Building Resilience Through Exposure to Stressors: The Effects of Challenges Versus Hindrances

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Abstract

This paper explores the potential for certain types of stressors to build resilience in the occupational setting. Using the challenge–hindrance stressor framework (Cavanaugh, Boswell, Roehling, & Boudreau, 2000), we propose that challenge stressors have the potential to promote the capacity for resilience, whereas hindrance stressors experienced in the workplace erode resilient functioning. Employing a 2-wave longitudinal design we examined the effects of challenge and hindrance stressors on psychological resilience and strain 3 months later. Two-hundred and 8 working adults (48.1% female) participated in both surveys. Findings indicated that Time 1 challenge stressors had a significant effect on psychological resilience 3 months later (Time 2). In contrast, Time 1 hindrance stressors positively predicted Time 2 strain and negatively predicted psychological resilience. Moreover, resilience mediated the relationship between Time 1 stressors and Time 2 strain. These results demonstrate the potential positive and negative impacts of workplace stressor types on psychological resilience, and provide an exploration of a mechanism through which challenge and hindrance stressors influence well-being. This analysis also investigated the role of resilience in moderating the relationship between hindrances and strain. Some evidence emerged for the moderating role of resilience in the hindrance–strain relationship. The implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

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