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The Influence of Culture, Community, and the Nested‐Self in the Stress Process: Advancing Conservation of Resources Theory

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Conservation of Resources (COR) theory predicts that resource loss is the principal ingredient in the stress process. Resource gain, in turn, is depicted as of increasing importance in the context of loss. Because resources are also used to prevent resource loss, at each stage of the stress process people are increasingly vulnerable to negative stress sequelae, that if ongoing result in rapid and impactful loss spirals. COR theory is seen as an alternative to appraisal‐based stress theories because it relies more centrally on the objective and culturally construed nature of the environment in determining the stress process, rather than the individual’s personal construel. COR theory has been successfully employed in predicting a range of stress outcomes in organisational settings, health contexts, following traumatic stress, and in the face of everyday stressors. Recent advances in understanding the biological, cognitive, and social bases of stress responding are seen as consistent with the original formulation of COR theory, but call for envisioning of COR theory and the stress process within a more collectivist backdrop than was first posited. The role of both resource losses and gains in predicting positive stress outcomes is also considered. Finally, the limitations and applications of COR theory are discussed.

La the´orie de la pre´servation des ressources (COR pre´suppose que la perte d’une ressource est la principale composante du processus de stress. Un gain en ressources, par contre, est pre´sente´ comme e´tant d’importance croissante dans un contexte de perte. Parce que les ressources sont aussi utilise´es pour contrecarrer une perte de ressources, les gens sont, a` chaque phase du processus de stress, de plus en plus vulne´rables aux se´quelles du stress ne´gatif, cela si la succession des e´ve`nements de´bouche sur une spirale de pertes rapides et douloureuses. La the´orie COR est perc¸ue comme e´tant une alternative aux the´ories du stress base´ sur l’e´valuation parce qu’elle repose davantage sur la nature objective et culturellement interpre´te´e de l’environnement dans la de´termination du processus de stress, plutôt que sur l’analyse personnelle de l’individu. La the´orie COR a pre´dit avec succe`s un ensemble de donne´es lie´es au stress dans des situations organisationnelles, dans le domaine de la sante´, dans les suites du stress traumatique et dans la gestion du stress quotidien. Des avance´es re´centes dans la compre´hension des fondements biologique, cognitif et social des re´ponses de stress se sont re´ve´le´es cohe´rentes avec la formulation originelle de la the´orie COR, mais sugge`rent qu’il faudrait appre´hender cette the´orie et le processus de stress d’une fac¸on plus collective que ce ne fut d’abord le cas. On traite aussi du rôle des gains et pertes de ressources dans le pronostic des conse´quences positives du stress. On discute enfin des limites et des applications de la the´orie COR.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Kent State University, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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