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PSY367 5

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Transcript of PSY367 5

Work Stress Seminar 5
List the five different typologies of coping strategies.
List and describe the five historical perspectives on coping.
1. Psychoanalytic perspective
Coping behaviours are defensive actions the ego takes to protect itself from internal and unconscious conflicts.
2. Behaviouristic perspective
Coping behaviours are learned behaviours designed to remove unwanted stimuli.
3. Physiological perspective:
Coping behaviours are biological reactions within the body that prepare the body to cope with situational demands.
4. Evolutionary perspective:
Coping behaviours are adaptive behaviours that enable organisms to survive and transmit their genes to their offspring.
5. Cognitive perspective:
Coping behaviours are the result of
primary appraisal (i.e., evaluating whether there is a threat, loss or challenge) and
secondary appraisal (i.e., evaluating what one can do about the threat, loss or challenge).

List the common features shared by the diverse definitions of coping.
Though there is a diversity of definitions on coping, they collectively define the following.
• Coping is a
to stressful demands.
• Coping is used to make a bad situation
• Coping requires
Explain the six steps in Schuler’s (1985) process model of coping.
Schuler (1985) developed the integrative transactional process model of coping.
This model conceptualises coping as a dynamic process that involves the complex action and interaction between the individual and the environment over time.
The process steps, in the integrative transactional process model of coping, are conceptualised as follows.
Schuler’s (1985) process model of coping

Step 1: Awareness and Coping Trigger
The person becomes aware of a stressor, and thus
the coping trigger is activated.

Step 2: Primary appraisal
The person performs a primary appraisal
i.e., appraising what the stressor is, and whether it is important
If the stressor is unimportant, then the coping process stops there.
Step 3: Secondary appraisal
If the stressor is important, then the secondary appraisal starts
i.e., why it is important
If the reason is not compelling, then the stressor becomes unimportant and the coping process stops there.
Step 5: Specific coping strategies and implementation
Selecting specific coping strategies, and
implementing the strategies chosen.
Step 6: Evaluate; Return to Step 1 & repeat cycle
Evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies chosen using physiological, psychological and behavioural cues.
With the evaluative information, return to Step 1 and repeat the cycle.
Step 4: Further secondary appraisal
If the reason is important, then the stressor is still important, and then further secondary appraisal occurs
- i.e., What can I do about it? Which coping strategy shall I choose
A number of considerations may be analysed at this stage.
- Cost/benefit analysis of each set of strategies.
- One’s readiness to engage in the analysis.
- Availability of resources (e.g., support).
- Individual differences (e.g., self-efficacy).
In summary, this model is
A process model: It shows how coping strategies evolve over time.
: It responds to the reciprocal interaction between the individual and the environment.
It integrates aspects of the situation, the individual person and the stressor into a single model.

1. Ways of Coping Questionnaire (Vitliano, Russo, Carr, Maiuro, & Becker, 1985)
Vitliano et al. (1985) used statistical methods to parcel the Ways of Coping Questionnaire item into further categories.
Pro-active behaviours (e.g., “I stood my ground and fought for what I wanted.”).
Pro-active cognitions (e.g., “I concentrated on something good that would come out of the whole thing.”).
Seek social support.
Avoidant cognitions (e.g., “Blamed myself.”).

Reflection: What are some ways you could cope with stress using some of the broad methods listed above?
2. Multi-Dimensional Coping Inventory (Endler & Parker, 1990)
Task-oriented coping strategies. (e.g., "work to understand the situation")
Emotion-oriented coping strategies. (e.g., "blame myself for procrastinating")
Avoidance-oriented coping strategies. (e.g., treat myself to a favourite food or snack")

Reflection: What are some ways you could cope with stress using some of the broad methods listed above?
3. Billings & Moos (1981) Coping Scales
Active-cognitive coping strategies (e.g., “Tried to see the best of the…”).
Active-behavioural coping strategies (e.g., “Talked to a friend…”).
Avoidance coping strategies (e.g., “Tried to reduce tension by drinking more…”).

