Development of conceptual framework and methodology for enhancing long term coping skills to improve psychological and physiological well-being

  • Steven Dean

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


A wealth of information exists on self-regulatory processes that have the potential to generate a population shift in health and well-being, but there are many barriers to progress. This thesis addresses three. The first is a lack of transparency and coherence in terminology surrounding 'stress' and 'well-being'. This was addressed using a taxonomy based on self-regulatory theory to provide a platform for clearer differentiation and enhancement of psychological coping mechanisms. The second is the difficulty illuminating a public deluged with contradictory information. This was addressed by demonstrating a means of generating publicly available, validated instruments of change, through more open, transparent and collaborative research. The third barrier is that information provision alone is not enough to induce sustainable behaviour change. This was addressed by systematically exploring ways of optimising intervention adherence, impact and adaptive habit formation.The research programme consisted of three experimental studies. Study1 piloted a means of adding depth and ingenuity to efforts to achieve personal daily goals, using an adaptation of Pennebaker's experimental writing paradigm, underpinned by social cognitive theory. Framework analysis of interviews with participants led to the development of a web-based version of the intervention, incorporating elements from dual-processing theory.Study 2 investigated effects of this intervention on self-report measures of psychological well-being in a group of 33 university administrators, assessed at baseline and four follow-up time points over twelve months. Sustained improvements were significant for goal progress, self-efficacy, perceived stress, negative affect, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.Study 3 tested the intervention using a randomised controlled trial involving 101 local government administrators. The results for self-report measures further supported and extended the findings of Study 2, whilst additional cortisol assessment proved inconclusive. Overall, the findings demonstrate a viable means of extending self-regulatory knowledge central to the pursuit of psychological and physiological well-being.
Date of Award25 Feb 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJulie Turner-Cobb (Supervisor) & Bas Verplanken (Supervisor)


  • Self-regulation
  • Stress
  • Well-being
  • Coping skills

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