal stressors and more likely to use emotion-focused modes of coping to regulate personal distress.As well, individuals who engage primarily in copingprocesses such as denial or avoidance may be unable orunlikely to engage in empathic coping. Given that emotionregulation inhibits the experiencing of emotions, theability to comprehend and emphatically respond to anotherperson's emotions might be thwarted. One reason thatavoidance strategies are more effective with short-termstressors and relate to poor psychosocial adjustment whenused on a long-term basis (Folkman et al., 1986b; Roth &Cohen, 1986) may be that the use of denial-like strategiesseriously impedes the use of empathic coping.43Another aspect of relationship-focused coping issupport provision. By offering support and comfort toinvolved others in a stressful encounter, individuals may becoping in a fashion that preserves or enhances importantsocial relationships with involved others. Whereas empathiccoping involves cognitive/affective attempts to understandanother person, support provision coping involves behavioralattempts to provide support or comfort to involved others inan attempt to nurture the relationship and reduce thedistress of the dyadic partner. Drawing from importantdimensions identified in the support literature, DeLongisand O'Brien (1990) suggest that support provision copingstrategies may include listening to the involved other,expressing positive feelings for the involved other, anddoing something to help the involved other. Given thepreviously cited evidence in the support literatureindicating that recipients of positive support are betterable to manage stressful situations and to do so with fewernegative outcomes, it seems likely that support provisioncoping would not only enhance the likelihood that involvedothers will manage the stressful encounter moreefficaciously, but also that the relationship will bestrengthened by the support provided.Recent evidence also suggests that in addition to themaintenance of a positive relationship the use of supportprovision coping may benefit the individual in other ways.44For example, it has been found that individuals who usesensitive comforting strategies to provide support toothers, experience less upset when providing support thanthose who use less sensitive comforting strategies(Burleson, 1985; Notarius & Hendrick, 1984). Those who usedless sensitive comforting strategies were found to besignificantly more anxious and depressed following theinteraction than were those who used more sensitivecomforting strategies. Sensitive comforting strategiesincluded listening and allowing others to disclose theirfeelings, acknowledging and accepting the feelings ofinvolved others, and expressing positive feelings for theinvolved others. Less sensitive comforting strategiesincluded denying the feelings and perspective of another,condemning or challenging the legitimacy of the other'sfeeling, and telling the other person what to do or how tofeel (Burleson, 1985).As well, the users of sensitive strategies wereperceived more positively by others than those using lesssensitive strategies (Burleson & Samter, 1985). Further,recent research suggests that the use of sensitivestrategies in coping with the distress of another aregenerally more efficacious in alleviating the other'sdistress (e.g., Burleson, 1985; Lehman et al., 1986). Thus,it seems likely that those who use more sensitive comfortingstrategies to manage interpersonal stressors wouldexperience a greater sense of coping efficacy when the goals45of their efforts include ameliorating the distress ofothers.In summary, the ways that individuals regulate theirsocial relationships could critically influence theoccurrence of stressful events as well as how they are ableto manage stressful circumstances. Research aimed atdelineating processes of interpersonal regulation and otherinterpersonal dimensions of stress and coping could greatlyexpand the explanatory power of our models.46HYPOTHESESStructure of CopingRationale As previously noted, a two-function model of coping hasdominated work in this area (c.f. Lazarus & Folkman, 1984):active management of the situation (problem-focused coping)and emotion regulation (emotion-focused coping). It hasbeen presumed that this two-function model adequatelyexplains the structure of coping. However, a third functionof coping aimed at maintaining social relationships in theface of stress, relationship-focused coping, has beenposited by DeLongis and O'Brien (1990). DeLongis andO'Brien argue that successful coping encompasses not onlysolving the problem (problem-focused coping) and managingnegative emotions generated by the stressor (emotion-focusedcoping), but also incorporates maintaining one'srelationships during stressful periods, particularly whenstressors impact the family or some other social unit. Toinvestigate the structure of coping and the viability of athird function of coping, the following hypothesis was putforth.Hypothesis #1. Relationship-focused coping is a thirdfunction of coping, separable from problem- and emotion-focused functions of coping. It is expected that itemsdesigned to tap relationship-focused coping when combined47with those items traditionally used to tap emotion-focusedcoping and problem-focused coping will fall out separatelyin factor analyses.RationaleSome may argue that the items assessing relationship-focused coping may be more likely to pull a sociallydesirable response set; however, the endorsement ofrelationship-focused modes of coping could be motivated by adesire to maintain relationships, not by a desire to appearsocially desirable. Hence, the measure of socialdesirability serves as a control variable to rule out theexplanation that the endorsement of relationship-focusedcoping strategies is due to a socially desirable responseset. Therefore, the following hypothesis was advanced.Hypothesis /2. Social desirability will beuncorrelated with the endorsement of relationship-focusedcoping modes of coping.The Role of Personality and Situation Factors in CopingIn using the term "predict", I intend it in thestatistical sense. Although variables were all assessed ata single point in time, for the purposes of the presentstudy and consistent with the conceptual framework, copingis treated as a dependent variable. Presumably personality48precedes the onset of the stressor, and personality scoresare not particularly affected by the stressor or by theperson's coping with that particular event (see Costa &McCrae, 1988, for longitudinal findings demonstrating thestability of personality as assessed by the NE0).Similarly, the stressful situation is presumed to precedethe respondent's coping with it, and coping is presumed tofollow from a stressful event.The Influence of Situation Factors on CopingRationale Given the findings in the coping literature whichsuggest that situation factors play an important role incoping (e.g., Compas et al., 1988; Folkman et al, 1986b;Hart, 1990; Holahan & Moos, 1987), it was expected that thesituation factors would be significant predictors of copingin this study. The studies that have explicitly contrastedthe effects of interpersonal and noninterpersonal stressorsindicate a differential impact on well-being, suggestingthat interpersonal stressors tend to be most damaging tohealth and well-being ((e.g., Bolger et al., 1989; Rook,1990).Given that well-being is strongly affected by socialrelationships, it may be critical for individuals to cope inways that solve problems without alienating or upsettinginvolved others, or without creating problems for them.49Also, considering the findings indicating the personalsignificance of social relationships to most individuals(e.g., Klinger, 1977; Snyder & Simpson, 1987), it seemslikely, when faced with interpersonal stressors, that mostindividuals will have a greater desire to maintain socialrelationships and thereby would be more likely to employcoping strategies aimed at maintaining social relationships.This is expected to be particularly the case when a closeother is involved in the stressful event. As well, there islikely an intimacy between close others that may engender awillingness to engage in empathic processes and to providesupport to the close other who shares the stressfulsituation (Burleson, 1985; Perlman & Fehr, 1987). Withthese considerations in mind, the following hypotheses wereput forth.Hypothesis #3. In regression analyses, situationfactors will contribute unique variance in the prediction ofcoping over and above that accounted for by personalityfactors.Hypothesis 14. In regression analyses, interpersonalsituations involving someone close to the respondent willindependently and significantly predict a proportionatelygreater use of relationship-focused coping than othersituations that do not involve a close other.50Rationale Based on the findings of Folkman et al. (1986b), whichindicate that respondents are less likely to use escape-avoidance, distancing, and planful problem-solving when theyare concerned about a loved one's well-being and are morelikely to engage in planful problem-solving when concernedwith meeting work-related goals, the following set ofhypotheses were put forth to be tested in t-test analyses.Hypothesis #5. It is expected that respondents copingwith a stressful situation that involves someone close tothem will report using a significantly greater proportion ofrelationship-focused coping than respondents coping with aninterpersonal stressor that does not involve a close other.Hypothesis #6.A. It is expected that respondents coping with astressful interpersonal situation that involves a closeother will report using a significantly lower proportion ofsome forms of emotion-focused coping, namely, escape-avoidance and distancing, than those respondents coping witha stressful interpersonal situation that does not involve aclose other and than those respondents coping with astressful work situation.B. It is expected that respondents coping with astressful interpersonal situation that involves a closeother will report using a significantly lower proportion ofplanful problem-solving than those respondents coping with51an stressful interpersonal situation that does not involve aclose other.Hypothesis 17. Respondents coping with work-relatedstressful situation will report using a significantlygreater proportion of planful problem-solving strategiesthan respondents coping with an interpersonal stressfulsituation that involves someone close to them and thanrespondents coping with an interpersonal stressful situationthat does not involve someone close to them.The Influence of Personality on CopingRationaleGiven the recent findings which indicate thatpersonality is an important predictor of coping (e.g,Bolger, 1990; Carver et al, 1989; Endler & Parker, 1990;McCrae & Costa, 1986), it is expected that personality, whenconsidered as a group of dimensions, would be a significantpredictor of coping. Therefore, the following hypothesiswas advanced.Hypothesis /8. In regression analyses, personalityvariables, when considered as a group, will contributeunique variance in the prediction of coping over and abovethat accounted for by situation factors.52RationaleThe literature also suggests that particularpersonality traits will independently predict certain formsof coping. For example, based on descriptions ofagreeableness as being the opposite pole of antagonism(McCrae & Costa, 1987), it is expected that those high inagreeableness would be more likely to avoid conflict andless likely to respond in an aggressive manner that wouldhave the potential to antagonize others. This conclusion isalso consistent with Buss's findings (in preparation) thatagreeableness is negatively associated with the use ofcoercive strategies to influence others.As well, neuroticism is often characterized by atendency to experience negative emotions (c.f. McCrae &Costa, 1987); therefore, it seems likely that those high onneuroticism would gear a greater proportion of their copingefforts towards emotion-regulation and consequently employproportionately less planful problem-solving. Theseconsiderations led to the following set of hypotheses.Hypothesis #9. Agreeableness will be significantly andnegatively related to the use of confrontative coping.Hypothesis /10 A. Neuroticism will be significantly and negativelyrelated to the use of planful problem-solving.B. Neuroticism will be significantly and positivelyrelated to the use of escape avoidance.53C. Neuroticism will be significantly and positivelyrelated to the use of distancing.Rationale Because there was no compelling basis in theliterature, no specific predictions were made regarding themain effects of extraversion, conscientiousness, or opennessto experience on coping.Person-Situation Interactions in CopingRationaleConsistent with a transactional model of the stressprocess (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and an interactional modelof personality (Endler, 1983; Endler & Edwards, 1986), itwas expected that the effects of personality will, in part,depend upon situation factors. Although personality may notbe a significant predictor of coping in a given situation byitself, this might be because particular personality typesbehave differently in various situations. For example, theeffects of personality may depend upon whether someone closeto the respondent was involved in the stressful situation.Thus, the following hypothesis was advanced.Hypothesis #11. In regression analyses, person-situation interactions will account for unique variance in54coping over and above that of personality and situationfactors considered separately.Rationale Previous research has indicated that individuals whoexperience high degrees of personal distress in response tothe plight of others are less likely to engage in empathicprocesses; in other words, personal distress inhibits theuse of empathy (see Batson et al., 1987, for a review).Further, the findings of Buss (in