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This study examines gender differences in stress and coping in a sample of 2816 people (1566 women and 1250 men) between 18 and 65 years old, with different sociodemographic characteristics. The results of MANCOVA, after adjusting for sociodemographic variables, indicated that the women scored significantly higher than the men in chronic stress and minor daily stressors. Although there was no difference in the number of life events experienced in the previous two years, the women rated their life events as more negative and less controllable than the men. Furthermore, we found gender differences in 14 of the 31 items listed, with the women listing family and health-related events more frequently than the men, whereas the men listed relationship, finance and work-related events. The women scored significantly higher than the men on the emotional and avoidance coping styles and lower on rational and detachment coping. The men were found to have more emotional inhibition than the women. And the women scored significantly higher than the men on somatic symptoms and psychological distress. Although the effect sizes are low, the results of this study suggest that women suffer more stress than men and their coping style is more emotion-focused than that of men.
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Gender differences in stress and coping styles
M. Pilar Matud
*
Facultad de Psicolog
ıa, Universidad de La Laguna, Campus de Guajara, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Received 7 July 2003; received in revised form 24 November 2003; accepted 21 January 2004
Available online 11 March 2004
Abstract
This study examines gender differences in stress and coping in a sample of 2816 people (1566 women and
1250 men) between 18 and 65 years old, with different sociodemographic characteristics. The results of
MANCOVA, after adjusting for sociodemographic variables, indicated that the women scored significantly
higher than the men in chronic stress and minor daily stressors. Although there was no difference in the
number of life events experienced in the previous two years, the women rated their life events as more
negative and less controllable than the men. Furthermore, we found gender differences in 14 of the 31 items
listed, with the women listing family and health-related events more frequently than the men, whereas the
men listed relationship, finance and work-related events. The women scored significantly higher than the
men on the emotional and avoidance coping styles and lower on rational and detachment coping. The men
were found to have more emotional inhibition than the women. And the women scored significantly higher
than the men on somatic symptoms and psychological distress. Although the effect sizes are low, the results
of this study suggest that women suffer more stress than men and their coping style is more emotion-focused
than that of men.
Ó2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Gender; Chronic stress; Life events; Coping styles; Emotional inhibition
1. Introduction
Studies consistently find gender differences in certain measures of health, such as anxiety,
depression, and some physical illnesses (e.g. Barnett, Biener, & Baruch, 1987; Mirowsky & Ross,
1995; Cleary, 1987; Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987; Weissman & Klerman, 1977). While the reason for
*
Tel.: +34-922-31-7487; fax: +34-922-31-7461.
E-mail address: pmatud@ull.es (M.P. Matud).
0191-8869/$ - see front matter Ó2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.paid.2004.01.010
Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415
www.elsevier.com/locate/paid
this discrepancy is not clear, one of the contributing factors could be stress differences (Aneshensel
& Pearlin, 1987; Barnett et al., 1987; Baum & Grunberg, 1991; Billings & Moos, 1984; Mc-
Donough & Walters, 2001; Mirowsky & Ross, 1995; Turner, Wheaton, & Lloyd, 1995; We-
thington, McLeod, & Kessler, 1987).
Despite the many studies that have been done on the relationship between stress and health, the
nature of this relationship has not yet been clearly established. The correlations between life stress
and illness have been very modest, typically below 0.30 (Rabkin & Struening, 1976) and there is
little agreement over the definition and measure of these constructs. Some authors (i.e. Billings &
Moos, 1984; Pearlin, 1989; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978; Turner et al., 1995) assert that stressful
experiences are not limited to the realm of stressful life events, but also include the ongoing and
difficult conditions of daily life, which some authors refer to as chronic stressors, or stressors that
tend to persist over long periods of time (Wheaton, 1983). It has also been found that there are
wide individual differences in both cognitive and physiological responses to stress, and the rela-
tionship between stress and health is influenced by a variety of moderator variables, including
personality, however findings have been inconclusive (Steptoe, 1983). Moreover, as Baruch, Bi-
ener, and Barnett (1987) argue, progress in this area has been limited by focusing more on males
and by neglecting gender as a variable.
Gender affects each element in the stress process as much in the input, by determining whether a
situation will be perceived as stressful, as in the output, influencing coping responses and the
health implications of stress reactions (Barnett et al., 1987). Although the literature examining the
relation between gender and stress reveals several conflicting outcomes, numerous authors have
determined that women find themselves in stressful circumstances more often than men (e.g.,
Almeida & Kessler, 1998; McDonough & Walters, 2001). Other authors have suggested that it is
possible that women appraise threatening events as more stressful than men do (Miller & Kirsch,
1987; Ptacek, Smith, & Zanas, 1992). Furthermore, women have been found to have more chronic
stress than men (McDonough & Walters, 2001; Turner et al., 1995; Nolen-Hoeksema, Larson, &
Grayson, 1999) and are exposed to more daily stress associated with their routine role functioning
(Kessler & McLeod, 1984). Women are also more likely to report home and family life events as
stressful (Oman & King, 2000) and stress related to gendered caring roles (Lee, 1999, 2001;
Walters, 1993). In addition, women experience gender-specific stressors such as gender violence
and sexist discrimination, which are associated with womenÕs physical and psychiatric events
(Heim et al., 2000; Klonoff, Landrine, & Campbell, 2000; Koss, Koss, & Woodruff, 1991; Lan-
drine, Klonoff, Gibbs, Manning, & Lund, 1995). Women also were more affected by the stress of
those around them, as they tend to be more emotionally involved than men in social and family
networks (Kessler & McLeod, 1984; Turner et al., 1995).
