Study of the relationship between anxiety level and coping strategies among students

Modern social psvchologv is increasinglv paving attention to behavioral strategies in conflict, stressful, anxious situations. First of all, it is due to the fact that the person is inextricablv linked with social conditions; almost all face crisis situations and develop a specific strategv to overcome it. Interest in such strategies appeared relativelv recentlv. Therefore, one of the most important problems that a modern student has to solve is the development of an adequate coping behavior to level the level of anxietv. To identifv the relationship between the level of anxietv and coping strategv, a studv was conducted among 2nd vear students, in the amount of 31 people, in the specialtv psvchologv of Karaganda State Unversitv named after Ye.A. Buketov. The average age of the subjects from 19 to 20 vears. The article analvzes the concept of anxietv, situational anxietv and personal anxietv; conditions and signs of anxietv development in students; factors affecting the development of anxietv. Analvsis of the research results shows that students with different levels of anxietv have different tvpes of coping strategies. Respondents who showed a low level of personal anxietv chose «distancing» and «positive reappraisal» coping, respondents who showed an average level chose «distanc- ing», «positive reappraisal», «escape-avoidance», «acceptance of responsibilitv» and «problem solving plan- ning» coping, and those who showed a high level chose escape-avoidance coping. The results of the studv can help identifv problem areas in the organization of psvchological assistance to students.

The development of higher education, todav, is connected not onlv with the provision of educational services, but also with the fact that a voung man who has acquired a profession must be competitive and in demand in the professions market. To this end, a modern universitv tries to provide its services in such a wav that a student receives and assimilates as much information as possible. Higher education is associated with the development of a certain number of credits, and if a student fails, the student tries for the summer semester or for the second vear. The volumes and complexitv of the material that students need to learn in order to fullv master their profession are significantlv increasing. At the same time, an important factor in the learning process is various examinations, designed to evaluate the qualitv of teaching on the one hand and the qualitv of students' learning of the studv material on the other. Intensification of the learning process; the complexitv of the curriculum, increasing responsibilitv for the results of their training activities, leads to increased neuro-psvchological stress of students. And this in this situation can lead to the formation of a student of various manifestations of personal or situational anxietv, which do not contribute to effective learning. Therefore, the studv of the manifestations of anxietv and the abilitv to overcome this condition is problematic.

Personal anxietv interacting with increased situational anxietv caused bv various stressors leads to increased stress, the development of distress and various psvchosomatic diseases. In order to train highlv qualified specialists it is necessarv to reduce the level of anxietv and help develop effective coping strategies.

Anxiety is a situational property of a person, associated with the premonition of any danger or failure, as well as with the expectation of trouble. As a rule, anxiety is an individual personality trait, in which a person is inclined to experience, sufficiently, strong anxiety on relatively minor grounds. The anxiety of a person is manifested in the lack of confidence in himself, in his helplessness, in exaggerating the situation and feeling weak in front of it [ 1].

Until recently, everything that related to the phenomena of anxiety and fear was denoted by one concept - «fear», that is, the concepts «anxiety» and «fear» correlated with each other. It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that their distinction occurred and was connected with the name of Soren Kierkegaard. Today, fear means reaction to a certain danger, and anxiety is, experiencing emotional discomfort, threats of a predominantly imaginary character [2].

Anxiety is considered as one of the main parameters of individual differences. As a rule, it is elevated in neuropsychiatric and chronic somatic diseases, as well as in healthy people experiencing the effects of mental trauma in people with deviant behavior.

Anxiety in the structure of integral individuality refers to the level of personality traits and is understood as the expectation of an unfavorable outcome in relatively neutral situations that do not contain a real threat (V.R. Kislovskaya, 1971).

Distinguish anxiety as:

  • personality trait;
  • personal — related to the disorganization of the work of internal organs and systems in which a person, as a rule, is always present;
  • situational — in which a person regards a number of situations as threatening [3].

F.B. Berezin identified 6 levels of anxiety:

Level 1 - anxiety of the lowest intensity, expressed in the experiences of alertness, discomfort, without carrying a sign of threat.

Level 2 - increasing anxiety, in which irritability appears, neutral stimuli become significant.

Level 3 - proper anxiety, manifested in a sense of uncertain danger.

Level 4 - the fear that occurs when anxiety increases and manifests itself in objectification.

Level 5 - a sense of the inevitability of an approaching catastrophe, expressed in a sense of horror with gradually increasing anxiety.

Level 6 - anxious and fearful excitement, expressed in a panic search for help, where a completely disturbed human behavior reaches its maximum.

