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Participating in a daily diary study of stress and coping : an exploration of reactivity Bermbach, Nicole


Daily process methods are becoming increasingly common in both health and social science research. However, the issue of how these intensive self-monitoring procedures affect participants and the information provided has not been systematically studied. In the present study, I explored the issue of reactivity in a daily diary study of workplace stress and coping among female clerical workers (n = 74), and compared them to clerical workers who did not self-monitor (n = 101). Daily diary participants provided information on stressors, coping, and mood twice a day for 15 consecutive workdays (30 occasions). At the end of the recording period participants reported on the overall experience of daily self-monitoring as well as on whether daily self-monitoring affected their behavior and mood. Participants also completed measures of distress (anxiety and depression) and satisfaction (job and life) both before and after completing the daily diaries. Finally, the role of individual differences [negative affect (NA) and depressive symptomatology] in reactivity was also examined. Results of repeated measures MANOVAs suggested that twice daily self-monitoring of stress and coping does not have a significant impact on daily mood during recording. Nor was there evidence of short-term effects of daily self-monitoring on participants' satisfaction and distress. However, content analysis revealed that participants' perceived daily self-monitoring to have had an impact. Though there was no evidence that this perceived impact was related to NA or depressive symptomatology, trend analysis showed that level of NA was associated with differential trends in daily anxious and depressed mood. Possible explanations for findings are discussed.

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