The stressor–strain relationship in diary studies: A meta-analysis of the within and between levels

Shani Pindek, Maryana L. Arvan, Paul E. Spector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Daily diary studies use the same set of measures repeatedly for several days. Within the work stress domain, these studies are able to isolate the effects of daily exposure to stressors within people from the general level of stressors between people. This meta-analysis investigated both content-related and methodological aspects of workplace stressor–strain relationships in diary studies. Results from 55 unique samples (a combined sample size of 5409) indicated that the magnitude of the stressor–strain relationship was stronger at the between-person level than the within-person level. Further, when the stressor was measured prior to the strain (within the same day), the relationship was somewhat stronger than when stressor and strain were measured concurrently. This suggests that stressor–strain effects might take some time to fully manifest. Differences were also detected among types of strains: affective strains had stronger relationship with stressors than behavioural strains. There were also differences in the stressor–strain relationship depending on both the type of strain and the timing of their respective measurement (concurrent versus predictive), suggesting that certain strain responses require more time to manifest. Overall, this meta-analysis elucidates important considerations in the design and interpretation of diary studies on occupational stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalWork and Stress
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Meta-analysis
  • diary-study
  • strain
  • stressor
  • work stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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