How does social complexity facilitate coping flexibility? The mediating role of dialectical thinking

Hilary K.Y. Ng, Sylvia Xiaohua Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objective: Past research has shown that worldviews can influence coping strategies but coping is often regarded as a stable person-based behavioral characteristic. The present research aims to examine how one component of worldviews–social complexity–influences the flexibility of coping strategies across situations. Design: In two cross-sectional studies and one prospective study, we tested a mediation model in which the perceived complexity of the social world (i.e., social complexity) predicted coping flexibility through dialectical thinking. Results: Across three studies, social complexity consistently facilitated dialectical thinking, which in turn fostered the cross-situational flexibility of coping strategies at a single time point and over 12 months. Conclusions: Believing in complex causes of phenomena and multiple solutions to problems facilitates a cognitive style of viewing issues from multiple perspectives and tolerating contradictions, which are conducive to the flexible evaluation and implementation of effective strategies to cope with problems. Theoretical and practical implications of the present research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2022


  • coping flexibility
  • dialectical thinking
  • social axioms
  • social complexity
  • Worldview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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