Social roles also seem relevant in the stressful life experiences of women and men (Aneshensel,
Frerichs, & Clark, 1981; Aneshensel & Pearlin, 1987; Cleary & Mechanic, 1983). Role occupancy
determines the range of potentially stressful experiences, increases the chance of exposure to some
stressors and precludes the presence of others. But as Aneshensel and Pearlin (1987) suggest, the
conditions people face once they occupy a role is a source of differential stress, since people may
have very different experiences within the same role. Women and men differ in the frequency of
their occupancy of social roles and in their experiences within similar social roles. WomenÕs po-
sition at work and in the family is less favorable since they carry a greater burden of demands and
limitations (Matthews, Hertzman, Ostry, & Power, 1998; Mirowsky & Ross, 1995).
1402 M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415
Coping has been defined as the constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage
specific external and/or internal demands that have been evaluated as taking up or exceeding the
resources of the person (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Research recognizes two major functions of
coping: regulating stressful emotions, and altering the person–environment relation causing the
distress (Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, Delongis, & Gruen, 1986). Problem-focused coping
includes cognitive and behavioral attempts to modify or eliminate the stressful situation. In
contrast, emotion-focused coping involves attempts to regulate emotional responses elicited by the
situation (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980). Researchers have suggested that emotion-focused coping is
less effective and more likely to be associated with psychological distress than is problem-focused
coping (Billings & Moos, 1981, 1984; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978; Sigmon, Stanton, & Snyder,
1995).
Findings on studies of gender differences in coping behavior are not definitive. While Miller and
Kirsch (1987) acknowledge their methodological constraints and the fact that further research is
needed, they found that many studies report differences in how women and men cope with stress,
with men tending to deal with stress by problem-focused coping, while women tend to use
strategies that modify their emotional response, although these tendencies can change in certain
circumstances. For example, Ben-Zur and Zeidner (1996) have found that women tended to be
more active and problem-focused than men in their coping during the Gulf War crisis, whereas
men, compared to women, reported more emotion-focused coping. And this pattern of gender
differences was reversed for coping with daily stressors after the war.
Two main hypotheses have been put forth that account for gender differences in how indi-
viduals cope with stressful events: the socialization hypothesis and the role-constraint hypothesis
(Ptacek et al., 1992; Rosario, Shinn, Morch, & Huckabee, 1988). Several authors (i.e., Almeida &
Kessler, 1998; Barnett et al., 1987) have suggested that the impact of gender on the stress process
could be conditioned by traditional socialization patterns. The traditional female gender role
prescribes dependence, affiliation, emotional expressiveness, a lack of assertiveness, and the
subordination of oneÕs own needs to those of others. On the other hand, the traditional male role
prescribes attributes such as autonomy, self-confidence, assertiveness, instrumentality and being
goal-oriented. These types of attributes would make it difficult for men to accept and express
feelings of weakness, incompetence and fear, while for women it would be more difficult to take a
proactive problem-solving stance. The stress associated with gender role identification is different
for each sex because women are more likely to identify with the feminine gender role, and men are
more likely to identify with the masculine gender role. By contrast, the role constraint hypothesis
argues that gender differences in coping may by explained by differences for men and women in
the likelihood of occupying particular social roles and the role-related resources and opportunities
(Rosario et al., 1988).
Recently some authors have criticized the psychological theories of coping with stress and have
recognized differences in psychological development between women and men. Also, there is
growing interest in studying womenÕs lives and the unique circumstances that they face (Banyard
& Graham-Bermann, 1993; Kayser & Sormanti, 2002; Kayser, Sormanti, & Strainchamps, 1999).
Other critics feel that there is not enough emphasis on the issue of power and how it may act as
mediator in the stress and coping process across gender. These critics recognize the influence of
social forces such as sexism and access to power as variables in the coping process, rather than
solely focusing on the individual (Banyard & Graham-Bermann, 1993). Given these socialization
M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415 1403
patterns and the relatively low status of women in most occupational situations, it is not sur-
prising that women, more often than men, perceive having inadequate resources for coping with a
threatening situation and also see a stressful situation as unchangeable, and tend to turn to others
for support.
This study was designed to explore gender differences in some stress process variables in a
broad sample of the general population. The questions we seek to address are: first what are the
differences in stress between men and women and second what are the differences in coping styles
and emotional control between men and women.
