SENSE OF COHERENCE AND PROCESS OF COPING WITH EXAMINATION STRESS
 
Gruszczynska, E., Silesian University, Poland
 
Although Antonovsky's sense of coherence (SOC) has been empirically proved to affect individuals' adaptiveness in coping with stress, the mechanisms underlying this relation are still unclear. Does this variable influence coping effectiveness directly or indirectly through the mediating processes: cognitive appraisal and coping strategies? The purpose of the study was an attempt to answer this question with regard to dealing with examination stress. Subjects were 137 freshmen of medicine and psychology. The study was longitudinal and consisted of four stages: 1. evaluation of SOC level and effectiveness in neutral conditions ; 2. preparatory phase prior to the exam and 3. "post-exam" waiting stage - assessment of cognitive appraisal and coping strategies in both phases; 4. outcome stage - evaluation of effectiveness repeated. Two separate path analyses were conducted regarding different controllability of the second and third stage. The results showed that SOC had strong direct relationship with the initial but not the final level of effectiveness. The latter effectiveness is only slightly indirectly moderated by SOC through the path between its initial and final level. Generally in both phases almost no SOC effects on cognitive appraisal and coping strategies were found. Additionally, the analyses revealed a casual pattern of influences between those variables contrary to that assumed in the most popular model of Lazarus. Thus, it seems, that the behaviour during the situation of examination stress was rather of a reactive than proposal character. It could also be the reason why the role of SOC level in regulating those processes was smaller than expected.