preparation) indicate thatthose low in emotional stability tend to engage in morecoercive tactics when trying to influence close others.These findings were the basis for the following specifichypotheses.Hypothesis /12. Neuroticism will be significantly andnegatively related to the use of relationship-focused copingstrategies when the stressful situation involves a closeother.Hypothesis #13. Neuroticism will be significantly andpositively related to the use of confrontative copingstrategies when the stressful situation involves a closeother.RationaleThe suggestion that empathic processes involve theability to be open to the emotional experiences of others(Marcia, 1987) may imply that those high on openness to55experience, which is characterized by an ability to be opento feelings (McCrae & Costa, 1987), will be better able toaccept the emotional expression of others and not becomepersonally distressed by it. Premised on this suggestion,the following hypothesis was put forth.Hypothesis #14. Openness to experience will bepositively related to the use of relationship-focused copingstrategies when the stressful situation involves a closeother.56METHODSSample The sample was drawn from undergraduates in the subjectpool of the Psychology Department at the University ofBritish Columbia. Subjects were given extra credit in oneof their psychology courses in return for their involvement.270 subjects participated in the study. The sample wascomprised of 36% males (n = 97) and 62% females (n = 166);specification of gender was missing on 7 cases. Thesubjects' ages ranged from 18 to 50; the average age was 21years (SD = 4.56).ProcedureSubjects were asked to complete a series of self-reportquestionnaires, assessing personality, source of stress,coping, and social desirability.MeasuresPersonality. Personality was assessed by the NEO-FFIPersonality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1989), which is ashortened 60-item version of the 181-item NEO-PI (Costa &McCrae, 1985). The NEO-FFI assesses five personalitydimensions: neuroticism, extraversion, openness toexperience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.Neuroticism is characterized as an inclination to beimpulsive and to experience negative affects, such as57anxiety, depression, hostility, and self-consciousness(McCrae & Costa, 1987). Extraversion reflects a propensityto be warm, gregarious, assertive, and excitement seeking,and to experience positive emotions (McCrae & Costa, 1987).Openness to experience denotes a tendency to be imaginative,artistic, and open to feelings, and to have broad interests,a preference for variety, and untraditional values (McCrae &Costa, 1987). Agreeableness has been identified as beingthe opposite pole of antagonism. Agreeableness reflects aproclivity to be good-natured, acquiescent, courteous,helpful, and trusting (McCrae & Costa, 1987).Conscientiousness has been identified as being the oppositepole of undirectedness. Conscientious indicates a tendencyto be habitually careful, reliable, hard-working, well-organized, and purposeful (McCrae & Costa, 1987).The choice of the personality scale was not only basedon its general wide use, but also on the basis that it beenthe most widely used personality scale in recent copingstudies. As well, in previous research, this scale has beenused in conjunction with the Ways of Coping (WOC) scale,which is being employed in this study, thereby permittingcomparisons to previous research.Social Desirability. Social desirability was assessedby the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR)(Paulhus, 1991). This 40-item measure contains twosubscales, which tap two constructs of socially desirable58responding: Self-Deceptive Enhancement (SDE) and ImpressionManagement (IM). The SDE scale assesses self-deceptivepositivity (the tendency for individuals to give honest, butpositively biased, self-reports). The IM scale assessesimpression management (the tendency for individuals tooverreport positive behaviors and to underreport negativebehaviors in a deliberate attempt to positively influenceother people's impressions of them). The measure hasevinced good internal and test-retest reliability, and itsvalidity has been demonstrated by being highly correlated toother standard measures of socially desirable responding(see Paulhus, 1990, for details).Coping. Coping was assessed by The Ways of Coping(WOC) scale (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) to ascertain the usageof problem- and emotion-focused modes of coping. The WOCcontains 67 items assessing a wide array of cognitive andbehavioral coping strategies and is currently the mostwidely used coping measure in the field. Respondents wereasked to indicate the extent of their usage of each strategyon a Likert scale which ranged from not at all to a great deal. Previous factor analyses have demonstrated that theWOC taps eight forms of coping (Folkman et al, 1986b):confrontative coping, distancing, self-controlling, seekingsocial support, accepting responsibility, escape-avoidance,planful problem-solving, and positive reappraisal.59Because existent measures of coping do not taprelationship-focused coping, the development of new itemsthat would tap this dimension was needed. Two sets ofrelationship-focused coping items were generated with bothcognitive and behavioral dimensions in mind. The first setincluded items designed to tap empathic coping to assess thecognitive and affective dimensions of relationship-focusedcoping. These items were drawn from the empathy literature.The second set was designed to tap support provision toassess the behavioral dimension of relationship-focusedcoping. These items were drawn from the social supportliterature.Cognitive and affective strategies of relationship-focused coping include trying to understand the otherperson's perspective and imagining oneself in the otherperson's shoes. Behavioral strategies of relationship-focused coping include attempts to do something helpful forothers involved in the stressful situation and attempts toexpress affection for the others involved, therebyvalidating their senses of self-esteem. These two sets ofrelationship-focused items were added to the WOC.Consistent with the usage of the WOC suggested byLazarus and his colleagues (e.g., Folkman et al., 1986b;Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), subjects were asked to describebriefly the most stressful event of the past week in anopen-ended fashion. Then, they were asked to describe theways in which they coped with this specific stressful60experience by rating their usage of the WOC items and thenewly developed relationship-focused coping items.Situational Contexts of Stress. The open-ended portion ofthe coping questionnaire were read and grouped by twoindependent coders (92% overall agreement) according to thesituational context of the stressor described by the subjectinto the following categories: work situations (e.g.,school and job), interpersonal situations involving a closeother (e.g., romantic partner, close friend or relative),interpersonal situations involving others who are not closefriends or relatives (e.g., acquaintances, classmates,strangers), and a miscellaneous "other" category to includeall mentions that are not subsumed by the above categories(e.g., difficulties filling out income tax forms, carbreaking down, finding it hard to stick to a diet).In describing the situational context of stress, 43.7%of the sample noted academic or job-related situations,21.1% reported an interpersonal problem involving a closeother, 11.9% mentioned an interpersonal problem involvingsomeone not seen as being a close other, and 23.3% indicatedother sources of stress (apart from those listed above) andwere grouped into the miscellaneous other category (seeTable 1).61RESULTSOverviewIn general, the analyses for this study included anumber of steps:	 1) data reduction and scale developmentprimarily by empirical means (e.g., factor analysis); 2)examination of scale psychometric properties (e.g., internalreliabilities, intercorrelations among the scales); 3)examination of descriptive statistics for all variables; 4)bivariate relationships (e.g., correlations and t-tests); 5)hierarchical regression analyses using coping as thecriterion variable and situation and person factors as thepredictor variables; and 6) follow-up tests to ascertain thedifferences accounting for the significant person-situationinteractions.Structure of CopingTennen and Herzberger (1985) estimate that at least 200subjects or data points are required to complete a reliablefactor analysis on the 67-item WOC checklist. Therefore,the sample size of this study (N = 270) should permitreliable factor analyses.A principal components analysis using oblique rotationwith the items from the original WOC scale (Lazarus &Folkman, 1984), and with the newly developed relationship-focused items was conducted. Oblique rotation was chosen62because previous work has indicated that individualsgenerally choose a wide variety of coping strategies, ratherthan one particular set of strategies to the exclusion ofothers (e.g., Folkman et al. 1986b; Folkman & Lazarus,1980). Therefore, it was expected that the coping variableswould be intercorrelated, and when this is the case,principal components analysis with oblique rotation isconsidered to be an appropriate method of extracting factors(Norusis, 1990; Wilkinson, 1989).The analyses indicated that factor structure of theproblem- and emotion-focused items from the WOC scaleresembled that previously reported in the literature (e.g.,Folkman et al, 1986b). 1 As expected, with the addition ofthe relationship-focused items, another factor fell out.All of the relationship-focused coping items loaded togetherseparately from the original WOC items, thereby providinginitial support for a three-function model of coping. Thevariance accounted for by the original WOC items and therelationship-focused items was 51.7%. Further, therelationship-focused coping factor was the first factorextracted, accounting for 14.5% of the coping variance. Theloadings for the relationship-focused items are displayed inTable 2. The factors from the original WOC combined withthe relationship-focused factor accounted for 51.7% of thevariance in coping. The finding that all the relationship-focused coping items loaded as one factor indicates that thetwo relationship-focused coping dimensions, empathic coping63and support provision, are best considered as two facets ofrelationship-focused coping rather than as separatedimensions. Correlational analyses also indicated thatthese two sets of relationship-focused items were highlyintercorrelated (r = .68, p <.000). Therefore,accommodating the evidence provided by the factor analysisand to avoid multicollinearity problems, these two scaleswere combined into one scale, termed relationship-focusedcoping, for the remainder of the statistical analyses. Theinternal reliability of the relationship-focused copingscale was high (alpha = .93).The intercorrelations amongst the various raw scorecoping scales are shown in Table 3. Consistent withprevious findings (Folkman et al., 1986b), the resultsindicate low to moderate intercorrelations among differentmodes of coping. In addition, the intercorrelationsindicate significant relations between relationship-focusedcoping and six forms of coping: confrontative coping (r =.36, p < .001), positive reappraisal (r = .41, p < .001),self-control (r = .40, p < .001), seeking support (r = .24,p < .001), escape-avoidance (r = .11, p < .05), anddistancing (r = .21, p < .001).The intercorrelations for the relative score copingscales are not presented because the scores on a particularcoping dimension are dependent upon the scores of the othercoping dimensions when subscales are scored proportionally.Below is a detailed rationale for using proportional scoring64to compute coping scores and a description of the mechanicsinvolved in computing proportional coping scores.Scoring Method for Coping Measure Recent findings in the coping literature suggest thatthe use of proportional scores (also termed "relativescores") for coping provide superior coping indices thanthe more traditional raw score method (e.g., Vitaliano,Maiuro, Russo, & Becker, 1987). Vitaliano et al. argue thatraw scores (i.e., the sum of item scores in each scale) areconfounded with the amount of effort that a respondentemploys. For example, a more distressed respondent mayendorse many more coping items than a respondent who is lessdistressed. Thus, some populations (e.g., clinical vs.normal) may exhibit differential base rates. Because theraw score method ignores relations between the specificsubscale and the overall measure, the raw score method doesnot permit the researcher to consider differential baserates or, in other words, to take into account individualdifferences in coping effort (i.e., total efforts across allscales).The relative scores were obtained by the followingprocedure. First, the mean item score for each subscale wascalculated. Second, the mean effort score (ME) was derivedby dividing each subscale's mean item score by the number ofitems contained in each respective subscale. (i.e., Themean item score of the accepting responsibility subscale65would be divided by 4, because the subscale contains 4items.) Third, the relative score for each subscale wasobtained by dividing the mean effort score of each subscaleby the sum of the ME's of all the subscales.ME of particular subscaleRelative Score =Sum of all ME's in entire measureVitaliano et al. demonstrated that the relative scoringmethod allows researchers to more clearly discern ifparticular types of respondents (e.g., psychiatricoutpatients) use different coping modes to a greater orlesser extent that do other types (e.g., medical students,Alzheimer caregivers). For example, they found thatpsychiatric outpatients reported more emotion-focused copingand less problem-focused coping than nonclinical samples.Therefore, in this