"You can try or you can just give up": the impact of perceived control and coping style on childhood homesickness

Dev Psychol. 1997 May;33(3):508-17. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.33.3.508.


Research on children's coping with homesickness during relatively uncontrollable separations has suggested that secondary control coping (i.e., adjusting oneself to fit objective conditions) is often preferred over primary control coping (i.e., modifying objective conditions to fit oneself). Related research suggests that negative affect is associated with (a) relinquishing control or using primary control to cope with uncontrollable stressors and (b) perceiving low control over stressors. The convergence of these factors was examined for the stressor of homesickness. Among 1,032 boys and girls spending 2 weeks at residential summer camps, the most frequent and effective way of coping with homesickness was to exert secondary control by engaging in a distracting physical activity. Contrary to speculation, the use of secondary control coping rose in adolescence. Congruent with empirical predictions, the most homesick children perceived low control over homesickness and separation, and coped by relinquishing control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Affect
  • Anxiety, Separation / psychology*
  • Attention
  • Camping / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Personality Assessment