Many are far too well acquainted with the word "stress". Classes, books and many other coping devices have been designed to help people lower the amount of it in their lives. Jamie Paul '10 decided to spend a little more time with the concept of stress by making it the subject of her senior honors project this year.

Paul, a psychology major and math minor, has been researching how athletes cope with stressful situations during games, and how different gender and personality components effect these various coping strategies.

Her advisor, Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Putnam said, "As far as we can tell, no one has addressed this specific question...That's the most exciting thing about it to me".

Although, according to Paul, collecting data and researching information on the relatively new and fresh topic has been challenging, her passion for the subject stems from personal experience.

"I do play a sport. I play requires a lot of mental toughness," she said. "It's definitely personally relevant".

The relevance, though, extends far past Paul's own athletic history and affects the entire Bowdoin community, as Putnam explained.

"It has both implications for theory and for practice," he said.

Part of the project includes athlete and coach surveys for various Bowdoin teams that have "male-female counterparts" she said. The surveys look to identify when stress can be either beneficial or detrimental to an athlete's performance during a game.

Participating coaches assigned their players identification numbers to protect identities, and then completed a survey covering their athletes' various stress and coping strategies during games.

These anonymous surveys are completed by coaches then compared to the athlete's anonymous surveys covering the same material about themselves.

Paul explained that by participating, both coaches and athletes might better be able to understand how and when to use more appropriate coping strategies.

"How can you cope best with different situations? What are the best ways of responding to stressful situations? Is there a best way?" These are all questions she is incorporating in her project and she feels can be beneficial to athletes and coaches.

For instance, she explained that a different coping technique should be used to respond to controversial call by a referee than would be used to cope with the stress of having to perfect foul shots during a game.

Understanding and learning how different genders and personalities deal with stress has been a lot of hard work, Paul said, but she is looking forward to finishing and seeing the final results.

Furthermore, both Paul and Putman said how grateful they are to the athletic community at Bowdoin for contributing their time to the surveys for the project.

Paul said she appreciates coaches taking their time to assign ID numbers and complete the surveys.

Putman also said he wanted to "express appreciation for the athletes, the coaches and the athletic director for helping us out".

The deadline for student-produced responses is next Friday, April 9.

All athletes who meet the requirements can find her survey at