Decades of research have established the importance of coping when dealing with a stressful or traumatic event. Individuals tend to use the same overall coping styles across situations, and correlational studies have demonstrated a relationship between individual characteristics and coping. However, there is a lack of research investigating the interplay between these individual characteristics and their combined effect on different coping styles. It is of special importance to identify maladaptive coping styles in adolescents because they may be prone to use these coping styles for the rest of their lives. This study used a cross-sectional design to investigate the combined effect of personality traits, attachment, locus of control, and social support on rational (problem-focused), avoidant, and emotion-focused coping in 320 students (females n199) attending a Danish high school, where a female student was killed. Combined, the variables accounted for 19% of the variance in problem-focused coping, 21% of the variance in avoidant coping, and 49% of the variance in emotion-focused coping. The fact that the independent variables could account for a substantially larger amount of the variance in emotion-focused compared to rational and avoidant coping is likely due to a confounding of emotion-focused coping with distress, which affects many of the most commonly used coping measures, including the CSQ used in this study. This study points to the importance of conducting regression analyses rather than relying exclusively on correlational research. The results suggest that personality traits and attachment can account for some of the variance in coping styles, but that a large amount of the variance remains to be accounted for. A combination of individual and situation-specific characteristics is likely to be necessary to account for the remaining variance in the use of coping styles.
European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2013, Issue Supplement