Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Predictors of Psychological Well-Being among Malaysian Graduates

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Predictors of Psychological Well-Being among Malaysian Graduates

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Starting graduate studies and attending graduate school can be stressful for students, since they have to go through the process of having to adapt to new social and educational environments. Life in graduate school may be even more stressful because of the added strain of having to cope with different cultural values, language, and high self-expectations apart from academic demands and lack of social support systems (Constantine, et al, 2005; Hyun, et al, 2007; Mori, 2000). As a result, there is a high probability of adjustment problems, physical complaints, and psychological distress among graduate students (Constantine & Okazaki, 2004; Kearney, Draper, & Baron, 2005; Swagler & Ellis, 2003). Because of the transitions graduate students go through, they may encounter conflicts due to multiple roles, different patterns of advisory relationships, inadequate social support or financial constraints apart from academic tressors (Goplerud, 1980; Koeske & Koeske.1991; Offstein et al., 2004; Scheinkman, 1998; Stewart, 1995; Toews, et al, 1993). Studies related to American graduate students have revealed that graduate students with better psychological wellbeing displayed better adaptive coping skills, while those with more environmental and academic stress showed maladaptive coping skills (Yang, 2010). In such a situation, graduate students need to apply effective psychological strategies and resources to cope with the aforementioned pressures to enjoy both an optimal level of psychological well-being and continue their academic life satisfactorily.

Cognitive emotion regulation is defined as a cognitive approach to consciously control and regulate the information that elicits emotional arousal (Garnefski & Kraaiji, (2007). Years of research have shown that the regulation of emotions by cognition or thoughts is inextricably associated with human life and helps people to maintain control over their emotions during or afterthreatening or stressful events (Garnefski, Kraaij, &Spinhoven, 2001). For example, when experiencing a negative life event such as a divorce, we may be inclined to blame ourselves or we may, instead, blame others. Although the capability of advanced thinking and regulating emotions through cognition is universal, large individual differences exist in the amount of cognitive activity and in the content of the thoughts by which people regulate their emotions in response to life experiences, events, and stressors.

Assessment of cognitive coping related to emotion regulation can be done through the Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ). The distinguishing characteristic of CERQ that differentiates it from other instruments is that it includes a broader set of cognitive coping processes (Garnefski et al., 2001). The following nine cognitive processes are specially measured by CERQ:

i. Blaming self: this refers to a cognitive coping technique where one blames oneself for what happened and thinks of oneself as responsible for all one's experiences. It is a state of preoccupation of mind by thoughts of all the mistakes one has made.

ii. Blaming others: this refers to a technique where one blames others for what one has gone through holding others responsible for what has happened and thinking about mistakes that others have done.

iii. Accepting: in this process one submits oneself to what has taken place and accepts it, feeling like s/he cannot change the events and life will go on anyway.

iv. Refocusing on plans: in this process one thinks about the steps that one has to take to handle the life events and plan to change them. v. Refocusing positively: this refers to a switch in thinking, that is, change of thoughts from the negative aspects related to the events to more positive aspects and being considerate about others.

vi. Ruminating: this refers to a state of preoccupation of mind by negative thoughts and feelings.

vii. …

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