An analysis of stress and coping style in a college population

The issue of how to effectively deal with stress in our everyday lives is one that plagues every individual. The investigation conducted examined how individuals cope with life stresses. The purpose of the investigation was to assess the effectiveness of various ways of coping upon one’s overall adjustment, and to see if one particular method of coping was more adaptive than others. The general hypothesis being investigated was that people who cope with stress through physical activity would display more coping skills and a better overall adjustment than people who cope with stress through other means. Adjustment was defined according to scores on the six tests administered (the Beck Depression Inventory, the Janis-Fields Feelings of Inadequacy Scale, Rotter’s Internal-External Locus of Control Scale, the Ways of Coping Checklist, the Hassles Scale, and the Uplifts Scale). Two hundred and twenty-eight participants were grouped as follows. Physical Copers (individuals using physical activity to cope) consisted of 78 participants. Cognitive Copers (individuals using cognitive activities to cope) consisted of 66 participants. Miscellaneous Copers (individuals using other means of coping than physical or cognitive) consisted of 84 participants. Results of the 2 x 3 between-subjects multivariate analysis of variance offered some support of the following hypotheses. Physical Copers reported significantly more coping mechanisms than did Cognitive Copers. There was no significant difference, however, between Physical Copers and Miscellaneous Copers with respect to reported numbers of coping mechanisms. Secondly, the use of physical activity to cope appeared to aid as well in the relief of depression as did cognitively oriented activities, and appeared to be more effective than such activities as sleeping or eating. Other hypotheses were not confirmed, and no significant sex differences were found for any of the six measures used. Issues in stress research were discussed and directions for future research were mentioned.