Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Validity Evidence for the Use of the Preventive Resources Inventory with College Students

Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Validity Evidence for the Use of the Preventive Resources Inventory with College Students

Article excerpt

Measurement properties of scores from the Preventive Resources Inventory (C. J. McCarthy & R. G. Lambert, 2001), a measure of stress-prevention resources, were evaluated. Sample-specific construct validity of 3 primary scales was supported. A 4th, Self-Acceptance, functioned as a higher order factor. Differences were found between those reporting no psychological symptoms and symptom-reporting subgroups on all scales.


The field of counseling has strong philosophical roots in the prevention of human dysfunction, yet prevention is not a prominent feature of most counseling interventions (Romano & Hage, 2000). The realities of today's managed care environment, among other factors, have led many counselor training programs to follow medically oriented remedial models of mental health, emphasizing individual treatment of psychopathology (Albee, 2000). A similar situation exists in the stress and coping literature: The primary emphasis of practice and research in this area is on hardiness or resilience for withstanding stress rather than on proactive measures for preventing it (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1997; Matheny, Aycock, Pugh, Curlette, & Canella, 1986).

Current models of stress assume that when a potentially threatening event is encountered, a reflexive, cognitive balancing act ensues in which the perceived demands of the event are weighed against one's perceived capabilities for dealing with it (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Psychological coping resources are therefore assumed to play a pivotal role in whether or not life events are perceived as threatening. When these resources are seriously challenged by life's demands, the body's stress response is triggered (Hobfoll, 1988a, 1988b), resulting in a series of massive, instantaneous, and reflexive physiological changes. Unfortunately, chronic elicitation of the stress response can lead to a variety of physiological, behavioral, and psychological stress symptoms, even for those who cope successfully (Sapolsky, 1998).

One key to healthy living, therefore, would be to prevent stress whenever possible. In order to do that, one must possess adequate levels of coping resources useful for prevention, which would presumably result in fewer threats to one's well-being, thereby reducing the occurrence of the stress response (Matheny et al., 1986; McCarthy, Lambert, & Brack, 1997). Antonovsky (1979) called such capacities "generalized resistance resources," and Greenglass and Burke (1991) and Ogus (1992) have advanced similar notions. More recently, Aspinwall and Taylor (1997) defined proactive coping as the processes through which people anticipate or detect potential stressors and act in advance to prevent them or lessen their impact.

Assessment instruments vary considerably in how coping resources are defined and measured, perhaps reflecting the varied ways in which researchers attempt to understand the coping process (for a review, see McCarthy, Lambert, Beard, & Dematatis, 2002). Although a broad range of resources are typically assessed by such measures, scant attention is usually paid to the role of prevention (Hammer & Marting, 1988; Matheny et al., 1986; Moos, Cronkite, Billings, & Finney, 1985). The purpose of this study, therefore, is to provide situationally specific evidence for the reliability and validity of the scores obtained by using the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI; McCarthy & Lambert, 2001) with college students. The PRI is an 82-item self-report measure designed to assess perceptions of one's ability to minimize or negate stressful life circumstances. Previous research and development with the PRI is described next, followed by an overview of the goals of the current study.


Matheny et al. (1986) conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of the stress literature and, on the basis of this review, suggested an integrative model of stress and coping that incorporates attempts to both prevent and combat stress. …

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