Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS-21)

CISS is a four-factor model of human coping with adversity developed by Endler and Parker (1990; Avero et al., 2003). Their construct differentiates three types of coping: emotion-oriented, task oriented, and avoidant. The avoidant style has two dimensions: distraction and social diversion. These coping categories scatter across the PAEI categories as follows:

P – Task-oriented coping: a primary control style that is adaptive when situations are appraised as changeable. Focus is maintained and emotions are controlled. This can be maladaptive for complex changing social problems.

A – Emotion-oriented coping: a secondary control style adaptive when situations are appraised as unchangeable. The aim is to reduce stress, but over the long term it can increase stress and produce negative outcomes like anxiety and depression.

E – Avoidant-distracted coping: This is adaptive in the short-term for uncontrollable problems. You just don’t let the problem bother you and focus on something more interesting. If problems are controllable, this strategy will be maladaptive over the long run.

I – Avoidant-social coping: Recourse to others is sought in the face of threat, for diversion or for assistance. This strategy is also adaptive for short-term, but over time it is more effective to develop the skills needed to address the threat as an instrumental problem.

A study of 612 adult twin pairs, (Kozak et al., 2005) determined heritability estimates of the CISS coping styles as follows: 35% for emotion-oriented coping, 34% for task-oriented coping, 33% for distraction, and 39% for social diversion, respectively. They note that these values are consistent with other studies into the heritability of coping styles and mechanisms.

1. Take some time off and get away from the situation (A) *
2. Focus on the problem and see how I can solve it (T)
3. Blame myself for ha‎ving gotten into this situation (E)
4. Treat myself to a favorite food or snack (A)
5. Feel anxious about not being able to cope (E)
6. Think about how I solved similar problems (T)
7. Visit a friend (A)
8. Determine a course of action and follow it (T)
9. Buy myself something (A)
10. Blame myself for being too emotional about the situation (E)
11. Work to understand the situation (T)
12. Become very upset (E)
13. Take corrective action immediately (T)
14. Blame myself for not knowing what to do (E)
15. Spend time with a special person (A)
16. Think about the event and learn from my mistakes (T)
17. Wish that I could change what had happened or how I felt (E)
18. Go out for a snack or meal (A)
19. Analyze my problem before reacting (T)
20. Focus on my general inadequacies (E)
21. Phone a friend (A)
T = Task-oriented coping
E = Emotion-oriented coping
A = Avoidance coping
* On the basis of our results it is suggested to exclude this item from the scale 'Avoidance coping' in samples of adolescents and young adults.
This instrument can be found on page 103 of “The social position of adolescents and young adults with chronic digestive disorders”‚ available online at:
(1) “not at all” to (5) “very much”

Parker JDA‚ Endler NS. Coping with coping assessment: a critical review. Eur J Pers 1992; 6:321-344.

Calsbeek‚ H.‚ Rijken‚ M.‚ Bekkers‚ M.J.T.M.‚ Berge Henegouwen‚ G.P. van‚ Dekker‚ J. Coping in adolescents and young adults with chronic digestive disorders: impact on school and leisure activities. Psychology & Health: 2006‚ 21(4)‚ 447-462

Calsbeek H‚ Rijken M‚ Henegouwen GPB‚ Dekker J. Factor structure of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS-21) in adolescents and young adults with chronic digestive disorders: In Calsbeek H (editor). The Social Position of Adolescents and Young Adults with Chronic Digestive Disorders. Utrecht: Nivel‚ 2003‚ 83-103