2. Method
2.1. Participants
This study analyses the responses of a convenience sample of 2816 people (1566 women and
1250 men) between 18 and 65 years old. The mean age for women was 34.3 (SD ¼11.8) and for
men it was 31.88 (SD ¼11.5). All participants were residents of the Canary Islands, Spain, a
homogeneous population of European ethnicity. In Table 1, we present the principal sociode-
mographic characteristics of both groups. As can be observed, there are representatives of all the
sociodemographic groups, and although the percentages are rather similar, the differences be-
tween women and men are significant, perhaps because of the large sample size.
2.2. Measures
Life Event Stressful Success Questionnaire (LESSQ). Designed by Roger and Meadows, the
LESSQ is made up of 31 items indicating possible positive and negative life events and changes
experienced within the past two years. Answers also were scored according to two criteria: the
uncontrollability (the possibility of exercising control over the event) and the undesirability of the
event (how positive, neutral, or negative the event is considered to be). The uncontrollability score
given was ‘‘1’’ when the event was perceived as completely controllable, ‘‘2’’ when it was perceived
as partially controllable, and ‘‘3’’ for a completely uncontrollable event. The undesirability score
was ‘‘1’’ when the event was considered to be very positive, ‘‘2’’ if it was considered to be neutral,
and ‘‘3’’ when it was seen as very negative.
Chronic Stress Questionnaire (Matud, 1998). The Chronic Stress Questionnaire is an open-re-
sponse questionnaire in which participants give information about the relatively long-lasting
problems, conflicts, and threats that they currently face in their lives, evaluating the importance of
each on a 3-point scale from ‘‘1’’ (of little importance) to ‘‘3’’ (very important). The total score is
obtained by adding the responses given to each problem or conflict considered.
Minor Daily Stressor Questionnaire (Matud, 1998). This is an open-response questionnaire in
which participants give information about the more common everyday demands, irritations and
frustrations they currently were experiencing. Each was ranked on how much bother the sit-
uation caused, using a 3-point scale from ‘‘1’’ (of little importance) to ‘‘3’’ (very important).
The total score is obtained by adding the responses given to each demand or situation con-
sidered.
1404 M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415
Work Role Satisfaction Inventory (WRS). This is an open-response inventory in which there are
five questions about the extent to which a person is satisfied with his/her current job (or with her
role as homemaker, if she does not work outside the home), whether he/she chose this role,
whether he/she would like to change it, and to what extent this role produces a sense of fulfillment
and self-satisfaction. Factor analysis of the answers scored according to a Likert-type answer scale
Table 1
Demographic characteristics of the male and female groups
Characteristic Women (N¼1566) Men (N¼1250) v2value
N%N%
Education
Primary 452 28.9 299 23.9
Secondary 502 32.1 501 40.1
University 612 39.1 450 36.0
20.68
Occupation
Homemaker 293 19 0 0
Skilled/unskilled manual 325 21 412 33.6
Skilled non-manual 292 18.9 308 25.1
Professional 357 23.1 260 21.2
Student 279 18 246 20.1
No data 20 24
287.9
Marital status
Never married 737 47.4 781 62.9
Married/cohabiting 698 44.9 430 34.6
Divorced 87 5.6 28 2.3
Widowed 34 2.2 3 0.2
No data 10 8
87.05
Age
18–24 426 27.3 415 33.5
25–39 595 38.2 526 42.5
40–54 450 28.9 233 18.8
55–65 87 5.6 65 5.2
No data 8 11
40.67
Children
None 814 52.2 849 68.4
1 174 11.2 110 8.9
2 306 19.6 141 11.4
3 or more 266 17.1 141 11.4
No data 6 9
79.15
***
p<0:001.
M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415 1405
with a range of 0–3, yielded a monofactorial solution. The coefficient alpha was 0.74 and the
factor measures dissatisfaction with the work role (Matud, 1998).
Coping Styles Questionnaire (CSQ) (Roger, Jarvis, & Najarian, 1993). This scale, comprised of
48 items rated on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from ‘‘never’’ to ‘‘always’’, measures four factors
labelled: Rational Coping, Detached Coping, Emotional Coping, and Avoidance Coping. In the
questionnaire validation with a Spanish sample, separate analysis for the male and females sub-
samples resulted in comparable factor structures. The first factor was Rational Coping, com-
prising 14 items with a coefficient alpha of 0.83. The second was Emotional Coping, which
consisted of 13 items and also had a coefficient alpha of 0.83. The third factor was Detached
Coping, which included 13 items and had a coefficient alpha of 0.75. Avoidance Coping was the
fourth factor; it included 6 items with a coefficient alpha of 0.63.
Emotion Control Questionnaire (ECQ) (Roger & Najarian, 1989; Roger & Nesshoever, 1987).
For this questionnaire, emotional control was defined as the tendency to inhibit the expression of
emotional responses (Roger & Nesshoever, 1987). The scale was developed in the context of re-
search on the role of personality as a moderator variable in the relationship between stress and
illness. It contains 56 items, in which a factor-analytic study of cross-cultural differences found
that a two-factor model, comprising emotional inhibition and emotional rumination, offered the
best fit for the data across all samples (Roger, Garc
ıa de la Banda, Lee, & Olason, 2001). In this
sample validation, the rumination factor comprised 23 items, with a coefficient alpha of 0.84; and
emotional inhibition comprised 10 items. The coefficient alpha was 0.73.