research, it is expected that therelative scoring method will more clearly indicate whetherand to what extent there are significant coping differencesamong respondents coping with interpersonal stressors vs.those coping with noninterpersonal stressors.Vitaliano et al. note that by taking into account themagnitude of each raw score relative to the individual'stotal coping efforts, the relative scoring method permitsresearchers to "differentiate individuals with identical rawscores" (p. 16). They suggest that the relative scoringmethod is also advantageous because it employs "both66idiographic/individual norms (by making the subject his orher own standard of reference) and nomothetic/group norms(by comparing relative efforts across subjects" (p. 16)).They conclude that the relative scoring method "may bebetter suited for empirically evaluating the dynamicinterplay of coping and distress" (p. 16) and is thereforeparticularly useful for examining the transactional model ofstress and coping.The Role of Personality and Situation Factors in CopingDescriptive FindingsCopingThe mean proportions of the various modes of coping forthe entire sample and across situations are shown in Table4. The mean proportion of coping across the nine forms ofcoping was .113, with scores ranging from .098 (positivereappraisal) to .134 (planful problem-solving) across theentire sample. Below is a summary of the mean proportioncoping scores for the entire sample and the range of copingscores across the different situational contexts. Forrelationship focused coping, the sample mean proportion was.106, with situation means ranging from .088 (work) to .141(close interpersonal). For confrontative coping, the samplemean proportion was .100, with situation means ranging from.096 (work) to .106 (other interpersonal). For planfulproblem-solving, the sample mean proportion was .134, with67situation means ranging from .112 (other interpersonal) to.150 (work). For support seeking, the sample meanproportion was .113, with situation means ranging from .109(work) to .121 (other interpersonal). For positivereappraisal, the sample mean proportion was .098, withsituation means ranging from .095 (other interpersonal andother miscellaneous) to .102 (close interpersonal). Forself-control, the sample mean proportion was .117, withsituation means ranging from .114 (work) to .120 (closeinterpersonal). For accepting responsibility, the samplemean proportion was .117, with situation means ranging from.107 (close interpersonal and other miscellaneous) to .126(work). For escape-avoidance, the sample mean proportionwas .105, with situation means ranging from .096 (otherinterpersonal) to .109 (work). For distancing, the samplemean proportion was .110, with situation means ranging from.103 (other interpersonal) to .120 (other interpersonal).PersonalityThe means of the personality indices for the entiresample and across situations are displayed in Table 5. A 7-point response scale was used for this study.A maximum score of 84 was possible for each scale. The meanscore across the five indices of personality was 55.46.Below is a summary of the sample mean scores and the rangesacross situations for each personality dimension. Forneuroticism, the sample mean was 47.29, with situation means68ranging from 45.25 (other miscellaneous) to 52.94 (otherinterpersonal). For extraversion, the sample mean was55.60, with situation means ranging from 54.28 (otherinterpersonal) to 57.50 (close interpersonal). For opennessto experience, the sample mean was 56.44, with situationmeans ranging from 54.22 (other interpersonal) to 58.66(close interpersonal). For agreeableness, the sample meanwas 59.09, with situation means ranging from 56.69 (otherinterpersonal) to 61.19 (other miscellaneous). Forconscientiousness, the sample mean was 58.88, with thesituation means ranging from 57.98 (work) to 60.12 (othermiscellaneous).Correlational AnalysesCorrelational analyses were conducted to assess thefollowing relations among and between variables: (1)intercorrelations among the personality dimensions; (2)personality dimensions and coping; (3) situation factors andcoping; (4) personality dimensions and situation factors;and (5) social desirability dimensions and relationship-focused coping.69Relations between Personality DimensionsThe intercorrelations among the personality dimensionsare shown in Table 6. The results indicate low to moderateintercorrelations and suggest that these personalitydimensions are not entirely independent. These findings arenot surprising, given that the NEO-FFI was constructed onthe basis of factor analyses (Costa & McCrae, 1989).Neuroticism was significantly and negatively related tothe other four personality dimensions: extraversion (r =-.35, p < .001), openness to experience (r = -.14, p < .05),agreeableness (r = -.13, p < .05), and conscientiousness (r= -.34, p < .001). Extraversion was significantly andpositively related to agreeableness (r = .26, p < .001), andconscientiousness (r = .23, p < .001). No other significantrelations between personality indices were observed.Relations between Personality and CopingThe correlations between coping and personalitydimensions are presented in Table 7. All of the expecteddifferential relations between personality dimensions andcoping were significant, except no significant relationbetween neuroticism and distancing was found. However, thesignificant relations found between personality and copingwere generally low in magnitude (ranging from .11 to .32).This may due to the design of the study which measuredcoping in only one stressful situation. Relations between70coping and personality may be of greater magnitude whencoping is aggregated across multiple stressful situations.The term relative use is used throughout to indicatethat coping scale scores are proportional to total copingefforts reported.Neuroticism. As expected, neuroticism wassignificantly and positively related to the relative use ofconfrontative coping (r = .14, p < .01) and escape-avoidance(r =.24, p < .001), and was significantly and negativelyrelated to the relative use of planful problem-solving (r =-.16, p < .01). In addition, neuroticism was significantlyand positively related to the relative use of acceptingresponsibility, (r = .17, p < .01). These results indicatethat those high in neuroticism reported significantly moreconfrontative coping, escape-avoidance, and acceptingresponsibility, and reported significantly less planfulproblem-solving than those low on neuroticism.Extraversion. Extraversion was significantly andnegatively related to the relative use of acceptingresponsibility (r = -.13, p < .05) and escape-avoidance (r =-.13, p < .05), indicating that those high on extraversionreported significantly less accepting responsibility andless escape-avoidance than those low on extraversion.Openness to experience. Openness to experience wassignificantly and positively related to the relative use ofpositive reappraisal (r = .21, p < .001). Openness toexperience was significantly and negatively related to the71relative use of escape-avoidance (r = -.17, p < .01). Theseresults indicate that those high on openness to experiencereported significantly more positive reappraisal andsignificantly less escape-avoidance than those low inneuroticism.Agreeableness. As expected, agreeableness wassignificantly and negatively related to the relative use ofconfrontative coping (r = -.15, p < .01). In addition,agreeableness was significantly and negatively related tothe relative use of distancing (r = -.11, p < .05) andpositively related to the relative use of support seeking (r= .19, p < .01). These results indicate that those high onagreeableness reported significantly more support seekingand reported significantly less confrontative coping anddistancing than those low on agreeableness.Conscientiousness. Conscientiousness was significantlyand positively related to the relative use of relationship-focused coping (r = .16, p < .01) and negatively related tothe relative use of accepting responsibility (r = -.32, p <.001) and escape-avoidance (r = -.21, p < .001). Theseresults indicate that those high on conscientiousnessreported significantly more relationship-focused coping andreported significantly less accepting responsibility andescape-avoidance than those low in conscientiousness.72Relations between Situational Contexts of Stress And CopingThe correlations between coping and situation factorsare shown in Table 8. The relations between coping andsituation factors are summarized below. All the expecteddifferential relations between situational contexts andcoping were significant. However, the significant relationswere generally low in magnitude.Work. As expected, stressful work situations weresignificantly and positively associated with the relativeuse of planful problem-solving (r = .37, p < .001). Inaddition, stressful work situations were significantly andpositively related to the relative use of acceptingresponsibility (r = .22, p < .001), and escape-avoidance (r= .15, p < .05). Moreover, the work situation wassignificantly and negatively related to the relative use ofrelationship-focused coping (r = -.29. p < .001),confrontative coping (r = -.18, p < .001), support seeking(r = -.16, p < .01), and distancing (r = -.12, p < .05).These results indicate that those coping with astressful work situation (academic or job-related) reportedsignificantly more planful problem-solving, acceptingresponsibility, and escape-avoidance than those not copingwithin a work context. In contrast, this group reportedsignificantly less relationship-focused coping,confrontative coping, seeking support, and distancing thanthose not coping within a work context.73Close Interpersonal. Stressful interpersonalsituations involving someone close to respondents weresignificantly and positively related to the relative use ofrelationship-focused coping (r = .26, p < .001) and positivereappraisal (r = .13, p < .05), and negatively related tothe relative use of support seeking (r = -.12, p < .05) anddistancing (r = -.19, p < .01). These results indicate thatthose coping with a stressful interpersonal situation thatinvolved someone close to them reported significantly morerelationship-focused coping and positive reappraisal, andreported significantly less support seeking and distancingthan those coping with a situation that did not involvesomeone close to the respondent.Other Interpersonal. Stressful interpersonalsituations that did not involve someone close to respondentswere significantly and positively related to the relativeuse of accepting responsibility (r = .13, p < .05). Thisresult indicates that when a close relationship is notinvolved, those coping with a stressful interpersonalsituation reported significantly more acceptingresponsibility than those coping within other situations.Relations between Personality and Situation Factors The correlations between personality and situationfactors are shown in Table 9. Only one significant findingemerged in these analyses: neuroticism was positively74related to interpersonal situations which did not involvesomeone close to the respondent (r = .16, p < .01). Thisset of analyses indicates that there are basically noassociations between personality and the type of situationdescribed.Relations between Social Desirability and Relationship-Focused CopingThe correlations between relationship-focused copingand social desirability dimensions are displayed in Table10. As expected, no significant correlations were foundbetween the two social desirability dimensions and theendorsement of relationship-focused coping (using both rawscore and relative score methods to compute coping scores).These findings support the contention that the endorsementof relationship-focused coping is not simply a function of asocially desirable response set.t-Test AnalysesThe results for the planned t-tests between situationalgroups for coping are displayed in Table 11. Expectedsignificant differences were obtained for 7 out of 9 tests.Even under stringent Bonferroni protection (Dunn, 1961) tocontrol the familywise error rate, all of the p values of75the significant tests were below the modified critical alpha(p < .007). The results are summarized below.Close Interpersonal vs. Other Interpersonal. Thoserespondents in a stressful interpersonal situation thatinvolved a close other reported significantly morerelationship-focused coping than those respondents involvedin a stressful interpersonal situation that did not involvea close other (t (87) = 4.37, p = .000). As well, thoserespondents in the close interpersonal group reportedsignificantly less distancing than those respondents in theother interpersonal group (t (87) = -2.82, p = .003). Nosignificant differences were found between the closeinterpersonal and other interpersonal groups in respondent'sreports of escape-avoidance and planful problem-solving.Work vs. Close Interpersonal. Those involved in astressful work situation reported significantly more planfulproblem-solving (t (173) = 7.29, p =.000) and reportedsignificantly less relationship-focused coping than thoseinvolved in a stressful interpersonal situation with a closeother (t (173) = -12.73, p = .000).Work vs. Other Interpersonal. Those involved in a worksituation reported significantly more planful problem-solving than those involved in an interpersonal situationthat did not involve a close other (t (148) = 6.61, p =.000).76Multiple Regression Analyses A MANOVA was not conducted for the following reasons.First, given that personality is most often considered acontinuous variable, dichotomizing or trichotimizingpersonality would lower the power to predict coping frompersonality (c.f. Pedhazur, 1982). Second, when coping isscored proportionally, all the coping scales cannot beentered into a MANOVA because the scores are linearlydependent. Third, it has been recommended that multipleunivariate tests (using a single outcome variable) areappropriate and preferable to a multivariate analysisfollowed up by multiple univariate tests in the followingcases (Huberty & Morris, 1989): 1) when the researcher isinterested in examining "with respect to which outcomevariable do the groups differ" (p. 303); 2) when theresearch is exploratory; and 3) "when some or all theoutcome variables under current study have been previouslystudied in univariate contexts" (p. 303). The present studyclearly comes under this umbrella.Consequently, multiple regression analyses were carriedout. Two sets of hierarchical regression analyses wereconducted in the following manner. (In each analysis,coping was the dependent variable.)	