Modern social psychology is increasingly paying attention to behavioral strategies in conflict, stressful, anxious situations. First of all, it is due to the fact that the person is inextricably linked with social conditions; almost all face crisis situations and develop a specific strategy to overcome it. Interest in such strategies appeared relatively recently. Despite this, a scientific approach has already been formed with regard to coping strategies. There are various classifications of coping strategies. L.I. Antsyferova developed a classification based on the characteristics of the cognitive and behavioral level of regulation of this process and the uniqueness of difficult life situations. Transformative strategies are highlighted; methods of adapting to difficult situations; auxiliary methods of self-preservation; «Meta strategic techniques» of life; methods for improving the moral beginnings of life [4].

Coping behavior is a form of behavior that reflects an individual's willingness to solve life problems. This behavior is aimed at adapting to the circumstances and implying a formed ability to use certain means to overcome emotional stress [5].

The theory of coping with difficult life situations (coping) arose in psychology in the second half of the 20th century. The term was introduced by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow (Maslow, 1987).

R. Lazarus and S. Folkman defined coping behavior in this way: «Continuously changing cognitive and behavioral attempts to cope with specific external and / or internal requirements that are assessed as excessive or exceeding human resources».

«Coping» (from English to cope, cope) means constantly changing cognitive and behavioral attempts to cope with specific external or / and internal requirements that are rated as stress or exceed a person's ability to cope with them (Neal, 1998).

Classification of coping strategies according to the emotional and problem focusing (S. Folkman and R. Lazarus):

  • problem-focused coping involves finding additional information and support, taking action to resolve the problem and, therefore, predicting outcome options;
  • emotionally-focused coping includes effective management of one's own emotions and feelings, emotional relief and submissive acceptance. Thus, the authors identified cognitive, behavioral, and emotional copings, and said that to successfully cope with a stressful situation, an equal ratio of each of them is necessary.

R. Lazarus and S. Folkman distinguish eight basic coping strategies:

  1. planning the solution of the problem, involving efforts to change the situation, including an analytical approach to solving the problem;
  2. confrontational coping (aggressive efforts to change the situation, a certain degree of hostility and readiness to take risks);
  3. acceptance of responsibility (recognition of their role in the occurrence of the problem and attempts to solve it);
  4. self-control (efforts to regulate their emotions and actions);
  5. positive reappraisal (efforts to find the merits of the existing state of affairs);
  6. search for social support (appeal to the help of others);
  7. distancing (cognitive efforts to separate from the situation and reduce its significance);
  8. escape-avoidance (the desire and effort to escape from the problem).

According to the classification proposed by E. Freidenberg, 18 strategies are grouped into three categories:

  • productive coping (working to overcome the problem of maintaining optimism and interaction with others);
  • unproductive coping (isolation due to inability to withstand the problem);
  • appeal to others (for support in solving the problem).

Variants of coping behavior by the method of E. Heim:

  1. Cognitive coping strategies - ignoring, humility, dissimulation, preservation, self-control, problem analysis, relativity, religiosity, confusion, giving meaning, setting one's own value.
  2. Emotional coping strategies - protest, emotional discharge, suppression of emotions, optimism, passive cooperation, submission, self-incrimination, aggressiveness.
  3. Behavioral coping strategies - distraction, altruism, active avoidance, compensation, constructive activity, retreat, cooperation, appeal.

It is known that coping behavior includes all deliberate attempts of an individual to cope with stress, to change the situation for the better, and not only successful efforts. The two main functions of coping are as follows:

  1. solving a problem that creates stress or attempts to change a stressor, for example, searching for information (problem-focused coping);
  2. regulation of emotions, first of all negative, caused by a stressor, for example, distancing or selfcontrol (emotionally-focused coping).

Therefore, one of the most important problems that a modern student has to solve is the development of an adequate coping behavior to level the level of anxiety.

To identify the relationship between the level of anxiety and coping strategy, a study was conducted among 2nd year students, in the amount of 31 people, in the specialty psychology of Karaganda State University named after E. A. Buketov. The average age of the subjects from 19 to 20 years.

The study was conducted in 2 stages and in the process of research 2 methods were used:

  1. Methodology «Determining the level of anxiety» by Ch.D. Spielberg and Yu.L. Khanina. The method of «determining the level of anxiety» by C.D. Spielberg and Yu.L. Khanina is a reliable and informative method of self-assessment of the level of anxiety at the moment (reactive anxiety as a state) and personal anxiety (as a stable characteristic of a person). Personal anxiety characterizes a steady tendency to perceive a large range of situations as threatening, to respond to such situations with anxiety. Reactive anxiety is characterized by tension, anxiety, nervousness. Very high reactive anxiety causes impaired attention, sometimes a violation of fine coordination. Very high personal anxiety directly correlates with the presence of a neurotic conflict, with emotional and neurotic breakdowns and psychosomatic diseases [6].
  2. The «Coping Test» technique of R. Lazarus. The technique is designed to determine the coping mechanisms, ways to overcome difficulties in various spheres of mental activity.

