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Dyadic Coping

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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00400

Stress and Dyadic Coping in Personal Projects of Couples – a Pattern-Oriented Analysis

 Tamás Martos1*,  Viola Sallay1, Marianna Nagy1, Henrietta Gregus1 and  Orsolya Filep2
  • 1Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Hungary
  • 2School of PH.D. studies, Semmelweis University, Hungary

Relational accounts of goal striving have barely considered dyadic coping as an element of the process, nor has dyadic coping research utilized the unique advantages of the goal construct (e.g., in form of personal project assessment) so far. Therefore, the primary aim of the present study was to explore stress and dyadic coping experiences associated with the personal projects of partners in a close relationship. Moreover, we approached data analysis in a pattern-oriented way, instead of using variable-centered linear models.
We used cross-sectional data from 270 married and cohabiting Hungarian heterosexual couples (mean age 40.1±11.2 and 37.8±10.9 years for male and female partners, respectively). Partners individually completed an adapted version of the Personal Project Assessment procedure. First, they named an important but stressful personal project. Respondents appraised their experiences with the chosen personal project along several predefined aspects. These included: 1) stress experiences; 2) dyadic coping, using the adapted Dyadic Coping Inventory; 3) positive emotions; and 4) sense of community. The Relationship Assessment Scale was also assessed.
Cluster analysis of both partners’ stress experiences, positive and negative dyadic coping strategies in their own personal projects revealed six relationship-level clusters. Cluster solutions represented typical variations of the stress and dyadic coping patterns of the couples, and could be arranged in a three- (lower, medium and higher stress) by-two (positively vs. negatively balanced dyadic coping pattern) array. Further analyses indicated the general trend that couples with lower (vs. higher) stress together with more positively (vs. negatively) balanced dyadic coping may have experienced better functioning in projects (more positive emotions and higher sense of community) and higher relationship satisfaction.
Results confirm that the partners’ pursuit of their personal projects is embedded in their relationship, and their functioning in these projects may partly depend on dyadic coping with the stress that arises during the accomplishment of the project. By using a pattern-oriented approach to dyadic data, we were able to distill stress and coping patterns that capture the specific types of couples’ relationships and indicate the non-linear and multidimensional nature of stress and dyadic coping processes.

Keywords: Dyadic coping, Self-regulation, Dyadic Coping Inventory (DCI), personal project assessment, dyadic data, Cluster analysis, relationship satisfaction, stress

Received: 19 Jun 2018; Accepted: 11 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Guy Bodenmann, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Reviewed by:

Dayna Lee-Baggley, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Canada
Johan Karremans, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands  

Copyright: © 2019 Martos, Sallay, Nagy, Gregus and Filep. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Tamás Martos, Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary, tamas.martos@psy.u-szeged.hu