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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Role conflicts and coping strategies of women seeking career counselling Ward, Valerie Grace


This study investigated the role conflicts and coping strategies of women seeking career counselling, by means of the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954). On a questionnaire developed by the author, 39 subjects were each asked to provide a total of four examples of conflict situations and how they dealt with them: one interrole conflict situation which they consider they handled effectively; one interrole-ineffective situation; one intrarole-effective situation; and one intrarole-ineffective situation. For the two conflict situations handled ineffectively, subjects were also asked to describe, by hindsight, how they would like to have handled the situations. A total of 93 critical incidents of career-related role conflicts and coping strategies were used as a basis for developing classification schemes for Role Conflicts and Coping Strategies. The 40 examples of desirable strategies identified by hindsight were used to construct a classification scheme for Hindsight Strategies. The procedures followed and the decisions made in the process of analyzing the critical incidents were described, and the central themes which emerged in categorizing each group of incidents were summarized. Results of the analysis were then presented, in tabular as well as narrative form, with illustrative examples of each category. For the Role Conflict categories, central issues or themes in the conflicts were also noted for each category. Coping Strategies were described in terms of behaviours associated with each category. Hindsight Strategies were presented in terms of the values and behaviours associated with each strategy. When two independent raters were asked to classify a large sample of incidents into the categories, all three classification schemes demonstrated high levels of reliability. The small number of incidents which were classified differently by raters were examined to identify areas for potential refinement of the classification schemes. The discussion of results included a summary of patterns which were evident in the structure of role conflicts, and an identification of the criteria and constructs subjects seem to apply in the assessment of coping effectiveness. A comparison was also made between desirable coping strategies identified by hindsight and the strategies actually utilized by subjects which were considered to be effective. The study concluded with a comparison of the findings of the present study with those of previous researchers, a discussion of both theoretical and practical implications of the study, and suggested directions for further research.

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