When does a choice of coping strategies help? The interaction of choice and locus of control

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Undergraduate student volunteers either were given a choice of coping strategies or were assigned to a coping strategy which was used to help them tolerate the cold pressor. Subjects who were given a choice of coping strategies reported their strategy to be more credible and perceived a greater sense of control than subjects who were not given a choice. Improved pain tolerance, however, did not result directly from being given a choice. Increases in pain tolerance depended on locus of control. Subjects who had a high internal health locus of control reported a greater strength of self-efficacy and demonstrated increased pain tolerance following a choice of strategies. In comparison, subjects who reported a more external health locus of control did not benefit from receiving a choice. This study has implications for our understanding of the role of choice in therapy and for improving the effectiveness of our interventions with individuals.



  • choice
  • coping strategies
  • locus of control
  • pain

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