Reflection: What are some ways you could cope with stress using some of the broad methods listed above?
4. Personal Resources Questionnaire (Osipow & Spokane, 1984)
Used in a study (Osipow & Davis, 1988) that examine the application of coping behaviours on reduction of perceived stress and strains
Recreation resources – use of recreational activities as distractors from stressful events
Self care / personal coping – ability to utilize healthful habits
Social support – family, friends and social group support
Rational / cognitive coping – effective management of one’s time, effort and reactions to reduce stress

Reflection: What are some ways you could cope with stress using some of the broad methods listed above?

5. Latack’s (1986) Three Categories
Control strategies (aimed at removing or re-evaluating the stressor).
Escape strategies (aimed at avoiding the stressor).
Symptom management strategies (aimed at attenuating the negative consequences of the stressor, such as via the use of physical exercise to relieve anxiety).

NOTE: Latack’s (1986) measures have been criticised in that
some of the symptom management strategies may be considered adaptive
e.g., physical exercise or more sleep
whilst others may be considered maladaptive but all are combined in the same category.
e.g., take tranquilisers or drink alcohol

Reflection: What are some ways you could cope with stress using some of the broad methods listed above?
coping strategies
List the different personal factors that determine the type of coping strategies people will use to cope with stress.
The choice of which coping strategy to use is often dependent on the following
individual differences:
Personality (e.g., locus of control).
Socio-economic status.
Sex-role orientation.
Availability of social networks.

People with an
internal locus of control
tend to employ more problem-focused than avoidant-type strategies.
People with
adequate family support
also tend to employ more problem-focused coping strategies.
Optimistic people
use more problem focused coping strategies.
NOTE: Note the common factor across good stress coping.

Explain how the situation might influence the choice of coping strategies.
type of stressor
has been known to determine the type of coping activities.
People tend to cope differently with family-related stressors than with work-related stressors.
In Wallace et al.’s (2009) study, it was argued that
challenge stressors
stimulated more
pro-active coping strategies
, and
therefore influenced performance positively.
On the other hand,
hindrance stressors
stimulated more
avoidance coping strategies
, and
therefore influenced performance negatively.
Reflection: Would / do you tend to cope differently with family-related stressors than with work-related stressors? Discuss.
Explain how personal factors and situational factors interact to influence the choice of coping strategies.
There is some evidence that person variables
with situational variables to influence coping behaviours.
e.g., it has been shown that persons with high locus of control will only
use pro-active coping strategies
if they see the situation as controllable.
Explain what the direct effects of social support on strains are.
There has been disagreement in research on whether social support has a direct effect on strains, or a buffering effect on strains.
Proponents of the
direct effect
of social support on strains posit that social support has beneficial effects on strains
regardless of the quantity of stress
Explain what the buffering effects of social support on strains are.
There has been disagreement in research on whether social support has a direct effect on strains, or a buffering effect on strains.
Proponents of the
buffering effect
on strains posit that social support is effective only for
individuals experiencing high stress.

This is because only when stress levels are high enough do individuals actually activate their social resources, e.g., ask for advice or emotional comfort.

Explain the two different ways in which social support is measured.
Cohen and Wills (1985) noted that these two contrasting effects of social support may be due to the way in which social support is measured.
Scientists who measure social support as
social embeddedness
(e.g., network size and network density)
find direct effects because
large social networks provide people with
“regular positive experiences and
a set of stable socially rewarded roles in the community”
(Cohen & Wills, 1985: 312).
Scientists who measure social support as the
activation of an intimate tie
(or support actually received)
find buffering effects.
Because it is only when people undergo stressful situations do they activate such latent support
different research findings

