The merits of measuring challenge and hindrance appraisals

Ben J. Searle*, Jaime C. Auton

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    181 Citations (Scopus)


    Background and Objectives: The challenge–hindrance framework has shown that challenge stressors (work characteristics associated with potential personal gain) tend to have positive outcomes, whereas hindrance stressors (those which obstruct goals) have negative outcomes. However, typical research methods assume that stressors allocated to these categories are appraised consistently by different people and across different situations. We validate new measures of challenge and hindrance appraisals and demonstrate their utility in stress research. Design and Methods: We used a cross-sectional survey of American employees (Study 1, n = 333), a diary survey of Australian employees (Study 2, n = 241), and a survey of Australian college students whose performance was evaluated independently (Study 3, n = 350). Results: Even after accounting for the effects of stressors, challenge and hindrance appraisals consistently explained unique variance in affective states, with indications that stressors have indirect effects via appraisals. Such effects were seen within- as well as between-participants (Study 2). Appraisals also had expected associations with specific coping behaviors (Study 1), while challenge appraisal was associated with task performance (Study 3). Conclusions: The scales of challenge and hindrance appraisals were psychometrically sound across multiple contexts. Results highlight the merit of considering appraisal in stress research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)121-143
    Number of pages23
    JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015


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