Do we need positive illusions to carry out plans? Illusion
and instrumental coping
Belinda M. Boyd-Wilsona, b,*, Frank H. Walkeyb, John McClureb,
Dianne E. Greenb
aPsychology Section, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, School of Management, Private Bag 31914 Lower Hutt,
Wellington, New Zealand
bVictoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Received 7 April 1999; received in revised form 29 November 1999; accepted 13 December 1999
This study tested the theory that positive illusions and instrumental (problem-focused) coping
behaviours are related (Brown, J. D. (1993). Coping with stress: The bene®cial role of positive illusions.
In A. P. Turnbull, J. M. Patterson, S. K. Behr, D. L. Murphy, J. G. Marquis, & M. J. Blue-Banning
(Eds.), Cognitive coping, families, and disability, Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.). Positive illusion was
assessed as a discrepancy between positive bias towards the self in trait ratings and positive bias towards
average others, where ratings were self-favouring. Problem-focused coping was assessed through recall of
coping with a recent stressful situation. The results showed that positive illusion scores were unrelated to
problem-focused coping scores. It was suggested that although individuals need to be positive to cope
well they do not need positive illusions. Tests for gender dierences showed that males held more
positive illusions than females. No gender dierences were found for problem-focused coping but
females used emotion-focused coping more than males to cope with a recent stressful situation. 7 2000
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Positive illusion; Instrumental coping; Problem-focused coping; Emotion-focused coping; Gender
Personality and Individual Dierences 29 (2000) 1141±1152
0191-8869/00/$ - see front matter 7 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. Fax: +64-4-570-5278.
E-mail address: email@example.com (B.M. Boyd-Wilson).