This questionnaire is considered the first standard method in the field of measuring coping. The technique was developed by R. Lazarus and S. Folkman in 1988, adapted by T.L. Kryukova, E.V. Kuftyak, M.S. Zamyshlyaeva in 2004.

So, at the first stage, the technique of «Determining the Level of Anxiety» waused by C.D. Spielberg and Yu.L. Khanirn.

The results of the study, obtained using the method of determining the level of anxiety, are presented in Figure 1.

From Figure 1 it is clear that the levels of situational and personal anxiety are as follows: a low level of situational anxiety in 23.03 % of the subjects; low level of personal anxiety — 16,12 % of subjects; average level of situational anxiety in 67.74 %; the average level of personal anxiety was 80.64 %; a high level of situational anxiety in 3.22 % of subjects; high level of personal anxiety — 3.22 %.

The results of the study show that most of the subjects have an average level oanxiety, while personal anxiety is much higher than situational anxiety.

It is known that a certain leveof anxiety is a natural and indispensable featurof an active and active personality. Each person has his owoptimum, or desired, level of anxiety — this is the so-called useful anxiety. Man's assessment of his condition in this respect is for him an essential component of self-control and self-education.

Personal anxiety, in psychology, is understood as a stable individual characteristic, reflecting a person's predisposition to anxiety and suggesting that he has a tendency to perceive a fairly wide range of situations as threatening, responding to each of them with a specific reaction. As a predisposition, personal anxiety is activated by the perception of certaistimuli, regarded by a person as dangerous for self-esteem, self-esteem.

Very high anxiety can be associated with the presence of a neurotic conflict, emotional breakdowns and psychosomatic diseases.

Low anxiety characterizes the condition as depressive, inactive, with a low level of motivation. Sometimes the very low anxiety in the test scores is the result of the active elimination of high anxiety by a person in order to show himself in a «best light».

Persons with high anxiety assessment should generate confidence and success. They need to shift the focus from the external demands, categorical, a high significance in the formulation of objectives for a meaningful understanding of the activitieand learn to break big tasks into smaller.

For people with low levels of anxiety, on the contrary, it requires the active awakening, underline the motivational components of activity, interest excitement, forming a sense of responsibility in dealing with various problems.

Thus, from the results of the study indicates that most of the subjects had a median level of anxiety symptoms and extreme value, namely, high and low anxiety levels found in the sample at the test.

The next stage of the study was the use of methods of «Coping - test» R. Lazarus, which is designed to determine the coping mechanisms, ways of overcoming difficulties in various areas of mental activity.

Results of the study subjects coping mechanisms are shown in Figure 2. FroFigure 2 it can be seen that the levels of the coping strategy were as follows: low — 16.53 %, medium — 20.96 %, and high — 62.5 %.

 

The next step of the study wato determine the types of coping – strategy (confrontational, distancing, self-control, search for social support, acceptance of responsibility, escape-avoidance, problem-solving planning, positive reappraisal) and identification of the leading types of co-controlling behavior.

Analysis of the research results shows that the most used coping strategy is «distancing» (23.5 %), which means that overcoming negative experiences in connection with the problem by subjectively reducing its significance and the degree of emotional involvement in it. For such behavior is typical: the use of intellectual methods of rationalization, switching attention, suspension, humor, depreciation, etc.

Next, in terms of its significance, the coping strategy is a «positive reappraisal» of 19.23 % of the subjects. This means overcoming negative experiences in connection with the probledue to its positive rethinking, considering it as an incentive for personal growth. This behavior is characterized by a focus on the transpersonal, philosophical understanding of the problem situation, its inclusion in the wider context of the work of the individual on self-development.

17.3 % of the subjects choose «escape-avoidance», which means that they archaracterized by overcoming their negative experiences due to difficulties due to the evasion response: denial of the problem, fantasy, unjustified expectations, distraction, etc. With a clear preference for avoidancstrategies, infantile behaviors can be observed in stressful situations.

11.53 % of the subjects choose the strategy of «problem solving planning». Overcoming the problem in this category of subjects takes place through a focused analysis of the situation and possible behaviors, developing a problem-solving strategy, planning one's own actions, taking into account objective conditions, past experience and available resources.

9.61 % choose a behavioral strategy associated with «confrontation», which means resolving the problem at the expense of not always targeted behavioral activity, or taking concrete actions. Often, the strategy of confrontation is considered as non-adaptive, but with moderate use, it providethe individual with the ability to resist difficulties, energy and enterprise in resolving problem situations, the ability to defend their own interests.

 

The following subjects, namely 9.61 %, choose a behavior strategy associated with «taking responsibil- ity», which means that the subject recognizes its role in causing the problem and responsibility for solving it, in some cases with a distinct component of self-criticism and self-accusation. The severity of this behavior strategy can lead to unjustified self-criticism and self-blame, experiencing feelings of guilt and chronic dissatisfaction with themselves.

