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Goodness of Fit Hypothesis

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Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine


This term refers to the effectiveness of matching (fitting) a coping strategy to a situation’s level of controllability, in relation to adaptation to stress. This matching was proposed by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) and Forsythe and Compass (1987) and is termed the goodness of fit hypothesis (GOFH). According to the GOFH, emotion-focused coping (EFC) is more adaptive for uncontrollable and unsolvable situations, while problem-focused coping (PFC) is more adaptive in controllable and solvable situations. EFC includes denial, distraction, relaxation, or, in negative forms, catastrophizing. In contrast, PFC includes defining the problem, suggesting solutions, and implementing one. The GOFH is a major issue in the field of stress and coping and reveals the complexity of the person-situation fit, in relation to adequate responses to stress.

The GOFH has important implications for behavior medicine as well. For example, Levine et al. (1987) assessed levels of denial (an EFC) in...

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References and Readings

  • Forsythe, C. J., & Compass, B. E. (1987). Interaction of cognitive appraisals of stressful events and coping: Testing the goodness of fit hypothesis. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11, 473–485.

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  • Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.

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  • Levine, J., Warrenburg, S., Kerns, R., Schwartz, G., Delaney, R., Fontana, A., et al. (1987). The role of denial in recovery from coronary heart disease. Psychosom Medicine, 49, 109–117.

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  • Rapoport-Hubschman, N., Gidron, Y., Reicher-Atir, R., Sapir, O., & Fisch, B. (2009). “Letting go” coping is associated with successful IVF treatment outcome. Fertility and Sterility, 92, 1384–1388.

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Correspondence to Yori Gidron .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, New York

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Gidron, Y. (2013). Goodness of Fit Hypothesis. In: Gellman, M.D., Turner, J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY.

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