Psyc 314: Coping and Health
How coping works:
Stress buffering Model: the notion that coping refers to the resources we have buffer us
from health damaging effects of stress. you need to have stress + coping to see an effect
-resources buffer us from the health damaging
effects of stress
Mobilization of resources:
social support: you have someone to go to, to talk about you. You can draw on
money: tangible resources which you could help minimize stress
intrapersonal strengths: people have diff. personality strengths which could
help, or hinder them in response to stress
Social support as a coping buffer:
Cohen et al. 1992:
• Male monkeys housed in stable or unstable conditions
• Behavioral observation of affiliation
• Outcome: lymphocyte proliferation
unstable condition: every few days researcher takes monkey from one social group to
another (dominant monkeys proving dominance)
Measured social support through examining grooming behaviours and how much
affiliative behaviours they engage in (groom each other, or fight a lot)
They drew blood from monkeys and then stimulated blood cells with a mitogen
(substance that makes cell start dividing--activates immune system, cells divide and
multiply. Better lymphocyte proliferation indicates immune system is working) to see
how well each monkeys immune system is working.
Results: lymphocyte proliferation equally high in stable conditions b/c there is no stress.
When the monkeys are in unstable conditions more lymphocyte proliferation in high
affiliation monkeys (it offsets the stress making it appear as though the monkeys were in
a stable environment)
Control as a Buffer?
Lachmen et al. 1998
• Stress:Adults coming from low or high socioeconomic status (SES)
• Perceived control (mastery): belief that one can bring about desired outcomes in
Outcome: self-rated health, acute symptoms
Participants: aduts from high and low SES backgrounds. Interested in the amount of preceived control.
Gave questionnaires to people to see if perceived control was related to stress and health
Results: perceived control matters most with low SES than high SES. If you are low in
SES the more control your perceive the better your health. With high SES there is better
health with higher perceived control, but not as much as when you have low SES.
Contol matters more when you are low in SES. You get lower symptoms as your
perceived control increases (negative corrolation b/n perceived control and symptoms
with people of low SES)
Coping as personality:
• Cognitive, affective, or behavioral tendencies that are relatively stable across
time & context
• Enduring characteristics that help define a person’s identity and distinguish
them from others
• Examples: optimism/pessimism, self-esteem, neuroticism
personality: cognition, thoughts, behaviours, affect which are stable over time. How you
think about, react and behave in/ towards the world.
Optimism: expectancy that good things will happen in life. You expect that things will
turn out ok. generalized expectancy that gthings will happen to you
Pessimism: expectation that bad things will happen and everything will turn out badly.