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Work stressors, Chinese coping strategies, and job performance in Greater China

06 May 2010-International Journal of Psychology (Int J Psychol)-Vol. 45, Iss: 4, pp 294-302

TL;DR: Joint effects of work stressors and coping behaviors among Chinese employees in the Greater China region, encompassing three sub-societies of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, are found.

AbstractThe aim of this research was to jointly test effects of work stressors and coping strategies on job performance among employees in the Greater China region. A self-administered survey was conducted to collect data from three major cities in the region, namely Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei (N = 380). Four important work stressors were assessed: heavy workload, organizational constraints, lack of work autonomy, and interpersonal conflict. We used a four-factor model of Chinese coping strategies composed of hobbies/relaxation, active action, seeking social support, and passive adaptation. Job performance was indicated by both task performance (quantity of work, quality of work, job knowledge) and contextual performance (attendance, getting along with others). We found that: (1) work stressors were related to job performance. Specifically, workload had a positive relation with quantity of work, whereas organizational constraints had negative relations with quantity of work and attendance. In addition, interpersonal conflict had a negative relation with getting along with others. (2) Chinese positive coping strategies were positively related to job performance. Specifically, seeking social support had positive relations with quantity of work and getting along with others, whereas active action had positive relations with attendance and job knowledge. (3) Chinese passive adaptation coping behaviors were negatively related to job performance. Specifically, passive adaptation had negative relations with quantity of work, quality of work, and getting along with others. The present study thus found joint effects of work stressors and coping behaviors among Chinese employees in the Greater China region, encompassing three sub-societies of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Differential effects of Chinese positive and passive coping strategies were also noted. Most importantly, all these effects were demonstrated on multiple indicators of job performance, a rarely studied but important strain variable from the organizational point of view.

Topics: Contextual performance (64%), Job performance (63%), Job satisfaction (61%), Attendance (51%)

Summary (2 min read)

Introduction

  • Theaim of this research was to jointly test effects of work stressors and coping strategies on job performance among employees in the Greater China region.
  • A self-administered survey was conducted to collect data from three major cities in the region, namely Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei (N = 380).
  • (1) work stressors were related to job performance, also known as The authors found that.
  • (2) Chinese positive coping strategies were positively related to job performance.
  • Es más, todos estos efectos fueron demostrados mediante indicadores múltiples de rendimiento de trabajo, una variable raramente estudiada, pero muy importante desde el punto de vista organizacional.

SALIENT WORK STRESSORS FOR CHINESE EMPLOYEES

  • In a US–China comparative study, Liu (2002) revealed that heavy workload, interpersonal conflict, and organizational constraints are the common stressors for both American and Chinese workers.
  • Lu, in a series of studies conducted in Taiwan, found that heavy workload, lack of work autonomy, and interpersonal conflict are the most prevalent stressors for Taiwanese employees (e.g., Lu, 1997, 1999).
  • So far no study has compared the effects of these four stressors in multiple samples from different regions in the Greater China zone.
  • In the present study, the authors thus measured these four work stressors among workers in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei, to explore their effects on job performance.
  • As detailed above, the authors used constructs of workload, organizational constraints, and interpersonal conflict as defined by Spector and Jex (1998), and lack of work autonomy as defined by Hackman and Oldham (1975).

DO WORK STRESSORS AFFECT JOB PERFORMANCE?

  • In earlier studies of stress, the proposed inverse U-shape curve between level of stress and performance aroused a lot of interest (Selye, 1975).
  • This attractive proposition has received very little empirical support.
  • Following the theoretical work of Lazarus (e.g., Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), more recent studies (LePine, Podsakoff, & LePine, 2005) suggested that work stressors may be appraised as a threat or hindrance, which will be negatively associated with performance; however, they may also be appraised as a challenge, which will produce positive effects.
  • As past studies have reported positive, negative, and no associations between overload and performance (Gilboa et al., 2008; LePine et al., 2005; Spector & Jex, 1998), this indicates that overload may represent a hindrance and/or challenge to the focal individual.
  • The latter comprises behaviors not directly related, but conducive to task fulfillment, which can be judged on criteria such as good colleague relations, interpersonal facilitation, and job dedication (attendance and involvement).