Explain why different ways of measuring social support can lead to different research findings on how social support affects strains.
Researchers have noted differences depending on the type of social support measure used
In fact,
social embeddedness nor received support measures have consistently shown health-protective effects
For social embeddedness:
The measures really do not describe the process by which support influences stress and strain
For received support:
These measures seem to be associated with ineffective coping
i.e., people often seek help from others when they are unable to deal with a stressful situation
Most commonly used measure of social support is
perceived support
the support perceived to be available but not yet received
this type of social support measure has shown the most consistent relationships with stress and health strains and is thought to be
Social support researchers have called for an expanded conceptualization of social support meausures
Traditionally social support measures have assessed emotional or instrumental (i.e., providing money or goods) components
However, focused measures of social support are more important predictors of strains than the traditional measures
Explain how social support can have a negative effect, rather than a positive effect, on strains.
In some cases, received social support has been shown to buffer strains negatively, i.e., it
worsens the strains.
Kaufman and Beehr’s (1986)
study measured received support.
This study found that high levels of social support were associated with high levels of emotional exhaustion (therefore, ineffective coping strategies).
It may be that
social support serves to
one of one’s stressors, or that
supporters may choose to
support unhealthy feelings.
Reflection: Have there been situations where the social support your received did not help you feel better? Share and discuss.
Define what is political skill.
Political skill is defined as the ability
to effectively
understand others
at work and
to use such knowledge to
influence others
to act in ways that
one’s personal and/or organisational
(Perrewé et al., 2004: 142).
Explain how political skill can moderate the relationship between role conflict and strains.
The relationship between perceived role conflict and strain is
by political skill in such a way that
higher political skill attenuates
negative relationship
role conflict and
psychological, somatic and physiological strain.
Describe how political skill can be measured.
Perrewé et
al. (2004)
6 Scale items used in the study to measure political skill:
I find it easy to envision myself in the position of others;
I am able to make most people feel comfortable and at ease around me;
It is easy for me to develop good rapport with most people;
I understand people well;
I am good at getting others to respond positively to me;
I usually try to find common ground with others.
Explain how Episcopal priests experienced role stress.
A particularly stressful occupation is that of the Episcopal parish priests.
Most Episcopal priests are married and living “traditional” family lives, so they face many of the
work-family demands
of modern living.
However, most Episcopal priests also face tremendous “pulls” and “pushes” on their identity, similar to what Catholic priests experience.
They go through a rigorous socialisation, both in the seminary and through ordination;
they typically wear priestly attire (“clericals” or “a collar”) so as to be seen by the general public and parishioners as having a unique position in society; and
perhaps most importantly, they see themselves as called by God to perform divine work.
These aspects of the occupation create role stress for Episcopal priests as they go about living and working.
cope with role stress
List and explain the role negotiation strategies that Episcopal priests used to cope with role stress.
The researchers surfaced two sets of tactics that the priests used to manage the role stressors in their occupation.
Separating role from identity.
Priests mentally differentiated who they were, from what they do.
In separating being from doing, they could achieve some control over their own personal identity instead of allowing others’ expectations to define it.

Setting limits.
Priests learnt to recognise the limits of what they themselves can do and after that,
they let go of the role expectations others have of them.

Creating an identity hierarchy
Priests place their different roles in a hierarchical order of importance so that when roles conflict, they can choose the more important role.
Enacting ephemeral roles.
When the role demands of priesthood get too demanding, priests choose to step out of the role to do something else,
e.g., join a kayaking club, be an artist, etc.

Flipping the on/off switch
Priests consciously switch on or off their role as a priest.
This is an important strategy because priests don’t leave their work in the office.
To get some rest from being a priest, they have to consciously know when to switch the role off and when to switch it on.

Differentiation (segmenting) tactics
Integration (blending) tactics
Merging role with identity.
Some priests learnt to see themselves and their priestly role as one.
In this way, there would be no role conflict.

Infusing self-aspects into tasks
Other priests changed their tasks so that these tasks reflected who they were.
This prevents role conflict.

Casting self as emblem
Some priests saw their role as being a representative of a body larger and more important than they.
Like a bee that has no identity apart from the hive, and a bee that represents the hive, these priests saw themselves as representing the Church.
In this way, they have placed their priestly role at the top of the role hierarchy and their individuality as secondary.
Again, this prevents role conflict.