General Health Checklist (GHC) (Meadows, 1989). We used the the General Health Checklist
to assess general health, as had Rector and Roger (1996). This scale consists of 25 items that
measure common physical complaints frequently made to general practitioners and also more
serious illnesses such as asthma or hypertension. It also includes three items measuring anxiety,
depression and insomnia. The scale is scored as follows: 1 ‘‘Better’’, 2 ‘‘Unchanged’’, 3 ‘‘Worse’’,
and 4 ‘‘DonÕt have/suffer from’’. Scores were derived by calculating the total frequency of
symptoms (scored from 1 to 3), and we came up with two scores: ‘‘frequency of somatic symp-
toms’’, derived by summing across all scale items excluding the three items that measure anxiety,
depression and insomnia; these were scored independently as a general measure of ‘‘psychological
distress’’.
2.3. Procedure
The questionnaires were filled out individually, in some cases self-administered, and in the case
of participants with low educational levels, or with those who preferred to be interviewed, the
questionnaire was completed during the course of an interview carried out by trained personnel.
There were no significant differences across gender in the method of administering the ques-
tionnaires. The sample was made up of volunteers and no monetary compensation was given. To
avoid systematic bias, the sample was obtained through various public and private work centers in
the Canary Islands (Spain) and through neighborhood associations. The participants had to fulfill
the following three requirements: (1) be between 18 and 65 years old; (2) if women, not be
pregnant; (3) not be in the terminal phase of an illness, nor convalescing from illness, nor
recovering from childbirth. The data presented in this work are drawn from a larger, ongoing
research project on gender stress and health which began in 1997.
1406 M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415
3. Results
Multivariate and univariate analyses of covariance (MANCOVA) were performed to test for
gender differences in stress, health and coping variables. Adjustment was made for the sociode-
mographic variables that were different for both groups: age, number of children, educational
level and occupation. Marital status was not included because it is highly associated with the
number of children. It was found that 98.1% of the single men and 95.5% of the single women had
no children.
The results of MANCOVA on the six stress variables (chronic stress, minor daily stressors,
work role dissatisfaction, uncontrollability, undesirability and number of life events) and two
health variables (somatic symptoms and psychological distress) revealed a significant effect,
Fð8;2623Þ¼15:2, p<0:001; g2¼0:044. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVAs, see Table 2)
indicated that the women scored significantly higher than the men on chronic stress and minor
daily stressors, and rated life events experienced over the past two years as more negative and
uncontrollable than the men, but the effect sizes are low. Furthermore, the women scored higher
than the men on somatic symptoms and psychological distress.
Although we did not find gender differences in the number of life events experienced over the
past two years, we analyzed each event to study whether the stressors listed by men and women
were different. We found significant differences in 14 of 31 items. The women listed more fre-
quently than the men ‘‘Separation/divorce’’ (4.4% of women and 2.3% of men), ‘‘Change in
church-going or religious beliefs’’ (10% of women and 7.5% of men), ‘‘Death in immediate
family’’ (30.7% of women and 27% of men), ‘‘Birth in family’’ (27.7% of women and 20.1% of
men), ‘‘Serious illness in close friend or relation’’ (18.1% of women and 14% of men). And men
more frequently listed ‘‘Engagement’’ ( 21.6% of men and 14.8% of women), ‘‘Starting serious
relationship (not marriage)’’ (25% of men and 17.8% of women), ‘‘Ending serious relationship
(not marriage)’’ (23.8% of men and 11.2% of women), ‘‘Making new friends’’ (57.3% of men and
52.7% of women), ‘‘Major change in financial status’’ (37% of men and 30.6% of women),
‘‘Change in commitment to work’’ (35.3% of men and 27.5% of women), ‘‘Dealings with staff/
Table 2
Means, standard deviations and Fvalues for stress and health measures
Women Men Fg2
MSD MSD
Chronic stress 6.60 5.03 5.87 4.49 11.92 0.005
Minor daily stressors 7.35 5.18 5.95 4.67 52.04 0.019
Work role dissatisfaction 6.05 3.83 5.70 3.84 2.05 0.001
Number of life events 5.88 3.92 6.30 3.96 0.34 0.000
Undesirability of life events 1.86 0.53 1.77 0.48 5.850.002
Uncontrollability of life events 1.92 0.53 1.83 0.47 10.80 0.004
Somatic symptoms 20.3 11.1 18.8 12.1 12.58 0.005
Psychological distress 3.21 2.71 2.30 2.45 65.89 0.024
*
p<0:05.
**
p<0:01.
***
p<0:001.
M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415 1407
supervisor’’ (19.2% of men and 15.1% of women), ‘‘Change in work pressure’’ (29.4% of men and
22.6% of women), ‘‘Increase/decrease in workload’’ (30.7% of men and 25.2% of women).
