Stress, Sex Differences and Coping Strategies

What is the hypothesis? In this research, it is hypothesized that female students in college have higher levels of stress than men. Another hypothesis of this research is that female students in college tend to be more affected by stress related to family and social relationships and everyday struggles than the men in college. Lastly, female college students have greater use of self-help approach to cope with stress when compared to men in college. This research tries to establish the relationship between stress, sex differences and coping strategies among college students. The aim of this research is to find out the causes of financial, hassle, family and social stress among college students and the coping strategies that are employed to manage such stress.

The transition from adolescent stage into adulthood increases the chances for students to be vulnerable to stress. The change from high school to college challenges young people to stay independently, finance themselves, keep the right academic and integrity standards and adjust to the changes in social life. Moreover, change from childhood to adulthood gives young adults the opportunity to improve on their existing roles and adopt new roles. During the change from adulthood to adulthood, college students get both positive and negative responses from the choices they make and improve or leave their goals. At the end of such a transition, college students were able to establish a foundation for the future life goals.

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Growth and change are necessary for the transition from adolescent to young adult but they are usually accompanied by stress. Coping strategies help college students to decrease the effect of stress on their health. What are the variables? The variable in this research are stress, sex differences and coping strategies. Stress is the dependent variable while sex differences and coping strategies are the independent variables. In this connection, stress depends on sex differences and coping strategies used by the college students. What research method was utilized in the study? The method used in thi research is that the participants were asked questions about their employment status, stress coping strategies and the sources of stress among them.

A 40- item revised copy inventory was used to measure the student’s responses to five coping responses to stress which include self-help, accommodation, approach, avoidance and self-punishment. The researches instructed the students to show the extent to which they used a particular coping strategy. Students also filled 37-item assessment showing the five sources of stress in academics, family relationships, finances, social relationships and daily hassles. The students were requested to show the extent to which they experience stress in relation to a particular cause. A five point likert scale from extremely stressful to not stressful was used to respond to the questions. The individual items for the students stress assessment test were based on sources of student’s stress and review of the collegiate stress literature.

Who were the participants? The researchers used 166 college students. 70 of the participants were men while 96 were women. These participants were selected from Liberal Arts University in southern California. Majority of the participants in this research were freshmen and most of the remainder were predominantly second years. Juniors and seniors consisted the lowest percentage of the participants.

Most of these participants were Caucasian in race while the rest were either Latino, Asian, black American, Pacific Islander or others. The larger portion of the participants was unemployed and they lived in campus while the other minority was employed. What is the summary of the findings? The research found that college women showed greater stress for finances than men did. More so, college women used self-punishment as their overall stress coping strategy. College women showed greater overall stress and greater use of emotion-focused strategies to cope with stress as compared to men. Both college men and women use problem focused coping more often than emotion coping strategies in dealing with stress.

College men were found too use emotion-focused coping strategies for stress in a greater number of specific stressors. Both male and female students use maladaptive stress coping strategies to cope with stress. College men and women use emotion-focused strategies to solve stress related problems. In certain stressors, college men used maladaptive and adaptive stress coping strategies while women were only found to use maladaptive stress coping strategies that were emotion based. Positive exchange in family relationships such as opportunities for self-reliance and social support among college students increased their ability to deal with stress.

It also created opportunities for college students to improve their emotional processing which led to reduced stress. What are the limitations to the study?The research had various two major limitations. One of these limitations is that the data collected was self-reported. This made college students to be more reluctant to report the stress experiences they have encountered. In addition, the male students seemed less aware of stress than the female counterparts did. For the men, masculine norms like power and independence were barriers in terms of disclosing stress levels.

The other limitation of this research is that most of the participants were homogenous in terms of ethnicity and affluence. In this connection, the findings of this study were not representative of a diverse college population. What could be possible extensions to the research? This research could be extended to include supportive communication between college students and parents by participating in a workshop. The first stress workshop can be conducted during the orientation of the first year students and a follow-up workshop to be done online in later years. Parents ought to be included in the stress workshops since they are the primary and continuous sources of social support for their children in college.

A stress workshop that can help to increase adaptive coping skills among students and result to few physical problems is essential because it can lead to academic success for both male and female students.