1) In the first setof regression analyses, personality variables were enteredas a block on the first step, followed by the situationfactors on the second step, followed by interactions between77personality and situation factors on the third step. 2) Inthe second set of regression analyses, the situation factorswere entered on the first step, followed by the personalityvariables entered as a block on the second step, followed byinteractions between personality and situation factors onthe third step.Performing both sets of analyses enables thedetermination of unique coping variance accounted for bypersonality and situation factors. The extent to whichsituation factors account for variance over and above thataccounted for by personality is examined in the first set.The second set examines the extent to which personalityaccounts for variance over and above that accounted for bysituation factors.Outliers were determined by examining standardizedresidual scores. All cases with a standardized residualscore above 3.00 or below -3.00 were omitted when it wasdetermined that data entry errors could not account for theoutlier. This resulted in omitting one case each from theanalyses for relationship-focused coping, confrontativecoping, accepting responsibility, positive reappraisal, anddistancing.The results of the hierarchical regression analyses arepresented in Tables 12, 13, and 14. The number of Type Ierrors expected by chance in this set of analyses is 1.35.Corrections for shrinkage, adjusted R2 values, are reportedin the tables.78The Unique Contribution of Situation Factors in thePrediction of CopingThe "other interpersonal" category comprised only 11.9%of the sample (n = 32). Consequently, this category wasdropped from the regression analyses because the number ofpredictors needed to include this category too closelyapproached the number of subjects in this category (i.e., 23predictors would have been needed to test all possible maineffects and interactions). Thus, the work situation and theclose interpersonal situation were entered as thesituational variables by using effect coding (in which oneof the groups is assigned -1 in all vectors).Pedhazur (1982) has argued that "effect coding isgenerally the preferred method of coding categoricalvariables" (p. 329). He explains that the use of dummycoding for categorical variables (in which one group isassigned 0 in all vectors) is primarily indicated when onegroup serves as a control group. He notes that the varianceexplained by the groups is the same whether one uses effector dummy coding; however, effect coding allows a directinterpretation of the betas because the intercept is equalto the grand mean of the dependent variable (in this case,coping) and each beta is equal to the deviation of the groupfrom the grand mean.79The results for the analyses assessing the uniquecontribution of situation factors in the prediction ofcoping are presented in Table 12. These results aresummarized below. In hierarchical regression analyses,situation factors contributed unique variance over and abovethat of personality in seven of nine forms of coping:relationship-focused coping (R 2 change = .35, F change (7,261) = 73.05, p < .0001), confrontative coping (R 2 change =.03, F change (7, 261) = 3.90, p < .05), planful problemsolving (R2 change = .21, F change (7, 262) = 36.38, p <.0001), seeking support (R2 change = .03, F change (7, 262)= 3.51, p < .05), accepting responsibility (R 2 change = .06,F change (7, 261) = 10.09, p < .0001), escape-avoidance (R 2change = .04, F change (7, 262) = 6.17, p < .01), anddistancing (R2 change = .04, F change (7, 261) = 5.05, p <.01). That is, when taken together, situation factors weresignificant predictors of these seven forms of coping whenentered on the second step, after partialling out theeffects of personality on the first step. The unique copingvariance explained by situation ranged from 3%(confrontative coping and support seeking) to 35%(relationship-focused coping). The group of situationfactors did not contribute unique variance to the predictionof positive reappraisal and self-control.An examination of the significant betas for particularsituations elucidates the independent role of particularsituation factors in the prediction of coping. These80results are summarized below. The significant betas for thework situation indicate that those respondents coping with astressor that involved a work situation reportedsignificantly more planful problem-solving (b = .56, p <.0001), accepting responsibility (b = .33, p < .0001), andescape-avoidance (b = .27, p < .001) than those coping withstressors in other situational contexts. In contrast, thosecoping with a stressor that involved a work situationreported significantly less relationship-focused coping (b =-.64, p < .0001) and confrontative coping (h = -.18, p <.05) than those coping with stressors in other situationalcontexts.The significant betas for the close interpersonalsituation indicated that those respondents coping with astressor that involved a close other reported employingsignificantly more relationship-focused coping (b = .63, R <.0001) than those coping with stressors in other situations.In contrast, those coping with a stressor that involved aclose other reported using significantly less planfulproblem-solving (b = -.33, p < .0001), acceptingresponsibility (b = -.15, p < .05), escape-avoidance (b = -.17, p < .05), and distancing (b = -.16, p = .05) than thosecoping with stressors in other situations.81The Unique Contribution of Personality in the Prediction ofCopingThe results of the analyses examining the uniquecontribution of personality to the prediction of coping aredisplayed in Table 13. These results are summarized below.In hierarchical regression analyses, personality contributedunique variance to the prediction to six of the nine formsof coping: confrontative coping (R2 change = .06, F change(7,261) = 3.13, p < .01), planful problem-solving (R2 change= .04, F change (7, 262) = 2.40, p < .05), seeking support(R2 change = .04, F change (7, 262) = 2.56, p < .05),positive reappraisal (R 2 change = .05, F change (7, 261) =2.70), p < .05), accepting responsibility (R 2 change = .10,F change (7, 261) = 6.44, p < .0001), and escape-avoidance(R2 change = .09, F change (7, 262) = 5.56, p < .0001).That is, the five personality scales when taken togetherwere a significant predictor of these six forms of copingwhen entered on the second step, after partialling out theeffect of situation factors on the first step. The uniquecoping variance explained by personality ranged from 3%(planful problem-solving) to 10% (accepting responsibility).As a group, the five personality scales, did not contributeunique variance to the prediction of relationship-focusedcoping, self-control, and distancing.Now turning to an examination of the independent roleof each personality dimension in the prediction of coping, asignificant beta on this step (when the R2 change issignificant) indicates that the particular personality traitpredicts coping independently of the other traits. The82significant betas for the trait of neuroticism indicatedthat those high in neuroticism reported significantly moreconfrontative coping (b = .17, p < .05) and escape-avoidance(b = .16, p < .05) than those low in neuroticism.Therefore, support was found for the hypothesis thatneuroticism would be associated with higher use of escape-avoidance. However, no support was found for the hypothesisthat neuroticism would be negatively associated with therelative use of distancing.Although no specific hypotheses were put forthregarding independent effects of openness to experience, thesignificant betas for the trait of openness to experienceindicated that those high in openness to experience reportedsignificantly more positive reappraisal (h = .18, p < .01)and significantly less escape-avoidance (b = -.13, p < .05)than those low in openness to experience.The significant betas for the trait of agreeablenessindicated that those high in agreeableness reportedsignificantly more support seeking (b = .16, p < .01) andsignificantly less confrontative coping (b = -.16, p = .01)than those low in agreeableness. Thus, support was foundfor the hypothesis that agreeableness would be negativelyrelated to the relative use of confrontative coping.Although no specific hypotheses were advancedconcerning the independent effects of conscientiousness, thesignificant betas for the trait of conscientiousnessindicated that those high in conscientiousness reported83significantly less accepting responsibility (h = -.28, p <.0001) and escape-avoidance (b = -.13, p < .05) than thoselow in conscientiousness. It should be noted that the itemson the accepting responsibility denote self-blamingstrategies (e.g., criticized or lectured myself). Nosignificant betas were found for the trait of extraversion.The Joint Contribution of Personality and Situation Factors in the Prediction of CopingThe results of the analyses assessing the jointcontribution of person and situation factors in theprediction of coping are displayed in Table 14. Theseresults are summarized below. In hierarchical regressionanalyses, when all possible person-situation interactionterms were entered as a block after controlling for the maineffects of situation and personality, the person-situationinteractions contributed unique variance in coping over andabove person and situation factors considered separately inthree forms of coping: relationship-focused coping (R 2change = .05, F change (7, 261) = 2.06, p < . 05 ),confrontative coping (R 2 change = .08, F change (7, 261) =2.36, p < .05), and planful problem-solving (R 2 change =.05, F change (7, 262)= 1.91, p < .05). The unique copingvariance explained by person-situation interactions rangedfrom 5% to 8%. Person-situation interactions did notcontribute unique variance to the prediction of any of the84emotion-focused forms of coping: support seeking, positivereappraisal, self-control, accepting responsibility, escape-avoidance, and distancing.As expected, the significant betas in these analysesindicated that when a close other was involved in thestressful encounter, those high on neuroticism reportedsignificantly less relationship-focused coping (b = -.82, p< .01) than those low in neuroticism in the same situationalcontext. In addition, when a close other was involved inthe stressful situation, those high on openness toexperience reported significantly less confrontative coping(b = -1.00, p < .05) than those low in openness in the samesituational context. As well, in coping with stressors inwork situations, those high in conscientiousness reportedsignificantly more planful problem-solving (b = 1.21, p <.01) than those low in conscientiousness in the samesituational context.To further specify the specific personality dimensionsaccounting for the variance in the interaction effects,additional regression analyses were conducted separately forthose situations in which a close other was involved versusthose in which one was not, and for those situations inwhich work was involved vs. those in which it was not. Theresults are presented in Tables 15, 16, and 17. Theadditional information gleaned from these analyses issummarized below.85Relationship-focused coping. The difference in thebeta weights for neuroticism in the two regression equationsindicates that respondents who were high on neuroticismreported significantly less relationship-focused coping whena close other was involved (b = - .29, p < .05) and, incontrast, reported significantly more relationship-focusedcoping when a close other was not involved (b = .17, p <.05), than those low on neuroticism in the same situation.No other significant differences for personality dimensionswere found across situations for relationship-focusedcoping.Confrontative Coping. The betas for conscientiousnessindicate that those high in conscientiousness reportedsignificantly more confrontative coping when a worksituation is involved (b = .26, p < .01) than those low inconscientiousness in the same situation. However, thosehigh in conscientiousness did not report more confrontativecoping when a close other was involved in the situation.Planful problem-solving. The difference in betaweights for conscientiousness indicated that those high inconscientiousness reported significantly more planfulproblem-solving when a work situation was involved (b = .31,R < .01) than those low in conscientiousness in the samesituation. However, those high in conscientiousness did notreport more planful problem-solving when other situationswere involved.86Tests of Specific Hypotheses--Person-Situation InteractionsAdditional hierarchical regression analyses wereperformed to test the specific hypotheses regarding person-situation interactions in relationship coping and inconfrontative coping and to follow up the significantfindings in previous analyses. These analyses entailedentering simultaneously the specific personality variableand the specific situation variable on the first step,followed by entering the specific interaction term on thesecond step. These results are displayed in Tables 18 and19.As expected, those high in neuroticism reportedsignificantly less relationship-focused coping when dealingwith a situation that involved a close other (R 2 change =.03, F change (3, 