Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Waas, Gregory A.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Emotions in children; Adjustment (Psychology) in children


The role of emotion in children's attempts to cope with common daily hassles was investigated. Previous research has investigated children's efforts to cope with stresses that have been classified as severe life events, but little attention has been given to the more common daily hassles. Researchers who have considered minor stresses have been limited by their reliance on children's memories of stressful events and coping strategies. Researchers investigating stress and coping in adults have suggested that emotion may play an important role in the coping process. The present study explored the possibility that the child's emotion in a stressful encounter is an important factor in the selection of coping strategies. Children in grades one, three, and five were presented with stories describing common, everyday hassles. Each story was associated with one of three emotions (anger, sadness, or fear). Subjects were asked to rate the intensity of the story character's emotion and to suggest a coping strategy. Coping strategy responses were later coded with regard to their focus, function and mode. The results partially supported the hypothesis of choice of coping strategy as a function of emotion. The use of self and environmentally focused strategies differed with the emotion of the story character. Differences were also obtained for the mode categories of inhibition of action and intrapsychic coping. Children exhibited a greater tendency to inhibit their actions in response to fear arousing situations than in situations involving anger or sadness. An interaction of emotion and sex was found with regard to intrapsychic strategies; males tended to use intrapsychic strategies more in sadness and fear emotion conditions, whereas females used more intrapsychic strategies in the anger condition. Changes in emotional intensity ratings were also observed, with intensity found to decrease following coping strategies. Age and sex differences in coping and intensity ratings were also obtained. Older children tended to use more intrapsychic coping strategies than did younger children. Males and females differed in their ratings of emotional intensity and use of intrapsychic coping strategies.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 56-63)


ix, 115 pages




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