This study investigated how appraisal may affect emotions and coping strategies when a person is confronted with a stressful event. In the present case, we considered the school leaving examination. We asked to 610 Italian students to fill in a questionnaire three weeks before the beginning of the proofs. The questionnaire assessed appraisal of the exam in terms of the dimensions proposed by Smith & Elsworth (1985), causal attributions, subjective feelings and adopted coping strategies. Data were reduced by using factor analyses and then multiple regressions were computed to assess the impact of appraisal on emotions and coping srategies. Results suggested that students, who perceived a high degree of self-efficacy felt more intense positive emotions and adopted strategies of coping, such as emotional sharing and concentration on the exam. Low degrees of perceived self-efficacy was related to more intense negative emotions and the attempt of suppressing them and withdrawal. Moreover, causal attribution affected the quality of negative emotions: when students considered themself responsible for the course and outcome of the exam, although they felt rather intense fear and anxiety, they adopted strategies of coping such as emotional sharing and actively seeking emotional support. Otherwise, the other-responsibility attribution was associated with anger and sadness and predicted strategies of coping such as emotional suppression, distraction, or avoidance.
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