EMPLOYEE WELLNESS IN THE CONTEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT ENVIRONMENT

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CHAPTER 3: POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR

This chapter addresses the second and third literature research aims, which is to (1) conceptualise the psychosocial dimensions that constitute positive coping behaviour and the relevant constructs, and to (2) critically evaluate the theoretical implications of positive coping behaviour for employee wellness. Firstly; the conceptual foundations of positive coping behaviour will be discussed, followed by the construction of the positive psychology behaviour inventory. Finally, the implications for wellness practices will be highlighted.

CONCEPTUALISATION OF POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR

Positive behaviour is connected to positive coping because positive behaviour stems from the ability to find positive meaning (Ghaye, 2010). Positive behaviour entails reactions to certain events that are personally meaningful (Kashdan, Weeks, & Savostyanova, 2011). Positive behaviour is the ability to behave positively in spite of what is happening (Rahimi & Karkami, 2015). Uys (2013) has found that positive behaviour can improve the way in which people cope. Positive emotions broaden a person’s initial thought-action inventory by increasing thoughts and possible actions that come to mind when faced with an adverse situation (Lášticová & Findor, 2016). Life is filled with experiences that challenge people’s repertoire of thinking, feeling and behaving (Furnes & Dysvik, 2012). People are expected to learn and grow from events that initiate their coping responses, the implication being that coping is part of the very essence of the human change and adaptation process (Schank & Abelson, 2013). Thus, positive coping is not only basic for survival, but also relates to the quality and ensuing constructive meaning of individual lives. What distinguishes the resilient person from the person who seldom copes effectively (Bonanno, Westphal, & Mancini, 2011)? The answer appears to lie in individuals’ positive behavioural capacities, for example flourishing and resilience. Individuals differ in how well they perceive, express, understand and manage emotional phenomena (Stephens, Heaphy, Carmeli, Spreitzer, & Dutton, 2013) and as such, they differ in terms of the positive behavioural capacities they display when dealing with challenging and stressful life events (Collins, 2015).
An individual’s capacity to cope with a challenge relies on behavioural resources as well as on the context in which stressors occur (Donnelly, 2002; Ferreira, 2006; Ungar, 2013). All people succeed or fail at some time. People differ not only regarding the life events they experience, but also in their vulnerability to them. A person’s vulnerability to stress is influenced by his or her personality, coping skills and social support (Sarason & Sarason, 2000). Stress is largely deemed negative; striking individual differences are almost universally observed. In the context of equivalent stressors, some individuals experience poorer outcomes, some remain relatively unaffected and others appear to experience better outcomes. To understand what causes these differences, one has to understand that different people experience the stress process differently and differ in emotions and behaviour (Jensen Pedersen, 2016). There are different ways of coping, indicating that coping behaviour is part of the personality (Horstmann et al., 2012).
Generally, coping behaviour refers to people’s perceptions of both the stressfulness of their lives and their ability to deal with the stressful situation successfully (Trouillet, Doan-Van-Hay, Launay, & Martin, 2011). Coping behaviours are defined as an individual’s response to a change in the environment that may be positive or negative (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980; Morton, Fontaine, Hudak, & Gallo, 2005). Marmar, McCaslin, Metzler, Best, Weiss, and Fagan (2006), Monk (2004) and Storm and Rothmann (2003) identify coping behaviours as variables that act as important buffers against negative consequences. The psychological make-up of individuals plays a central role in their coping efforts (Chew, Shariff-Ghazali, & Fernandez, 2014). According to Suls, David and Harvey (1999), coping behaviour is influenced by coping resources, including internal control beliefs, self-esteem, social support and self-efficacy (Terry, 1991).
Positive coping behaviour entails the use of a range of psychosocial personal resources or capacities in dealing meaningfully with stressful events and situations. Life is filled with experiences that challenge people’s repertoire of thinking, feeling and behaving (Furnes & Dysvik, 2012). Positive coping behaviour reduces the effect of stress on the individual and the individual’s perception of the burden (Au, Shardlow, Teng, Tsien, & Chan, 2013; Lin, Probst, & Hsu, 2010). Individuals who have a well-developed positive behavioural capacity repertoire tend to have more positive life attitudes, better coping mechanisms, less perceived stress and a better quality of life and they experience benefits as a result of exposure to traumatic events (Natti & Dana, 2015). Some people are able to cope effectively and can mobilise their inner strength despite the intensity of the stressor. However, many other individuals need to learn about new resources and need to acquire effective coping skills to manage the intense stressor effectively (Yeager & Roberts, 2015).
In summary, positive coping behaviour enables a person to find positive meaning and improves the way in which the person copes, in spite of what is happening. Some individuals experience coping as negative and stressful; the reasons for coping differences lie within individuals’ behavioural capacities. The type of behavioural capacities a person has will influence how he/she will cope. In the end coping must be meaningful and constructive.
This research focuses on the design and development of the positive coping behaviour Inventory (PCBI) from a positive psychological approach. Positive coping behaviour is approached from a multidimensional and psychosocial perspective. The following psychosocial dimensions of positive coping behaviour will be explored in the present research: cognitive, affective/emotional, conative/motivational and interpersonal. The next section provides conceptual descriptions of the constructs underlying these psychosocial dimensions of positive coping behaviour.

DIMENSIONS OF POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR: CONCEPTUAL DESCRIPTIONS

Positive coping behaviour is approached from a multidimensional and psychosocial perspective. The psychosocial dimensions of positive coping behaviour relate to positive behavioural capacities embedded in individuals’ (1) cognitive (cognitive attributes, wisdom, self-esteem, optimism, humour, sense of coherence, locus of control, openness to experience and positive reframing); (2) affective/emotional (positive affect, emotional granularity and happiness); (3) conative/motivational (self-efficacy, resilience, flourishing, intention for positive health, proactive coping, conscientiousness and adaptability); and (4) interpersonal (extroversion, social support and agreeableness) capacities. Scholars agree that coping resources consist of a complex and dynamic set of cognitive, affective, and behavioural responses that are aimed at regulating people’s emotions, solving or improving the practical problems they face, and maintaining the psychological resistance and strength needed to remain productive for a prolonged period (Papastavrou et al., 2011).

Cognitive coping behaviour

Cognitive coping behaviour relates to individuals’ problem-solving and mental orientations to stress experiences. Behavioural problem-solving refers to what one does in order to alter the immediate stressor (Ong et al., 2013). Positive behavioural capacities such as cognitive attributes, wisdom, self-esteem, optimism, humour, sense of coherence, locus of control, openness to experience and positive reframing relate to problem-solving capacities and mental orientations that serve as supportive personal resources in positive coping.

Cognitive attributes

Cognitive attributes refer to the mental resources needed to carry out effortful mental tasks and everyday activities involving decision-making, problem-solving, or dealing with unfamiliar problems (Trouillet et al., 2011). The relative impact of the main positive emotion regulation strategies on well-being was studied (Quoidbach, Berry, Hansenne, & Mikolajczak, 2010). Cognitive well-being (i.e. life satisfaction) was positively predicted by capitalising, which showed that telling others about positive events enhances life satisfaction. Capitalising on positive emotion regulation strategies may promote cognitive well-being by fostering positive social interaction. Positive relationships are an important determinant of life satisfaction. Sharing positive experiences may allow individuals to perceive themselves positively in the eyes of others, hence boosting self-esteem and facilitating positive appraisals of one’s life. Findings showed that social sharing of positive events increases positive emotion (Quoidbach et al., 2010).

Wisdom

Meeks and Jeste (2009) identified six subcomponents of wisdom that were included in several of the published definitions: prosocial attitudes/behaviours, social decision-making/pragmatic knowledge of life, emotional homeostasis, reflection/self-understanding, value relativism/tolerance, and acknowledgment of and dealing effectively with uncertainty/ambiguity. Ardelt and Edwards (2015) have shown that wisdom, measured as an integration of cognitive, reflective and compassionate dimensions, is positively related to subjective well-being in old age. Wisdom was positively related to subjective well-being in the later years, even after controlling for physical health, socio-economic status, financial situation, social involvement, age, gender, race and marital status. The association between wisdom and well-being was significantly stronger in nursing homes and hospices than the community. The relation between wisdom and well-being was mediated by purpose in life and via a sense of mastery (Ardelt & Edwards, 2015).

