Stress and Coping across the Lifespan

Carolyn Aldwin

in The Oxford Handbook of Stress, Health, and Coping

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195375343
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Stress and Coping across the Lifespan

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  • Health Psychology
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Examination of stress and coping across the lifespan clearly reflects the principles of lifespan development. Stress and coping processes change across the lifespan, require a multidisciplinary perspective to understand that change, are affected by the social context, and demonstrate individual differences in trajectories of change. How stress changes across the lifespan depends upon how stress is defined. For example, stress defined in terms of traumas largely reflects the sociohistorical context, while stress defined in terms of life events and hassles reflects an individual’s life stage and social roles. In contrast, coping follows a more developmental progression, especially in childhood. Problem-focused coping in early childhood depends upon the neurological development underlying executive function, and increases in specificity and effectiveness increase with age. Very young children rely primarily on their parents for emotion regulation, and gradually increase their ability to use cognitive strategies and become independent regulators. The developmental progress in adulthood is less clear, but there is some evidence to suggest that older adults use more nuanced coping strategies and may be better at emotion regulation than young or middle-aged adults, especially in interpersonal situations.

Keywords: stress; coping; development; social factors; individual differences; emotion

Article.  15959 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology ; Social Psychology

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