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J Pers. 1996 Dec;64(4):837-71.

The development of coping resources in adulthood.

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Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis 95616, USA. CMALDWIN@UCDAVIS.EDU


We examined three community samples to determine whether stressful episodes form a context for the development of coping resources in adulthood. The first study found that 81.9% of a sample of 845 older men reported drawing upon prior experiences in coping with a recent problem. Content analysis revealed that only 22.7% drew upon similar stressful episodes; the rest drew upon problems from work, the military, illnesses, deaths, etc. The second study replicated the earlier findings in 102 men and women, ages 24 to 84, who reported on a recent low point in semistructured interviews. In addition, 75% reported long-term effects, equally split between negative, positive, and mixed effects. Those individuals who perceived advantages from the low point were significantly more likely to report positive long-term effects. The third study replicated the findings from the first two studies in a sample of 941 men and women ages 23 to 62. Path analyses showed that coping strategies differentially predicted perceived positive or negative outcomes, which in turn predicted current mastery and depression levels. While the findings are cross-sectional and causality cannot be inferred, they are nonetheless supportive of the effects of stress and coping on personality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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