Mediating Effect of Coping Strategies between Personality and Anxiety during COVID-19

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Clinical Psychology, Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India



Introduction: Several studies have highlighted the psychological consequences (anxiety, depression) of COVID-19 in India. However, the effect of personality on anxiety, mediated by coping, remains scarce.
Method: For carrying out this study, 215 healthy, unmarried, educated Indian adults participated in an online form-based study comprising measures of personality (The Big Five Inventory-2-S), coping (Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations-21), and anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-6).
Results: Analyses were done after controlling gender, age, work, and family status. Negative-emotionality and emotion-oriented coping were the highest predictors of anxiety. A contradictory finding showed conscientiousness to predict and increase anxiety upon using coping strategies. Emotion-oriented coping mediated the relationship between negative-emotionality and anxiety. Open-mindedness had an insignificant total effect on anxiety but reduced it when mediated by emotion-oriented coping. Additionally, higher anxiety was reported in those who watched one hour or more of pandemic news per day.
Conclusion: Emotion-oriented coping was found to be an ineffective strategy to alleviate anxiety in those with higher trait neuroticism. The flexibility provided by trait openness facilitated effective use of emotion-oriented coping in reducing anxiety.


1.   Varshney M, Parel JT, Raizada N, Sarin SK. Initial psychological impact of COVID-19 and its correlates in Indian Community: An online (FEEL-COVID) survey. PLoS One. 2020 May 29;15(5).
2.   Chakraborty K, Chatterjee M. Psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic on general population in West Bengal: A cross-sectional study. Indian J Psychiatry. 2020;62(3):266–72.
3.   Sharma AJ, Subramanyam MA. Psychological impact of Covid-19 lockdown in India: Different strokes for different folks. medRxiv [Internet]. 2020 Jan 1; Available from:
4.   Grover S, Sahoo S, Mehra A, Avasthi A, Tripathi A, Subramanyan A, et al. Psychological impact of COVID-19 lockdown: An online survey from India. Indian J Psychiatry [Internet]. 2020;62(4):354. Available from:
5.   Jagadeesan N. Potential Predictors of Psychological Distress During Nationwide Covid-19 Quarantine: An Exploratory Study. Int J Behav Sci [Internet]. 2020;14(2):91–5. Available from:
6.   Pervin LA. The Science of Personality. Oxford University Press, Inc. 2003.
7.   John OP, Naumann LP, Soto CJ. Paradigm shift to the integrative Big Five taxonomy : History , measurement , and conceptual issues. In: Handbook of personality: Theory and research. 3rd ed. 2008. p. 114–58.
8.   Lecic-Tosevski D, Vukovic O, Stepanovic J. Stress and personality. Psychiatriki [Internet]. 2011;22(4):290–7. Available from:
9.   Lazarus RS, Folkman S. Stress, Appraisal, and Coping [Internet]. Springer Publishing Company; 1984. 456 p. Available from:
10. Roth S, Cohen LJ. Approach, avoidance, and coping with stress. Am Psychol [Internet]. 1986;41(7):813–9. Available from:
11. Connor-Smith JK, Flachsbart C. Relations Between Personality and Coping: A Meta-Analysis. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2007;93(6):1080–107.
12. Carver CS, Connor-Smith J. Personality and Coping. Annu Rev Psychol. 2010;61:679–704.
13. Banerjee D. How COVID-19 is overwhelming our mental health [Internet]. nature india. 2020. Available from:
14. Spielberger C, Gorsuch R, Lushene R. STAI manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Self-Evaluation Questionnaire. Consulting Psychologist Press. Consulting Psychologists Press; 1970.
15. Brandes M, Bienvenu OJ. Personality and anxiety disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep [Internet]. 2006 Jul;8(4):263–9. Available from:
16. Nasirzadeh R. Relationship between psychological constructs of DASS scale and coping strategies. Int J Behav Sci [Internet]. 2010;3(4):317–24. Available from:
17. Tuncay T, Musabak I, Gok D, Kutlu M. The relationship between anxiety, coping strategies and characteristics of patients with diabetes. Health Qual Life Outcomes [Internet]. 2008;6(1):79. Available from:
18. Soto CJ, John OP. Short and extra-short forms of the Big Five Inventory–2: The BFI-2-S and BFI-2-XS. J Res Pers [Internet]. 2017;68:69–81. Available from:
19. Endler NS, Parker JDA. Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS): Manual. Heal Psychol. 1999;
20. Marteau TM, Bekker H. The development of a six‐item short‐form of the state scale of the Spielberger State—Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Br J Clin Psychol. 1992;31:301–6.
21. Hayes A. Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression-Based Approach. 2nd ed. The Guilford Press; 2018. 692 p.
22. Melendez JC, Satorres E, Delhom I. Personality and coping. What traits predict adaptive strategies? An Psicol [Internet]. 2019 Dec 1;36(1):39–45. Available from:
23. Smith KA, Barstead MG, Rubin KH. Neuroticism and Conscientiousness as Moderators of the Relation Between Social Withdrawal and Internalizing Problems in Adolescence. J Youth Adolesc [Internet]. 2017;46(4):772–86. Available from:
24. Rosellini AJ, Brown TA. The NEO Five-Factor Inventory: Latent Structure and Relationships With Dimensions of Anxiety and Depressive Disorders in a Large Clinical Sample. Assessment [Internet]. 2011 Mar 29;18(1):27–38. Available from:
25. Bienvenu OJ, Brown C, Samuels JF, Liang KY, Costa PT, Eaton WW, et al. Normal personality traits and comorbidity among phobic, panic and major depressive disorders. Psychiatry Res. 2001
26. Szabo A, Hopkinson KL. Negative psychological effects of watching the news in the television: Relaxation or another intervention may be needed to buffer them! Int J Behav Med [Internet]. 2007 Jun;14(2):57–62. Available from:
27. Johnston WM, Davey GCL. The psychological impact of negative TV news bulletins: The catastrophizing of personal worries. Br J Psychol [Internet]. 1997 Feb;88(1):85–91. Available from:
28. Roohafza HR, Afshar H, Keshteli AH, Mohammadi N, Feizi A, Taslimi M, et al. What’s the role of perceived social support and coping styles in depression and anxiety? J Res Med Sci. 2014;
29. McCrae RR, Costa PT. The Five Factor Theory of personality. In: Handbook of Personality. 2008.
30. Clark DM, Ehlers A, McManus F, Hackmann A, Fennell M, Campbell H, et al. Cognitive Therapy Versus Fluoxetine in Generalized Social Phobia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2003;
31. Krasner MS, Epstein RM, Beckman H, Suchman AL, Chapman B, Mooney CJ, et al. Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. JAMA - J Am Med Assoc. 2009;
32. Piedmont RL. Cracking the plaster cast: Big five personality change during intensive outpatient counseling. J Res Pers. 2001;
33. Cohen AK, Cromwell JR. How to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic with More Creativity and Innovation. Popul Health Manag [Internet]. 2020 Jun 19;pop.2020.0119. Available from:
34. Jackson JJ, Hill PL, Payne BR, Roberts BW, Stine-Morrow EAL. Can an old dog learn (and want to experience) new tricks? Cognitive training increases openness to experience in older adults. Psychol Aging [Internet]. 2012;27(2):286–92. Available from: