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Stress, Coping and Coffee Consumption

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Coffee, the most common source of caffeine, is a suspected risk factor for heart disease and use during stress is of particular concern. Using an experimental manipulation of stress, coffee consumption and use of coffee for coping with stress were examined. Internal analyses of self-reported patterns of usual coffee and caffeine consumption and reactions to the manipulations were used to identify individual differences in coffee consumption. The hypotheses that situations perceived as controllable increase use of problem-focused coping and uncontrollable situations increase use of emotion-focused coping were tested in order to investigate possible coping purposes for coffee use.Using a 2 X 2 factorial design, high and low performance demands were crossed with presence or absence of uncontrollable noise in a sample of moderate to heavy coffee drinkers 3 cups of coffeeday . Demand was manipulated by payment contingency payment for work completed versus salary with no minimum performance specified. Mood, coping strategies, physiological responses heart rate and Cortisol, and coffee consumption were monitored. Coffee and herbal tea were freely available to all subjects and volumes consumed during sessions were calculated. Decaffeinated coffee was used in order to test coffee independent of caffeine. The demand and noise manipulations resulted in increased negative mood, but not changes in coping or coffee consumption. Desire for control and perceived control were positively associated with use of problem-focused strategies whereas perceived demand and reported upset were positively associated with use of emotion-focused strategies. Use of emotion-focused coping and level of noise-related upset were negatively associated with coffee consumption in the laboratory. Conversely, feelings of helplessness were positively related to coffee consumption.

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