Coping as a communal process

Renee F. Lyons, Kristin D. Mickelson, Michael J.L. Sullivan, James C. Coyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

461 Scopus citations


This paper argues for a substantial re-conceptualization of coping. The strong focus on emotional distress as the marker of coping efforts has masked the importance of social functions, processes and outcomes in coping with life stress, particularly the role of communal coping. Communal coping is a cooperative problem-solving process salient in coping with both individual and collective stressors. It involves the appraisal of a stressor as 'our' issue and cooperative action to address it. Beyond its important role in coping, communal coping is endemic to notions of social integration, interdependence and close relationships, and may underlie the resilience of families and other social units dealing with stressful life events. The authors present a framework that distinguishes communal coping from other individual and social coping processes. We also provide an analysis of benefits and costs of communal coping, a discussion of key factors in its utilization, and suggestions for further research on the functioning of communal coping in contemporary society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-605
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective
  • Communal
  • Cooperative
  • Coping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Coping as a communal process'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this