Personality and coping in life challenge narratives

Rachel E. Greene, Henry R. Cowan*, Dan P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Self-reported personality traits are known to correlate with self-reported coping strategies. However, these correlations may be inflated by common method variance. The current study examined personality traits and coping strategies in autobiographical narratives. Method: In open-ended interviews, 122 late-midlife participants described their single greatest life challenge. Participants’ responses were content coded for various coping strategies. We examined correlations between narrated coping strategies and self-reported personality traits assessed by the NEO-Five Factor Inventory. Results: Extraversion was associated with narrated engagement coping. Neuroticism was associated with narrated disengagement coping. A trend suggested that conscientiousness was negatively associated with narrated disengagement coping. Surprisingly, openness was negatively associated with narrated problem-solving. Conclusions: The current study replicates and extends the personality and coping literature into the domain of life narrative. Associations between extraversion, neuroticism, and coping styles appear to be robust outside the context of self-report coping questionnaires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103960
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Coping
  • Five Factor Model
  • Life challenges
  • Life stress
  • Narrative identity
  • Personality traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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