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Disaster, well -being, and sense of control: Testing a reciprocal path in the stress process model

Jim Stimpson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Most research using the stress process model finds a path between stressors, sense of control and distress. This path infers that we experience stress, cognitively assess the situation, and then feel depressed. Another theoretical argument put forth is that our objective conditions and level of distress may color our cognitions. In other words, sometimes we feel depressed and this makes it difficult to feel in control. This study set out to uncover the complex associations between stressors, resources, and outcomes by testing for a reciprocal path in the stress process model between sense of control and various outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. To test this model, I performed a path analysis with prospective data (N = 1,735) from a natural disaster. Overall, I found support for the theoretical model and evidence for a reciprocal path between sense of control, depression, and anxiety. The flood increased hardship and symptoms for depression, and was positively associated with social support, anxiety and PTSD. The flood had an indirect effect on sense of control through depression and anxiety. In addition to the path model, I also tested for interaction effects and discovered that sense of control was critical for determining the level of mental health symptoms respondents felt in response to the flood. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, General

Recommended Citation

Stimpson, Jim, "Disaster, well -being, and sense of control: Testing a reciprocal path in the stress process model" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3126968.