An Examination of Coping Processes within the Context of Water-based Recreation
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Many outdoor recreation settings present stressful situations that directly influence the quality of one's leisure experience. Some recreationists are able to maintain their enjoyment by adopting various coping strategies. In conditions that induce stress, recreationists can select from a combination of behavioral coping strategies (e.g., substitution of recreational setting or activity) and/or cognitive coping strategies (e.g., rationalization). Previous coping research has indicated that the key to understanding the stress -- coping process is how one appraises the stressors. In spite of the acknowledged importance of individual appraisals, however, there is scant empirical evidence available documenting this mediating effect. To explore the role of appraisal in the stress - coping relationship, I drew upon Lazarus and Folkman's transactional theory of stress and coping. Using data collected from recreationists boating in Texas and Korea, I tested a model where the relationship between stress and coping was hypothesized to be mediated by individual's appraisals within the context of water-based recreational activities. Data were collected from recreationists residing near Lake Granbury in Texas (n=186) and recreationists at Lake Chung-pyung in South Korea (n=462). Initial testing of the model illustrated poor fit. I then tested the model independently for the two groups. For Korean respondents, results showed that one's evaluative process (appraisal) mediated the relationship between stress level and selected coping strategies. Further, the degree of involvement with a recreational activity, attachment to a setting, and self-construal moderated the stress -- appraisal -- coping relationship. Model testing for American respondents showed that the factor structure deviated from what was originally hypothesized. Subsequent testing produced an alternate factor structure; direct action, disengagement, temporal substitution, and cognitive coping. However, there was no mediating role of appraisal in the relationship between stress and coping for this group. Moreover, there was no moderating effect of place attachment, leisure activity involvement, and self-construal for American respondents. In short, the results of this study partially supported the transactional theory of stress and coping. For both groups, positive appraisal was more strongly related to behavioral coping, while cognitive coping (rationalization) was influenced by respondents' negative appraisal of the boating conditions. Even under potentially stressful conditions, some recreationists consider the situation controllable. Future investigations should also consider exploring and comparing the coping processes of different user groups, across age cohorts, and among recreationists within similar contexts.
Yoon, Jee In (2012). An Examination of Coping Processes within the Context of Water-based Recreation. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from