Transactional Theory of Stress

Crawford et al. (2010) introduced a differential Job Demands-Resources Model Opens in new window.

This updated model demonstrates the variable role of job demands across different occupations by incorporating components of the transactional theory of stress.

According to the Transactional Theory of Stress individuals evaluate stress situations in terms of the impact of these situations on the individual’s wellbeing, especially when stressors are perceived as being either challenging or threatening (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

This can be further divided into two factors:

  1. challenge stressors and
  2. hindrance stressors.

Challenges tend to be seen as stressful job demands that promote job mastery, personal growth, or future gains (Crawford et al., 2010).

Challenge demands may include things such as high workload, time pressure, or increased levels of job responsibility.

Some employees see challenges in a positive light as opportunities for personal growth and feel that their increased efforts will be rewarded (i.e., pay raise, praise, or promotion).

Because these types of job demand generally elicit positive emotions, they can often lead to improved work performance vis-à-vis engagement and active problem-focused coping styles.

Despite the increase in positive feelings and engagement, however, job challenges can deplete energy resources and increase strain which, in turn, result in increases in probability of developing burnout Opens in new window.

Hindrances, on the other hand, are stressful job demands that have the potential to prevent personal growth, learning, and goal attainment (Crawford et al., 2010).

Employees tend to appraise hindrances as stressful demands that deter progress toward goal attainment and personal rewards, such as pay raise, promotion, or recognition. Hindrances include anything that employees feels needlessly obstructs them from goal acquisition, such as:

  • job politics,
  • job role conflicts, and
  • daily hassles.

They generally elicit negative emotions and employees disengage from work because they do not feel as though they have the coping skills to effectively deal with the stressors leading to burnout Opens in new window.

Therefore, for this model, job characteristics Opens in new window can be categorized in terms of challenge and hindrance demands instead of merely as job demands. Job resources remain the same in both models.

Job resources are still viewed as negatively related to burnout in Crawford’s model because an individual with plentiful work resources is more easily able to meet job demands (Crawford et al., 2010).

Job resources are also positively associated with engagement because individuals who have the available resources to successfully meet job demands are likely to feel their needs for autonomy, growth and development, and competence are being met, thereby allowing them to become more willing to become engaged in the work environment.

    Research data for this work have been adapted from the manual:
  1. Handbook of Occupational Health and Wellness By Robert J. Gatchel, Izabela Z. Schultz.