Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

The Relationship between Active Coping and Trait Resilience across U.S. and Taiwanese College Student Samples

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

The Relationship between Active Coping and Trait Resilience across U.S. and Taiwanese College Student Samples

Article excerpt

This study compared predictors of active coping (people's tendency to actively cope with stress) among college students in the United States and Taiwan. In both samples, trait resilience predicted active coping and mediated the effect of self-efficacy on active coping. The findings indicate that trait resilience influences college students' active coping with stress, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Implications on how to help college students enhance trait resilience are discussed.

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College students frequently experience stressful situations related to academia, financial issues, relationships (including role strains), work, and safety issues (Dungan, 2002; Howard, Schiraldi, Pineda, & Campanella, 2006; Li, 2006). Stressful situations are "events or conditions that demand adjustments beyond the normal wear and tear of daily living" (Gadzella, 1994, p. 396). Researchers have indicated that unsuccessful adaptation to college stressors can contribute to college students' vulnerability to depression, which is one of the major mental health problems faced by college students (Dao, Lee, & Chang, 2007). The University Health Services at the University of Michigan (2009) reported that depression is twice as common in college students than in the general population. The American College Health Association (2007) reported that 10% of male college students and 18% of female college students have been diagnosed with depression, and 39% of male college students and 48% of female college students have been so depressed that it was difficult to function at least once in the past year. To help stress victims adapt better to college stressors, researchers have studied coping among college students (e.g., Araki, 2008; Gipple, Lee, & Puig, 2006).

Individuals may respond to stressful situations with a variety of coping responses, such as distraction (Stone & Neale, 1984), planning (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989), accepting responsibility (Lazarus & Folkman, 1988), and collectivistic coping (Yeh, Arora, & Wu, 2006). Although coping responses differ among individuals, Amirkhan (1990) posited that human coping responses can be categorized generally into three basic coping styles: problem solving, social support seeking, and avoidance. MacArthur and MacArthur (1998) indicated that some individuals tend to actively cope with stressors whereas others often avoid stressors. Individuals with the active coping style tend to apply either behavioral or psychological responses aimed to change the nature of the stressor or how one thinks about it. Individuals with the avoidant coping style, in contrast, tend to engage in activities such as alcohol use or mental states such as withdrawal that keep them from directly addressing the stressors. On the basis of Amirkhan's (1990) and MacArthur and MacArthur's (1998) concepts of coping, we defined active coping in this study as a coping style characterized by solving problems, seeking social support, and directly addressing the stressors (counteravoidance).

The active coping style affects individuals' causal attributions and help-seeking behaviors in the process of adapting to stressful situations (Pizzolato, 2004), and, therefore, active coping is related to positive adaptation to stressful college life (Feenstra, Banyard, Rines, & Hopkins, 2001). To improve college students' ability to cope actively, researchers have examined factors that influence active coping in this population. For example, McGown and Fraser (1995) found that male students and older students use more active coping than do their female and younger counterparts. Zeidner (1994) reported that students' active coping is negatively associated with depression and anxiety. Although these studies contribute to a better understanding of active coping among college students, the studies tended to share one common limitation: They focused on one country only. …

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