The MANCOVA examining gender differences in coping styles and emotional control variables
also revealed a significant effect, Fð6;2729Þ¼63:3, p<0:001; g2¼0:122. Univariate analyses (see
Table 3) showed that the women scored higher than the men on emotional and avoidance coping
style, and the men scored higher on rational and detachment coping and on emotional inhibition.
Correlation coefficients were computed between study variables for women and men (see Table
4). To prevent the occurrence of type I errors due to multiple comparisons, the alpha level was
lowered to p60:001. Most of the coefficients between different stress measures were low in
magnitude, showing that life events, chronic stress, minor daily stressors and work role dissat-
isfaction are not overlapping measures. Generally they were similar for women and men, although
chronic stress is associated with life events rated as uncontrollable and negative more frequently
by women than men, work role dissatisfaction is significantly associated with the number of life
events only for men, and with number of children only in women, although the percentage of
variance is very low. For women, educational level is more associated with the number of negative
life events, with work role dissatisfaction, with age, and with number of children.
For both men and women, the number of life events correlated positively with chronic stress,
with minor daily stressors and with educational level, and negatively with age and number of
children. Life events rated as negative and uncontrollable correlated with work role dissatisfac-
tion, with age and number of children. Chronic stress is associated with minor daily stressors and,
with a lower correlation coefficient, with work role dissatisfaction. Age and number of children
are highly correlated.
Although the coefficients were low in all cases, most of the stress measures were more highly
correlated with the health measures among the women than among the men. Moreover some of
the correlations between coping styles and demographic variables were different for the women
and the men. While rational coping correlated significantly in the menÕs sample with age and
number of children, in the womenÕs sample avoidance coping correlated with these variables,
although rational coping also correlated with age in the women. Educational level was found
to be more associated with age and number of children in the womenÕs sample than in the
menÕs.
Table 3
Means, standard deviations and Fvalues for coping styles and emotional control variables
Women Men Fg2
MSD MSD
Coping styles
Rational 23.15 6.21 25.06 6.14 72.05 0.026
Emotional 13.19 6.25 11.55 5.69 41.60 0.015
Detachment 10.61 4.64 11.61 4.86 32.13 0.012
Avoidance 10.09 3.11 9.02 3.19 58.53 0.021
Emotion control
Emotional inhibition 3.73 2.48 4.72 2.61 108.7 0.038
Rumination 9.93 5.16 9.82 4.99 0.06 0.000
***
p<0:001.
1408 M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415
Table 4
Correlations between measures for women and men
234567891011121314151617
Women
1. Number of life
events
)0.08)0.04 0.260.200.03 0.200.17)0.02 0.11)0.01 0.01 )0.08 0.06 )0.32)0.240.16
2. Undesirability
of life events
– 0.590.16)0.02 0.140.02 0.19)0.100.220.03 )0.01 0.08 0.160.270.23)0.11
3. Uncontrolla-
bility of life
events
– 0.160.01 0.150.04 0.17)0.110.210.03 )0.01 0.080.180.190.16)0.07
4. Chronic stress 0.420.140.180.28)0.06 0.22)0.04 0.01 0.02 0.13)0.01 0.05 0.04
5. Minor daily
stressors
0.08 0.100.140.06 0.10)0.07 0.04 )0.05 0.09)0.07 )0.02 0.05
6. Work role
dissatisfaction
– 0.120.20)0.080.24)0.07 0.02 0.01 0.190.07 0.11)0.20
7. Somatic
symptoms
– 0.49)0.120.21)0.02 )0.03 0.04 0.15)0.15)0.08 0.08
8. Psychological
distress
)0.140.38)0.04 )0.01 0.07 0.230.090.11)0.03
9. Rational
coping
)0.270.300.32)0.06 )0.200.110.07 0.03
10. Emotional
coping
)0.02 0.130.220.51)0.01 0.03 )0.12
11. Detachment
coping
– 0.310.09)0.08 0.080.04 )0.10
12. Avoidance
coping
0.01 0.07 0.140.15)0.21
13. Emotional
inhibition
0.02 0.06 0.05 )0.07
14. Rumination )0.02 0.03 )0.19
15. Age 0.76)0.39
16. Number of
children
)0.43
17. Educational
level#
M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415 1409
Table 4 (continued)
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1011121314151617
Men
1. Number of life
events
)0.05 0.01 0.250.210.100.110.11)0.02 0.08 0.00 0.07 0.01 0.10)0.28)0.240.10
2. Undesirability
of life events
– 0.550.04 )0.04 0.130.05 0.130.00 0.170.03 )0.02 0.03 0.110.230.21)0.06
3. Uncontrolla-
bility of life
events
– 0.110.05 0.160.08 0.15)0.05 0.20)0.01 0.01 0.06 0.130.120.12)0.02
4. Chronic stress 0.490.130.100.18)0.01 0.17)0.04 0.05 0.03 0.11)0.07 )0.07 0.07
5. Minor daily
stressors
– 0.090.06 0.07 0.00 0.10)0.06 0.07 0.02 0.13)0.11)0.08 0.03
6. Work role
dissatisfaction
– 0.150.18)0.110.20)0.01 0.01 0.090.11)0.06 )0.05 )0.14
7. Somatic
symptoms
– 0.57)0.110.200.01 )0.02 0.04 0.10)0.05 )0.06 0.02
8. Psychological
distress
)0.110.32)0.02 0.03 0.06 0.180.03 0.01 0.04
9. Rational
coping
)0.210.190.24)0.06 )0.140.180.160.05
10. Emotional
coping
– 0.120.230.220.47)0.05 )0.04 )0.10
11. Detachment
coping
– 0.310.11)0.07 0.08 0.04 )0.03
12. Avoidance
coping
)0.03 0.110.08 0.07 )0.15
13. Emotional
inhibition
0.05 0.00 0.00 )0.02
14. Rumination )0.04 )0.03 )0.19
15. Age 0.80)0.12
16. Number of
children
)0.18
#
SpearmanÕs rho.
