This research examined the impact of affectivity and coping on state anxiety and positive emotions among young adults living in the Washington, DC metro area both during and after the Washington, DC sniper killings. Participants completed questionnaires during three waves of data collection: (1) during the sniper attacks (n=92); (2) within two weeks after the snipers were captured (n=45); and (3) six months later (n=43). Affectivity (measured by neuroticism) was significantly associated with state anxiety and positive emotions during all three time periods. Coping (measured by constructive thinking) predicted state anxiety and positive emotions during the shootings, but was unrelated to either outcome immediately after the attacks, and marginally related to them six months later. Consistent with the Dynamic Model of Affect, state anxiety and positive emotions were more strongly (and negatively) correlated with each other during the killings than they were after the snipers were apprehended. Taken together, these results support transactional models of stress that emphasize the interaction between dispositional and situational influences, and they suggest that affectivity reflects a fundamental set of reactions to one's environment, while coping dispositions result in more stress-specific responses. Additional theoretical and practical implications of these findings are also discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health