Project Details


Strategies used to cope with psychological stress appear to play a major
role in, determining stress-related outcomes such as physical and subjectiv
well-being. Coping may involve approach strategies, in which attention is
directed toward the source of stress and its effects on the person, or
avoidant strategies, in which attention is directed away from stress.
Whereas the approach/avoidance distinction is captured by a number of
existing paper-and-pencil instruments, these measures suffer from a variety
of conceptual and methodological problems. This project examines a novel
approach for assessing approach/avoidant coping as it pertains to the
individual's orientation toward negative affect associated with stress. The
approach involves quantification of the degree to which the individual's
self-report of emotional distress is concordant with physiologic responses
to stress. It is hypothesized that effective coping is associated with
concordance between these two aspects of the stress response, and that less
effective coping is associated with a lack of concordance characterized
either by an exaggeration (approach) or minimization (avoidance) of
subjective distress relative to physiologic activity. This hypothesis is
derived from a control systems framework in which negative affect is seen
as feedback that guides the selection of cognitive and instrumental coping
responses. This line of reasoning will be evaluated in two studies, each of
which will be conducted using independent samples of 60 college students an
60 community residents. The first is a laboratory study in which variation
in self-report and physiologic responses to stress will be created through
administration of a battery of standard psychological stressors. The second
study will be conducted in the naturalistic setting where an ambulatory
blood pressure monitor will be used to measure physiologic activity and a
diary to acquire self-reports of affect. It is hypothesized that (1)
stress-response concordance measures will show modest associations with
conceptually similar, traditional coping measures; (2) stress-response
concordance measures will contribute to the prediction of physical health
after controlling for traditional coping measures; (3) these effects will
be stronger for within-subject as compared with between-subject assessments
of stress-response concordance. This research should lay the groundwork for
subsequent research in which assessments of stress-response concordance may
be used to determine the effects of approach and avoidant coping styles on
physical and mental health.
Effective start/end date9/30/908/31/93


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)

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