Disease controllability moderates the effect of coping efficacy on positive affect

Joshua F. Wiley, Elizabeth H. Cleary, Alexander Karan, Annette L. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aims to test experimentally whether coping strategies (approach- vs. avoidance-oriented coping) have differential effects under conditions of high or low stressor controllability. Design: Undergraduates (62 women, 30 men) participated in a 2 × 2 experimental study where they were introduced to a fictitious disease (tisomerase enzyme deficiency) said to be either controllable or uncontrollable and an approach- or avoidance-oriented coping behaviour induction. Main Outcome Measures: Changes in positive and negative affect. Results: A significant disease control x coping interaction on positive affect (f2 = .07, p = .011) revealed that approach-coping condition participants had higher positive affect than avoidance-coping condition participants when disease control was high (d = .94, p = .003), but not when it was low (d = .11, p = .93). The experimental conditions did not significantly influence negative affect. Conclusion: Results demonstrate that disease control moderates the salubrious effects of approach-oriented coping on positive affect. For controllable, but not uncontrollable, health stressors, promoting problem-focused approach-oriented coping strategies may be recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-508
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • adjustment
  • control
  • coping
  • goodness of fit hypothesis
  • illness perceptions

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