Stress-Coping Congruence: A Tripartite Conceptual Framework for Exploring the Health Consequences of Effective and Ineffective Coping

Elizabeth A. Hardie


A tripartite model of relational (R), individual (I) and collective(C) self-aspects was applied to the process of coping with stress. Self-aspects, current sources of stress, preferred coping styles and two health outcomes, well-being and ill-being, were examined in a sample of 237 Australians. As predicted, self-aspects were found to guide preferences for particular styles of coping, but not sources of current stress. The match or mismatch between type of current stress and type of preferred coping differentially predicted health outcomes. When self-guided R, I and C coping styles were applied to corresponding R, I and C sources of stress, the congruence between stress source and coping style was associated with greater well-being. In contrast, the use of coping styles which were incongruent with sources of current stress appeared to be less effective. Mismatched stress and coping (e.g., the use of individual coping to deal with relational stress) was associated with greater ill-being. Separating sources of stress and styles of coping into individual, relational and collective domains appears to provide a promising new framework for exploring the health consequences of effective and ineffective coping.

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Coping; Stress; Health Consequences, Self-Construal

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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology