Corresponding Author Information: Maddie Straup

Session Abstract: Background & Purpose: The need for support from others is paramount in times where there is low perceived control (David & Suls, 1999). Current literature has found that participants used social support to cope with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic (Rettie & Daniels, 2020). However, we found no mixed method studies of social support use during COVID-19. A mixed method design, using both quantitative and qualitative data, promotes a more complete picture (Burke et al., 2007). However, Bornstein (2002) has found that due to the heteromethod convergence problem, even when self-report and free-response measures analyze the same construct, scores on the two tests tend to have moderate or nonsignificant correlations. This may be because survey data utilize outcome-based approaches, whereas open-ended responses use process-focused approaches (Bornstein, 2009). Thus, we hypothesized that individuals‚ spontaneous identification of social support in qualitative responses will not associate with self-report responses of perceived social support or of seeking support for coping during COVID-19. Subjects: Undergraduates (N = 215; 152 women, 27 men, 36 choosing nonbinary identifiers) in a large, diverse state university participated in a cross-sectional online survey during the last two weeks of April, 2020 one month after the university closed, moving classes online. Students self-reported their ethnicity as 35.7% White, 23.8% Hispanic, 21.7% Black, 8.1% Asian, 1.7% Middle Eastern, 1.3% Jewish, 1.3% Multiethnic, and .9% American Indian. Methods & Materials: Students completed self-rating measures adapted from Carver and Scheier‚ (1989) Coping Scale (COPE), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and parallel open-ended questions about coping during COVID-19. Qualitative data were coded using thematic analysis to categorize coping strategies and social support. Analyses & Results: Correlational analyses found a moderate correlation between participants who spontaneously mentioned receiving social support in open-ended responses about coping during COVID-19 and who self-rated seeking social support on the COPE scale, r = .118, p = .083. Likewise, as expected, whether participants provided qualitative responses regarding support did not predict their reports of perceived social support on the MSPSS, r = .092, p = .117. Conclusions: Our results indicate that unprompted statements of social support within free-response questions about coping during COVID-19 did not significantly relate to self-rated perceptions of support or use of support for coping. This suggests that self-report and open-ended formats tend to measure different constructs of individuals, awareness. Self-report tests measure explicit traits individuals see, or wish to see, in themselves, whereas qualitative tests measure traits spontaneously activated within an individual‚Äôs cognitions. Thus, mixed method approaches may measure different aspects of personality and coping during times of uncertainty.


Maddie Straup | UNT Denton, TX

Allison Laajala | UNT Denton, TX

Kalyn Prothro | UNT Denton, TX

Abigail Sweatt | UNT Denton, TX

Jabeen  Shamji | UNT Denton, TX

Alana Fondren | UNT Denton, TX

Sharon Rae Jenkins | UNT Denton, TX

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