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Gender Differences in Coping: A Comparison of Trait and Momentary Assessments

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Gender differences in coping were examined using trait and and momentary situation-specific forms of the Daily Coping Inventory (DCI) and the Ways of Coping (WOC) questionnaire. The momentary measure also included assessment of problem content and appraisal. Participants were 47 men and 48 women (mean age = 42; 97% Caucasian) with high levels of work or marital stress. Participants completed trait versions of the DCI and WOC at the start of the study. Over the next two days, they carried an electronic diary which randomly prompted them every 40 minutes to report on their stressors, stress appraisals, and coping efforts. Analysis of the trait data indicated gender differences in coping consistent with what would be predicted by the socialization hypothesis: Women reported greater use of social support and catharsis on the DCI than men. However, no gender differences in coping were observed on the momentary assessments. Overall, the pattern of results suggest that previous findings of gender differences in coping may be attributable to heuristic recall strategies based on conventional gender role stereotypes, rather than to actual differences in behavior.