, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 305-320

Consistency and variability in causal attributions and coping with stress

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Abstract

Temporal and cross-situational consistency in causal attributions and coping were examined in reference to two ongoing stressors over a period of 4 weeks. Patterns of coping were characterized by moderate consistency in response to the same stressor over time and low consistency across two different types of stress (academic and interpersonal stressors). Causal attributions were moderately to highly consistent in response to the same stressor over time, but levels of consistency in attributions were low across the two stressors. There were individual differences in the degree of coping consistency, with some individuals displaying more stability in coping than others. Higher levels of consistency in coping were associated with higher levels of negative affect; negative emotions predicted significant portions of the variance in subsequent consistency in coping, but consistency in coping did not predict later emotions.

The authors are grateful to Carol Miller, Harold Leitenberg, and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript, and to David Howell for his assistance with data analyses.