Coping Diversity


University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Abstract / Introduction

This MESHGuide creates awareness of the diversity in ways people cope with adversity. Stress forms part of people’s daily lives irrespective of age, gender and culture. However people do not necessarily respond to stress in the same manner. Differences in coping behaviours have been ascribed to variables related to the type of adversity people face, people’s culture, their age, gender as well as the type of environment they live in. Another variable to consider in coping is the different functions of these behaviours. Certain coping behaviours might contribute to positive development which fosters resilience, whereas others might be maladaptive.

Insight into the diversity of coping strategies ie ‘coping diversity’ could benefit professionals in the educational systems in several ways, including:

  • Understanding coping diversity in learners could enable teaching professionals and educational psychologists to support learners in relevant and meaningful ways.
  • Understanding and identifying one’s own adaptive- and maladaptive coping behaviour could promote mental health.
  • Understanding the greater context of a learner and his/her caregivers could inform teaching professionals and educational psychologists about why learners and their caregivers mediate adversity in a certain way. The latter could help teaching professionals and educational psychologists to build meaningful supportive relationships with the wider system of the learner.

The MESHGuide contains a conceptual framework that was developed based on a completed doctoral study titled: Indigenous Pathways to Adaptive Coping in Rural Communities. Although the study did not focus on the educational context, it resulted in evidence of strategies communities use to cope with adversity which are relevant to any professional.

Date of publication
11 Dec 2023
Date of revision
18 Mar 2022
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