Associations between Personality Traits and Coping Strategies

Topics: Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Psychology Pages: 8 (1977 words) Published: October 21, 2013

Associations Between Personality Traits and Coping Strategies


This study examined the relationship between personality traits and coping strategies. Participants were 239 undergraduate students who were measured for levels of neuroticism, openness and conscientiousness. Coping strategies were measured in terms of emotional- and problem-focused coping. These measures were assessed through self-report questionnaires distributed to students during their tutorial. The results found that higher levels of neuroticism are linked to the use of emotion-focused strategies while higher levels of openness and conscientiousness are linked with problem-focused strategies. Findings for openness were not significant, with the exception of behavioural disengagement. Therefore the hypotheses proposed in this study were partially supported based on the direction predicted. It was concluded that the type of coping strategies individuals use is in part, influenced by the different levels of personality traits they possess.

Associations Between Personality Traits and Coping Strategies Stress can affect individual health physically and psychologically (Endler, 1997). Therefore it is important to consider the ways in which people deal with stress, known as coping strategies. Described by Bouchard (2003), coping strategies occur when an individual’s resources are exceeded by the demands of intellectual and physical efforts within their external and internal environments. Penley and Tomaka (2002) describe the physical, more action-based efforts as problem-focused coping strategies, and the more intellectually based efforts as emotion-focused coping strategies. Bouchard (2003) shared Penley and Tomaka’s (2002) view of coping as a multidimensional construct and made note of the influential role of personality using McCrae and Costa’s (1987) Big Five model of neuroticism (N), extraversion (E), openness (O), agreeableness (A), and conscientiousness (C). Costa and McCrae’s (1992) definition of personality traits, as cited in Bouchard (2003) are identified as the different characteristics of individuals that develop throughout the lifespan and becoming more consistent in adulthood. McCrae and Costa’s (1987) model has been integrated by other previous studies to measure the concepts of problem- and emotion-focused coping and investigate differences in their associations with personality traits (Fickova 2009; Luyckx et al 2012; Penley & Tomaka 2002). In Bouchard’s (2003) study, higher levels of neuroticism showed a positive association with emotion-focused coping whilst higher levels of openness showed a positive association with problem-focused coping. These findings are consistent with Penley and Tomaka (2002), however openness was found to be negatively associated with emotion-focused coping, where Bouchard (2003) found no association. Additionally, Penley and Tomaka (2002) found conscientiousness was positively associated with problem-focused coping, a trait that was not measured in Bouchard (2003). The integration of cognitive appraisals within the previous research suggests they are limited in making a valid conclusion on the influence of personality. To provide a greater clarification of personality as an influencing factor, the current study disregarded the use of cognitive appraisals as a variable in the hopes of eliminating interference. Bouchard (2003) recognised cognitive appraisals as the perception an individual has towards a stressful event, and notes their relation to emotion-focused coping. The absence of this variable in the current study therefore, is expected to result in lower scores for emotion-focused coping than observed in the previous research. This study aims to investigate relations between personality and coping proposed by Bouchard (2003), and Penley and Tomaka (2002), in terms of problem-...

References: Carver, C. S. (1997). You want to measure coping but your protocol’s too long: Consider the Brief COPE. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 92-100.
Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Bouchard, G. (2003). Cognitive Appraisals, Neuroticism, and Openness as Correlates of Coping Strategies: An Integrative Model of Adaptation to Marital Difficulties. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 35, 1-12.
Endler, N. S. (1997). Stress, anxiety and coping: the multidimensional interaction model. Canadian Psychology, 136, 3.
Fickova, E. (2009). Reactive and Proactive Coping with Stress in Relation to Personality Dimensions in Adolescents. Studia Psychologica, 51, 149-160.
Luyckx, K., Klimstra, A. T., Duriez, B., Schwartz, J. S., & Vanhalst, J. (2012). Identity Processes and Coping Strategies in College Students: Short-Term Longitudinal Dynamics and the Role of Personality. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 41, 1226-1239.
McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81-90.
Penley, A. J., & Tomaka, J. (2002). Associations among the Big five, emotional responses, and coping with acute stress. Personality and Individual differences, 32, 1215-1228.
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