Characterizing stress tolerance: "Controllability awareness" and its relationship to perceived stress and reported health

Josephine Todrank Heth, Eli Somer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"Controllability awareness" describes the extent to which an individual's responses to life situations reflect attention to distinctions between controllable and uncontrollable aspects of potential outcomes. The construct recognizes four aspects of controllability: personal control of outcomes, shared control of outcomes, others in responsibility, and uncontrollable/unpredictable outcomes. Lacking a suitable measurement instrument, the Controllability Awareness Inventory (CAI) was developed and used to assess controllability awareness as a characteristic of stress tolerance. Results indicate that individuals with a greater tendency to respond based on an awareness of the controllability of potential outcomes perceive their lives as less stressful, report themselves to be in better health, and think in ways that enable them to manage environmental demands more effectively. Controllability awareness training to help reduce perceived stress and promote health is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-895
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to S. Breznitz for fruitful discussions in the early stages of this research and to S. Epstein, C. Gordon, and P. Kohn for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We thank G. Heth and T. Myers for assistance in rating response effectiveness and T. Mencher and G. Heth for assistance in translation and back-translation. We thank M. Block, D. Barkmeier, K. Spikes, N. Blampied, M. Barnes, and S. Katzir for assistance in recruiting subjects. This research was supported in part by a matching grant from the Israel Ministry of Absorption and the Research Authority of the University of Haifa to J. Todrank Heth.


  • Controllability
  • Coping
  • Health
  • Perceived stress
  • Stress tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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