Habitual use of psychological coping strategies is associated with physiological stress responding during negative memory recollection in humans

Kyle P. Rawn, Peggy S. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research has identified a variety of strategies people use to cope with stress and that the adaptiveness of various strategies depends on the context in which they are used. However, important questions remain about the role of physiological stress response systems in supporting, influencing, or changing from coping strategies. This study works toward addressing this gap by examining associations between skin conductance level (SCL) and habitual use of coping strategies. It was hypothesized that more use of problem-focused strategies would be associated with SCL trajectories that were more stable and decreased less steeply, with the opposite trend hypothesized for more use of emotion-focused strategies. Participants were 188 college students (78% female) who reported their use of 14 coping strategies. SCL was recorded during recall of a negative family memory from childhood for five minutes. Trajectories of SCL during the recall were estimated with multilevel modeling. Greater self-distraction, planning, active coping, use of emotional support, and coping flexibility were related to trajectories of SCL that decreased less steeply and were more stable. Problem-focused coping and coping flexibility are, therefore, related to reduced SCL reactivity and promoting these skills may benefit mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalStress
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Skin conductance level
  • coping
  • coping flexibility
  • stress responding
  • sympathetic nervous system reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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