Reactions to critical life events: a social psychological analysis

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Praeger, 1991 - Psychology - 221 pages
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People's reactions to critical life events is a topic that has stimulated basic as well as applied research by psychologists from a number of different subdisciplines. In this unique work, Marita Inglehart synthesizes previous research in the field and proposes a unique way of thinking about reactions to critical life events that has important implications for much of contemporary social psychological research. The new generalized principle of cognitive consistency, which integrates elements of cognitive consistency theory and attribution theory, offers several significant advantages over existing theories of reactions to critical life events, particularly in terms of the contribution to our understanding of the importance of specific variables such as social support and individual differences. The study is divided into three sections and begins by reviewing and evaluating the current status of theoretical research on reactions to critical life events. The various theoretical contributions are judged against their ability to answer questions regarding the energizing and structuring components of these reactions. Part II introduces the generalized principle of cognitive consistency and explores its applications to research on reactions to critical life events. The third set of chapters demonstrates the way in which the new theory can be used to reinterpret research findings centered around the importance of moderator variables in predicting reactions to critical life events. Inglehart concludes by discussing the role of life philosophies in general and examining the practical implications for counseling of the generalized principle of cognitive consistency. An important contribution to the social psychological literature, this volume will help both to bridge the gap between basic and applied research and enhance communication between the various subdisciplines involved in investigating reactions to critical life events.

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Theoretical Research on Reactions to Critical Life
StageCentered Theories of Reactions to Critical
Cognitive Theories

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About the author (1991)

MARITA R. INGLEHART is Assistant Professor of Psychology and Senior Research Associate at the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.