DOES COPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

  • One important conclusion reached in the stress and coping literature is that the efficacy of a coping strategy varies across situations, individuals, time, and outcome indicators (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
  • With due caution, some general statements can still be made.
  • Definitions of the four factors were not given by the authors, but meanings can be extracted from the content of items used to gauge them, as described above.
  • They found that hobbies/relaxation, active action, and seeking social support correlated positively with job satisfaction and negatively with psychological symptoms; whereas passive adaptation correlated negatively with job satisfaction and positively with psychological symptoms.
  • Chinese coping strategies will be related to job performance, also known as Hypothesis 2.

Samples and procedure

  • The authors used a self-administered structured questionnaire to collect data from employees in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei.
  • Respondents were invited to participate through the personnel manager or a contact person known to the researchers in each organization.
  • A reminder letter was sent seven days after the initial invitation to boost the response rate.

RESULTS

  • The authors nonetheless conducted preliminary analyses within each city sample.
  • Table 1 reports correlation results in the combined sample, incorporating item means and standard deviations for relevant scales.
  • In all the regression analyses, the combination of work stressors and Chinese coping strategies explained 6–13% of variance on various aspects of job performance.
  • Gilboa et al. found that the negative correlation of role overload and performance was higher among managers relative to nonmanagers.

DISCUSSION

  • The purpose of the present study was to jointly test effects of work stressors and coping strategies among employees in the Greater China region.
  • The authors found that both work stressors and Chinese coping strategies were associated with job performance.
  • The authors results show that the most salient work stressors where job performance is concerned are workload, organizational constraints, and interpersonal conflict.
  • Spector and Jex (1998) found a similar negative relation using supervisor-rated performance (r = .10).
  • First, the survey design was cross-sectional, thus no causal conclusions are legitimate.

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Lingnan University Lingnan University
Digital Commons @ Lingnan University Digital Commons @ Lingnan University
Staff Publications Lingnan Staff Publication
2010
Work stressors, Chinese coping strategies, and job performance Work stressors, Chinese coping strategies, and job performance
in Greater China in Greater China
Luo LU
National Taiwan University
Shu-Fang KAO
Hsuan Chang University
Oi Ling SIU
Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Chang-Qin LU
Peking University
Follow this and additional works at: https://commons.ln.edu.hk/sw_master
Part of the Work, Economy and Organizations Commons
Recommended Citation Recommended Citation
Lu, L., Kao, S.-F., Siu, O.-L., & Lu, C.-Q. (2010). Work stressors, Chinese coping strategies, and job
performance in Greater China. 45(4), 294-302. doi: 10.1080/00207591003682027
This Journal article is brought to you for free and open access by the Lingnan Staff Publication at Digital Commons
@ Lingnan University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Staff Publications by an authorized administrator of
Digital Commons @ Lingnan University.