265) = 9.69, p < .01) than those low inneuroticism in the same situational context. There was anonsignificant trend (p = .067) for those high on opennessreport more relationship-focused coping when the situationinvolved a close other than those low in openness in thesame situational context, thus, indicating weak support forthis specific hypothesis.Also, as expected, those high in neuroticism reportedsignificantly more confrontative coping when a close otherwas involved in the situation (R2 change = .02, F change (3,265) = 5.31, p < .05) than those low in neuroticism in thesame situational context. In contrast, those high in87openness to experience reported significantly lessconfrontative coping when a close other was involved in thesituation (R2 change = .03, F change (3, 265) = 7.07, p <.01) than those low in openness in the same situationalcontext.88DISCUSSIONThis research is spurred by two primary goals: 1) tocontribute to current knowledge about the structure ofcoping by providing evidence for the viability of a thirdfunction of coping, relationship-focused coping; and 2) tofurther specify the role of personality and situationfactors in the prediction of coping.The Structure of CopingAlthough the eight subscales of the Ways of Coping(WOC) scale tap a number of aspects of emotion-focused andproblem-focused coping, the WOC scale (along with otheravailable standard coping measures) does not tap modes ofcoping geared toward the maintenance of relationships duringstressful encounters (i.e., relationship-focused coping). Ascale was developed to tap two dimensions of relationship-focused coping, empathic coping and providing support, toassess respectively the cognitive and behavioral dimensionsof relationship-focused coping. Factor analysis indicatesthat relationship-focused coping is, indeed, separable fromemotion-focused and problem-focused modes of coping, therebyproviding support for a three-function model of coping.However, the factor analysis suggests that empathic copingand support provision may be best viewed as facets of89relationship-focused coping rather than as separatedimensions. Nonetheless, the results of the factor analysisindicate that a comprehensive model of coping requires notonly a consideration of efforts aimed at regulatingemotional distress and at altering the situation, but also arecognition of efforts directed towards maintaining socialrelationships during stressful periods. The varianceaccounted for by the relationship-focused factor suggeststhat incorporating the relationship-focused coping subscaleinto standard measures of coping will likely increase thepredictive power of current cognitive models of coping byproviding researchers a means to tap an importantinterpersonal dimension of coping.The subscale intercorrelations indicate the relationsbetween relationship-focused coping and confrontativecoping, positive reappraisal, and self-control are higher inmagnitude than other subscale relations. These findings arenot surprising when the content of the various subscales isconsidered. Confrontative coping is clearly aninterpersonal mode of coping and likely to be related torelationship-focused coping, another interpersonal dimensionof coping. Positive reappraisal contains a few items thatmay be more likely to be endorsed when close others areinvolved in the situation, such as: rediscovered what wasimportant in life, and changed or grew as a person in a goodway. Further, when others are involved in the situation,respondents may be more likely to conceal their feelings so90as not to alert others of their distress or to not distressothers with troublesome feelings. For example, the self-control subscale includes the following items: kept othersfrom knowing how bad things were; tried not to burn mybridges, but leave things open somewhat.Although these findings may cause some to question theseparability of relationship-focused coping as a uniquedimension, previous research has reported relations ofsimilar magnitudes between coping subscales of the WOC(e.g., Folkman et al., 1986b; i.e., planful problem-solvingand positive reappraisal, accepting responsibility andescape-avoidance, self-control and escape-avoidance, self-control and planful problem-solving, self-control andpositive reappraisal). Indeed, the significantintercorrelations between subscales are consistent with thetransactional theoretical perspective and with previousresearch which indicates that individuals tend to endorse avast array of coping strategies rather than one particularform of coping (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980; Folkman et al.1986b).It should also be noted that coping was averaged overfive situations for the intercorrelation analyses reportedby Folkman et al. It is likely that aggregating acrossmultiple stressful situations gives a more reliable estimateof coping. In the present study coping was measured in onlyone situation. Thus, future research which employs repeatedmeasures of coping over numerous stressful situations is91needed to more adequately characterize the relations betweenrelationship-focused coping and other forms of coping.One potential confound in assessing relationship-focused modes of coping is that scores on the relationship-focused scales might reflect social desirability. For thisreason, the relation of scores on the relationship-focusedcoping scale to scores on a standard measure of socialdesirability was examined. All relations betweenrelationship-focused coping and social desirabilitydimensions were nonsignificant. These findings suggest thatthe endorsement of relationship-focused coping items is notdue to a socially desirable response set.The Role of Personality and Situation Factors in CopingThe second issue that this study addresses is whetherthere are certain types of people or certain types ofstressful situations that are related to various types ofcoping. This study examined the extent to which the personand situation factors would predict the proportion ofrelationship-focused, emotion-focused, and problem-focusedcoping used by respondents. Hypotheses were derived fromthe cognitive-transactional model of the stress process(e.g., Lazarus & DeLongis, 1983), which suggests that coping92behavior in a given situation should be predictable from aconsideration of both person and situation factors.The Role of Situation Factors in CopingHierarchical regression analyses revealed thatsituation factors accounted for significant increases invariance beyond that accounted for by personality in sevenforms of coping: relationship-focused coping, confrontativecoping, planful problem-solving, accepting responsibility,escape-avoidance, and distancing. These analyses alsoindicated that particular situations play an independentrole in the prediction of coping.Consistent with previous findings, those coping with astressor in the work situation employed significantly moreplanful problem-solving (Folkman et al. (1986b; Folkman &Lazarus, 1980) than those coping with stressors in othersituational contexts. As well, individuals coping with astressful work situation used significantly more acceptingresponsibility and escape-avoidance coping strategies thanthose coping with stressors in other situational contexts.The tendency to plan ways to directly alter the situation aswell as to acknowledge their role in creating orexacerbating the stressful situation (e.g., procrastinationor disorganization) may indicate that individuals feel agreater sense of personal responsibility when faced with thedemands of a stressful work or academic situation. The93greater use of planful problem-solving and acceptingresponsibility may also signify that stressful worksituations are often appraised as being more amenable tochange (Folkman et al., 1986b).The greater use of escape-avoidance may indicate it iseasier to use avoidant strategies in a work situation asopposed to interpersonal contexts where those involvedcannot be readily avoided. Alternatively, those who engagein escape-avoidance when dealing with a stressful worksituation may do so because they have perceive littlecontrol over the particular work situation (Folkman et al.,1986b; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978). Further, engaging inescape-avoidance may be a palliative tactic to cope withelevated levels of stress, chronic strain, or burnout in thework place (Shinn et al., 1984).Moreover, individuals who employ this trio of copingstrategies may be able to cope more adaptively withstressors in the work situation. To illustrate, engaging inplanful problem-solving has the obvious benefits of activelyworking to alter the situation or to meet work-related goalsor deadlines. Accepting responsibility also allowsindividuals to feel a sense of control over the situation byacknowledging that they have played a part in creating thesituation. Allowing a break from work activities, the useof escape-avoidance strategies may help to relieve theemotional strain of the stressful situation. Individualswho rely solely on problem-focused strategies and fail to94use emotion-focused strategies when under pressure in a worksituation may experience more stress-related health problemsor may be more emotionally distressed in the face of stress,especially if their problem-focused efforts proveunsuccessful. As many have argued (c.f. Compas, 1987;Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), coping flexibility may prove to bemore effective and beneficial to well-being than doggedpersistence with one strategy.In addition, those coping in a work context usedsignificantly less relationship coping and confrontativecoping than those coping in interpersonal contexts. Theseresults may reflect that other people were not involved inthe majority of stressful work situations; hence, theseinterpersonal forms of coping may have been largelyinapplicable. Alternately, these findings may also suggesteither that important relationships were not endangered bythe stressful situation or that the demands of the worksituation took precedence over the maintenance ofrelationships.Those coping with stressful interpersonal situationsthat involved a close other engaged in significantly morerelationship-focused coping and employed significantly lessplanful problem-solving, accepting responsibility, escape-avoidance, and distancing strategies than those coping withstressors in other situational contexts. These findings areconsistent with those of Folkman et al. (1986b) whichsuggest that when a loved one's well-being was at stake,95respondents employ less planful problem-solving anddistancing.These findings also indicate that when a close other isinvolved coping effort tends to be expended in maintainingthe relationship--perhaps at the expense of being able todistance oneself from the stressor. It is also plausiblethat, when important others are involved in stressfulsituations, individuals choose to respond cooperatively towork through the problem in an effort to sustain therelationship rather than create more friction by activelyengaging in distancing strategies. Further, the distancingscale, which is largely comprised of emotional suppressionstrategies (e.g., went on as if nothing happened, tried toforget the whole thing, made light of the situation; refusedto get too serious about it), may be more troublesome toutilize or less appealing when an important relationship isthreatened or when an important other is suffering. Indeed,it may be much more difficult to jettison negative emotionswhen a close other is involved and affected by the stressfulsituation. Perhaps, the use of distancing strategiescarries too many potentially damaging repercussions to therelationship to be considered useful in a stressfulsituation that involves an important other.The lower use of planful problem-solving when closeothers are involved may reflect that the presence of a lovedone impedes the respondent's ability to take direct actionto solve the problem at hand. However, previous research96suggests that the use of empathy is associated with greaterlevels of one particular type of problem-solving--that is,attempting to reach a compromise during a period ofrelationship conflict (DeLongis et al., 1987). As well,these findings may also suggest that interpersonal stressfulsituations simply do not demand the kind of structured taskfocus that is required when meeting a work-related deadlineor goal (c.f. Folkman et al., 1986b).The lower use of escape-avoidance strategies when aclose other is involved in the stressful situation mayindicate that respondents are unable to realistically avoidthe close other that was involved in the situation (e.g, theother person involved either shared the respondent's livingspace or was seen on a regular basis) or that individualsprefer not to avoid important others. Important others mayalso discourage individuals from engaging in health-riskbehaviors (captured by the escape-avoidance subscale), suchas smoking or excessive sleeping, eating, drinking, or druguse.The lower use of accepting responsibility strategies(i.e., self-blaming strategies) may indicate that when closeothers are involved in stressful situations, individuals aremore likely to blame the situation on the others involved ormay find it difficult to see themselves as primarilyresponsible for the stressful situation. Perhaps, as themarital literature on distressed couples suggests, it ismore common for individuals to blame their partner and to97believe that their partner's behavior is in need ofalteration (c.f. Bradbury & Fincham, 1989; Gottman, 1979).Moreover, incessant efforts geared towards changing theirpartner's behaviors may have played an important role increating and in escalating interpersonal tension orconflict.Of special importance, these set of findings provideevidence for the construct validity of relationship-focusedcoping because it would be expected that given the personalsignificance of close relationships respondents would bedirecting a greater proportion of their coping effortstowards maintaining important relationships when closeothers are involved in the situation. Supporting thisinterpretation and also adding to the construct validity ofrelationship-focused coping is the finding that respondentsengaged in significantly more relationship-focused copingwhen someone close is involved than in other stressfulinterpersonal situations. Taken together, these findingsindicate that when a close other is involved in a stressfulsituation coping is primarily directed towards maintainingthe relationship, and strategies which have the potential ofthreatening or damaging the relationship further are lesslikely to be deployed.In summary, the situational context of the stressorwielded an emphatic influence on the selection of copingstrategies that are not emotion-focused. Specifically, the98use of planful problem-solving and relationship-focusedcoping is most strongly influenced by the situationalcontext. Taken together, this set of findings provideevidence for coping specificity by illustrating that copingis often powerfully elicited by particular situationaldemands.The Role of Personality in CopingInterestingly, there were virtually no significantrelations between personality and the type of stressfulsituation described. Of course, this may be due toprocuring only one time point of data. Longitudinal studiesassessing coping over multiple stressful situations may findmore of a linkage between personality and situationalsources of stress. Nonetheless, the results of this studysuggest important linkages between coping and personality.Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that the fivepersonality dimensions, when taken together, accounted forsignificant increases in variance beyond that accounted forby situation factors in six forms of coping: confrontativecoping, planful problem-solving, support seeking, positivereappraisal, accepting responsibility, and escape-avoidance.Moreover, four out of the five personality dimensionsindependently predicted various forms of coping.99More specifically, in responding to a stressfulsituation, those high on neuroticism employed significantlymore confrontative coping and escape-avoidance, and usedsignificantly less planful problem-solving than those low inneuroticism. It should be noted that the escape-avoidancesubscale on the WOC is primarily a composite of wishfulthinking strategies and avoidance strategies (e.g., hoped amiracle would happen, slept more than usual, avoided beingwith people in general). As well, the strategies containedin the confrontative coping subscale are primarilyaggressive in tone (e.g., stood my ground and fought forwhat I wanted, expressed anger to the person(s) who causedthe problem) and have been characterized as "unskillfulforms of confrontation" (Folkman et. al, 1986b, p. 1001).With these considerations in mind, these findings areconsistent with those of Endler and Parker (1990) whichsuggest that neuroticism is associated with less task-focused coping and more emotion-focused coping. As well,these findings coincide with those of McCrae and Costa(1986), indicating that neuroticism is associated with morehostile reaction, escapist fantasy, wishful thinking,passivity, and indecisiveness.The findings of this study suggest that those high inneuroticism, which is characterized by a propensity toexperience negative emotions (McCrae & Costa, 1987), may bemore likely to channel their coping efforts towards managingtheir disruptive emotions. The energy needed to regulate100their distressing emotions may attenuate their ability toengage planful problem-solving. When those high onneuroticism did engage in problem-focused coping, theytended to employ confrontational strategies which have beenshown in several community studies to have a deleteriouseffect on psychological well-being (e.g., Folkman et. al,1986b; Folkman & Lazarus, 1988), most likely due to thenegative impact of confrontational strategies on therelationship (DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990).As well, the tendency to engage in confrontational andavoidant coping strategies may in the long run perpetuateincreased levels of emotional distress because thesestrategies generally either exacerbate the situation, elicitsocial disapproval, or do little to constructively alter thesituation. Subsequently, to manage these increased levelsof distress, those high on neuroticism may funnel even moreenergy into avoidant strategies. If this pattern ofresponding prevails, those high on neuroticism may be moreinclined to view their distressing circumstances asunchangeable and become even more prone to use escape-avoidance in an effort to take their minds off of what isperceived as an unalterable situation. This interpretationis consistent with previous research, suggesting that when astressor is perceived as unchangeable individuals are morelikely to use escape-avoidance strategies (Folkman et al.,1986; Folkman and Lazarus, 1980).101In contrast, when dealing with a stressful situation,those high on openness to experience employed significantlymore positive reappraisal and used significantly lessescape-avoidance strategies than those low on openness.Previous research indicates that those high on openness toexperience possess enhanced capacities for divergentthinking and originality (Costa & McCrae, 1989). Thus, inlight of previous findings, the findings of this studysuggest that those high on openness to experience may bemore inclined to apply a more flexible or innovativecognitive set to their problems. This propensity mayfacilitate a capacity to alter their perceptions of thesituation and thereby derive meaning from the situation,which may consequently diminish the desire to avoid thesituation.The use of positive reappraisal strategies has beendepicted (Weitz, Rothbaum, & Blackburn, 1984) as"interpretive secondary control" which "affords theindividuals some degree of control over at least thepersonal psychological impact of these events" (p. 956).Therefore, those high on openness may also gain a sense ofpsychological control over stressful events by usingpositive reappraisal strategies and in so doing be lesscompelled to avoid the situation. As well, given that oneaspect of openness signifies an openness to feelings (McCrae& Costa, 1987), those high on openness to experience may bemore able to tolerate their own levels of distress and102consequently feel less need to engage in escape-avoidancestrategies.Interestingly, positive reappraisal is the onlyemotion-focused mode of coping that has been consistentlylinked with better outcomes (e.g., Folkman et al., 1986b).Moreover, the research conducted by Lazarus and hiscolleagues (see Lazarus & Folkman, 1987, for a review)indicates that the use of positive reappraisal tends to bemore stable than variable across diverse sources of stressand across different populations (see also Folkman et al.,1986a). Thus, the finding that those high in opennessengage in higher levels of positive reappraisal illuminatesone important person variable which could, at least in part,account for these previous findings.In managing a stressful situation, those high onagreeableness employed significantly more support seekingand used significantly less confrontative coping than thoselow on agreeableness. These findings suggest those high onagreeableness may be more likely to engage in sociallycooperative coping strategies which marshal social resourcesin times of stress and tend to shun noncooperativestrategies such as confrontative coping to avoid socialconflict. These findings are also consistent with those ofBuss (in preparation) which indicate that those high onagreeableness are less likely to employ coercive strategiesto influence others.103Perhaps, by avoiding hostile interpersonalconfrontation, those high on agreeableness are able tosustain higher quality and more supportive relationshipswith others and thereby enhance their perceived support intimes of need. Conversely, at the extreme end, those highon agreeableness may be more likely to be self-effacing,dependent, and fawning (McCrae & Costa, 1987), which couldinadvertently antagonize others. As well, those high onagreeableness may be more reliant on the evaluations fromothers for a sense of direction and personal adequacy, whichmay lead to an increased desire to seek the support ofothers in times of stress.In managing stressful situations, those high onconscientiousness were inclined to use significantly lessaccepting responsibility in their coping efforts than thoselow in conscientiousness. Although this finding may seemcounterintuitive, it should be noted that the items on theaccepting responsibility subscale consist primarily ofbehavioral self-blaming efforts (i.e., efforts to ascribeblame to something that the individual did or did not do).This finding suggests that conscientiousness, which isassociated with a propensity to be productive, self-disciplined, and well-organized (Costa & McCrae, 1989), maynegate a tendency to blame oneself for stressfulcircumstances. Perhaps, those high on conscientiousness mayless likely to blame themselves for stressful situations104because they are less likely to procrastinate or avoidundesirable tasks, and would subsequently be less likely tofeel responsible for their stressful circumstances.Collectively, this group of findings suggests that aconsideration of personality dimensions adds to theprediction of coping. With the exception of confrontativecoping, personality appears to contribute primarily to theprediction of emotion-focused forms of coping (e.g.,positive reappraisal, seeking support, acceptingresponsibility, and escape-avoidance). In fact, distancingwas the only emotion-focused mode of coping that personality(when considered as a group of dimensions) did not predict.These findings suggest that over the life course individualsmay develop proclivities or preferences for particular waysof managing their emotions during periods of emotionaldistress. This set of findings also sheds light onparticular personality dimensions that could account for acertain degree of coping stability across situations.However, situation factors also significantlycontributed to the prediction of confrontative coping,accepting responsibility, and escape-avoidance, although toa lesser extent. This underscores the need to include bothperson and situation variables in our models of coping.Further, the evidence discussed below suggests thatpersonality in important in predicting problem-focused andrelationship-focused coping when the situational context is105considered, highlighting the importance of a transactionalperspective of the coping process.The Interaction of Personality and Situation in CopingA process model of coping suggests that the effect ofpersonality on coping might vary by situation. Consistentwith this view, this study found that, when the situationalcontext of the stressor was considered, personality was animportant predictor of three forms of coping behavior:relationship-focused coping, confrontative coping, andplanful problem-solving.Specifically, when a close other was involved in thestressful situation, those high on neuroticism usedsignificantly less relationship-focused coping than thoselow in neuroticism in the same situational context.Conversely, in stressful interpersonal situations that didnot involve a close other, those high on neuroticism usedsignificantly more relationship-focused coping than thoselow in neuroticism in the same situational context. Theseinverse results suggest that those high in neuroticism arenot lacking in their ability to be empathic or to providesupport, but find it more difficult to engage in theseprocesses when a stressful situation involves a close other.One possible explanation for these findings is thatstressful situations involving a close other promote higherlevels of personal distress, thereby spurring a greater106reliance upon emotion-focused strategies in an effort toreduce heightened levels of emotional distress. Thisinterpretation is consistent with other findings whichsuggest that high levels of personal distress and highintensities of anxiety or alarm inhibit empathic processes(see Batson, Fultz, & Schoenrade, 1987, for a review).Individuals who experience high levels of personal distresswhen interacting with others may be more inclined to theexclusive use of emotion-focused forms of coping to regulatetheir feelings of alarm and anxiety.Interestingly, the reverse pattern was shown for theuse of confrontative coping. When a close other wasinvolved in the stressful situation, those high onneuroticism engaged in significantly more confrontativecoping than those low on neuroticism. This finding isconsistent with Buss's findings, indicating that those lowin emotional stability tend to engage in more coercivetactics when trying to influence close others (Buss, inpreparation). As noted previously, past community researchhas suggested that the use of confrontative coping isassociated with unfavorable outcomes (Folkman & Lazarus,1988; Folkman et al., 1986b). Particularly in the case ofconfrontative coping, it seems likely that the negativeeffects of engaging in this form of coping are due to thepotentially damaging repercussions on the relationship(DeLongis & O'Brien, 1990). 