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Understanding the Positive Consequences of Psychosocial Stressors

Citation

Shanahan, Michael J. & Mortimer, Jeylan T. (1996). Understanding the Positive Consequences of Psychosocial Stressors.. Markovsky, Barry; Lovaglia, Michael J.; & Simon, Robin (Eds.) (pp. 189-209). Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press.

Abstract

Stress can promote both disease and growth. Drawing on Selye's biological model and relevant empirical research, we propose a conceptual model of psychosocial eustress which explains how social stressors result in positive outcomes, incuding enhanced self-conceptions, affect, and physiological change. Primary eustress refers to processes whereby eustressful outcomes are experienced simultaneously with stressors. The individual is goal-oriented, pursues tasks with high levels of involvement, and receives feedback indicating progress in neutralizing the stressor. Secondary eustress refers to processes whereby eustressful outcomes occur because earlier stressful experiences have heightened the individual's adaptive capacity in later stressful encounters. Mechanisms of secondary eustress include the raising of thresholds of reactivity, strengthening of motivational structures, and promoting selection into contexts which are more challenging but still controllable.

Reference Type

Book Section

Year Published

1996

Author(s)

Shanahan, Michael J.
Mortimer, Jeylan T.