Personality and Coping among Turkish College Students: A Canonical Correlation Analysis

Article excerpt


The discussion about whether coping strategies are determined by stable characteristics of the individual, such as personality or they are determined by situation-specific variables, such as cognitive appraisals regarding stressful situation is still in agenda. Thus, the relationship between coping and personality traits was examined with 237 students (53.2 % male; mean age = 22.22 years old) who were enrolled in classes at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey. The participants responded to the Ways of Coping with Stress Scale (WCSS) and the NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). The canonical correlation analysis showed that those who were high in conscientiousness tend to use more self-confident, optimistic, and turning to religion coping strategies whereas those who were high in extraversion were more likely to use self-confident and seeking of social support strategies in stressful situations.

Key Words

Personality, Coping, NEO Five Factor Inventory, Canonical Correlation Analysis.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Coping is a complex process described in various ways such as a situational or trait-like response; a response to stress or a response to change (Beutler & Moos, 2003a). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) claim that coping is a situation-specific construct, which is different from human adaptation. On the other hand, Costa, Somerfield and McCrae (1996) maintain that coping and adaptation form a continuum closely related to structural aspects such as personality dispositions. In other words, coping reflects the dynamic transaction between the individual and stressful situation. The transactional theory considers that situation appraisals are the key determinants of coping efforts (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985). The other model asserts that personality dispositions are also important determinants of coping because they may predispose people to use certain coping strategies (e.g. Suls, David, & Harvey, 1996). The transaction model, instead of examining coping as a trait-like construct that is consistently engaged across situations, suggests a pattern of viewing coping as a dynamic process that is modified according to the situation and the appraisal made by the individual (Bishop et al., 2001).

A number of studies have found that the transactional theory is limited and personality factors might play an important role during the coping process (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989; Costa & McCrae, 1992; Endler & Parker, 1990; Suls et al., 1996; Watson & Hubbard, 1996). Suls et. al (1996) identified and explained that a new (i.e. third) generation of coping theory and research have emerged because of several factors: The availability of more reliable models and broad dimensional measures of personality (the Big Five) and the empirical fact situations do not account for all, or necessarily even most, of the variation in coping behavior. In the same way, Carver and Scheier (1994) claim that the transactional model is related to the concept of situational coping, which focuses on the issue of what the person did (or is doing currently) in a specific coping episode or during a specific period of time. The second way of modeling coping strategies, which refers to dispositional coping (or trait coping), assumes that people develop habitual ways of dealing with stress and that these habits or coping styles can influence their responses in new situations.

Watson and Hubbard (1996) identified three distinct approaches to the study of personality and coping. First, coping behavior itself may be viewed as a trait. Second, the associations between personality variables and process measures of coping may be assessed. Third, coping behavior may be understood with reference to the major taxonomic frameworks of personality.

Costa et al. (1996) have argued that coping behavior and personality should be seen as part of an adaptation continuum. …


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