Stress and Coping
The Stress Process Paradigm
A widely cited definition of the term stress describes it as a ‘‘particular relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering well-being’’ (Lazarus and Folkman, p. 19). Fundamental to this definition is the inclusion not only of stressors, or environmental demands, but also the individual’s appraisals and coping resources. Thus stress is much more than objective negative events that buffet an individual; a person’s reactions and subjective interpretations of potential stressors determine whether an environmental demand is even viewed as a stress, or leads to negative effects. Also of note in this definition is the idea that the stressfulness of a stimulus is related to levels of resources; individuals with strong coping skills, adaptive personality traits, strong social supports, and plentiful financial resources are likely to fare well when facing environmental demands. Although there are some variations in the specific content of stress process models, fundamental variables in the stress process can be generally summarized as stressors, appraisals, internal and external resources, coping responses, and the manifestations or outcomes of stress.