Synergy between molecular and contextual views of coping among four ethnic groups of older adults

Francine Conway, Carol Magai, Renee McPherson-Salandy, Kate Milano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The coping styles of four ethnic groups of older adults in response to negative life events were analyzed in a population-based study of 1118 residents of Brooklyn, New York. Using a molecular approach, data regarding the context of events and the corresponding coping responses was obtained. Open-ended semi-structured interviews allowed participants to describe recent negative life events and explain how they coped. An empirically derived coding system distinguished four major negative life events: Death, Illness/Injury, Empathic Response to Distress of Others, and Interpersonal Conflict. Nine major styles of coping emerged: Medicate, Active Coping, Passive Response, Prayer, Stoicism, Social Support, Positive Self-Talk, Acknowledgment of Emotions, and Distraction. Gender and ethnic differences in coping styles were found. Although ethnic specificity in coping emerged when context was considered, the few effects of ethnicity suggests that the major normative events of later life may pull for generic coping responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-343
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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