2107This intriguing set of findings reflect a pattern ofresponding to close others that may fuel and perpetuateinterpersonal difficulties during stressful periods. Bybeing disinclined to employ relationship-focused coping andsimultaneously more disposed to deploy higher levels ofconfrontation when close others are involved in thestressful encounter, those high in neuroticism appear to beless able to offer understanding and support to thoseinvolved close others and more likely to further antagonizethem with their confrontational stances. Especially whenthe other person's perspectives and concerns are not takeninto account, it seems likely that confrontationalstrategies would backfire and be counterproductive.This pattern of responding repeated over many stressfulencounters may contribute to the etiology and maintenance oftroubled and distressing close personal relationships aswell as increase the likelihood of relationship dissolution.If these findings are replicated in future research,clinical interventions for those high in neuroticism withinterpersonal difficulties could be aimed towardscultivating empathic understanding and expressions ofsupportive behaviors towards close others. Those high inneuroticism could also be helped to practice more skillfulforms of interpersonal negotiation that are less likely toantagonize their partners.108In contrast, there was a trend for those scoring highon openness to engage in more relationship-focused copingwhen someone close to them was involved in the stressfulsituation than those low in openness in the same situationalcontext. Conversely, those high on openness to experienceengaged in significantly less confrontative coping when aclose other was involved in the stressful situation thanthose low in openness in the same situational context. Ithas been suggested that the use of empathy requires anopenness to the feelings of others (Marcia, 1987). It maybe that openness to experience, which is associated with anopenness to feelings (McCrae & Costa, 1987), permits theindividual to be open to the emotional expression of closeothers. As well, the trait of openness, which is associatedwith divergent thinking (McCrae & Costa, 1987), may enablethe respondent to take into account the close other'sperspective and enable the individual to respond to thesituation in a more cooperative manner that avoids thedamaging repercussions of confrontation.Not surprisingly, those high in conscientiousnessengaged in significantly more planful problem-solving when astressor occurred in a work situation than those low inconscientiousness in the same situational context. Theseresults conform to the typical purposeful, ambitious, andhardworking profile of conscientiousness (McCrae & Costa,1987). More provocative are the findings that those high in109conscientiousness employed significantly more confrontativestrategies when work was involved than in other situations.These findings indicate that the salience of work goals andproblems for those high in conscientiousness may inhibittheir ability to consider the potentially damagingrepercussions of confrontative coping in a work setting. Ifcolleagues become antagonized by a confrontational approach,they may be less likely to support or assist these highlyconscientious individuals in meeting their work goals or indealing with work-related problems. If confrontation isused regularly in an effort to meet work goals or toincrease the quality of others' work, those high inconscientiousness may find themselves less distinguished andesteemed in their chosen fields if maintaining cooperativerelationships with co-workers is required for success andproductivity.If this pattern of responding in the work place isreplicated in future studies, clinical or organizationalinterventions could be constructed to help highlyconscientiousness workers to utilize more interpersonallyconstructive ways of dealing with co-workers and clients,perhaps by helping them to employ more relationship-focusedcoping in their dealings with others. It is interesting tonote that the popular business press and professionaldevelopment business seminars are already championing theuse of empathy in the business setting to promote successfulbusiness negotiations with outside clients, to foster110positive co-worker relationships, and to advance cross-cultural business liaisons (e.g., Covey, 1989).Indeed, especially in the prediction of modes of copingthat are not emotion-focused, a consideration of thesituational context adds to our understanding of how theinfluences of personality on coping may vary as a functionof the situation. Consistent with an interactionalperspective of personality (Endler, 1983; Endler & Edwards,1986), these findings elucidate some ways in which differentpersonality dimensions may influence particular forms ofcoping when others are involved in the situation, whetherthey are close others, acquaintances, or co-workers.111CONCLUSIONSSupport was found for a three-function model of coping,which includes emotion-focused, problem-focused andrelationship-focused forms of coping. As well, a subscalewith sound psychometric properties, was developed to taprelationship-focused coping. This study also suggests someimportant ways that personality and situation factors mayinfluence coping.Consistent with a process model of coping, dimensionsof the stressful situation were by far the most potentpredictor of relationship-focused coping and planfulproblem-solving. In contrast, personality was generally amore powerful predictor of the emotion-focused strategies.However, a model which considers personality in interactionwith the situation added to the prediction of coping,particularly with forms of coping that are not emotion-focused, suggesting that a more sophisticated model ofcoping which considers both person and situation factors intandem is called for. Further, the findings of this studysuggest that the observation of interpersonal dimensions ofcoping may greatly strengthen the predictive ability of ourcurrent models. However, this study only measured coping inone situation; hence, these findings must be interpretedcautiously and command future investigations which measurecoping over multiple time points to more adequately112delineate the role of person and situation factors in theprediction of coping.Further, this study carries all the limitationstypically ascribed to the use of self-report data as thesole method of data collection (e.g., retrospectivefalsification and contamination by various response sets).However, in the study of coping, it is virtually impossibleto capture covert cognitive processes involved in copingwithout self-report data. The use of self-report data alsohas no recourse in distinguishing the reported use from theactual use of coping strategies. Hence, self-reports aremost often considered veridical. However, it is plausiblethat self-report accounts of coping may not be veridical.For example, those high in neuroticism may systematicallyexaggerate their use of various coping strategies.Nonetheless, it is exceedingly difficult to verify thisspeculation with other available methods of observation(which have been also shown to be unsuccessful in capturingcovert cognitive processes). Further, to adopt such aposition in the absence of concrete evidence would mostlikely glean a less parsimonious interpretation of the data.In addition, the sample consisted of universitystudents which may limit its generalizability. Further,collecting data at only one time point does not allow for athorough investigation of the stability and specificity ofcoping over time through intraindividual analyses. Futurelongitudinal investigations with repeated closely-spaced113measures are needed to more adequately address issues ofstability and specificity in coping (DeLongis et al., inpress). Also, the cross-sectional correlational design ofthis study does not permit causal inferences.It should be noted as well that generally the copingvariance accounted for by the variables included in thisstudy was not particularly large (adjusted variances rangedfrom .02 to .39). These findings suggest that the narrowrange of variables included in this study do not adequatelyrepresent all the important variables that contribute to theprediction of coping. There are undoubtedly importantperson and situation variables that were not measured inthis study. As well, other pertinent variables that havebeen specified in the literature (e.g., DeLongis & O'Brien,1990; Folkman et al, 1986a, 1986b; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984)as being salient to the prediction of coping were notassessed in this study (e.g., cognitive appraisal, levels ofupset in the social network, dyadic partner's coping).It is plausible that personality significantly mediatesthe types of appraisals that individuals make in stressfulsituations. For example, personality may influence, to acertain extent, whether the situation is perceived asamenable to change, especially in situations fraught withuncertainty and ambiguity. Personality may also influencethe degree to which a situation is perceived as stressful.Particular kinds of stressors may be more threatening fordifferent personality types. For instance, those high in114conscientiousness may feel more threatened by workstressors; whereas, those high in agreeableness may feelmore threatened in situations that involve interpersonalconflict.Personality may also influence the type of coping thatis employed first in the coping sequence, and govern theextent to which the individual persists with a particularpattern of coping or shifts to other strategies when initialcoping efforts are ineffectual. Personality may also affectcoping to a greater extent during particular phases of thestressful encounter. Future longitudinal investigations areneeded to address these and other more complicated questionsregarding coping. For example, what happens whenindividuals are prevented by situational constraints fromengaging in their preferred modes of coping? To what extentdo various personality dimensions predict stability inemotion-focused coping over diverse sources of stress?It is also possible that personality influences thecoping process in interpersonal contexts through otheravenues not assessed in this study. For example, traitempathy may influence the extent to which individuals engagein relationship-focused coping. Further, personality mayinfluence the degree to which individuals are able tocoordinate their coping efforts with others involved instressful interpersonal situations. Personality may alsodetermine dyadic matches and mismatches in coping responses.For instance, if one person is inclined to be115confrontational and the other is inclined to avoidconfrontation, resolution of interpersonal difficulties maybe more labored. The personality of one individual mayconstrain the coping of others involved in the stressfulencounter. Research which captures the personalities ofthose involved in interpersonal stressful situations as wellas their respective coping responses could greatly expandcurrent knowledge about the role of personality ininterpersonal contexts.Moreover, given the findings of this study whichsuggest that relationship-focused coping is an importantinterpersonal dimension of coping especially in managingstressful situations that involve close others, futurestudies are needed to delineate linkages betweenrelationship-focused coping and outcomes. As well, futureinvestigation is required to specify the ways thatrelationship-focused coping may influence other aspects ofthe stress process. For example, does the use ofrelationship-focused coping encourage involved others toalso use relationship-focused coping? Does relationship-focused coping influence the appraisals of involved others?Does relationship-focused coping increase the amount ofsupport that the individual receives from involved others?Does relationship-focused coping speed the resolution ofinterpersonal difficulties?As well, the findings of this study suggest thatresearch aimed at delineating other important interpersonal116coping dimensions is warranted. These dimensions mayinclude interpersonal negotiation strategies used to dealwith interpersonal conflict (e.g., compromise,collaboration), encouragement of emotional expression,interpersonal withdrawal, recruiting other network membersto provide support to close others, self-disclosure toothers, and the use of criticism and praise.Indeed, the findings of this study highlight theimportance of delineating interpersonal dimensions in thestress and coping process and underscore the need toincorporate the social context of stressful situations inbuilding explanatory models of coping. Further, this studyprovides a preliminary depiction of meaningful relationsbetween coping, personality, and situation factors, whichrequire more thorough examination in future investigationsinvolving diverse populations with methodologies that permitcausal inference.117Footnotes'A separate factor analysis was carried out using only thescale items from the WOC. The factor structure clearlyresembled that reported in previous studies (e.g., Folkmanet al., 1986b) with the exception of the self-controllingsubscale which loaded partially with the distancing scale.Moreover, another analyses was conducted in which only thereported top four loading items (Folkman et al., 1986b) fromeach scale were factor analyzed. In this analysis, eachfactor fell out more cleanly, evincing the same factorstructure reported by Folkman et al. Consequently, Hakstian(personal communication) asserted that these results(regarding the top loading items) provide strong evidencethat the factor structures across this sample and previousones are similar.2Nonetheless, it should be noted that the cognitive-transaction model of the stress process asserts that theadaptive value of a particular coping strategy can only bedetermined within the context of the particular stressfulencounter (c.f. Folkman & Lazarus, 1984). 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SYSTAT: The system for statistics.Evanston, IL: SYSTAT Inc.Wood, J. V. (1989). Theory and research concerning socialcomparisons and personal attributes. Psychological Bulletin, 106, 231-248.Zahn-Waxler, C., Iannoti, R. & Chapman, M. (1982). Peers andprosocial development. In R. H. Rubin and H. S. Ross(Eds.), Peer relationships and social skills inchildhood (pp. 133-162). NY: Springer-Verlag.130Index of Tables1. Situational Contexts of Stressors 	 1332. Factor Loadings of Relationship-Coping Items 	 1343. Intercorrelations: Raw Score Coping Scales	1354. Mean Proportions of Total Coping	1365. Mean Personality Scores 	 1376. Intercorrelations: Personality Dimensions	 1387. Correlations between Coping andPersonality Dimensions	1398. Correlations between Coping andSituation Factors 	 1409. Correlations between Situation Factors andPersonality Dimensions 	 14110. Correlations between Relationship-FocusedCoping and Social Desirability	14211. t-Tests 	 14312. Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for bySituation Factors 	 14413. Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPersonality	 14714. Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPerson-Situation Interactions	 15013115. Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Relationship-Focused Coping	 15316. Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Confrontative Coping 	 15417. Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Planful Problem-Solving	 15518. Multiple Regression Analyses: Specific Hypothesesabout Interactions of Personality and SituationRelationship-Focused Coping	 15619. Multiple Regression Analyses: Specific Hypothesesabout Interactions of Personality and SituationConfrontative Coping	 157132Table 1Situational Contexts of StressorsSituationFrequencyN = 270Percentageof SampleWork 118 43.7%Close Interpersonal 57 21.1%Other Interpersonal 32 11.8%Other (Miscellaneous) 63 23.3%133Table 2Factor Loadings of Relationship-focused Coping ItemsRelationship-focused Coping(Alpha = .93)Loading Item.85	 Tried to understand the other person's concerns..85	 Tried to understand how the other person felt..79	 Tried to experience what the other person wasfeeling..79	 Tried to figure out what would make the otherperson feel better..75	 Tried to provide comfort to the other person(s)involved by telling them about my positivefeelings for them..74	 Tried to help the other person(s) involved bylistening to them..73	 Imagined myself in the other person's shoes..65	 Tried to see things from the other person's pointof view..64	 Tried to help the other person(s) involved bydoing something for them..62	 Tried to accept the other person(s) as they arenow.134Table 3Intercorrelations: Raw Score Coping Scales1. RF1 2 3 4 52. CF .36*** ,ME..111,•nnn3. PPS -.08 .14*4. SUP .24*** .27*** .15** .nnn MD 011= =ND5. PR .41*** .29*** .26*** .31***6. SC .40*** .30*** .19*** .15** .067. AR .01 .17** .12* .03 .24***8. EA .11* .28*** .13* .21*** .26***9. DIS .21*** .15** .05 .15** .15**6 7 8 96. SC7. AR .098. EA .28*** .30*** nn,. IMP WM* Inn9. DIS .15** .03 .15**Two-tailed sig.	 *p <.05	**p <.01	 ***p <.001Note.1. RF = Relationship-focused 6. SC = Self-Control2. CF = Confrontative Coping 7. AR = Accepting3. PPS = Planful Problem-Solving Responsibility4. SUP = Support Seeking 8. EA = Escape-Avoidance5. PR = Positive Reappraisal 9. DIS = Distancing135Table 4Mean Proportions of Total CopingSituational Context of StressorCopingTotalSample WorkCloseInter-personalOtherInter-personal OtherMeanSDMeanSDMeanSDMeanSDMeanSDRelationship- .106 .088 .141 .112 .106focused .034 .024 .030 .028 .032Confront- .100 .096 .101 .106 .104ative .020 .017 .021 .019 .025Planful .134 .150 .118 .112 .132Problem- .031 .029 .022 .025 .027SolvingSupport .113 .109 .111 .121 .118Seeking .028 .026 .029 .028 .030Positive .098 .099 .102 .095 .095Reappraisal .020 .017 .021 .022 .022Self- .117 .114 .120 .119 .119Control .021 .024 .016 .022 .020Accept .117 .126 .107 .118 .107Respon-sibility.033 .033 .028 .033 .031Escape- .105 .109 .098 .096 .106Avoidance .020 .020 .019 .019 .019Distancing .110 .108 .103 .120 .114.025 .026 .024 .030 .021136Table 5Mean Personality ScoresSituational Context of StressorPersonalityDimensionTotalSample WorkCloseInter-personalOtherInter-personal OtherMeanSDMeanSDMeanSDMeanSDMeanSDNeuroticism 47.29 47.34 46.28 52.94 45.2512.78 12.98 10.67 12.68 13.64Extraversion 55.60 55.22 57.50 54.28 55.269.77 10. 11 9.44 9.85 9.37Openness 56.44 56.09 58.66 54.22 56.22to Experience 9.39 9.78 8.02 10.73 8.90Agreeableness 59.09 58.39 59.57 56.69 61.199.18 9.78 9.51 10.66 7.74Conscien- 58.88 57.98 59.40 58.82 60.12tiousness 10.44 11.04 9.72 10.66 9.85Note. A 7-point response scale was used for this study.Maximum subscale score = 84.137Table 6Intercorrelations: Personality DimensionsNeuroticismExtraversionOpennessto ExperienceAgreeablenessConscien-tiousnessN-.35***-.14*-.13*-.34***E 0.06.03A	 C-.01.26***.23*** .10Two-tailed sig.	 *p <.05	**p <.01	 ***p <.001138Table 7Correlations between Coping and Personality DimensionsPersonalityCoping N E 0 A CR-Focus -.01 .06 .04 .09 .16**Confront-ative.14**-.04 -.05 -.15** .05Planful -.16** .07 .02 -.003 .10Problem-solvingSupport -.07 .13 -.03 .19** .01SeekingPositive -.08-.01 .21*** .08 .01Reap-praisalSelf--.07-.02 .07 -.11 .12ControlAccepting .17** -.13* -.03 -.02 .32***Respon-sibilityEscape- .24*** -.13* -.17** -.09 -.22***AvoidanceDistan-cing-.06-.01 -.10 -.11* .05Two-tailed sig. *p <.05 **p <.01	 ***p <.001139Table 8Correlations between Coping and Situation FactorsCopingSituationWork CloseInterpersonalOtherInterpersonalRelationship-focus-.29*** .26*** .04Confrontative -.18** -.10 -.02Planful .37*** -.01 -.12Problem-SolvingSeek Support -.16** -.12*-.0 1Positive .08 .13* .04ReappraisalSelf-Control -.10 -.01-.01Accept .22*** .01 .13*ResponsibilityEscape-Avoidance .15* -.06 -.12Distancing -.12* -.19** .02Two-tailed sig.	 *p <.05	 **p <.01	 ***p <.001140Table 9Correlations between Situation Factors and PersonalityDimensionsSituationPersonalityDimensionWork CloseInterpersonalOtherInterpersonalNeuroticism -.02 -.04 .16**Extraversion .01 .08 .05Opennessto Experience.02 .11 -.09Agreeableness -.06 -.02 .10Conscientiousness -.07 -.02 -.002Two-tailed sig. *p <.05 **p <.01 ***p <.001141Table 10Correlations between Relationship-focused Copingand Social DesirabilitySocial DesirabilitySelf-Deception	 ImpressionCoping	 Enhancement	 ManagementRelationship-focusedRelative Scoring	 .04	 .08Raw Scores	 .03	 .06Two-tailed sig.	 *p <.05	 **p <.01	 ***p <.001142Table 11t -TESTSComparison Groups	 DV: Coping	 t valueClose Interpersonalvs. Other InterpersonalRelationship-	 4.37***focused CopingEscape-	 .34AvoidanceDistancing	 - 2.82**Planful	 1.09Problem-SolvingClose Interpersonalvs. WorkRelationship-	 12.73***focused CopingPlanful	 - 7.29***Problem-SolvingOther Interpersonalvs. WorkPlanful	 - 6.61***Problem-SolvingOne-tailed sig.	 *p <.05	 **p <.01	***p <.001143Table 12Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for by Situation FactorsCopingRelationship-	 Confront-	 Planfulfocused	 ative	 Problem-Coping	 Coping	 SolvingBeta	 Beta	 BetaStep 1:	 Personality.18*.04-.02-.15*.12-.17*.01-.002-.03.06Neuroticism	 .08Extraversion	 .02Openness	 .04Agreeableness	 .08Conscientious	 .17*R2	.04 .06 .03Adjusted R2 	.02 .04 .01F Change	 1.99 3.10** 1.52Step 2:	 SituationWork	 -.64**** -.18** .56****Close	 .63**** .03 -.33****InterpersonalR2 change	 .35 .03 .21Adjusted R2	.37 .06 .22F Change	 73.04**** 3.90* 36.38*****p <.05	 **p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001(continued)144Table 12145Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for by Situation FactorsCopingSupportSeekingBetaPositive	 Self-Reappraisal	 ControlBeta	 BetaStep 1:	 Personality-.04.08-.04.17**-.04-.06-.05.20**.07-.01-.05-.03.07-.12.12NeuroticismExtraversionOpennessAgreeablenessConscientiousR2 .05 .05 .04Adjusted R2 .03 .04 .02F Change 2.54* 2.94* 1.94Step 2:	 SituationWork -.12 .04 -.13Close -.06 .11 .06InterpersonalR2 change .03 .02 .01Adjusted R2 .05 .05 .02F Change 3.51* 2.60 .53*p <.05 	**p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001(continued)Table 12Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for by Situation FactorsCopingAcceptResponsibilityBetaEscape-AvoidanceBetaDistancingBetaStep 1:	 Personality.16*-.04-.15*-.03-.14*-.08-.01-.10-.12.04Neuroticism	 .06Extraversion	 -.05Openness	 -.02Agreeableness	 .03Conscientious	 -.30****R2 	.11 .10 .03Adjusted R2 	.10 .1 0 .01F Change	 6.67**** 6.03**** 1.59Step 2:	 SituationWork	 .30**** .24*** -.05Close	 -.15* -.17* -.16*InterpersonalR2 change	 .06 .04 .04Adjusted R2 	.15 .12 .04F Change	 10.09**** 6.17** 5.05***p <.05	**p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001146Table 13Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for by PersonalityCopingRelationship-	 Confront-	 Planfulfocused	 ative	 Problem-Coping	 Coping	SolvingBeta	 Beta 	BetaStep 1:	 Situation-.18*.02.54****-.32****Work	-.65****Close	 .62****InterpersonalB2	.36 .03 .20Adjusted R2 	.35 .02 .20F Change	 74.43**** 3.82* 34.31****Step 2:	 PersonalityNeuroticism	 .06 .17* -.12Extraversion	 -.03 .04 .03Openness	 -.02 -.02 .02Agreeableness	 .06 -.16** -.01Conscientious	 .15** .11 .09R2 change	 .02 .06 .03Adjusted R2 	.36 .06 .22F Change	 1.98 3.13** 2.40**p <.05 	**p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001(continued)147Table 13148Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted For By PersonalityCopingSupport	Positive	 Self-Seeking	 Reappraisal	 ControlBeta	 Beta	 BetaStep 1:	 Situation.02.14-.14.06Work	 -.13Close	 -.05InterpersonalR2 	.03 .02 .01Adjusted R2 	.02 .02 .01F Change	 3.57* 3.21* 1.76Step 2:	 PersonalityNeuroticism	-.05 -.06 -.06Extraversion	 .09 -.06 -.03Openness	 -.03 .18** .06Agreeableness	 .16* .08 -.13*Conscientious	 -.05 -.01 .10R2 change	 .04 .05 .04Adjusted R2 	.05 .05 .02F Change	 2.53* 2.70* 1.94*p <.05 	**p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001(continued)Table 13Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted For By PersonalityCopingAccept	Escape-Responsibility	 Avoidance	 DistancingBeta	 Beta 	BetaStep 1:	 Situation.27***-.21**-.04-.17*Work	,33****Close	 -.16*InterpersonalR2 	.07 .05 .04Adjusted R2 	.07 .04 .03F Change	 10.70**** 7.31*** 5.26**Step 2:	 PersonalityNeuroticism	 .07 .16* -.08Extraversion	 -.04 -.03 .01Openness	 -.01 -.13* -.09Agreeableness	 .05 -.03 -.12Conscientious	 -.28**** -.13* .03R2 change	 .10 .09 .03Adjusted R2 	.15 .12 .04F Change	 6.44**** 5.59**** 1.53*p <.05	**p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001149Table 14150Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPerson-Situation InteractionsCopingRelationship-	 Confront-	 Planfulfocused	 ative	 Problem-Coping	 Coping	 SolvingBeta	 Beta	BetaStep 3:	 InteractionWorkX Neuroticism .36 .26 .25X Extraversion .26 -.22 -	 .21X Openness -.62 .03 .10X Agreeable -.03 .92 .86X Conscient. -.58 .70 1.21**Close InterpersonalX Neuroticism -.82** .53 .14X Extraversion .24 .20 .21X Openness .38 -1.00* -	 .57X Agreeable .13 -.35 -	 .17X Conscien. .15 -.57 -	 .37R2 change .05 .08 .05Adjusted R2 .39 .11 .25F Change 2.06* 2.36* 1.91**p <.05 	**p <.01	 ***p <.001	****p <.0001(continued)Table 14151Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPerson-Situation InteractionsCopingSupport	Positive	 Self-Seeking	 Reappraisal	 ControlBeta	Beta	BetaStep 3:	 Interaction-.25-.63-.50.13-.**-	 .20.20WorkX Neuroticism	 -.12X Extraversion	 -.05X Openness	 .48X Agreeable	 -.02X Conscien.	 .39Close InterpersonalX Neuroticism	 .40 -.45 .11X Extraversion	 .02 .19 -	 .03X Openness	 .53 .56 -	 .68X Agreeable	 .03 -.26 .30X Conscien.	 -.30 -.38 -	 .06R2 change	 .03 .04 .03Adjusted R2 	.04 .05 .02F Change	 .78 1.02 .90*p <.05	 **p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001(continued)Table 14Hierarchical Regression Analyses:Unique Variance Accounted for byPerson-Situation InteractionsCopingAcceptResponsibilityBetaEscape-AvoidanceBeta DistancingBetaStep 3:	 InteractionWorkX Neuroticism -.16 -.07 -	 .55X Extraversion .02 .23 .30X Openness -.41 -.01 .16X Agreeable -.12 -.27 -1.21*X Conscien. -.48 -.94* -	 .13Close InterpersonalX Neuroticism -.21 .38 .18X Extraversion -.31 .02 -	 .49X Openness -.16 .77 .32X Agreeable .47 -.42 -	 .01X Conscien. .62 .86* -	 .05R2 change .02 .04 .05Adjusted R2 .15 .13 .06F Change .79 1.36 1.42*p <.05	 **p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001152Table 15153Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Relationship-focused CopingRelationship-focused CopingCloseInvolvedOtherBetaNotCloseBetaWorkInvolvedBetaNotWorkBetaNeuroticism -.29* .17* .14 .04Extraversion .04 -.04 .04 -.02Openness .09 -.08 -.16 .15Agreeableness .10 .09 .08 .03Conscientious .26* .19** .14 .20*R2 .21 .06 .06 .06Adjusted R2 .13 .04 .02 .02F value 2.73* 2.68* 1.41 1.70*p <.05 **p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001Table 16154Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Confrontative CopingConfrontative CopingCloseInvolvedOtherBetaNotCloseBetaWorkInvolvedBetaNotWorkBetaNeuroticism .31* .14 .32** .07Extraversion .08 .01 -.01 .07Openness -.23 .03 -.06 -.02Agreeableness -.27* -.12 -.04 -.24**Conscientious -.05 .16* .26** .02R2 .28 .04 .11 .07Adjusted E2 .21 .02 .08 .03F value 3.95** 1.81 2.91* 2.05*p <.05 **p <.01 ***p <.001	 ****p <.0001Table 17155Separate Multiple Regression Analyses:Planful Problem-solvingPlanful Problem-solvingCloseInvolvedOtherBetaNotCloseBetaWorkInvolvedBetaNotWorkBetaNeuroticism -.08 -.15 -.05 -.20*Extraversion .13 .02 .003 .05Openness -.17 .07 .001 -.004Agreeableness -.08 -.02 .13 -.11Conscientious -.05 .08 .31** -.09R2 .05 .05 .14 .05Adjusted R2 -.04 .03 .10 .02F value .53 2.15 3.55** 1.51*p <.05 **p <.01 ***p <.001 ****p <.0001Table 18156Multiple Regression AnalysesSpecific Hypotheses:Interactions of Personality and SituationRelationship-focused CopingStep 1:Beta Beta.02.53****Openness	 -.03Close	 .53****InterpersonalNeuroticismCloseInterpersonalR2 .28 .28Adjusted R2 .28 .27F change 52.36**** 50.64****Step 2:	 InteractionNeuroticismX	 Close-.71**	 OpennessX Close.68R2 Change .03 .01Adjusted R2 .30 .28F change 9.69** 3.38*p <.05	**p <.01	***p <.001	 ****p <.0001Table 19157Multiple Regression AnalysesSpecific Hypotheses:Interactions of Personality and SituationConfrontative CopingStep 1:Beta Beta	.15*	 Openness	.03	 CloseInterpersonal-.02.02NeuroticismCloseInterpersonalR2 .02 .001Adjusted R2 .01 -.001F change 2.99 .09Step 2: 	InteractionNeuroticismX	 Close.62* Openness	 -1.14**X	 CloseR2 Change .02 .03Adjusted R2 .03 .02F change 5.31* 7.07***p <.05 **p <.01	***p <.001 ****p <.0001


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