coping, distress, Polynesian Americans


Previous research has shown that psychological services designed to assist clients in coping with stressful or traumatic events are more effective when aligned with clients’ cultural values, practices, and worldviews. However, limited research is available regarding the preferred coping strategies of Polynesian Americans. In examining collectivistic coping styles and their association with previous distress among 94 Polynesian Americans, we found that participants were highly likely to use family support and religion/spirituality to buffer the initial and residual effects of impairment attributable to distressing events, and private emotional outlets, such as psychotherapy, very infrequently. The use of private emotional outlets was associated with lower impairment from distress, although family support was much more predictive of lower impairment and positive psychological well-being. Mental health professionals can align their services with the cultural values of Polynesian Americans by accounting for collectivistic coping styles and family dynamics.

Original Publication Citation

Allen, G. E., & Smith, T. B. (2015). Collectivistic coping strategies for distress among Polynesian Americans. Psychological Services, 12(3), 322-329.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Psychological Association




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education