Gender Differences in Levels of Stress and Coping Styles in Online First Year Psychology Students Essay

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It is clear that all people experience stress, stress cannot be eradicated from our lives and understanding what triggers or contributes to this stress allows for its management. Stress and coping and what differences are existent between men and women has become a popular area of research with psychological distress shown to contribute to behavioural and mental problems. The Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that around 13% of adults reported experiencing high levels of mental stress in their last four weeks (2004-05). The construct of stress refers to a challenge to the ability of a person to adapt to inner and outer demands, which is a psychobiological process, most often described as stimulus or response (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Further, Lazarus (1966) suggests that stress be viewed as an organising notion for understanding many different phenomena. To enable lecturers, psychologists and doctors to measure perceived chronic stress and coping mechanisms, the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) and Brief COPE (Carver, 1997) were developed. The DASS stress scale is used to isolate and identify aspects of emotional disturbance and assess the core symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. The Brief COPE consists of a 28-item subscale of response, which measure positive (adaptive) coping and negative (maladaptive) coping. Adaptive coping; which seeks to resolve the problem and seeking social support have mainly been associated with positive results whereas maladaptive coping; emotion focused and denial are generally described with negative aspects (Billings & Moos, 1981; 1984; Aldwin & Revenson, 1987). Other efforts to remove stress are avoidance coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and seeking social support (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985). The importance of study in the area of stress levels and coping styles has shifted focus

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