Social Stressors: Who Can Cope?
Buffering Social StressorsIt is valuable to understand characteristics of those who can successfully buffer (cope) against social stressors. Therefore, research has looked toward understanding core self-evaluations. Core Self Evaluations areindividual characteristics that represent fundamental evaluations people form concerning themselves, other people, and the world in general. Core Self Evaluations consist of four distinct individual traits that vary from person to person and include:
- Self-esteem – general confidence and assurance in oneself.
- Locus of control – beliefs about what causes good or bad events (i.e., environmental [external], or individual causes [internal]).
- Generalized self-efficacy – views of individual ability to ascertain goals.
- Neuroticism – tendency to experience more negative emotional states (e.g., anger, anxiety, guilt).
Conservation of ResourcesCore self evaluations are important to buffering against stressors, therefore one must examine the idea that individuals can gain or lose resources from four principle categories, which include valued resources:
- Object Resources – such as place of dwelling and vehicles.
- Condition Resources – such as status in the organization and place in the community.
- Personal Resources – such as feelings of achievement.
- Energy Resources – interpersonal or time investments.
Job Related OutcomesSocial Stressors relate to negative job outcomes such as low levels of job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and a lack of helping behaviors. Individuals reporting more social stressors at work perceive that their personal resources are being threatened or are expending additional resources (e.g., time and energy). For example, when social stressors are present in the workplace, an individual spends time thinking about how to manage and possibly avoid these situations. Individuals, therefore, expend time and energy, thus resulting in greater strains and less energy for obtaining goals and helping others. Again, greater core self evaluations are relevant and necessary as those possessing such characteristics are better equipped and more able to minimize/buffer the aforementioned negative situations (i.e., how to manage and possibly avoid social stressors) that lead to depleted resources and ultimately to negative job related outcomes.
Implications for PracticeWhen dealing with social stressors in the workplace:
- Promote positive social climates and establish norms against social injustice and/or aggression – this should lead to fewer social stressors and therefore fewer resources needed to maintain/buffer against social stressors.
- Consider employee selection and placement – individual traits such as core self evaluations are stable (i.e., enduring individual characteristics); therefore altering these characteristics may be impractical. It is important to assess workplace social stressors and hire and/or place appropriate individuals for the job and/or situation (i.e., if there are high social stressors, seek individuals with high core self evaluations).
The DeGarmo GroupThis was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Harris, K. J., Harvey, P., & K. M. Kacmar (2009). Do social stressors impact everyone equally? An examination of the moderating impact of core self-evaluations. Journal of Business Psychology, 24, 153-164.