Stress Coping

Debates on Stress Coping

Lazarus’s cognitive approach suggests that the way you cope with stress is based on your mental process of how you interpret and appraise a stressful situation in which the level of appraisal determines the level of stress and the unique coping strategies used (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). According to Lazarus, there are specific events or stressors that influence an individual’s cognitions of an event, known as appraisals, and your coping strategies refer to your cognitive and behavioral efforts to master the stressful event (Franken, 2007). The primary appraisal assesses whether the situation is threatening, and the secondary appraisal assesses how we should cope with the stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

Another most debated gender stress–coping study has been the topic of orientation regarding gender and stress. Stress theory is often used to explain the relationship between social disadvantage and health (Scheid & Horwitz, 1999). Stress theory provides a useful approach to understand the relationship between pervasive prejudice and discrimination and health outcomes, but the predictions based on the theory need to be carefully investigated (Aneshensel & Pearlin, 1987).

Another debate on stress coping focuses on role overload. Balancing both work and family often causes a role overload (Barnette & Gareis, 2008). Others see role stress as significant because it explains why women experience more stressful events and strain than men. Poverty also presents a risk for mental disorders for women; statistics show that those who live in poverty are at least two and a half times more likely to receive a mental health diagnosis than those who are not poor (Mossakowski, 2008).

Even if women as a group are not exposed to more stress than men, it is plausible that some subgroups of women—poor women, black women, and single mothers—are disadvantaged in significant ways (Acker, 2000).

In a 2- to 3-page analysis paper in a Microsoft Word document, address the following:

  • Do women and men have different coping styles for stress? Evidence with regard to stress and gender has been mixed for decades. Compare the coping styles for stress of both men and women. Support your reasoning with research.
  • Do you feel that men are exposed to more stress than women or vice versa? Why or why not?
  • Some argue that female gender groups are more stressed than lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) genders. Some are of the opinion that lesbian and bisexual women are exposed to greater stress than heterosexual women because of added disadvantaged sexual minority status and that lesbian and bisexual women are exposed to greater stress than gay and bisexual men because of their added disadvantaged gender status. On the basis of your readings, experiences, and research, what are your findings?


Acker, J. (2000). Rewriting class, race, and gender: Problems in feminist rethinking.
In M. M. Ferre, J. Lorber, & B. B. Hess (Eds.), Revisiting gender (pp. 3–43).
Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Aneshensel, C. S., & Pearlin, L. I. (1987). The structural contexts of sex differences
in stress. In R. C. Barnett, L. Biener L, & G. K. Baruck (Eds.), Gender and
(pp. 75–95). New York, NY: Free Press.

Barnett, R. C., & Gareis, K. C. (2008). Community: The critical missing link in
work-family research. In A. Marcus-Newhall, D. F. Halpern, & S. J. Tan
(Eds.), Changing realities of work and family: A multidisciplinary approach
(pp. 71–84). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Franken, R. E. (2007). Human motivation (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson.

Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York, NY:

Mossakowski, K. (2008). Dissecting the influence of race, ethnicity, and
socioeconomic status on mental health in young adulthood. Research on
, 30(6), 649–671.

Scheid, T. L., & Horwitz, A. V. (1999). The social context of mental health and
illness. In A. F. Horwitz & T. L. Scheid (Eds.), A handbook for the study
of mental health: Social contexts, theories, and systems
(pp. 151–160).
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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