Personality and Coping

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PERSONALITY DIFFERENCES IN COPING
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Abstract

The aim of this study is to determine the relationship between personality and coping style. The study selected four predetermined groups of personality comprising of, high neuroticism group, low neuroticism group, high extraversion group, and low extraversion group from 386 undergraduate psychology students. Personality was assessed using the International Personality Item Pool (Goldberg, 1999). The study then measured which of two coping styles each personality tended to prefer. The two coping styles were emotion-focussed and problem-focussed. These coping styles were selected from the COPE Inventory (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub).

Participants that scored high neuroticism reported significantly higher emotion- focussed copying than problem-focussed copying, (p<.05). Participants that scored low neuroticism reported a non-significant problem-focussed coping than emotion-focussed coping, (p=.61). Participants that scored high extraversion reported significantly higher problem-focussed coping than emotion-focussed coping, (p<.05). Participants that scored low extraversion reported a non-significant problem-focussed coping than emotion-focussed coping, (p=.88).

Personality has been conceptualised as consisting of intelligence, feeling, actions, and temperament traits and characteristics that distinguish one human being from another (Ewer, 1929). Research has distinguished between five major personality traits: neuroticism, openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion (Perera, M.K. 2010. This study will focus on neuroticism and extraversion only. Much has been written regarding neuroticism already. Neuroticism is generally associated with irrationality and emotional instability leading to stressful relationships with others. Bolger and Zuckerman (1995) found in their study that, “anger and depression were used in response to daily conflicts by participants with high-neuroticism”. So, not surprising, this study expects to find individuals with high scores of neuroticism to experience high levels of stress and prefer emotion-focussed coping and use strategies which involve the focus of, and venting of emotions. On the other hand, individuals with high scores of extraversion are more likely to “act rationally and think in a positive manner (Bosworth, Feaganes, Vitaliano, Mark, and Siegler 2001)”. This study expects to find that individuals with high scores of extraversion are more likely to experience less stress and therefore prefer problem-focussed coping and use strategies which may include, active coping, planning and restraint coping.

The following four hypotheses have been made in relation to this study. People with high neuroticism, who often experience negative emotions, more frequently prefer emotion-focused strategies and avoidance strategies to problem focused strategies (Fickova, 2009). In support of Fickova, it is hypothesised that participants in this survey who record high neuroticism will report significantly higher emotion-focused coping than problem-focused coping. It is hypothesised that participants with low neuroticism will report higher problem focussed coping than emotion focussed coping. There is currently little literature on this topic. This could be due simply to the fact that little or no relation exists between low neuroticism and problem focussed coping. 2

2
It is hypothesised that participants with high extraversion will report significantly higher problem focussed coping than emotion focussed coping. It is hypothesised that participants with low extraversion will report significantly higher emotion focussed coping than problem focussed coping.

Method
Participants
Three hundred and eighty six undergraduate psychology students with ages of (M = 24.031, SD = 8.82) participated in a self-reportable online survey to determine personality factors and coping styles. There were...
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