College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

The relationship between selfcontrol and mental and physical health: The mediating effects of avoidant coping

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2011

Publication Title

Psychology and Health

ISSN

0887-0446

Volume

26

Abstract

Trait self-control is related to a number of positive outcomes, including mental health, interpersonal success, academic success and health-related behaviours. This study sought to explore the relationships between self-control, reports of mental and physical health symptoms and coping styles. The results revealed that higher self-control was related to fewer mental and physical health symptoms and less avoidance coping. There was not a significant relationship between self-control and problem-focused or emotion-focused coping styles. Further, the relationships between self-control and mental and physical health outcomes were partially mediated by avoidance coping style. Specifically, the data suggest lower self-control is associated with unhealthy coping strategies (avoidance coping), which in turn are associated with worse mental health outcomes and greater reports of physical health symptoms. Thus lower trait self-control can serve as an indicator, suggesting circumstances in which individuals' tendencies to engage in unhealthy coping strategies are increased. These findings add to a growing body of literature underscoring the importance of trait self-control.

DOI

10.1080/08870446.2010.52913

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