DOI: 10.1207/s15327957pspr0601_1 ISSN:

Sex Differences in Coping Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review and an Examination of Relative Coping

Lisa K. Tamres, Denise Janicki, Vicki S. Helgeson
  • Social Psychology

We used meta-analysis to examine recent studies of sex differences in coping. Women were more likely than men to engage in most coping strategies. The strongest effects showed that women were more likely to use strategies that involved verbal expressions to others or the self—to seek emotional support, ruminate about problems, and use positive self-talk. These sex differences were consistent across studies, supporting a dispositional level hypothesis. Other sex differences were dependent on the nature of the stressor, supporting role constraint theory. We also examined whether stressor appraisal (i.e., women's tendencies to appraise stressors as more severe) accountedfor sex differences in coping. We found some support for this idea. To circumvent this issue, we provide some data on relative coping. These data demonstrate that sex differences in relative coping are more in line with our intuitions about the differences in the ways men and women cope with distress.