Coping in social context

Tracey A. Revenson, Stephen J. Lepore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


How can scholars think about coping without thinking about coping in its social context? How, we wondered, can so much of the literature examine individual efforts to cope with stress and their effects without considering that these efforts are influenced, reshaped, and enhanced by feedback from others? We have not been the only ones to raise these questions; see, for example, the papers and commentaries in special sections of the Journal of Health Psychology (1997, Vol. 2, No. 2) and the American Psychologist (2000, Vol. 55, No. 6). So when we embarked upon writing this chapter, we decided we wanted to examine how the social environment is incorporated in theories of coping and how to reconcile the literatures into more unified theories. In this chapter we will examine how the inclusion of social contextual variables broadens the investigation of coping and its effects on physical and mental health by providing clues as to why people cope as they do and relating this to the effectiveness of their coping efforts. To make this argument, we go back historically to find evidence of social context in the essential theories of coping, particularly Lazarus's stress and coping paradigm (e.g., Lazarus, 1981, 1999; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Lazarus & Launier, 1978), which remains the gold standard in the area. We then highlight two areas of research and measurement that we feel have moved the area forward over the past decade by combining social context and coping: social constraints and dyadic coping. We end with suggestions for future work. (PsycInfo Database Record
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationHandbook of Health Psychology (2nd ed.)
EditorsA. Baum, TA Revenson, J. Singer
PublisherPsychology Press
StatePublished - 2012


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