Stress Is In the Eye of the Beholder

Yuliya Lutchyn, Gloria Mark, Akane Sano, Paul Johns, Mary Czerwinski, Shamsi Iqbal,


Despite a long history and a large volume of affective research, measuring affective states is still a non-trivial task that is complicated by numerous conceptual and methodological decisions that the researcher has to make. We suggest that inconsistent results reported in some areas of research can be partially explained by the choice of measurements that capture different manifestations of affective phenomena, or focus on different elements of affective processes. In the present study we examine one of such topics – a relationship between stress and individual’s work role. In a 2-week, multi-method in situ study we collected affective information from 40 subjects. All participants provided continuous physiological (cardiovascular) data for the entire duration of the study, submitted multiple daily self-reports of momentary affect, and filled out a onetime assessment of the global perceived stress. We found that individuals’ job role (specifically, decision-making workload) was not related to the cumulative measures of momentary affect, but was negatively correlated with the overall level of perceived stress. We further found that this negative relationship was partially mediated by individuals’ coping behaviors. Our results emphasize the important difference between fleeting and global (appraised) affective states, and remind about intervening variables that can significantly modify affective processes. We suggest directions for future research and discuss practical applications for stress management.

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