5.76 % of the subjects showed the following behavior — this is «self-control», which means overcoming negative experiences in connection with the problem due to targeted suppression and restraint of emotions, minimizing their influence on the perception of the situation and the choice of strategy of behavior, high control of behavior, desire for self-control.

The least used coping strategy among our subjects is the «search for social support», it is used by 3.84 % of the subjects. This means that the problem is solved by the subjects by attracting external (social) resources, searching for information, emotional and effective support. They are characterized by a focus on interaction with other people, the expectation of support, attention, advice, sympathy, concrete, effective assistance.

The next step in the analysis of our work was to compare the level of anxiety and coping mechanisms in our subjects.

Respondents who showed a low level of situational anxiety chose «distancing» and «positive reapprais- al» copings, respondents who showed an average level chose «distancing», «positive revaluation» and «es- cape-avoidance» copings, and those who showed a high level chose «escape-avoidance» coping.

Respondents who showed a low level of personal anxiety chose «distancing» and «positive reappraisal» coping, respondents who showed an average level chose «distancing», «positive reappraisal», «escape- avoidance», «acceptance of responsibility» and «problem solving planning» coping, and those who showed a high level chose escape-avoidance coping.

To determine the relationship between the level of anxiety and coping strategy, in our subjects, the Pearson correlation coefficient was used, which showed the reliability of the research results (p≤0.05).

In this way, according to the results of the study, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • Most of the subjects chose coping — the strategy of «distancing», overcome negative experiences in connection with the problem by subjectively reducing its significance and the degree of emotional involvement in it. Characterized by the use of intellectual techniques rationalization, switching attention, removal, humor, depreciation, etc.
  • Another part of the subjects, choosing coping — the strategy of «positive reappraisal», overcomes negative experiences in connection with the problem due to its positive rethinking, considering it as an incentive for personal growth. Characteristic is the focus on the transpersonal, philosophical understanding of the problem situation, its inclusion in the wider context of the work of the individual on self-development.

Summing up the results in terms of average personal anxiety:

  • Part of the subjects choosing coping is a strategy of «acceptance responsibility», recognizing as a subject of his role in causing a problem and responsibility for solving it, in some cases with a distinct component of self-criticism and self-accusation. The severity of this strategy in behavior can lead to unjustified selfcriticism and self-flagellation, experiencing feelings of guilt and chronic dissatisfaction with oneself;
  • Some test subjects choosing coping strategy «problem solving planning» overcome problems by means of a focused analysis of the situation and possible behaviors, developing a problem solving strategy, planning their own actions, taking into account objective conditions, past experience and available resources;

Summing up the results in terms of high situational and personal anxiety:

  • Subjects choosing coping as escape-avoidance strategy overcome negative experiences due to difficulties due to evasion response: denying the problem, fantasizing, unjustified expectations, distraction, etc. With a clear preference for the avoidance strategy, infantile behaviors can be observed in stressful situations;
  • If the subjects have a high rate of personal and situational anxiety, then they don't choose coping at all — the start-up strategy is «the search for social support».

The results of the study of the subjects can be attributed to life skills that require the use of rational coping strategies.

 

References

  1. K'yerkegor, S. (1993). Strakh i trepet [Fear and awe]. Moscow [in Russian].
  2. Malkina-Pykh, I.G. (2005). Psikhosomatika: spravochnik prakticheskoho psikholoha [Psychosomatics: Reference book of the practical psychologist]. Moscow: Eksmo [in Russian].
  3. Antsyferova, L.I. (1994). Lichnost v trudnykh zhiznennykh usloviiakh: pereosmyslivanie, preobrazovanie situatsii i psikholohicheskaia zashchita [Personality in difficult living conditions: rethinking, transformation of situations and psychological protection]. Psikholohicheskii zhurnal – Psychological journal, 1, 3-18 [in Russian].
  4. Karelin, A. (2007). Bolshaia entsiklopediia psikholohicheskikh testov [Great Encyclopedia of psychological tests]. Moscow: Eksmo [in Russian].
  5. Kryukova, T.L., & Kuftyak, Ye.V. (2007). Oprosnik sposobov sovladaniia (adaptatsiia metodiki WCQ) [Questionnaire ways of coping (adaptation methods WCQ)]. Zhurnal prakticheskoho psikholoha – Journal of a practical psychologist, 3, 3-112 [in Russian].
  6. Andreyeva, I.N. Situatsionnaia i lichnaia trevozhnost podrostka [Situational and personal anxiety of a teenager]. epolotsk.com. Retrieved from: http://epolotsk.com/psy/teksty/I_N_Andreeva_avtoreferat.doc [in Russian].
Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: Philosophy