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Coping styles mediate the association between psychological inflexibility and psychological functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic: A crucial role of meaning-centered coping (Pages 201-209)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 26, October 2022, Pages 201-209


Andreja Avsec, Nikolett Eisenbeck, David F .Carreno, Gaja Zager Kocjan, Tina Kavčič


People's psychological response to the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly affected by their psychological inflexibility. One possible mechanism explaining the association between psychological inflexibility and psychological functioning concerns coping styles. While avoidance and approach coping styles were previously found to mediate this association, the mediating role of meaning-centered coping has not yet been explored. However, meaning-centered coping it is likely to be crucial in circumstances as uncertain as those at the onset of the COVID -19 pandemic. This study explored the mediating role of the three coping styles in the relationship of psychological inflexibility with ill-being and well-being. Slovenian adults (N = 1365) aged 18–81 years provided self-reports on the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, the PERMA Profiler, the Brief COPE Inventory, and the Meaning-Centered Coping Scale. In the context of the highly stressful beginning of the pandemic, psychological inflexibility contributed to higher ill-being and lower well-being directly and through increased use of avoidance coping, decreased use of meaning-centered coping, and, to a lesser extent, decreased use of approach coping. Avoidance coping predicted higher levels of ill-being, suggesting a maladaptive effect of this coping strategy. Approach coping positively but weakly predicted well-being, indicating a diminished value of this coping style in low-controllable circumstances of the pandemic. Finally, meaning-centered coping appeared to be the most beneficial in such circumstances, as it was associated with both lower levels of ill-being and higher levels of well-being. This finding suggests that meaning-centered coping should be studied as a stand-alone strategy, rather than as a combination of specific approach coping strategies. Consistent with previous research, this study demonstrates the importance of psychological inflexibility in effectively adapting to and actively coping with aversive situations. Furthermore, the results suggest that seeking or making meaning is vital, at least in a context characterized by low levels of control and high levels of uncertainty.

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