Coping is an important aspect of operator stress: people use various strategies for dealing with potentially stressful task demands. This paper outlines two studies of a new instrument designed for human factors applications, the Coping Inventory for Task Stress (CITS). Factor analysis of coping items differentiated three aspects of coping specified by stress theory: task-focus, emotion-focus and avoidance. Patterns of coping appear to reflect both task demands and individual differences in perceptions of workload. Relationships between coping and other stress-related variables were investigated in a study of subjects who performed a rapid visual information processing task. Task-focus and avoidance were sensitive to experimentally- manipulated task factors: time pressure and negative feedback. Coping also related to personality factors, as well as to the external pressures of the task. At a practical level, assessment of coping may contribute to understanding of how operators cope effectively or ineffectively with a variety of task-related stressors, leading to a more informed choice of countermeasures for stress.
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