Hindrances are not threats: advancing the multidimensionality of work stress

Michelle R. Tuckey*, Ben J. Searle, Carolyn M. Boyd, Anthony H. Winefield, Helen R. Winefield

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    109 Citations (Scopus)


    The challenge-hindrance framework has proved useful for explaining inconsistencies in relationships between work stressors and important outcomes. By introducing the distinction between threat and hindrance to this framework, we capture the potential for personal harm or loss (threat) associated with stressors, as distinct from the potential to block goal attainment (hindrance) or promote gain (challenge). In Study 1, survey data were collected from 609 retail workers, 220 of whom responded 6 months later. The results supported a 3-factor threat-hindrance-challenge stressor structure and showed that threat stressors are associated with increased psychological distress and emotional exhaustion, and reduced dedication, whereas hindrance stressors undermine dedication but may not be related to distress or exhaustion with threats included in the model. Study 2 utilized a diary study design, with data collected from 207 workers over 3 workdays. Findings revealed that the threat, hindrance, and challenge appraisals of individual workers are statistically distinct, and associated with stressors and well-being as anticipated: threats with role conflict and anxiety, hindrances with organizational constraints and fatigue, and challenges with skill demands and enthusiasm. Overall, moving to a 3-dimensional challenge-hindrancethreat framework for stressors and stress appraisals will support a more accurate picture regarding the nature, processes, and effects of stressors on individuals and organizations, and ensure prevention efforts are not misguided.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-147
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Occupational Health Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


    • Appraisal
    • Job demands
    • Occupational stress
    • Stressors


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