*
p60:001.
1410 M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415
4. Discussion
Even though the magnitude of the differences between women and men is small and the per-
centage of variance explained is low, we have found significant differences in several stress-related
variables. Women have more daily stress, with more chronic problems and conflicts and daily
demands and frustrations. Although women and men did not differ in the number of life events
and changes experienced within the past two years, these events seemed to impact women more
since they rated them as less desirable and controllable than men did and they were more asso-
ciated with health problems. We also found that nearly half of the stressful events listed by women
and men were significantly different, with women more frequently reporting family and health-
related events experienced by other people in their environment. The men more frequently re-
ported events related to work and finances and relationships with friends and lovers. Even though
the intercorrelations between stress measures and sociodemographic variables were quite similar
for women and men and the percentage of variance explained was low, we found that work role
dissatisfaction is associated with the number of life events only for men, and chronic stress is
associated with life events which were rated as negative only for women. We also found that
educational level was somewhat related to stress in women, those with a higher educational level
experienced less work role dissatisfaction and although they experienced more life events, they
classified them as less negative. Women with more children had greater work role dissatisfaction
and experienced more psychological distress, although this association is low.
These findings of gender differences in stress are consistent with many previous investigations.
Even though some reports of differences in the incidence of stressful life events across gender are
inconsistent (Thoits, 1982), other authors (e.g. Almeida & Kessler, 1998; Nolen-Hoeksema et al.,
1999; Stein & Nyamathi, 1999; Turner et al., 1995) found that women reported more stress than
men when taking into account the estimates of stress exposure, the enduring nature of some role-
related stressors and other long-term chronic and daily stressors.
Other questions posed in this study deal with gender differences in coping styles. We found that
women scored significantly higher than men in emotional and avoidance coping styles, while
scoring lower in rational and detachment coping styles. Although the magnitude of differences is
moderate to small, several investigators have found that men made more frequent use of
instrumental coping and women were more likely to use emotion-focused coping (Billings &
Moos, 1984; Endler & Parker, 1990; Folkman & Lazarus, 1980; Ptacek, Smith, & Dodge, 1994).
Several authors have also found that women made more frequent use of emotional-discharge
coping than men in community groups (Billings & Moos, 1981; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978), and
depressed men (Billings & Moos, 1984).
The gender differences found seem to be consistent with the socialization hypothesis which
predicts that men are socialized to use more active and instrumental coping behaviors, and women
are socialized to use more passive and emotion-focused behaviors (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978;
Ptacek et al., 1992). But gender differences in coping also can be explained by variations in the
kind of situations that men and women typically encounter. Several studies in community samples
have found that women experienced more stressful events associated with health and family,
whereas men report more stressful events associated with work and finance (Billings & Moos,
1984; Folkman & Lazarus, 1980). Furthermore, women and men are exposed to different stressors
as a result of the different jobs that they perform, and women experience sexist stressors such as
M.P. Matud / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1401–1415 1411
discrimination, battering, rape, and sexual harassment (Klonoff et al., 2000; Heim et al., 2000). All
of this may mean that different coping strategies are needed (Banyard & Graham-Bermann, 1993).
However, as Felsten (1998) points out, gender differences in the use of coping strategies may be
decreasing and becoming less consistent over the past two decades, and this may parallel social
changes in gender roles and constraints, since the context may account for some of the observed
gender differences (Emslie et al., 2002). For example, some studies have found that gender dif-
ferences in coping diminish or disappear when the studies were done on homogeneous samples of
university students (Felsten, 1998; Lengua & Stormshak, 2000; Sigmon et al., 1995; Stern, Nor-
man, & Komm, 1993), although the results vary according to the type of strategy used (problem-
focused coping versus emotion-coping strategies). Perhaps these social changes explained the
small effect of gender differences in this study. Likewise, the small effect sizes that we have found in
our study support the view that gender differences in stress and coping may be decreasing over
time.
The present study has several limitations. The first limitation is that the self-reported nature of
our data does not allow us to determine the possibility that men and women differed only in
what they were willing to report. A second limitation was that some responses were retrospective.
