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Stress and Coping and Behavioral Organization

Van Egeren, Lawrence PhD

Original Articles

This article presents a new integrative theoretical framework for stress and coping centered on the concept of behavioral organization and the notions that stress disorganizes behavior and coping aims at reorganizing it. Functional analysis of behavioral organization leads to identification of four core domains of control and to a functional classification of types of stressful conditions, types of negative emotions, and types of coping functions linked directly to the control domains. The control domains are represented cognitively by four postulated kinds of beliefs or views people hold with respect to undertaking an action: performance, process, prospect, and profit beliefs. The four basic control beliefs form the core of the present coping belief model of coping. Recognition of the underlying structure of behavior, and of functional categories of stress and coping related to it, can advance theory and research on stress and coping by enriching its psychological content, improving research designs, and leading to reexamination, reinterpretation, and integration of findings existing in the literature that presently are fragmented and unconnected.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Received for publication June 14, 1999;

revision received September 20, 1999.

Address reprint requests to: Lawrence Van Egeren, A227 East Fee Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. Email:

Copyright © 2000 by American Psychosomatic Society
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