Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Peggy S. Keller


Coping represents an important process for stress: how effectively one copes dictates how a person experiences stress. However, research has not yet examined how a person’s long-term coping habits are related to their physiological stress responding during a particular situation. The current study addresses this through examination of skin conductance level (SCL) trajectories and coping tendencies (i.e. habitual use of coping strategies) during an autobiographical interview. 167 college students completed questionnaires assessing their demographics and their frequency of use for fourteen coping strategies. SCL was collected while participants recalled and discussed a negative family memory from their childhood. Multilevel modeling was used to assess whether individual coping tendencies, or habitual use of multiple coping tendencies, indicating coping flexibility, were related to trajectories of SCL during the course of the interview. Results revealed that self-distraction, planning, active coping, humor, use of emotional support, and coping flexibility were related to SCL trajectories. Generally, those reporting higher use of these variables exhibited trajectories of SCL that decrease less steeply and are more stable throughout the interview. These findings suggest that stabilizing SCL, through engaging in more problem-focused coping or coping flexibility, may alleviate the negative mental health outcomes associated with differential SCL responding.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)