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06.03.2021 | Research Paper Open Access

Coping Strategies and Subjective Well-being: Context Matters

Journal of Happiness Studies
Rabea Fischer, Jakob Scheunemann, Steffen Moritz
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A growing body of research suggests that the functionality of coping strategies may in part depend on the context in which they are executed. Thus far, functionality has mostly been defined through the associations of coping strategies with psychopathology, particularly depression. Whether associations of coping strategies with proxies for happiness such as subjective well-being (SWB) are simply inverse remains to be shown. A total of n = 836 individuals from the U. S. general population participated in an online survey that included a revised version of the Maladaptive and Adaptive Coping Styles Questionnaire (MAX-R) that incorporates context-specific items, the Scale of Positive and Negative Affect (SPANE), the Temporal Satisfaction with Life Scale (TSWLS), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and the Web Screening Questionnaire (WSQ). The MAX-R was submitted to an exploratory factor analysis. The factor analysis of the MAX-R yielded four subscales: adaptive, maladaptive, avoidance, and expressive suppression coping. Similar strategies in different contexts at times loaded on the same (e.g., maladaptive) or different (e.g., adaptive and avoidance) dimensions. Hierarchical multiple linear regression revealed significant associations of adaptive coping with SPANE (ß = 0.21), TSWLS (ß = 0.03), and PHQ-9 (ß = 0.07), all ps < .001, of maladaptive coping with SPANE (ß =  − 0.19), TSWLS (ß =  − 0.10), and PHQ-9 (ß = 0.02), all ps < .01, of avoidance with PHQ-9 (ß =  0.01, p < .001), and of expressive suppression with SPANE (ß =  − 0.06) and TSWLS (ß =  − 0.16), ps < .005. Final models explained 64.6% of variance in SPANE, 41.8% of variance in TSWLS, and 55% of variance in PHQ-9 score. In some instances, the functionality of coping strategies appears to be impacted by contextual factors. When investigating the overall benefit of use versus nonuse of coping strategies, their association with psychopathology measures and with subjective well-being should both be considered.
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