Coping and Emotion
Susan Folkman University of California, San Francisco
Richard S. Lazarus University of California, Berkeley
Historically, coping has been viewed as a response to emotion. Our purpose here is to evaluate this idea and offer a broader view based on cognitive and relational principles concerning the emotion process. We explore the ways emotion and coping influence each other in what must ultimately be seen as a dynamic, mutually reciprocal relationship.
The emotion and coping relationship has been discussed in the context of two quite distinct systems of thought: the animal and ego psychology models. In the animal model emotion and coping are viewed from a Darwinian phylogenetic perspective (cf. Miller, 1980; Ursin, 1980), which emphasizes learned behaviors that contribute to survival in the face of life-threatening dangers. In the psychoanalytic ego psychology model, coping is defined as cognitive processes, such as denial, repression, suppression, and intellectualization, as well as problem-solving behaviors that are invoked to reduce anxiety and other distressing emotion states (e.g., Menninger, 1963; Vaillant, 1977). The feature that is common to both the animal and ego psychology models is that coping is viewed as a response to emotion and as having the function of arousal or tension reduction.