Sunday, March 31, 2013

Types of Stressors

Stress is defined as a psychological response to demands that possess certain stakes and that tax or exceed a person’s capacity or resources (Colquitt, Lepine, and Wesson 144). One question I had when researching stress was what are these demands that define stress? These demands that cause people to experience stress are called stressors (Colquitt, Lepine, and Wesson 144). . There are two types of stressors, hindrance and challenge. Hindrance stressors are stressful demands that are perceived as hindering progress toward personal accomplishments or goal attainment (Colquitt, Lepine, and Wesson 145). Challenge stressors are defined as stressful demands that are perceived as opportunites for learning, growth, and achievement (Colquitt, Lepine, and Wesson 145). Being able to distinguish the different types of stressors that are influencing ones stress level is a great start when deciding on a coping mechanism.
Hindrance stressors are broken down into two different categories, work and nonwork. Work hindrance stressors are sorted into role conflict, role ambiguity, role overload, and daily hassles. Role conflict takes place when a co-worker does not have the same expectations for yourself as you do. One of the most common forms of hindrance stressor employees’ face is role ambiguity (Cavanaugh et al., 2000 and LePine et al., 2004). Role ambiguity stems from uncertainty or lack of clarity concerning one’s duties, functions and responsibilities (e.g., Ilgen and Hollenbeck, 1991 and Peterson et al., 1995). Role overload occurs when a task that is too large for an individual is assigned, and in order to meet the dead line the quality of the work suffers. The last work hindrance stressor is daily hassles. These are simple tasks that must be done, but interfere with productivity because there are a countless number of them. Nonwork hindrance stressors are stressful demands that take place outside of a work environment. These stressors include work-family conflict, negative life events, and financial uncertainty. Work-family conflict is when either work or family consumes more time than anticipated and is dramatically affecting the opposing setting. For example, the spouse of a married person is unhappy or feels neglected because of the absence home life due to work related tasks. Negative life events are tragic incidents that affect the achievement of life goals such as death, divorce, or criminal actions. The last nonwork hindrance stressor is financial uncertainty. This causes much unwanted stress to many people, especially in tough economic times.
Challenge-related stressor stems from demands or circumstances that have associated potential gains for individual, challenge stressors are stimuli such as high workload, time pressure, and high levels of responsibility (Liu 2). These stressors are also broken down into work and nonwork categories. High workload is a burden that was placed on an employee that was too much for them to handle, and working on a large assignment under large amounts of stress takes a toll on the quality of the final product. Time pressure is defined as the perception that there is not enough time to complete a given amount of work (Cooper, Dewe, & O’Driscoll, 2001). The last stressor that Liu mentioned was high level of responsibility. This refers to the obligations that one person has toward a certain amount of people. Many managers have very high stress levels because they have to oversea all of the work completed by their inferiors and make sure everything is done correctly and in a timely manner. Lastly, in our discussion, are the nonwork challenge stressors. These stressors include family time demands, personal development, and positive life events. Family time demands is the time allocated to the to participate in family functions such as reunions, vacations, or home improvements.  Personal development is the activities that one devotes time to better themselves such as education programs, physical training, or some sort of lesson. Finally, positive life events are the last nonwork challenge stressor. These events include graduation, marriage, or the birth of a child.
Both challenge and hindrance stressors pose great challenges in many peoples lives. It is important to determine what type of stress is affecting you so the proper coping strategy can be implemented. Reviews of research on popular work stressors suggest that stressors are negatively related to job attitudes that are associated with retention and positively related to propensity to leave and turnover (Fisher & Gitelson, 1983; Griffeth et al., 2000; Jackson & Schuler, 1985). Other recent research has found that although all stressors appear to cause strain, different types of stressors are associated with different affective and behavioral responses (Clarke) There has been numerous research studies to see how these stressors positively and negatively affect people in the workplace and in nonwork environments. It has been proven that these stressors greatly affect the overall well being on an individual, which is why it is extremely important to resort to multiple coping strategies.

- Kyle Lachowicz

Clarke, S. (2012). The effect of challenge and hindrance stressors on safety              behavior and safety outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(4), 387-397. doi:

Dege Liu; Kan Shi, "Challenge and hindrance stressors: Relationships with employees' work engagement," Web Society (SWS), 2010 IEEE 2nd Symposium on , vol., no., pp.490,493, 16-17 Aug. 2010

Pearsall, Matthew J. "Coping with Challenge and Hindrance Stressors in Teams: Behavioral, Cognitive, and Affective Outcomes." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (2009): 1-18.

Colquitt, Jason, Jeffery A. LePine, and Michael J. Wesson. "Chapter 5 Stress." Organizational Behavior: Improving Performance and Commitment in the Workplace. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2011. N. pag. Print.

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