Infants innately relieve stress by crying, turning their heads or maintaining eye contact. Adults manage emotional tension using problem-solving or by seeking support. A new study by a University of Missouri human development expert describes how adolescents' developing personalities and coping habits affect their behaviors toward others.
"We're each born with some personality tendencies; for example, we see that babies are fussy or calm," said Gustavo Carlo, the Millsap Professor of Diversity in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies. "Those characteristics can change over time as people experience certain events or as a result of their parents, peers or communities. At the same time, as we get older, our personalities become more stable."
Carlo and his colleagues surveyed 1,557 students ages 12-15 years old in Valencia, Spain, to measure the adolescents' feelings toward others, their past prosocial and physically aggressive behaviors, their emotional stability, and how they manage stress.
Carlo found that empathetic adolescents were more likely to use problem-focused coping, which aims to reduce or eliminate the source of the stress. These adolescents also were more likely to perform prosocial behaviors that benefit others, such as volunteering, donating money or helping friends with problems. Conversely, emotionally unstable, impulsive adolescents relied more on emotion-focused coping tactics such as venting, avoidance or distraction, and they showed more frequent signs of aggression.
"Empathetic kids are generally very good at regulating their emotions and tend not to lose their tempers," Carlo said. "When you're good at regulating your emotions, you're less concerned about yourself and more considerate of other people. On the other hand, impulsive children are more self-focused and have difficulty engaging in problem-focused coping."
Teaching adolescents multiple ways to handle stress will help them decide which coping techniques to use based on the unique situations, Carlo said. In some cases, people may use both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping, while in others, one might be more beneficial. For example, emotion-focused coping might be more constructive when children witness their parents' divorces because the kids cannot change those situations. On the other hand, planning ahead to study for tests or complete homework is a problem-focused coping technique that can help adolescents effectively ease academic stress.
"Sometimes we get stuck dealing with stress in one way because it was successful in the past; that coping style may not be effective with other stressors and in other situations," Carlo said. "There is more than one way to cope in situations, and people need to know when to apply which coping mechanisms."
The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. The study, "The interplay of emotional instability, empathy, and coping on prosocial and aggressive behaviors," was published in Personality and Individual Differences. Carlo's coauthors included researchers from Chatham University in Pennsylvania and the University of Valencia in Spain.
Jesslyn Chew | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology