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Dialectical Thinking and Coping Flexibility: A Multimethod Approach


  • The author would like to thank Eva Chan, Ka-cheung Cheng, Yige Dong, Oi-wah Huen, Gigi Lam, Kin-tong Kwan, Kai-yan Ng, Pui-kin Ser, Jane Tsoi, Chu-kwan Wong, and Cathy Wu for research and clerical assistance.
    Preparation of this article was supported by Research Grants Council's Competitive Earmarked Research Grant HKU6233/04H and Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research 200611159018.

concerning this article should be addressed to Cecilia Cheng, Department of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Coping flexibility refers to the formulation of flexible coping strategies that meet distinct demands under changing circumstances. Dialectical thinking was proposed to be related to flexible coping across situations. The hypothesized link between dialectical thinking and coping flexibility was explored by a multimethod approach. In Study 1, the association between dialectical thinking and coping flexibility was examined using a cross-sectional design. In Study 2, the hypothesized link was tested using an experimental paradigm in which dialectical thinking was manipulated by priming procedures. Participants' responses to different hypothetical stressful situations were assessed after priming. Study 3 adopted a prospective design in which dialectical thinking assessed at an initial phase was a predictor of changes in coping flexibility and state anxiety over a 12-month period. Results from the three studies consistently revealed a positive relationship between dialectical thinking and coping flexibility.