COPE refers to a measurement for coping strategies. By contrast to Ways of Coping measurement, the development of the COPE was theoretically guided, and items were created to tap a predetermined set of coping strategies.

The COPE has a constant set of scales and items and, for this reason, it currently enjoys wide use among coping researchers. The "trait" form of the COPE asks respondents to designate how they typically react to stressful events. The state measure of the COPE is completed by respondents with respect to a specific stressor, designated either by the respondent or by the researcher. An additional advantage of the COPE is the fact that a reliable and validated brief form exists (Carver, 1997). The full COPE is a 60-item measure that yields 15 factors that reflect active versus avoidant coping strategies. In the "traitlike" version, respondents are asked to rate the degree to which they typically use each coping strategy when under stress. In the "statelike" version, respondents rate the degree to which they use each coping strategy to deal with a particular stressful event. Ratings are made on a 4-point Likert-type scale that ranges from "I (usually) don't do this at all" (1) to "I (usually) do this a lot" (4).

The measure has good psychometric properties with alphas ranging from .45 to .92, test-retest reliabilities ranging from .46 to .86, and strong evidence of discriminant and convergent validity, with constructs such as hardiness, optimism, control, and self-esteem.

The COPE scales are:

  • Active Coping (taking action or exerting efforts to remove or circumvent the stressor),
  • Planning (thinking about how to confront the stressor, planning one's active coping efforts),
  • Seeking Instrumental Social Support (seeking assistance, information, or advice about what to do),
  • Seeking Emotional Social Support (getting sympathy or emotional support from someone),
  • Suppression of Competing Activities (suppressing one's attention to other activities in which one might engage in order to concentrate more completely on dealing with the stressor),
  • Religion (increased engagement in religious activities),
  • Positive Reinterpretation and Growth (making the best of the situation by growing from it or viewing it in a more favorable light),
  • Restraint Coping (coping passively by holding back one's coping attempts until they can be of use),
  • Resignation/Acceptance (accepting the fact that the stressful event has occurred and is real),
  • Focus on and Venting of Emotions (an increased awareness of one's emotional distress, and a concomitant tendency to ventilate or discharge those feelings),
  • Denial (an attempt to reject the reality of the stressful event),
  • Mental Disengagement (psychological disengagement from the goal with which the stressor is interfering, through daydreaming, sleep, or self-distraction),
  • Behavioral Disengagement (giving up, or withdrawing effort from, the attempt to attain the goal with which the stressor is interfering),
  • Alcohol/Drug Use (turning to the use of alcohol and other drugs as a way of disengaging from the stressor), and
  • Humor (making jokes about the stressor).

Other Definition:

Instead of asking for coping responses to a specific stressor, the students were asked what they usually do when they are experiencing considerable stress. This procedure yielded the COPE inventory containing 13 scales with four items each. The main subscales representing different forms of problem-focused and emotion-focused coping

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