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Silver Linings and Candles in the Dark, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

Shiota, M. (2006).Silver Linings and Candles in the Dark: Differences among PositiveCoping Strategies in Predicting Subjective Well-Being. Emotion, 6(2), 335-339.

Introduction

The purpose of this study is not clearly stated from the onset, but implications within the opening remarks found in the abstract, indicate that it could be best ‘positive coping’ strategies related to well-being. Further mixing into with the literature review the researcher identifies two aims. First it was to unfoldwhether dispositional use of positive reappraisal, creating positive events, problem-focused coping, seeking social support, and distraction as coping strategies during the week were differentially associated with positive aspects of well-being. ‘(Shiota, 2006).

The second aim related to whether the types of positive coping strategies used by participants over the course of a week were differentially associated with the

objective severity or the nature of stressors they encountered.Precisely, the researcher opened her discussions utilizing a question, which sets the tone for what she wants the study to project,‘What are the best strategies for regulating one’s emotions in the face of a negative event?’ (Shiota, 2006). This is another hint as to what the purpose of this study really is about.

There is limited literature review on the topic. Soon after the introductory remarks the researcher goes right on to highlighting studies, which have been conducted, but could not identify best ‘positive coping’ strategies that could be adapted when people are stressed. It does support the need for the more in-depth research on the issue by presenting gaps in the body of knowledge. However, the researcher eloquently presented her case based on the available data.

A comprehensive theoretical framework informing this study could not have been clearly identified. However, implicit in the literature review were references to theoretical assumptions, which were later applied during the data interpretation phase of the project. They included problem focus coping, dispositional coping styles, negative and positive activation.

The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping could be a valuable theoretical premise for explaining the best positive coping strategies used in stressful situations. This theory embraces the assumption that stressful experiences are interpreted a as person-environment transaction.  Importantly, they are triggered due to the impact of an external stressor. Mediations between the person and stressors are first appraised by the individual and then the corresponding environment of the stressor. Coping strategies developed are relevant to the person’s personal coping resource potential ( Lazarus, 1966).

This study is expected to contribute to the body of knowledge by filling gaps that do not specify the best positive coping strategies individuals adopt in dealing with stress in promoting well being. This study encompassed in-depth analyses evaluating present coping strategies the researcher validated as being beneficial, but yet still insufficient in determining the best positive coping strategy.

The researcher posed a research question at the beginning of the text. It is stated as what are the best strategies for regulating one’s emotions in the face of a negative event? Further there is no identifiable hypothesis preceding neither following this question. The independent variable can be described as ‘positive coping’ whereas the dependent variables are stress, negative event; problem focused coping; creative positive events and well-being.

There is a direct connection between the literature review and research question. This was established by the researcher often linking statements by saying that the question was a long standing one for researchers. She then continued by quoting a series of studies related to the question.

Method

This research design could be described as case study utilizing a mixed method embodying qualitative and quantitative analyses. However, there seems to be some difficulty in confirming whether the researcher adopted characteristics of a true case study or experiment.

The article does not provide the reader with enough information regarding the methodology to be able to make a convincing assessment of case study or experiment. In ruling out experiment there is no control group mentioned in the study as well as no specific treatment. Participants were, however, given a diary.

How diaries were to be used was not clear in determining whether the product served as a treatment or just an intervention within the research group. Other predisposing factors tend to make the design appear to be a survey as well when it was mentioned that participants completed demographic and well- being instruments. There are no precise explanations regarding the design to determine its appropriateness for the study.

Internal and external validity could be threatened when the design is undefined as in this case. There are no distinct parameters whereby the researcher could accurately measure independent variable ‘best positive coping’ neither the associating ones if there is a faulty research design.

Sampling

Participants were recruited from West Coast University. The sample consisted of undergraduates enrolled in a psychology course.  One hundred forty-eight participants completed well-being and demographic instruments and were given diary packets at the beginning of the study.  No specific information regarding whether the sampling was convenient, probability or random was mentioned. Speculations are that it could have been convenient sampling techniques because participants were selected from a class.

There were a total of 148 participants. This was the initial sample which consisted of  63%  female, 43% percent Asian American, 32% European American, 11% Latino/a, and 13%  anotherethnicity; mean age was 21.5 years. There is some difficulty in deciding whether the sample was representative of the population or not because the method of selecting was non-specific. How the sample was presented in the report it would appear that the population is the sample and the sample the population and within those boundaries the research was conducted.

Fifty six participants did not make the final sample. This accounted for 38% participants being lost. Ninety one eventually made it into the final sample which comprised of

71% female, 48% Asian American, 33% European American, 10% Latino/a, and 9% of another ethnicity; mean age was 21.0 years. The researcher did not mention a specific way in dealing with lost participants. It seemed as though the sample was merely readjusted showing the responses of those who remained in the study.

Measures

Measurements used in this study consisted of the positive and negative activation schedule (PANAS) and the coping diaries.  The PANAS measurement contains 20 descriptor words related to coping and well- being. Participants were asked to complete the schedule. In the coping diary participants recorded the most positive and negative event of the day. After they answered the question,what, if anything, did you do during or after the negative event to make yourself feel better?

PANAS measurement could be considered valid because it was pre-tested measurement. Reliability and validity issues could surface because they were not pretested in the environment which they were used. Coping diaries appeared to be a grossly inappropriate measurement. Assembled data from a diary should be considered a measurement. Rather, the diary is an instrument through, which data is collected and not measured. The researchers ought have designed another measurement perhaps, statistical formulas for measuring diary data.

Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics were used in interpreting data retrieved from PANAS measurements. The researcher adapted a correlational analysis which can be considered most appropriate for such purposes. Units of analysis were previously measured concepts such as positive coping and well-being. Information from coping diary was coded based on classification of responses.

Data was discussed, but lacked cohesion as it relates to the question asked in the beginning and what was interpreted as being the research question at the end. There seems to be lack of co-relation pertaining to what the issue was in the inception relative to findings.  Table 1 denotes a mean of .45 and a standard deviation .67 for negative event types number of days failure. This reflects that there is an average negative reaction to stress when balancing positive with negative coping strategies.

The statistical description was phenomenal and, perhaps, the strongest aspect of the study despite validity and reliability issues. This is an example of how a researcher can guide a study in a direction to prove their assumptions true. This in itself creates immense subjectivity to infiltrate conclusions.

Findings

Findings led to admittingthat participants do have a coping style. However, it would appear that this really has nothing to do with establishing a ‘best positive coping style’ as was indicated in the opening sentences of this report. Findings seem to be the same as was discovered by researchers previously who could not identify a best ‘positive coping ‘strategy.

The premise for this study contained this preposition, ‘Ideal coping strategies enhance positive aspects of well-being as well as reduce distress. Although researchers have identified several “positive coping” strategies, it is unclear which are most strongly associated with well-being ‘(Shiota, 2006). The independent variable being ‘positive coping’ and  ‘well-being’ the dependant

Discussion of findings reveal important differences among the positive coping strategies described in previous research, perhaps reflecting the differentmechanisms each strategy uses in promoting well-being. On the whole, participants did tend to have a “coping style,’ (Shiota, 2006).

References

Lazarus, R.S. (1966). Psychological Stress and the Coping Process. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Shiota, M. (2006). Silver Linings and Candles in the Dark: Differences among Positive Coping Strategies in Predicting Subjective Well-Being. Emotion, 6(2), 335-339.

 

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