Selective Evaluation and Coping With Stress: Making One's Situation Cognitively More Livable

Authors

  • Bram P. Buunk,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Groningen, The Netherlands
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bram P. Buunk, Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, NL-9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jan F. Ybema

    1. University of Groningen, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bram P. Buunk, Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, NL-9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Selective evaluation processes were examined in a study involving 167 individuals receiving payments under the Disablement Insurance Act in the Netherlands. A factor analysis showed 6 strategies of selective evaluation: emphasizing benefits, downward comparison, devaluing former dimensions, imaging “worse worlds,” positive framing, and creating new dimensions. Although emphasizing benefits was relatively less common among those under stress, downward comparisons and the imaging of “worse worlds” were clearly more prevalent among individuals experiencing stress. A regression analysis showed that, independent of the degree of stress, selective evaluation techniques (in particular, emphasizing benefits and imagining of “worse worlds”) contributed positively to the way respondents evaluated their situation. Moreover, when controlling for the evaluation of one's situation and stress at Time 1, selective evaluation techniques, and especially imagining of “worse worlds,” and creating new dimensions, were positively related to the evaluation of one's situation at Time 2 (1 year after Time 1). The results are interpreted as support for the Taylor, Wood, and Lichtman (1983) model of selective evaluation, and for Wills' (1987) downward comparison theory.

Ancillary