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Article 19 - Coping.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3690
Professor
Benjamin Gottlieb

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19. Lazarus, R.S., & Folkman, S. (1984). The Coping Process:AnAlternative to Traditional Formulations. In R.S. Lazarus & S. Folkman, Stress, appraisal, and coping (pp. 141-171). New York: Springer. Definition of coping • Coping: constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and/ or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person • This definition addresses limitations of traditional approaches as follows: 1. It is process oriented rather than trait-oriented, as reflected in the words “constantly changing” and “specific” demands and conflicts 2. This definition implies a “distinction between coping and automatized adaptive behavior” by limiting coping to demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding a person’s resources. In effect, this limits coping to conditions of psychological stress, which requires mobilization and excludes automatized behaviours and thoughts that do not require effort 3. The problem of “confounding coping with outcome is addressed by defining coping as “efforts” to manage, which permits coping to include anything that the person does or thinks, regardless of how well or badly it works 4. By using the word “manage”, we also avoid equating coping with mastery. Managing can include minimizing, avoiding, tolerating, and accepting the stressful conditions as well as attempts to master the environment Coping as a process • Aprocess approach consists of 3 main features: 1. Observations and assessment are concerned with what the person actually thinks or does, in contrast to what the person usually does, would do, or should do, which is the concern of the trait approach 2. What the person actually thinks or does is examined within a “specific context”. Coping thoughts and actions are always directed toward particular conditions. To understand coping, and to evaluate it, we need to know what the person is coping with. The more narrowly defined the context, the easier it is to link a particular coping thought or act to a contextual demand 3. To speak of a coping process means speaking of “change” in coping thought as and acts as a stressful encounter unfolds. Coping is thus a shifting process in which a person must, at certain times, rely more heavily on one form of coping, say defensive strategies, and at other times on problem-solving strategies, as the status of the person – environment relationship changes. It is difficult to see how the unfolding nature of most stressful encounters, and the concomitant changes in coping, could be adequately described by a static measure of a general trait or personality disposition Stages in the Coping Process • We must be concerned, however, about whether such stages are assumed to be invariant in sequence (should be concerned about whether these stages are true for everyone) • Reasons for being wary of formulations that propose invariant sequences of stages: 1. Clinically one sees that the sequence can be variable 2. Astage model creates expectations in both the person and those involved with respect to appropriate feelings and actions (trouble with stage theory is that people think you should be over this stage and so do you(!) but not everyone goes through each stage in same order + same time) The Multiple Functions of Coping • 2 goals of stress: regulate one’s emotions +reduce stress • Acoping function refers to the purpose a strategy serves; outcome refers to the effect a strategy has • Common to the coping functions described above is a distinction that we believe is of overriding importance, namely, between coping that is directed at managing or altering the problem causing the distress and coping that is directed at regulating emotional response to the problem. We refer to the former as problem-focused coping and the latter as emotion-focused coping • In general, emotion-focused forms of coping are more likely to occur when there has been an appraisal that nothing can be done to modify harmful, threatening, or challenging environmental conditions. Problem-focused forms of coping, on the other hand, are more probable when such conditions are appraised as amenable to change Emotion-focused Forms of Coping • Awide range of emotion-focused forms of coping is found in the literature. One large group consists of c
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