1
Work stressors, Chinese coping strategies, and job performance in Greater
China
Luo Lu
National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Shu-Fang Kao
Department of Applied Psychology, Hsuan Chang University, Taiwan
Oi-Ling Siu
Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Chang-Qin Lu
Department of Psychology, Peking University, People’s Republic of China
Abstract
Theaim of this research was to jointly test effects of work stressors and coping strategies on job performance among
employees in the Greater China region. A self-administered survey was conducted to collect data from three major
cities in the region, namely Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei (N = 380). Four important work stressors were assessed:
heavy workload, organizational constraints, lack of work autonomy, and interpersonal conflict. We used a four-
factor model of Chinese coping strategies composed of hobbies/relaxation, active action, seeking social support, and
passive adaptation. Job performance was indicated by both task performance (quantity of work, quality of work, job
knowledge) and contextual performance (attendance, getting along with others). We found that: (1) work stressors
were related to job performance. Specifically, workload had a positive relation with quantity of work, whereas
organizational constraints had negative relations with quantity of work and attendance. In addition, interpersonal
conflict had a negative relation with getting along with others. (2) Chinese positive coping strategies were
positively related to job performance. Specifically, seeking social support had positive relations with quantity of
work and getting along with others, whereas active action had positive relations with attendance and job knowledge.
(3) Chinese passive adaptation coping behaviors were negatively related to job performance. Specifically, passive
adaptation had negative relations with quantity of work, quality of work, and getting along with others. The present
study thus found joint effects of work stressors and coping behaviors among Chinese employees in the Greater
China region, encompassing three sub-societies of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Differential effects
of Chinese positive and passive coping strategies were also noted. Most importantly, all these effects were
demonstrated on multiple indicators of job performance, a rarely studied but important strain variable from the
organizational point of view.
Le but de cette recherche était à la fois de tester les effets des stress liés au travail et des stratégies de coping sur la
performance au travail chez des employés de la grande région de Chine. Un questionnaire auto-administré fut
utilisé pour recueillir des données dans trois villes majeures de la région, soit Beijing, Hong Kong et Taipei (N =
380). Quatre stress importants liés au travail furent évalués: la lourde charge de travail, les contraintes
organisationnelles, le manque d'autonomie au travail et les conflits interpersonnels. Nous avons utilisé un modèle
à quatre facteurs des stratégies chinoises de coping incluant les hobbies et la relaxation, l'action active, la recherche
de soutien social et l'adaptation passive. La performance au travail était observée à la fois à partir de la performance
à la tâche (quantité de travail, qualité du travail, connaissances liées à l'emploi) et de la performance contextuelle
(assiduité, collaboration avec les autres). Nous avons trouvé que (1) les stress liés au travail étaient associés à la
performance au travail. Plus spécifiquement, la charge de travail était positivement associée avec la quantité de
travail, tandis que les contraintes organisationnelles étaient négativement associées avec la quantité de travail et
l'assiduité. De plus, les conflits interpersonnels étaient aussi négativement associés avec la collaboration avec les
autres. (2) Les stratégies chinoises positives de coping étaient positivement associées avec la performance au travail.
Plus spécifiquement, la recherche de soutien social était positivement associée avec la quantité de travail et la
collaboration avec les autres, tandis que l'action active était positivement associée avec l'assiduité et les
This is the post-printed version of an article. The final published version is available at International Journal of Psychology 45:4 (2010); doi: 10.1080/00207591003682027
ISSN 0020-7594 (Print) / 1464-066X (Online)
Copyright © 2010 International Union of Psychological Science. Published online: 06 May 2010

2
connaissances liées à l'emploi. (3) Les comportements chinois d'adaptation passive de coping étaient gativement
associés avec la performance au travail. Plus spécifiquement, l'adaptation passive était négativement associée avec
la quantité de travail, la qualité du travail et la collaboration avec les autres. Ainsi, la présente étude a trouvé des
effets à la fois des stress reliés au travail et des comportements de coping chez les employés chinois dans la grande
région de Chine, comprenant trois sous-sociétés de Chine, de Hong Kong et de Taiwan. Les effets différentiels des
stratégies chinoises de coping positives et passives étaient aussi notés. Il est important de spécifier que tous ces
effets furent démontrés sur de multiples indicateurs de la performance au travail, une gamme de variables rarement
étudiée, mais importante du point de vue organisationnel.
El objetivo de este estudio fue investigar conjuntamente los efectos de estresores laborales y las estrategias de
afrontamiento en el rendimiento de trabajo entre los empleados en la región de Grande China. Una encuesta auto-
administrada fue llevada a cabo para recabar datos de tres mayores ciudades en la región, literalmente Pequín,
Hong Kong y Taipéi (N = 380). Se evaluaron cuatro estresores laborales más importantes: alta carga de trabajo,
limitaciones organizacionales, falta de autonomía laboral y conflicto interpersonal. Hemos utilizado el modelo de
cuatro factores de estrategias de afrontamiento chinas compuesto por hobbies/relajación, acción activa, búsqueda
de apoyo social y adaptación pasiva. El rendimiento de trabajo fue indicado por ambos, rendimiento en las tareas
(cantidad de trabajo, cualidad de trabajo y conocimiento de trabajo) y rendimiento contextual (asistencia, llevarse
bien con los demás). Hemos encontrado que (1) los estresores laborales fueron relacionados con el rendimiento en
el trabajo. Específicamente, la carga de trabajo tuvo una relación positiva con la cantidad de trabajo, mientras que
las limitaciones laborales fueron relacionadas de forma negativa con la cantidad de trabajo y la asistencia.
Adicionalmente, el conflicto interpersonal también fue relacionado de forma negativa con llevarse bien con los
demás. (2) Estrategias de afrontamiento positivas chinas fueron positivamente relacionadas con el rendimiento de
trabajo. Específicamente, la búsqueda de apoyo social tuvo relaciones positivas con cantidad de trabajo y llevarse
bien con los demás, mientras que la acción activa tuvo relaciones positivas con la asistencia y el conocimiento de
trabajo. (3) Las conductas de adaptación pasiva china fueron relacionados de forma negativa con el rendimiento de
trabajo. Específicamente, la adaptación pasiva tuvo relaciones negativas con la cantidad de trabajo y llevarse bien
con los demás. El presente estudio encontró efectos conjuntos de estresores laborales y la conducta de afrontamiento
entre empleados chinos en la región de Grande China, abarcando tres sub-sociedades de China continental, Hong-
Kong y Taiwán. También se encontraron efectos diferenciales de estrategias de afrontamiento chinas positivas y
pasivas. Es más, todos estos efectos fueron demostrados mediante indicadores múltiples de rendimiento de trabajo,
una variable raramente estudiada, pero muy importante desde el punto de vista organizacional.
Keywords
work stressors; Chinese coping strategies; job performance
Decades of research have established that many stressors at work can lead to negative consequences for
employees’ well-being, including psychological, physical, and behavioral changes (e.g., Cooper, Dewe,
& O’Driscoll, 2001). Psychological strains such as job dissatisfaction and anxiety/ tension have
traditionally been the focus of work stress research; physical strains such as health or health-related
behaviors are gaining attention recently (Jex & Beehr, 1991). However, as pointed out by Cooper et al.
(2001) in their review of the occupational stress literature, behavioral changes, especially those directly
related to job performance, are the least studied of all forms of strain, although they are the most
important strain from an organizational point of view. The present study thus aimed to bridge this
knowledge gap by looking at the direct effects of work stressors on job performance in the Greater China
region.
In transactional stress models (e.g., Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), coping is an integral element of the stress
process because coping strategies can help counteract the effects of stressors on strains. However,
previous research on work stress and coping has been disappointing (Bar-Tal & Spitzer, 1994). Applying
coping measures developed in the West poses further challenges, as we do not know whether they are
This is the post-printed version of an article. The final published version is available at International Journal of Psychology 45:4 (2010); doi: 10.1080/00207591003682027
ISSN 0020-7594 (Print) / 1464-066X (Online)
Copyright © 2010 International Union of Psychological Science. Published online: 06 May 2010

