Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kieran Fogarty

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Lagerwey

Third Advisor

Dr. Michele McGrady


Coping, religious problem solving style, locus of control, poverty, self-efficacy, problem-solving


Poverty negatively impacts individuals and society as a whole in various ways, including emotional and physical health, relationships, education, crime, stress, and the economy (Adler & Ostrove, 1999; Anakwenze & Zuberi, 2013; Caplan & Schooler, 2007; Yoshikawa, Aber, & Beardslee, 2012). How people cope with the stress of poverty and engage with its causes and potential solutions impacts their capacity to survive, manage, and work toward improving their situation (Caplan & Schooler, 2007; Cohen & Wills, 1985; Santiago, Etter, Wadsworth, & Raviv, 2012). Problem-focused coping involves a person’s engagement to make plans, mobilize resources, and take action to manage or alter the problem (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985). Emotion-focused coping is directed at the regulation of emotional responses to circumstances (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985) and can be negative or positive. Negative (or maladaptive) emotion-focused coping responds to situations in maladaptive ways, such as self-blame, behavior disengagement, and denial of circumstances. Religious belief and practice has been identified as influential on the coping process of people experiencing stressful life events (Harrison, 2001) and as a contributing factor in the use of emotion-focused and problem-focused coping (Caplan & Schooler, 2003, 2007; Cohen & Wills, 1985; Raikes & Thompson, 2005; Thoits, 1995). This dissertation explores the relationship between a person’s Religious Problem Solving Style (RPSS) and self-efficacy with the use and interaction of problem-focused and maladaptive emotion-focused coping on financial strain and stress. The RPSS scale measures religious coping related to problem-solving on two dimensions of a person’s perspective of God: (1) locus of responsibility for the problem-solving process, and (2) level of divine involvement in the problem-solving process. The three RPSS styles are Self-directing, Collaborative, and Deferring. This is a cross-sectional study involving participants in a faith-based poverty alleviation class and mentoring program. The sample (N = 43) was recruited from two affiliates of Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC), one from Michigan and the other from Idaho. The survey was a paper-and-pencil instrument containing a total of 39 questions. Variables of the study were financial strain, financial stress, religious problem-solving styles, self-efficacy, problem-focused coping, and maladaptive emotion-focused coping. Of the three RPSS styles, only Collaborative RPSS had a statistically significant correlation with self-efficacy (.32, p < .05). Problem-focused coping had a significant positive relationship with self-efficacy (.33, p < .05) and Collaborative RPSS (.40, p < .01) and a significant negative relationship with Self-directing RPSS (–.34, p < .05). Maladaptive emotion-focused coping had a significant positive relationship with Self-directed RPSS (.34, p < .05) and a significant negative relationship with Deferring RPSS (–.33, p < .05). Regression analyses did not indicate statistically significant findings with the interaction between problem-focused and maladaptive emotion-focused coping on financial strain or stress with any RPSS style. Slopes from regression analyses were calculated and presented graphically to identify direction and intensity of the interactions of study variables. Suggestions for practice and future research are presented.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons