Infertility pp 87-108 | Cite as

Cognitive Appraisals, Coping Processes, and Adjustment to Infertility

  • Annette L. Stanton
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


How does one cope with the demands of infertility? This chapter centers on a study of coping in infertile couples. Personal accounts of study participants and quantitative data are used to provide a rich portrait of the issues involved. Participants’ responses reveal the remarkable diversity of coping methods initiated by those who carry this diagnosis:

When the pregnancy test comes back negative, I laugh it off. I eat more pizza, do more work, and refuse to look at babies.

I try to keep my emotions under control and instead just take it one day at a time. Right now we’re waiting to see if this new medication works. Then we’ll talk about the next step.

I shout and cry and try to get my emotions out. I hit walls and pillows. I talk and talk and talk. If I don’t express it, I’ll go crazy.


Coping Strategy Cognitive Appraisal Infertile Couple Avoidance Coping Coping Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Affleck, G., Tennen, H., & Rowe, J. (1990). Mothers, fathers, and the crisis of newborn intensive care. Infant Mental Health Journal, 11, 12–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aldwin, C. M., & Revenson, T. A. (1987). Does coping help? A reexamination of the relation between coping and mental health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 337–348.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alpert, D., & Culbertson, A. (1987). Daily hassles and coping strategies of dual-earner and nondual-earner women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11, 359–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Belle, D. (1987). Gender differences in the social moderators of stress. In Barnett, R. C., Biener, L., & Baruch, G. K. (Eds.), Gender and stress (pp. 257–277). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Benson, R. C. (1983). Handbook of obstetrics and gynecology. Los Altos, CA: Lange Medical Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Billings, A. G., & Moos, R. H. (1981). The role of coping responses and social resources in attenuating the stress of life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 139–157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  8. Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Weintraub, J. K. (1989). Assessing coping strategies: A theoretically based approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 267–283.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cook, E. P. (1987). Characteristics of the biopsychosocial crisis of infertility. Journal of Counseling and Development, 65, 465–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cronkite, R. C., & Moos, R. H. (1984). The role of predisposing and moderating factors in the stress-illness relationship. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 25, 372–393.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Derogatis, L. R. (1977). SCL-90-R: Administration, scoring and procedures manual—I. Baltimore, MD: Clinical Psychometrics Research Unit.Google Scholar
  12. Diener, E., & Emmons, R. A. (1984). The independence of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1105–1117.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Domar, A. D., & Seibel, M. (1990). The emotional aspects of infertility. In M. Seibel (Ed.), Infertility: A comprehensive text (pp. 23–35). Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Lange.Google Scholar
  14. Draye, M. A., Woods, N. F., & Mitchell, E. (1988). Coping with infertility in couples: Gender differences. Health Care for Women International, 9, 163–175.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Felton, B. J., Revenson, T. A., & Hinrichsen, G. A. (1984). Stress and coping in the explanation of psychological adjustment among chronically ill adults. Social Science and Medicine, 18, 889–898.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1980). An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21, 219–239.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1985). If it changes it must be a process: Study of emotion and coping during three stages of a college examination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 150–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1988). Coping as a mediator of emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 466–475.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Folkman, S., Lazarus, R. S., Dunkel-Schetter, C., DeLongis, A., & Gruen, R. J. (1986a). Dynamics of a stressful encounter: Cognitive appraisal, coping and encounter outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 992–1003.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Folkman, S., Lazarus, R. S., Gruen, R. J., & DeLongis, A. (1986b). Appraisal, coping, health status, and psychological symptoms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 571–579.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greenglass, E. R. (1982). A world of difference: Gender role in perspective. Toronto, Canada: Wiley.Google Scholar
  22. Greil, A. L., Leitko, T. A., & Porter, K. L. (1988). Infertility: His and hers. Gender and Society, 2, 172–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kessler, R. C., & McLeod, J. D. (1984). Sex differences in vulnerability to undesirable life events. American Sociological Review, 49, 620–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  25. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  26. Mahlstedt, P. P. (1985). The psychological component of infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 43, 335–346.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Matthews, R., & Matthews, A. M. (1986). Infertility and involuntary childlessness: The transition to nonparenthood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 641–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McEwan, K. L., Costello, C. G., & Taylor, P. J. (1987). Adjustment to infertility. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 96, 108–116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McNair, D. M., Lorr, M., & Droppleman, L. F. (1971). EITS manual for the Profile of Mood States. San Diego: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.Google Scholar
  30. Menning, B. E. (1980). The emotional needs of infertile couples. Fertility and Sterility, 34, 313–319.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Miall, C. E. (1986). The stigma of involuntary childlessness. Social Problems, 33, 267–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Miller, S. M., & Kirsch, N. (1987). Sex differences in cognitive coping with stress. In R. C. Barnett, L. Biener, & G. K. Baruch (Eds.), Gender and stress (pp. 278–307). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  33. Roth, S., & Cohen, L. J. (1986). Approach, avoidance, and coping with stress. American Psychologist, 41, 813–819.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Russo, N. F. (1976). The motherhood mandate. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 143–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shapiro, C. H. (1988). Infertility and pregnancy loss: A guide for helping professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  36. Solomon, L. J., & Rothblum, E. D. (1986). Stress, coping and social support in women. Behavior Therapist, 9, 199–204.Google Scholar
  37. Stanton, A. L., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., & Mendola, R. (in press). Coping and adjustment to infertility. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.Google Scholar
  38. Stephenson, L. R. (1987). Give us a child: Coping with the personal crisis of infertility. San Francisco: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  39. Stone, A. A., & Neale, J. M. (1984). New measure of daily coping: Development and preliminary results. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 892–906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Suls, J., & Fletcher, B. (1985). The relative efficacy of avoidant and nonavoidant coping strategies: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 4, 249–288.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Taylor, S. E., Lichtman, R. R., & Wood, J. V. (1984). Attributions, beliefs about control, and adjustment to breast cancer. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 489–502.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Valentine, D. P. (1986). Psychological impact of infertility: Identifying issues and needs. Social Work in Health Care, 11, 61–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Watson, D., & Tellegen, A. (1985). Toward a consensual structure of mood. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 219–235.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annette L. Stanton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations