Coping in Stressful Episodes. The Role of Individual Differences, Environmental Factors, and Situational Characteristics

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Theoretical models emphasize the importance of person and environmental variables in stress and coping processes. This article examines individual differences (extraversion and neuroticism), environmental factors (social support and work demand), and situational characteristics (type of stressful episode and its perceived importance) as predictors of three self-report measures of coping (general coping, direct coping, and suppression) derived from the Ways of Coping Questionnaire. The data analyzed were collected from 135 first-year female student nurses. Individual differences were assessed prior to exposure to the ward environment, and information about stressful episodes was obtained during the initial period of nursing practice. Multiple regression analyses showed that individual differences and environmental and situational factors were significant predictors of the coping scores and that patterns of main and interactive effects were different for each type of coping. For direct coping and suppression, predicted interactions across person, environmental, and situational variables contributed significantly to the explained variance. Curvilinear interactions between work demand and neuroticism were significant for both direct coping and suppression; interactions of social support and extraversion with perceived importance predicted direct coping; and interactions between neuroticism and extraversion and between work demand and importance predicted suppression. These findings are discussed in relation to current substantive and methodological issues in the study of coping and adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1292
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1986
Externally publishedYes


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