TAKING STOCK: THE INFLUENCE OF AFFECT, COPING SKILL, AND GENDER ON RESOURCE IDENTIFICATION AND APPRAISALS

Open Access
Author:
Danube, Cinnamon Lynn
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 15, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Karen Gasper, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • mood
  • coping resources
  • gender differences
  • affect
  • processing strategies
Abstract:
Two studies examine how people’s affective states and coping knowledge may influence their ability to identify and appraise coping resources. The Broaden and Build Model of Positive Emotion suggests that positive affect (PA) should facilitate resource identification and promote positive resource appraisals (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001). The Affect Infusion Model (Forgas, 1995) indicates that affective influences should be particularly strong when people engage in effortful processing. Finally, the coping literature suggests that men might have to engage in more effortful processing than women, because men may have less general coping knowledge (e.g., Tamres et al., 2002). Together, these literatures led me to hypothesize that men would engage in more effortful processing than women when thinking about their resources, and thus be more influenced by affect, particularly PA. In contrast, women would directly retrieve resources and evaluations of resources, and thus not be influenced by affect. Data from two experiments indicated that gender alters how affect influences resource identification and appraisals, though not specifically as predicted. As predicted, men used effortful processing to appraise their resources and were influenced by PA. However, in contrast to predictions, men used a direct access strategy to list their resources and were not influenced by affect. For women, in contrast to predictions, their knowledge did not result in the use of direct access, but rather led to the use of heuristic processing for both listing and appraisals. Further, both PA and negative affect (NA) altered their judgments, though NA was especially influential. Thus, both PA and NA influenced women, whereas PA alone influenced men. This research indicates that cultivating feelings of PA and increasing coping skill should help people appraise their resources more positively. Further, this research is a first step in elucidating the complex relationship between coping knowledge and the use of affect during resource identification and appraisal.