Self-esteem

Self-esteem is described as the extent to which people consciously and explicitly consider themselves valuable and worthy (Tafarodi & Ho, 2006). Social support influences self-esteem through the effects of social support used and self-esteem in turn buffers individuals against the risk of suicide ideation. Self-esteem, one’s overall appraisal of one’s value in relation to others, has strong support as a buffer to suicide (Kleiman & Riskind, 2012).

Optimism

Dobson and Dozois (2008) view optimism as the stable tendency to believe that good rather than bad things will happen. When a goal is of sufficient value, the individual will expect to attain that goal. Head and neck cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage and consequently radical treatment is necessary. The use of positive coping styles was related to low anxiety levels and high levels of optimism were related to low levels of depression (Horney, Smith, McGurk, Weinman, Herold, Altman, & Llewellyn, 2011).

Humour

Humour is defined as a tendency for particular cognitive responses to provoke laughter and provide amusement. Humour further includes a cheerful view of adversity that allows one to cope and sustain higher levels of happiness and the ability to make others smile and laugh (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Being humorous offers vast interpersonal benefits. Humour facilitates conflict resolution by making it easier to accept criticism and confront unpleasant situations. A good sense of humour is considered a highly desirable trait. People with a sense of humour are ascribed a wide range of positive characteristics, including intelligence, friendliness, imagination, charm, and emotional stability. People attend to, remember, and are entertained by humorous stimuli. People are inclined to attend social events that feature humorous invitations (McGraw, Warren, & Kan, 2015).

CHAPTER 1: SCIENTIFIC OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH
1.1 BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION FOR THE RESEARCH
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
1.5 THE RESEARCH MODEL
1.6 PARADIGM PERSPECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN
1.8 RESEARCH METHOD
1.9 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.10 CHAPTER ONE SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: META-THEORETICAL CONTEXT OF THE STUDY: EMPLOYEE
WELLNESS AND COPING BEHAVIOUR IN THE CONTEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT
ENVIRONMENT
2.1 EMPLOYEE WELLNESS IN THE CONTEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT ENVIRONMENT
2.4 IMPLICATIONS FOR WELLNESS PRACTICES
2.5 EVALUATION AND SYNTHESIS
2.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR 
3.1 CONCEPTUALISATION OF POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR
3.2 DIMENSIONS OF POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR: CONCEPTUAL DESCRIPTIONS
3.3 THEORETICAL MODEL: POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR
3.4 TOWARDS CONSTRUCTING THE POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR INVENTORY
3.5 IMPLICATIONS FOR WELLNESS PRACTICES
3.6 CRITICAL REFLECTION AND SYNTHESIS
3.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 
4.1 DETERMINATION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SAMPLE
4.2 RESEARCH METHOD: PHASE 1 (DEVELOPMENT OF SCALE)
4.3 RESEARCH METHOD: PHASE 2 (ITEM EVALUATION WITH EXPLORATORY FACTOR ANALYSIS)
4.4 RESEARCH METHOD: PHASE 3 (CONFIRMATORY FACTOR ANALYSIS)
4.5 CORRELATIONAL AND INFERENTIAL STATISTICAL ANALYSES
4.6 VALIDITY OF THE RESEARCH AND ITS FINDINGS
4.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 RESEARCH RESULTS
5.1 PRELIMINARY STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
5.2 EVALUATING THE MEASUREMENT MODEL: ASSESSING STRUCTURAL VALIDITY
5.3 DESCRIPTIVE AND CORRELATIONAL STATISTICS
5.4 MULTI-GROUP STRUCTURAL EQUIVALENCE
5.5 AGE, GENDER AND RACE AS PREDICTORS OF POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOUR
5.6 TESTS FOR SIGNIFICANT MEAN DIFFERENCES
5.7 DISCUSSION
5.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
6.1 CONCLUSIONS
6.2 LIMITATIONS
6.3 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.4 EVALUATION OF THE STUDY
6.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
REFERENCES
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DEVELOPMENT OF THE POSITIVE COPING BEHAVIOURAL INVENTORY: A POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH

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