A computer-based avatar task can differentiate avoidant and non-avoidant coping styles*

M. T. Allen, C. E. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background/Objective: Coping styles play a role in how individuals respond to stress and therapy. One aspect of coping which has been linked to adverse outcomes including anxiety disorders and PTSD is avoidance. However, a tendency to avoid may affect the accuracy of paper and pencil inventories used to identify avoidant temperaments. Previously, we showed that a computer-based task in which an on-screen “avatar” is guided through a series of onscreen events could predict avoidance including behavioral inhibition, harm avoidance, and self-reported PTSD symptoms. Since some coping styles involve avoidance, we extended this work to determine whether scores on the avatar task would also differentiate avoidant and non-avoidant coping styles as measured by the Brief COPE. Methods: One hundred and fifty undergraduates voluntarily completed the avatar task and the Brief COPE. Results: Scores on the avatar task had a significant positive relationship with an aggregate score for the five avoidant coping styles and a significant negative relationship with an aggregate score for the nine non-avoidant coping styles. Conclusions: The effectiveness of the avatar task to differentiate coping styles based on avoidance further validates this task and also shows selectivity to avoidant coping styles as opposed to other non-avoidant coping styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-483
Number of pages7
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • anxiety vulnerability
  • avatar
  • avoidance
  • computer-based task
  • Coping styles

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