Styles of coping with threat: implications for health

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988 Jan;54(1):142-8. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.54.1.142.


We explored individual differences in health-seeking behavior and health status in a primary care population. Specifically, we compared high monitors (those who typically scan for threat-relevant information) with low monitors (those who typically ignore threat-relevant information), while controlling for depression. Overall, high monitors came to the physician with less severe medical problems than did low monitors. Nevertheless, high monitors reported equivalent levels of discomfort, dysfunction, and distress compared with low monitors. Furthermore, during the week following their visit, high monitors expressed less symptom improvement in both physical and psychological problems than did low monitors. Finally, high monitors demanded more tests, information, and counseling during their visit than did their low monitoring counterparts, yet desired a less active role in their own care. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Arousal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychological Tests
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Sick Role*