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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