Cognitive Appraisal and Perception-Related Traits Affect College Students’ Active Coping in the U.S. and Taiwan
Ming-hui Li, The School of Education, Department of Human Services and Counseling
Abstract: This study explored factors that lead individuals to actively cope with stressful situations associated with relationship and work. Although coping has been intensively studied and different approaches to coping have been proposed (e.g., Stroebe, Schut & Stroebe, 2005; Yeh, Arora & Wu, 2006) researchers have not reached an agreement on the nature of coping. For example, some researchers such as Olff and colleagues (2005) advocated a process-oriented approach to coping, emphasizing that cognitive appraisal determines the styles individuals adopt to cope with stressful situations. In contrast, other researchers such as Li and Yuan (2003) supported a diathesis-oriented approach to coping, suggesting that a match between personality traits and stress types decide coping styles. The present study explored the extent to which these two theoretical approaches can be combined to influence college students’ employment of active coping in the U.S. and Taiwan. In each culture, stress, cognitive appraisal and three traits (i.e., secure attachment, resilience and self-efficacy) were applied to predict active coping in stressful situations associated with relationship and work. Participants were 128 U.S. college students and 186 Taiwanese college students. Findings showed that neither the process-oriented approach nor the diathesis-oriented approach could fully explain college students’ employment of active coping across the two types of stressful situations. In the U.S. sample, secure attachment and stress determined active coping in work-related stressful situations. In the Taiwanese sample, cognitive appraisal and trait resilience determined active coping in relational stressful situations; and secure attachment contributed to active coping in work-related stressful situations. A discussion based on contemporary coping theories will be presented. Techniques aiming to enhancing clients’ cognitive appraisal, trait resilience, and secure attachment will be focused.