Coping mechanisms as mediators in the relationship between perceived stress and precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic
Keywords:COVID-19, coping mechanisms, precautionary measures, stress perception
The current COVID-19 pandemic represents an accidental crisis of global proportions that requires humanity to adaptively cope with unknown and low-control stressors. This research aimed to explore coping mechanisms by first considering them in the domain of their factor structure and then examining their mediating role in the relationship between stress perception and precautionary measures in the context of a pandemic. The sample included a total of 582 adult respondents from Serbia (75.7% female), with an average age of 38.74 years (SD = 10.48). The Brief COPE (Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced) scale was used to measure coping mechanisms, the Perceived Stress Scale was used to assess the perception of the stress level, and the propensity to adhere to the prescribed precautions was examined with a scale constructed for the purpose of this study. The exploratory factor analysis extracted seven coping strategies. The first corresponded to problem-focused confrontation, the second referred to emotion-focused confrontation, three isolated dimensions were associated with avoidance coping strategies, while the functions of Humor and Religion could not be clearly defined. After conducting a higher-order factor analysis, two factors were singled out: the first, which combined problem-focused and emotion-focused coping, Humor, and Religion, and the second, which brought together mechanisms aimed at avoidance coping. The results of the hierarchical regression analysis suggested significant partial mediating effects of coping mechanisms. The first higher-order factor enhanced the effects of stress perception on the practice of precautionary behavior, while the second higher-order factor reduced these effects. The obtained results raise the question of adequacy of the standard coping mechanism measuring instruments in the assessment of stress caused by an accidental crisis and further question the possibility of an adequate response to stressors that are unknown and poorly controllable.
Beer, N., & Moneta, G. B. (2012). Coping and perceived stress as a function of positive metacognitions and positive meta–emotions. Individual Differences Research, 10(2), 105–116. https://doi.org/10.1037/t10305-000
Carpenter, B. N. (1992). Issues and advances in coping research. In B. N. Carpenter (Ed.) Personal Coping: Theory, Research, and Application (1–13). Praeger Publishers.
Carver, C. S. (1997). You want to measure coping but your protocol’ too long: Consider the brief cope. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4(1), 92–100. http://doi.org/10.1207/s15327558ijbm0401_6
Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Weintraub, J. K. (1989). Assessing coping strategies: A theoretically based approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(2), 267–283. http://doi.org/10.1037/0022–3518.104.22.1687
Cohen, S., & Williamson, G. (1988). Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. In S. Spacapan & S. Oskamp (Eds.), The social psychology of health (pp. 31–68). Sage.
Colodro, H., Godoy–Izquierdo, D., & Godoy, J. (2010). Coping self–efficacy in a community–based sample of women and men from the United Kingdom: The impact of sex and health status. Behavioral Medicine, 36(12), 12–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/08964280903521362
Compas, B. E., Connor, J. K., Saltzman, H., Harding Thomsen, A., & Wadsworth, M. (1999). Getting specific about coping: Effortful and involuntary responses to stress in development. In D. Lewis & M. Ramsay (Eds.), Soothing and stress (143–157). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Devenport, T. J. (2012). Managing stress: From theory to application. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Elliot, A. J., Thrash, T. M., & Murayama, K. (2011). A longitudinal analysis of self‐regulation and well‐being: Avoidance personal goals, avoidance coping, stress generation, and subjective well‐being. Journal of Personality, 79(3), 643–674. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467–6494.2011.00694.x
Endler, N. S., & Parker, J. D. A. (1990). Multidimensional assessment of coping: A critical evaluation. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 58, 844–854. http://doi.org/10.1037/0022–3522.214.171.1244
Finney, S. J., & DiStefano, C. (2006). Non–normal and categorical data in structural equation modeling. In R. C. Serlin (Ed.), Structural Equation Modeling: A Second Course (pp. 269–314). Information Age Publishing.
Folkman, S. (1992). Making the case for coping. In B. N. Carpenter (Ed.), Personal coping: Theory, research, and application (31–46). Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group.
Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 300–319. http://doi.org/10.1037/1089–26126.96.36.1990
Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden–and–build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218–226. http://doi.org/10.1037//0003–066X.56.3.218
Furman, M., Joseph, N., & Miller–Perrin, C. L. (2018). Associations between coping strategies, perceived stress, and health indicators. Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 23(1), 61–71. http://doi.org/10.24839/2325–7342.JN23.1.61
Genc, A., Pekić, J., & Matanović, J. (2013). Mehanizmi suočavanja sa stresom, optimizam i generalna samoefikasnost kao prediktori psihofizičkog zdravlja [Coping, optimism, and general self-efficacy as predictors of psychophysical health]. Primenjena Psihologija, 6(2), 155–174. http://doi.org/10.19090/pp.2013.2.155–174
Genc, A. (2017). Coping strategies as mediators in the relationship between test anxiety and academic achievement. Psihologija, 50(1), 51–66. http://doi.org/10.2298/PSI160720005G
Heffer, T., & Willoughby, T. (2017). A count of coping strategies: A longitudinal study investigating an alternative method to understanding coping and adjustment. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0186057. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186057
Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44(3), 513–524. http://doi.org/10.1037/0003–066X.44.3.513
Hudek–Knežević, & J. Kardum, I. (2005). Stres i tjelesno zdravlje [Stress and physical health]. Naklada Slap.
