Effects of an experimental social stressor on resources loss, negative affect, and coping strategies

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Abstract

This experimental study, grounded in Hobfoll's conservation of resources (COR) theory, assessed the effects of manipulating a social stressor on loss of psychological resources, negative affect, and coping strategies. Israeli student volunteers were randomly allocated to one of two conditions: (1) social stressor (n = 66) and (2.) nonstressor (n = 59). The social stressor, aimed at reducing participant's personal resources, was experimentally induced via the Trier Social Stress Test protocol. The protocol consisted of a mock job interview administered under evaluative conditions, followed by performing a difficult arithmetic calculation task. The nonstressor condition involved a neutral interaction with an experimenter, followed by performing a relatively easy mental calculation task. Consistent with our hypotheses, the social stressor, compared to the nonstressor condition, resulted in statistically significant lower mean levels of psychological resources, higher levels of negative affect, and increased emotion-oriented and avoidance-oriented coping. Furthermore, under the social stressor condition, compared with the nonstressor condition, negative affect was more strongly related to loss of psychological resources and various coping strategies. Overall, the data provide experimental support for key tenets of COR theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-393
Number of pages18
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • COR theory
  • coping
  • loss of resources
  • social stressor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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