The study tested the proposition that coping is personality in action under stress.
Using a stressful medical school entrance examination, the study examined (a) whether
neuroticism emerged in coping patterns over time and (b) whether the influence of
neuroticism on coping accounted for changes in anxiety and examination performance.
Fifty premedical students reported their coping efforts at 35 days before, 10 days
before, and 17 days after the examination. They provided daily reports of anxiety
for 35 days surrounding the examination. Neuroticism influenced coping efforts and
increases in daily anxiety under stress. Two types of coping, wishful thinking and
self-blame, explained over half the relationship between neuroticism and increases
in preexamination anxiety. Consistent with previous research, neither neuroticism
nor specific coping efforts influenced examination performance.