Temperament in the coping process : a study of affect intensity, cognitive appraisals and coping strategies in adolescents
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This study investigated the role of temperament in the coping process, examining the relationships among affect intensity, cognitive appraisals, and coping strategies. Participants included 43 male and 48 female adolescents, ages 12 to 15, in middle school and high school. Participants received a mood induction procedure using film clips and completed self-report measures of affect intensity, mood state, cognitive appraisals of coping efficacy, and coping strategies. The primary purpose of the study was to examine the affect intensity construct, replicating previous research to test for differences in emotional responsiveness, coping efficacy, and coping strategy use between high and low affect intensity (AI) adolescents. Analyses revealed significant differences in emotional responsiveness and coping strategies between high and low AI participants. That is, high AI participants reported higher levels of emotional responsiveness, emotion-focused and problem-focused coping relative to low AI participants. However, both groups reported comparable appraisals of coping efficacy. The secondary purpose of the study was to evaluate the sequential chain of relationships among affect intensity, cognitive appraisals of coping efficacy, and coping strategy use. Cognitive appraisals were hypothesized to mediate the relationship between affect intensity and coping, but the mediation model was not supported. Rather, affect intensity and cognitive appraisals contributed independent predictive effects to coping strategy selection. Overall, the results of the current study produced three major empirical findings. First, the significant differences in emotional responsiveness between affect intensity groups lend evidence to support the validity of the construct affect intensity as a characteristic pattern of emotional responsiveness. Second, the nonsignificant difference between high and low AI adolescents on cognitive appraisals of coping efficacy and the similar use of both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping dimensions among high AI adolescents suggests a developmental difference in coping appraisals and coping preferences between high AI adolescents and adults. Finally, the results demonstrate that temperament (affect intensity) and cognitive appraisals are important variables to consider in studies of coping as they contribute independent and differential influence to coping strategy selection.