The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of coping processes on psychophysiological and psychological responses in stressful settings. In particular, we focused on the effects of a combination of active and avoidant coping processes. Subjects were 40 healthy undergraduate male students (mean=19.80, S.D.=0.97) who were randomly divided into four groups: (a) an effort coping group in which a subject faced a controllable stressor mobilizing an effortful and active coping behavior for a reward; (b) a distress coping group in which a subject faced a distressful stressor mobilizing an avoidant coping behavior for threat of punishment; (c) an effort-distress coping group in which a subject faced an ambivalent stressor mobilizing active coping behavior for a reward and avoidant coping behavior for threat of punishment; and (d) a control group. Initially, the effects of effort coping, distress coping, and effort-distress coping on psychophysiological and psychological responses were investigated. It was found that effort coping and effort-distress coping intensified cardiovascular responses, particularly blood pressure, and that distress coping and effort-distress coping intensified skin conductance level (SCL). Secondarily, the relationships between effort coping process, distress coping process, psychophysiological responses, and psychological responses were investigated. As a result of cluster analysis, the changes of heart rate and blood pressure were correlated to the change of the effort score, and the changes of SCL and psychological responses were correlated to the change of the distress score. These findings suggest that active coping processes and avoidant coping processes independently affect different response systems. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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