Carnegie Mellon University

Zeyneb Majid

Zyneb MajidMajor: Psychology
Minor: Biomedical Engineering
Adviser: Vicki Helgeson

Understanding Resistance to Communal Coping and Its Effect on Health Outcomes in Young Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

Communal coping occurs when one or more individuals perceive a stressor as a shared problem as opposed to a problem that only affects one individual. It consists of collaborative problem solving and shared stressor appraisal, and has been linked to better adjustment outcomes among people who face chronic illness. Previous research among adults with type 1 diabetes showed lower levels of communal coping compared to other chronic illnesses.

Through my project, I aim to understand why young adults with type 1 diabetes in romantic relationships resist sharing the burden of their illness with their partners. I hope to identify variables that predict whether one copes communally, such as socioeconomic status and cultural background. Finally, I would like to examine the consequences of failing to adopt a communal coping perspective among those with type 1 diabetes.

To accomplish these goals, I will conduct phone interviews with both the patients and their partners. I plan to use the results of this project to increase knowledge of this understudied population. Bolstering the understanding of why young adults resist communal coping, despite its profound benefits, can help healthcare professionals better disseminate information on optimal coping styles and ways that loved ones can provide support.


Blistering heat and the smell of car exhaust greeted my mother and me as we exited the Istanbul Airport terminal. I had just turned five. Excited to see my cousins, I cheerfully clenched my green Peter Pan bag and skipped after my mother towards the shuttle that would take us to the baggage claim. While clambering onto the crowded vehicle, my mom took my bag out of my arms and my smile vanished. "I do myself!" I protested. Despite her attempt to explain that she was simply trying to help, I tormented her during the ride to my cousin’s house, saying “I do myself!” over and over again until I got the chance to carry my own bag.

"I do myself" was a common refrain while I was growing up, whether I was climbing trees or solving math problems. In my adult life, this independent mindset has helped me handle the stress of balancing academics, research, work and extracurricular activities.

Growing up, I sought opportunities to pursue knowledge, activities and hobbies that sparked my interest. My family and I watched "The Phantom of the Opera" in New York during a visit in 2011. I came home obsessed with its soundtrack and soon downloaded the piano sheet music, which I began to teach myself. When I excitedly told my piano instructor about my new love for the song “Think of Me,” he told me that it was far beyond my abilities. I practiced for the next five days and perfected the piece on my own, despite his dissuasion.

This attitude of independence continues to teach me how to take control of my own life, be happy with the results and bounce back from mistakes, always striving to do better.