The University of Sussex

The assessment of coping: methodological issues in the construction of coping inventories

Angus S. McDonald, Graham C.L. Davey

Coping strategies that are assumed to mediate between stressful events and their outcomes have received much attention but progress in this area has been limited. It is argued that this lack of progress is due to problems with the assessment of coping as highlighted by a growing body of evidence. Specifically, factors such as inapplicable items, the use of Liket-type response keys and the failure to assess the efficacy of coping attempts are identified as key problems in coping assessment. However, at the root of this problem may be the insistence of many researchers in applying empirically derived instruments to the measurement of coping strategies. These instruments may have resulted in the most consistent finding from coping studies, namely the relationship between emotion-focused coping and psychological distress, being the result of confounding. The potential effects of mood congruent recall on item endorsement, and retrospective reclassification of coping strategies also pose serious problems for the validity of coping research.

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