3
relevant for Chinese employees. Thus in the present study, we used a four-factor model of Chinese
coping strategies composed of hobbies/relaxation, active action, seeking social support, and passive
adaptation, as developed by Siu, Spector and Cooper (2006), to examine their effects together with work
stressors on job performance.
It has been argued that almost all of the occupational stress theories are developed and empirically
tested in Western, industrialized countries (Cooper et al., 2001). A comprehensive quantitative review
of the association between work stressors and job performance confirmed that 88% of data came from
English-speaking countries (Gilboa, Shirom, Fried, & Cooper, 2008). As the Greater China region has 20%
of the world’s population and represents an ever increasing economic power, it is valuable to obtain
data from Chinese employees to contribute to the development of theories and practices of
organizational psychology. We chose Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei as three target cities for several
reasons. First, the three are important industrial cities in the Greater China region, representing
mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Taiwan. Second, previous research
(Lu, Cooper, Kao, & Zhou, 2003) led us to conclude that despite historical differences, employees in
Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei have similar experiences of work stress nowadays (Lu, Kao, Zhou, &
Siu, 2001), and use similar coping strategies (Siu et al., 2006). We thus set out to explore whether these
work stressors and coping strategies affect job performance for all employees in the Greater China
region.
SALIENT WORK STRESSORS FOR CHINESE EMPLOYEES
In a USChina comparative study, Liu (2002) revealed that heavy workload, interpersonal conflict, and
organizational constraints are the common stressors for both American and Chinese workers. Lu, in a
series of studies conducted in Taiwan, found that heavy workload, lack of work autonomy, and
interpersonal conflict are the most prevalent stressors for Taiwanese employees (e.g., Lu, 1997, 1999). In
an earlier comparative study, Lu et al. (2001) noted that heavy workload and interpersonal conflict are
common work stressors for employees in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. It thus seems that
heavy workload (perceived amount of work in terms of pace and volume), organizational constraints
(situations or things that prevent employees from translating ability and effort into high levels of job
performance), lack of work autonomy (lack of freedom and discretion to the individual in scheduling
the work and in determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out), and interpersonal conflict
(experiencing disagreements or being treated poorly at work) may be four salient work stressors for
Chinese workers. However, so far no study has compared the effects of these four stressors in multiple
samples from different regions in the Greater China zone. In the present study, we thus measured these
four work stressors among workers in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei, to explore their effects on job
performance. As detailed above, we used constructs of workload, organizational constraints, and
interpersonal conflict as defined by Spector and Jex (1998), and lack of work autonomy as defined by
Hackman and Oldham (1975).
DO WORK STRESSORS AFFECT JOB PERFORMANCE?
In earlier studies of stress, the proposed inverse U-shape curve between level of stress and performance
aroused a lot of interest (Selye, 1975). However, this attractive proposition has received very little
empirical support. In a review, Lori, Stanley, and Hubert (2003) concluded that a negative linear
relationship between stress and performance was the proposition most consistently supported by
empirical research. The most wideranging quantitative review of the association between work stressors
and job performance reported that 20 out of 24 effect sizes were significant across 169 samples (Gilboa
et al., 2008).
It seems that the negative relation between work stressors and job performance is the rule; however,
differential relationships of various stressors with performance may still be possible. Following the
This is the post-printed version of an article. The final published version is available at International Journal of Psychology 45:4 (2010); doi: 10.1080/00207591003682027
ISSN 0020-7594 (Print) / 1464-066X (Online)
Copyright © 2010 International Union of Psychological Science. Published online: 06 May 2010

4
theoretical work of Lazarus (e.g., Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), more recent studies (LePine, Podsakoff, &
LePine, 2005) suggested that work stressors may be appraised as a threat or hindrance, which will be
negatively associated with performance; however, they may also be appraised as a challenge, which will
produce positive effects. The positive linear model has been proposed to explain this expected positive
relation, arguing that when a stressor is primarily appraised as a challenge it may lead to internal arousal,
increased exertion of efforts and higher performance outputs (LePine et al., 2005; McGrath, 1976).
Spector and Jex (1998) did find a positive relation between quantitative overload and supervisor-rated
performance. Among the four stressors included in the present study (heavy workload, organizational
constraints, lack of work autonomy, and interpersonal conflict), heavy workload may be the one most
likely appraised as a challenge. This may occur when high performers or committed employees take on
extra tasks and responsibilities and strive to perform them well. As past studies have reported positive,
negative, and no associations between overload and performance (Gilboa et al., 2008; LePine et al., 2005;
Spector & Jex, 1998), this indicates that overload may represent a hindrance and/or challenge to the focal
individual. We thus expected the negative relation between overload and performance to be the weakest
among the four stressors under study here. This expectation was also based on the observation that all
other three stressors (organizational constraints, lack of work autonomy, and interpersonal conflict) are
more structurally determined and the individual could have little control over them.
Job performance may be defined along two dimensions: task performance and contextual performance
(Borman & Motowidlo, 1993). The former comprises behaviors directly related to task fulfillment, which
can be judged on criteria such as quantity and quality produced, and job knowledge needed for
completing the task. The latter comprises behaviors not directly related, but conducive to task
fulfillment, which can be judged on criteria such as good colleague relations, interpersonal facilitation,
and job dedication (attendance and involvement). Thus we adopted multiple indicators for job
performance, including quantity of work, quality of work, job knowledge (task performance) and
attendance, and getting along with others (contextual performance), to assess our Chinese workers.
DOES COPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
One important conclusion reached in the stress and coping literature is that the efficacy of a coping
strategy varies across situations, individuals, time, and outcome indicators (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
However, with due caution, some general statements can still be made. Problem-focused coping is
generally adaptive while emotion-focused coping maladaptive (Lazarus, 1999). In the work stress
context, the current status is disappointing, as portrayed in Cooper et al.’s review (2001): Little is known
about how individuals cope and the factors important to coping with work stress.
Siu et al. (2006) developed and validated a Chinese Coping Strategies Scale. They found a four-factor
structure: hobbies/relaxation (physical exercise and relaxation), active action (exerting more efforts and
maintaining an active positive attitude), seeking social support (discussing with colleagues/superiors),
and passive adaptation (accepting the reality and doing nothing). The first three were also termed
‘‘positive coping.’’ They noted that passive adaptation is unique among the Chinese. Definitions of the
four factors were not given by the authors, but meanings can be extracted from the content of items used
to gauge them, as described above. Siu et al.’s (2006) preliminary evidence further indicated the
differential impact of positive coping and passive coping on work well-being. They found that
hobbies/relaxation, active action, and seeking social support correlated positively with job satisfaction
and negatively with psychological symptoms; whereas passive adaptation correlated negatively with
job satisfaction and positively with psychological symptoms. However, their research still focused on
psychological strains: Job performance is yet to be examined as a strain indicator for these Chinese
coping strategies.
We thus hypothesize as follows.
This is the post-printed version of an article. The final published version is available at International Journal of Psychology 45:4 (2010); doi: 10.1080/00207591003682027
ISSN 0020-7594 (Print) / 1464-066X (Online)
Copyright © 2010 International Union of Psychological Science. Published online: 06 May 2010

