It is a fact that men and women differ in many ways. Various researchers have pondered, and tried
to determine the differences that may exist in coping styles and levels of stress in men and women.
Despite the many studies that have been done on the relationship between stress and health, the
nature of this has not yet been clearly established (Matud, 2004). Coping has been defined as the
constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and/or internal
demands that have been evaluated as taking up, or exceeding the resources of the person (Lazarus
and Folkman, n.d. as cited in Matud, 2004).
The term stress has been defined in various ways as many factors contribute to the incline of a
persons stress levels,eg: environment (stimuli) and life events. These are referred to as stressors.
When an individual's ability to adapt is challenged it causes physiological responses, such as
increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and the presence of hormones and neurotransmitters
(Selye, 1993). These reactions heighten the arousal of an organism to effectively deal with stress,
Selye et al., 1993. Suldo, Shaunessy and Hardesty (2008) discovered it is possible to adapt to
normal levels of stress; as this heightened arousal prepares an organism to effectively deal with
stress. When these levels exceed the normal levels often and/or for extended periods of time, health
and mood deteriorate, leading to positive rather than negative coping strategies.
Researchers, in particular Matud (2004) have conducted studies to discover which
gender is more susceptible to stress, the environmental and life events that contribute to increased
stress levels and the coping method adopted by each gender. Matud found that women tend to
ruminate, (Preoccupation with thoughts about past occurrences or the self that can't be shut off).
Whilst most men use the reflection, (enjoying analysing the self),each leading to opposite
consequences. In both attention is still the self, but one is motivated by fear and self-doubts, and the
other by genuine interest in the self. Rumination tends to lead to sadness, anxiety, fear and distress,
whilst reflection leads to enhanced self-knowledge and feeling intrigued by ones self.
Stress and Coping Methods in Men and Women 2
By gathering and analysing this data we have begun to understand the causes of stress related to
both genders and use positive coping methods eg; focusing on the stress as a problem to be solved
and working towards a solution step by step, rather than negative coping methods such as substance
abuse and/or other activities to distract ones self from facing the problem.
Coping in research on adults, is most commonly defined as either problem or emotion focused