3. Neutral tactics
Seeking refreshment
Priests took time away from their occupation.
Involve other people
Priests sought social support.
Tapping spiritual resources
Priests turned to God.
List the different stressors inherent in six different occupations.
Police and Firefighters
Such work is
physically dangerous
. Police officers and firefighters risk physical hurt on a daily basis.
Other stressors are:
Excess paperwork.
Red tape.
Dealing with the court system.
Conflict with peers and superiors (due to the necessity for teamwork).
Shift work.
Lack of public support.
Quantitative work overload (i.e., too much volume of work).
Qualitative work underload (i.e., too little interesting work).
Job future ambiguity.
Psychological trauma.

In addition, firefighters experience Selye’s alarm reaction (i.e., the adrenaline rush) every time the station alarm rings
because there is uncertainty about
what the emergency situation is and
what they will be required to do (i.e., task ambiguity).
However, for the most part, the stress reaction is a waste of coping resources because the incident turns out to be minor or a false alarm.
Social workers report the following stressors.
Little positive feedback from others (e.g., clients or the public).
Unsafe work environments.
Frustration with bureaucracy.
Excessive paperwork.
Feeling personally responsible for clients.
Quantitative work overload.

Teachers report the following stressors.
Excessive paperwork.
Lack of adequate supplies/facilities.
Work overload.
Lack of positive feedback.
Threat of vandalism and physical violence from students.
Lack of opportunities for promotion.
Lack of control over job-related decisions.
Lack of emotional/intellectual stimulation.
Workplace violence.

Health Care Workers / Nurses have reported the following stressors.
Quantitative work overload.
Heavy physical work.
Shift work.
Patient concerns.
Interpersonal problems with doctors.

Air traffic controllers report the following stressors.
Lack of control over potential crisis situations.
Equipment limitations.
Peak traffic conditions.
Fear of causing an accident.

Secretarial and clerical workers experience stress
when they have
little control
over their job mobility and have
non-supportive supervisors.
Managers are affected by the following stressors.
work overload.
Role ambiguity.

Reflection: In your job, what are the work stressors? List them down below:
Unlike male managers, female managers’ stress hormones do not drop when they leave work.
Workers in highly technical jobs face a high degree of qualitative work overload as opposed to quantitative work overload.
List two features of the physical work environment that can cause strain
Noise, heat or cold
are insidious stressors.
Even low grade noise and slightly uncomfortable temperatures
raise levels of stress hormones and
have negative health consequences in the long term.
Another insidious stressor is “sick building syndrome”
wherein dirty re-circulating air cause physical malaise ranging from skin, nose, throat irritation and headaches.
Reflection: Are there any features of your physical work environment in your workplace that cause you strain? Discuss.
List two features of job design that cause strain.
Other stressors in the work environment have to do with job design.
Routinised work
(causes boredom stress).
Shift work
(interferes with the body’s circadian rhythms).

Explain how features of the physical work environment and those of job design can combine to cause more strain.
Melamed, Fried, and Froom (2001)
found that
environmental stressors interact with each other to predict worse strains than individually.
Workers exposed to very high noise levels, and with highly complex jobs,
experienced twice the increases in blood pressure levels
relative to those exposed to high noise but had simple jobs.
This is important to note because environmental stressors often co-exist in the work context.
Reflection: What are features in your physical work environment that can be redesigned or changed to reduce stress?
Past Exam Questions

(a) Which one of the 5 perspectives on coping is the most powerful? Why?
(b) What affects people’s choices of coping strategies? (Jan 2010)
Describe the three general types of diagnostic measure that are typically used by behavioural scientists to collect data on job-related stress, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages. (July 2010)
(a) What are the health and social implications of shift work?
(b) As an organizational psychologist, what recommendations would you give to shift workers so as to reduce their stress levels? (July 2010)
(a) List and briefly explain the 6 steps in Schuler’s (1985) Integrative Transactional Process Model of Coping.
(b) What is one explanation for how choices of coping strategies change over time? Use an example to illustrate this. (July 2009)
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