Third, the use of a convenience sample limits the generalization of the findings. Even so, the
large size and diversity of the sample guarantees a certain generalization of the results. Finally,
the design of the study is cross-sectional and did not allow for the evaluation of causal rela-
tionships.
In spite of these limitations, the results of this study suggest that women have more stress
compared to men, although these differences are small. The differences include more chronic stress
and more minor daily stressors. For women, life events and changes seen to be less controllable
and more negative. In addition, the womenÕs coping style is more emotion-focused and less
problem-centered than that of the men. Perhaps because of this, the women suffer more somatic
symptoms and psychological distress than the men. We have concluded, therefore, that helping
women to achieve a greater sense of control over their circumstances and to engage in problem
solving rather than emotionality when dealing with stressors, as well as changing the social cir-
cumstances that cause these reactions, would be useful.
Acknowledgements
This research was supported by grants from the WomenÕs Institute and from the Consejer
ıa de
Educaci
on, Cultura y Deportes of the Canary Islands. The author would also like to thank the
reviewers for their helpful comments.
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... These results suggest that men and women used different coping strategies during the pandemic lockdown period and that their choice of strategies contributed to increased vulnerability (in the case of men) for developing anxiety and increased resilience (in the case of women) in the face of anxiety. The differences in the way women cope with stress could be related to the increased prevalence of anxiety symptoms and disorders relative to men [54]. Overall, these findings support our understanding of the nature of gender differences in stress responsivity and can inform the development of mental health interventions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future infectious disease outbreaks. ...
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... Numerous studies in the literature state "gender" as an important variable determining the use of coping strategies. Accordingly, it is stated that women tend to use EC strategies in stressful situation more than men, and they tend to seek social support more often (Endler & Parker, 1990;Ptacek, Smith, & Dodge, 1994;Matud, 2004;Billings & Moss, 1984;Felsten, 1998). Similarly, in the literature, gender differences are also found on the link between perfectionism and interpersonal characteristics. ...
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This study aimed to examine the concept of marital adjustment and its relation with perfectionism (self-oriented, otheroriented and socially-prescribed perfectionism), the ways of coping (problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping and seeking social support) and gender variables. The research was carried out with 290 married individuals (188 females and 102 males). Participants were administered a questionnaire to ascertain their socio-demographic characteristics along with several assessment scales including Dyadic Adjustment Scale, Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, The Ways of Coping Inventory, Brief Symptom Inventory. A series of analyses of Covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted to evaluate the effects of personal level of perfectionism (self-oriented, other-oriented and socially-prescribed perfectionism), the ways of coping (problem-oriented coping, emotion-oriented coping and seeking social support) and gender on marital adjustment, after controlling for psychopathological symptom levels. The results demonstrated that individuals who had self-oriented perfectionism and individuals, those who applied problem-oriented coping strategies more often, reported greater level of marital adjustment. Specifically, socially-prescribed perfectionism in males and self-oriented perfectionism in females were found to be the determinant figure on the issue of marital adjustment. Another finding revealed an interaction effect between self-oriented perfectionism and seeking social support. The findings were discussed in the light of relevant literature regarding the structure of Turkish society. Keywords: Marital adjustment; perfectionism; coping with stress; gender;
... However, some findings point to health and psychological costs associated with the Dark Triad traits (e.g., Jonason et al., 2015). Moreover, there are gender differences in the Dark Triad traits (Muris et al., 2017) and the incidence of negative emotional states (e.g., Nolen-Hoeksema & Hilt, 2009;Matud, 2004), and some findings point to the gender differences in life satisfaction (see Batz & Tay, 2018). Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether the relations of the Dark Triad (above the basic personality traits) with life satisfaction and negative emotional states (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) differ across sex. ...
Conference Paper
This study aimed to investigate whether the relations of the Dark Triad (above the basic personality traits) with life satisfaction and negative emotional states (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) differ across sex. Data were collected on a sample of 650 students (60% females, Mage = 21.73 years; SDage = 1.94) from various faculties of the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that gender and the Big Five traits explained 13% of the variance of life satisfaction, 29% of the variance of depression, 31% of the variance of anxiety, and 37% of the variance of stress in the first step. The Dark Triad explained an additional 1% of the variance of only stress, with psychopathy being the only significant predictor among the dark traits. The interaction of gender and the dark traits significantly contributed only to the explanation of life satisfaction, with narcissism moderating the relations between life satisfaction and the Dark Triad. Taken together, the results point to the importance of both basic and dark traits in predicting life satisfaction and negative emotional states, and the importance of taking gender differences in these relations into account.
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Two theories have been advanced to explain gender differences in coping. Socialization theory states that women are socialized into using less effective coping strategies than men. Role constraint theory affirms that no gender differences in coping exist when men and women occupy the same roles. Three studies, where the roles occupied by women and men were the same, were conducted to test the theories. Two of them also compared role constraint and socialization theories for social support. The results for coping did not support the socialization theory and partially supported the role constraint theory. With one exception, men and women did not differ in the ways they coped with similar role stressors. The results for social support indicated that women reported using more support than men in similar role situations. These findings suggest that higher levels of psychological disturbance among women cannot be attributed to their coping styles independent of their social roles.
