Generalization Effects in Coping Skills Training

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Ronald E. Smith University of Washington

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An important consideration in coping skills training is the extent to which acquired skills generalize to other life domains. For example, sport-oriented performance enhancement skills are often regarded as “life skills” that can also facilitate adaptation in other areas of life. Moreover, task-specific increases in self-efficacy produced by coping skills training could generalize to broader self-referent cognitive domains and affect global personality traits such as self-esteem and locus of control. The concept of generalization is analyzed, and factors and procedures that influence the strength and breadth of generalization effects are discussed. Several coping skills studies that address generalization effects of stress management and self-defense training are described, and the author suggests that generalization assessment should be a focal rather than incidental consideration when evaluating coping skills interventions.

Ronald E. Smith is with the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1525.

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