Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Stress and Coping among Students in India and Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Stress and Coping among Students in India and Canada

Article excerpt


In this cross-cultural study of stress and coping, students in India (n = 198) and Canada (n = 344) were compared with respect to stress, coping, and selected psychosocial variables, namely, locus of control, self-esteem, life orientation (optimism-pessimism), and social support. The two main hypotheses postulated that, compared to the Canadian students, Indian students would experience more stress and would prefer emotion-focused coping strategies for dealing with stress. It was also predicted that the Indian students would have an external locus of control, low self-esteem, pessimistic life orientation, and greater social support satisfaction. The results reveal instead that the Indian students report less stress than the Canadian students and prefer emotion-focused coping strategies. The Indian students score higher on chance control, but are similar to the Canadian students on powerful others and internal control. The Indian students are less satisfied with social support than are their Canadian counterparts.


Dans cette etude interculturelle du stress et de l'adaptation, on procede A une comparaison d'etudiants en Inde (n = 198) et au Canada (n = 344) en rapport avec le stress, l'adaptation et certaines variables psychosociales, notamment le locus de contr6le, l'estime de soi, l'orientation de vie (optimisme-pessimisme) et le soutien social. Les deux principales hypotheses posaient comme principe que, comparativement aux etudiants canadiens, les etudiants indiens vivaient plus de situations stressantes et qu'ils preferaient des strategies d'adaptation axees sur les emotions pour composer avec le stress. On prevoyait egalement que les etudiants indiens auraient un locus de contr6le externe, une faible estime de soi, une orientation pessimiste de la vie et une plus grande satisfaction au niveau du soutien social. Les resultats revelent plut6t que les etudiants indiens font etat de moins de stress que les etudiants canadiens et qu'ils pref&rent des strategies d'adaptation ax6es sur les emotions. Les etudiants indiens ont obtenu un score plus eleve pour le controle dependant du hasard, mais obtiennent des resultats semblables a ceux des etudiants canadiens pour le controle dependant de personnes exterieures influentes et le controle interne. Les etudiants indiens sont moins satisfaits de leur soutien social que leurs homologues canadiens.

The literature is replete with studies on various aspects of stress and coping in Western populations. All major theories of stress and coping (see Carpenter,1992; Field, McCabe, & Schneiderman, 1985; Goldberger & Breznitz, 1982; Lazarus,1993; Lazarus & Folkman,1984; Zeidner & Endler,1996) have been developed and empirically tested on samples primarily derived from North America and Europe. Regardless of a theoretical focus, the importance of environment or situation, cognitive appraisal, and personal-social variables (e.g., self-concept and locus of control) have been recognized in understanding coping with stress. However, universality of these findings needs to be checked with appropriate cross-cultural studies in order to develop comprehensive theoretical approaches. Conversely, cross-cultural research is important in ascertaining the impact of cultural environment at the level of societies or social systems (Hofstede, 1991).

Although the concepts of stress and coping were incorporated in ancient Brahmanist and Buddhist philosophies of Asia (Palsane & Lam, 1996), scientific research in this area is a fairly recent phenomenon. Colonial rule, rapid industrialization, and adoption of Western-style political institutions have produced profound changes in the attitudes and values of individuals in Asia, particularly India. Consequently, the experience of stress and the ways of coping are now recognized as important factors in everyday living. During the last 20 years, Asian researchers have generally followed the Western conceptualization and methodology in their study of stress and coping with the aim of finding similarities and differences under various stress conditions (see Lam & Palsane, 1997, for a brief general review). …

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