The mystery of human context and coping: an unraveling of clues

Am J Community Psychol. 2002 Feb;30(1):67-88. doi: 10.1023/a:1014372101550.


Community and clinical psychology share a fundamental focus: to understand the interplay between human contexts, coping, and adaptation. To highlight recent progress in this area, I offer a guiding conceptual framework and discuss 8 propositions about environment and coping. The propositions consider such issues as patterns of social climate and coping and their links to personal development and dysfunction, the connections between ongoing life circumstances and intervention programs, the role of personal characteristics in matching individuals and environments, and the value of placing specific settings in an ecological context. I then focus on 8 enigmas, such as how to identify conceptually unifying dimensions of diverse social contexts, how to model the processes involved in person-environment transactions, how to understand the link between adversity and personal growth, how to examine the generality of models across ethnic and cultural groups, and how to enhance positive carryover from intervention programs to ongoing life contexts. I close by addressing some implications of these issues for a vision of a dynamic community psychology.

Publication types

  • Address
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Cognition
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Ecosystem
  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Leadership
  • Psychology, Social*
  • Social Change
  • Social Environment*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control