Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to investigate intrinsic and contextual sources of coping variability among 90 patients with chronic pain. Pain coping strategies were assessed by the subscales of the Coping Strategies Questionnaire. Intrinsic variables included demographic characteristics and dispositional optimism. Contextual variables included pain-related variables and pain control appraisals. In univariate analyses, ethnicity was a statistically significant intrinsic source of variability for the praying and hoping coping subscale; however, comparisons between pairs of ethnic groups were not statistically significant. A multivariate perspective of the data found three independent and salient patterns of correlation between the intrinsic and contextual variables and coping subscales. These patterns of correlation accounted for 96% of the total variance and were conceptualized as optimistic active coping, educated rational coping, and optimistic restricted coping. The findings raise the prospect that there are intrinsic and contextual explanations of coping variability for patients with chronic pain.