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35,437 citations


"Work stressors, Chinese coping stra..." refers background in this paper

  • ...In transactional stress models (e.g. Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), coping is an integral element in the stress process because coping strategies can help alleviate the effects of stressors on strains....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The properties and uses of the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) are described The JDS is intended (a) to diagnose existing jobs to determine if (and how) they might be redesigned to improve employee motivation and productivity, and (b) to evaluate the effects of job changes on employees The instrument is based on a specific theory of how job design affects work motivation, and provides measures of (a) objective job dimensions, (b) individual psychological states resulting from these dimensions, (c) affective reactions of employees to the job and work setting, and (d) individual growth need strength (interpreted as the readiness of individuals to respond to "enriched" jobs) Reliability and validity data are summarized for 6S& employees on 62 different jobs in 7 organizations who have responded to a revised version of the instrument

6,166 citations


"Work stressors, Chinese coping stra..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Twenty-three items were chosen from existing Western scales to assess four stressors: workload (5 items; Spector & Jex, 1998), organizational constraints (11 items; Spector & Jex, 1998), interpersonal conflict (4 items; Spector & Jex, 1998), and lack of autonomy (3 items; Hackman & Oldham, 1975)....

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Book
01 Jan 1999
Abstract: A sequel to "Stress, Appraisal and Coping", this volume explores the latest findings and trends in research and theory. It focuses on the rationale for a cognitive-mediational approach to stress and the emotions, and distinguishes between social, physiological and psychological stress. Topics include: work and family stress; chronic stress; traumatic stress disorders; crisis theory and management; stress in special groups such as ageing and the aged; children and adolescents; the stress of dislocation and immigration; stress and infections; the role of the nervous system; author's view of the recent changes in psychotherapy. This book is essential for all practitioners in the field of stress, appraisal, and coping, and of value to students of psychology, graduate students, academics, and professionals in related fields.

3,370 citations


01 Jan 1993

2,732 citations


"Work stressors, Chinese coping stra..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Job performance may be defined along two dimensions: task performance and contextual performance (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993 )....

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Book
01 Jan 1974
Abstract: Stress is “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it,” that is, the rate at which we live at any one moment. All living beings are constantly under stress and anything, pleasant or unpleasant, that speeds up the intensity of life, causes a temporary increase in stress, the wear and tear exerted upon the body. A painful blow and a passionate kiss can be equally stressful.

1,731 citations