Kausar, R. (2017). Gender differences in coping with stress. Indian Journal of Health and Well–Being, 8(10), 1240–1245.
Krägeloh, C. U. (2011). A systematic review of studies using the Brief COPE: Religious coping in factor analyses. Religions, 2, 216–246. http://doi.org/10.3390/rel2030216
Kristofferzon, M., Engström, M., & Nilsson, A. (2018). Coping mediates the relationship between sense of coherence and mental quality of life in patients with chronic illness: a crosssectional study. Quality of Life Research, 27, 1855–1863. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11136–018–1845–0
Lacković–Grgin, K. (2004). Stres u djece i adolescenata [Stress in children and adolescents]. Naklada Slap.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1987). Transactional theory and research on emotions and coping. European Journal of Personality, 1(3), 141–169. http://doi.org/10.1002/per.2410010304
Lazarus, R. S. (1990). Theory–based stress measurement. Psychological Inquiry, 1, 11–31. http://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli0101_1
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (2004). Stres, procjena i suočavanje [Stress, assessment and coping]. Naklada Slap.
Lefcourt, H. M. (1992). Perceived control, personal effectiveness, and emotional states. In B. N. Carpenter (Ed.), Personal coping: Theory, research, and application (pp. 111–131). Greenwood Publishing Group.
Mclean, J. A., Strongman, K. T., & Neha, T. N. (2007). Psychological distress, causal attributions, and coping. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36(2), 85–92.
O’Connor, B.P. (2000). SPSS and SAS programs for determining the number of components using parallel analysis and Velicer’s MAP test. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 32(3), 396–402. http://doi.org/10.3758/bf03200807.
Oláh, A. (2005). Érzelmek, megküzdés és optimális élmény – belső világunk megismerésének módszerei. [Emotions, coping and optimal experience – ways to get to know our inner world]. Trefort Kiadó.
Parker, J. D., & Endler, N. S. (1992). Coping with coping assessment: A critical review. European Journal of Personality, 6(5), 321–344. http://doi.org/10.1002/per.2410060502
Penley, J. A., Tomaka, J., & Wiebe, J. S. (2002). The association of coping to physical and psychological health outcomes: A meta–analytic review. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 25, 551–603. http://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020641400589
Rani, A., & Batra, P. (2015). Gender differences in the ways of coping amongst HIV and AIDS patients. Indian Journal of Health and Well–being, 6(11), 1084–1088.
Skinner, E. A., Edge, K., Altman, J., & Sherwood, H. (2003). Searching for the structure of coping: a review and critique of category systems for classifying ways of coping. Psychological Bulletin, 129(2), 216–269. http://doi.org/10.1037/0033–2909.129.2.216
Snyder, C. R., & Dinoff, B. L. (1999). Coping where have you been? In C. R. Snyder (Ed.), Coping: The psychology of what works (pp. 3–19). Oxford University Press.
Snyder, C. R., & Mann Pulvers, K. (2001). Dr. Seuss, the Coping Machine, and “Oh, the Places You'll Go”. In Snyder, C. R. (Ed.) Coping with Stress: Effective People and Processes (pp. 3–29). Oxford University Press.
Stone, A. A., Kennedy–Moore, E., Newman, M. G., Greenberg, M., Neale, J. M. (1992). Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Current Coping Assessments. In Carpenter, B. N. (Ed.) Personal Coping: Theory, Research, and Application (pp. 15–29). Praeger Publishers.
Taylor, S. E. & Aspinwall, L. G. (1996). Mediating and moderating processes in psychosocial stress: Appraisal, coping, resistance, and vulnerability. In H. B. Kaplan (Ed.), Psychosocial stress: Perspectives on structure, theory, life–course, and methods (pp. 71–110). Academic Press.
Timmerman, M. E., & Lorenzo–Seva, U. (2011). Dimensionality assessment of ordered polytomous items with parallel analysis. Psychological Methods, 16(2), 209–220. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0023353
Tran, A. G. T. T., Mintert, J. S., Llamas, J. D., & Lam, C. K. (2018). At what costs? Student loan debt, debt stress, and racially/ ethnically diverse college students’ perceived health. American Psychological Association, 24(4), 459–469. http://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000207
Wang, M., & Saudino, K. J. (2011). Emotion regulation and stress. Journal of Adult Development, 18(2), 95–103. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-010-9114-7
Zotović, M. (2004). Prevladavanje stresa: konceptualna i teorijska pitanja sa stanovišta transakcionističke teorije [Coping with stress: Basic conceptual and theoretical questions from the standpoint of the transactional theory], Psihologija, 37(1), 5–32. https://doi.org/10.2298/psi0401005z
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.