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 p aper in a Microsoft Word document, address the following:
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
stress (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
Aging, 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.
Are there similarities in the expression of emotions? Do men and women express feelings differently?
Research confirms that there are gender differences in expression of emotions. Typically, men hold negative attitudes about emotional expression and women tend to express their emotions more freely.
In a metanalysis conducted by Bettencourt and Miller, results indicated that men tend to respond more aggressively in response to physical provocation, negative feedback concerning their intelligence, and "frustrations," including not being able to succeed, not being able to finish a task, recognizing their own inability, and traffic congestion. Conversely, women tend to respond more aggressively in response to "insults," such as insensitive and condescending behavior, impolite treatment, and rude comments.
In addition to responding differently to environmental stimuli, men and women also display different emotions when experiencing the same feelings. Paul Ekman coined the term "display rules" to describe this concept. What we experience and what we display can vary greatly and impact us uniquely. Have you ever seen someone laugh in the middle of a heated argument? Or have you ever wondered why there is such a vast array of emotions displayed at a funeral? Some people cry uncontrollably, others laugh as they reminisce, a few yell in anger, and some maintain stoic composure. Display rules are also evident in classic stereotypical examples of men who refuse to express emotions openly, or women who struggle to display actual emotions surrounding mothering.
You will bring your own experiences and biases to the discussion in regards to emotion, aggression, and gender because these topics are often personal and built from years of experiences and observations. However, the research reviewed above highlights an important concept that many are likely to agree on—men and women tend to respond differently when faced with the same situation.
The effects of stress are directly linked to coping, or our ability to handle problems. The learned component of coping includes both healthy and maladaptive coping skills. Culture and society play an important role in influencing the behavior of individuals. Some cultures have different acceptable ways for dealing with stress, such as meditation. Some have gender communication expectations that may restrict one gender from expressing emotion and, as a result, may find differences between male and female stress-coping styles even within subcultural contexts.
There appears to be a link between avoidance coping, or attempts to avoid stressful situations rather than solve them, and depression in both men and women. The influence of social support may be more prominent in understanding women's reliance on various types of coping. Men tend to perceive less social support, so they tend to keep thoughts to themselves and detach themselves from family and friends.
Cronkite and Moos found that women who reported more family support relied less on avoidance coping and showed less depressed mood than women with less family support. This pattern of results was not observed among men in their study.
Based on social cultural influences, schemas, and gender expectations, we find men who are depressed tend to control their emotions to hide what they may feel, while women find it easier to verbalize their emotions, and are more likely to shed tears.
We are constantly inundated with popular media depictions of what a man or woman does or does not do related to health and wellness, with many of these depictions being stereotypical. As you have learned so far, the best method to use when analyzing the validity of biases in our society is to compare the popular media messages with the research on the topic.
You may have heard the saying, "Women are sicker; men die quicker." Research on gender morbidity and mortality rates support this. While women have higher rates of illnesses, men have a shorter life expectancy. Why might this be the case?
As most women give birth to children or use prescription contraceptives, they begin regularly engaging in the practice of attending doctor's appointments by early adulthood. This early exposure results in more women receiving annual checkups and general medical care from physicians throughout their lifetime. Therefore, women are able to benefit more from preventative medicine than men simply because they are more likely to be in medical environments.
In comparison to men, women monitor their own health more vigilantly and practice better health behaviors. Studies have also indicated that women are more likely to report medical problems to their doctors and seek medical attention when they are ill. Gender differences in reporting behaviors are influenced by the traditional gender norms. It is acceptable for women, the "weaker sex," to seek help when necessary.
On the other hand, men, the "stronger sex," are traditionally encouraged to show no weaknesses and to "tough it out" when ill or injured. In comparison to women, men are more likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. In addition, men are more prone to die from accidents and violent behaviors, including motor vehicle accidents, firearm-related accidents, suicide, and homicide.
As you can see, many variables influence the health of men and women throughout the life span.
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