Biological Psychology - Problem/Emotional Focused Coping

Problem focused coping
Emotional focused coping
When each is used

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  • Created by: Aliison
  • Created on: 05-06-10 10:59

Ways of coping - Problem focused coping

Folkman&Lazarus (1980) define coping responses as those 'thoughts and behaviours that a person used to reduce stress and moderate emotional impact'

F&L measured a persons ways of coping using a 'ways of coping questionnaire' it included 50 items such as
- seeking social support (talking to someone)
- escape avoidance (hoping for a miracle)
- positive reappraisial (chaning ones perception of the problem so it seems less stressfull)

Problem focused coping

Stratgegies that attept to do something active to help the stressful situation. These include taking control (e.g finding out as much possible about a disease), evaluating (e.g pro's and con's) and suppressing competing activites (e.g avoiding temptation to surf the internet for hours rather than revising)

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Emotion focused coping & When each coping strategy

Emotion focused coping
Strategies that attempt to regulate the emotional disress associated with stressful situations. This includes denial (e.g going on as if nothing has happened) venting of emotions (e.g social support, crying etc) women tend to keep a close network of friends whom they can talk to in times of need
It is seen to be as a more passive approach, it is an internal process that involves chaning thoughts about the stressful situation.

When each coping strategy is used

P.F.C - when you have work based issues
- when issues are controlable

E.F.C - uncontrolable stressor

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Research on Emotion/Problem focused coping

Heath outcomes
Research has shown that emotion-focused coping has been associated with depression (having no control). A study of nursing students (Penly et al 2002) found that problem focused coping was positively correlated with over all good health outcomes whereas emotion focused coping was negatively correlated.

Control and coping
Park et al (2004) undergraduates described their most stressfull event, its controlability, how they coped and their daily mood. Results showed that problem-foucsed coping was positively correlated with positive moods when dealing with highly controlable stressors.

Threat and coping
(Rukholm and Viverais 1993) examined the relationship between stress and coping, and concluded that if a person feels greatly threatened when exposed to a stressor they need to deal with this anxiety through emotion focused coping first. Only then can they move on to problem focused coping

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Evaluation of coping styles

- The questionnaire itself many not measure what it sets out to (internal validity) (eg. somethings could have been seen as either problem focused coping or emotional focused coping, for example mobilizing social support)

- The questionnaire is very general, some researchers have had made specific questionnaires for special situations such as relationships

- Gender differences? Sudies have shown that women are more likely to use E.F.C and males use more P.F.C. Stone&Neale (1984) found that men engaged in direct action when dealing with stressors whereas women were more likely to use relaxation, distraction and catharsis (bring out emotions, eg crying). Women are also more likely to use social support.

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Evaluation continued - Gender differences

- Socialization theory, this argues that women have been socialized in a way that equips them with a less effective coping strategies. According to this women are taught to express their emotions openly, but to ack more passive. Men are taught to approach stressful situations in a more active problem focused manner (big boys don't cry)

- Role constraint theory, this argues that gender differences in coping responses are a product of the roles that males and females occupy. It says that if males and females occupy the same social role, their coping responses will be the same. Rosario and colleagues found that males and females of the same social roles did not differ in their coping strageies

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