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It was hypothesized that women are more vulnerable to depressive symptoms than men because they are more likely to experience chronic negative circumstances (or strain), to have a low sense of mastery, and to engage in ruminative coping. The hypotheses were tested in a 2-wave study of approximately 1,100 community-based adults who were 25 to 75 years old. Chronic strain, low mastery, and rumination were each more common in women than in men and mediated the gender difference in depressive symptoms. Rumination amplified the effects of mastery and, to some extent, chronic strain on depressive symptoms. In addition, chronic strain and rumination had reciprocal effects on each other over time, and low mastery also contributed to more rumination. Finally, depressive symptoms contributed to more rumination and less mastery over time.
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This article examines gender differences in psychological distress by assessing men's and women's experience of daily stressors and psychological distress in a sample of 166 married couples. Respondents completed a structured daily diary each day over the course of 42 days. Results showed that women reported a higher prevalence of high distress days and a lower prevalence of distress-free days than men. Gender differences in daily distress were attributable largely to women experiencing more onsets of distress episodes rather than being more likely to continue in a distress state from one day to subsequent days. Results from hierarchical linear models (HLM) indicated that the significant gender differences diminished after respondents' daily stressors were taken into account. Implications of these findings for gender role and rumination theories are discussed.
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• Used a stress and coping paradigm to guide the development of indices of coping responses and to explore the roles of stress, social resources, and coping among 424 men and women (mean age 40.7 yrs) entering treatment for depression. An expanded concept of multiple domains of life stress was used to develop several indices of ongoing life strains. A variety of measures were obtained from Ss, family members, and treatment staff. Two questionnaires completed by Ss included the Health and Daily Living Form and the Work Environment Scale. Although most prior studies have focused on acute life events, results of the present study show that chronic strains were somewhat more strongly and consistently related to the severity of dysfunction. The coping indices generally showed acceptable conceptual and psychometric characteristics and only moderate relationships to Ss' sociodemographic characteristics or to the severity of the stressful event for which coping was sampled. Coping responses directed toward problem solving and affective regulation were associated with less severe dysfunction, whereas emotional-discharge responses, more frequently used by women, were linked to greater dysfunction. Stressors, social resources, and coping were additively predictive of an S's functioning, but coping and social resources did not have stress-attenuation or buffering effects. (72 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) • Used a stress and coping paradigm to guide the development of indices of coping responses and to explore the roles of stress, social resources, and coping among 424 men and women (mean age 40.7 yrs) entering treatment for depression. An expanded concept of multiple domains of life stress was used to develop several indices of ongoing life strains. A variety of measures were obtained from Ss, family members, and treatment staff. Two questionnaires completed by Ss included the Health and Daily Living Form and the Work Environment Scale. Although most prior studies have focused on acute life events, results of the present study show that chronic strains were somewhat more strongly and consistently related to the severity of dysfunction. The coping indices generally showed acceptable conceptual and psychometric characteristics and only moderate relationships to Ss' sociodemographic characteristics or to the severity of the stressful event for which coping was sampled. Coping responses directed toward problem solving and affective regulation were associated with less severe dysfunction, whereas emotional-discharge responses, more frequently used by women, were linked to greater dysfunction. Stressors, social resources, and coping were additively predictive of an S's functioning, but coping and social resources did not have stress-attenuation or buffering effects. (72 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Investigated the functional relations among cognitive appraisal and coping processes and their short-term outcomes within stressful encounters. The authors used an intraindividual analysis of the interrelations among primary appraisal (what was at stake in the encounter), secondary appraisal (coping options), 8 forms of problem- and emotion-focused coping, and encounter outcomes in a sample of 85 married couples (females aged 35–45 yrs and males aged 26–54 yrs). Findings show that coping was strongly related to cognitive appraisal; the forms of coping that were used varied depending on what was at stake and the options for coping. Coping was also differentially related to satisfactory and unsatisfactory encounter outcomes. Findings clarify the functional relations among appraisal and coping variables and the outcomes of stressful encounters. (47 ref)
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The long-term consequences of criminal victimization on physical health were examined among 390 adult women (74 nonvictims and 316 victims of crime). Data included health status self-ratings and objective service utilization. Findings indicated that severely victimized women, compared with nonvictims, reported more distress and less well-being, made physician visits twice as frequently in the index year, and had outpatient costs that were 2.5 times greater. Criminal victimization severity was the most powerful predictor of physician visits and outpatient costs. Utilization data across 5 years preceding and following crime were obtained from 15 rape victims, 26 physical assault victims, and 27 noncontact crime victims and were compared with five continuous years of utilization among 26 nonvictims. Victims' physician visits increased 15% to 24% during the year of the crime compared with less than 2% change among nonvictims. We conclude that these long-term deleterious effects suggest that criminally victimized women's needs for medical treatment transcend the traditional focus on emergency care and forensic evaluation.(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:342-347)