摘要：Objective: Nowadays, young adults are facing stressors from several aspects. They have already become the most anxious groups in Chinese society and in risk of developing a series of anxiety disorders. The theory of challenge-hindrance stress was proposed to explain the positive and negative outcomes of different stressors. It has been widely tested mostly in the field of organization and management. In the current study, we used the challenge-hindrance stress theory to clarify the association between stress in daily life and anxiety. We also examined the HPA-axis function buffering the influence of daily stress on anxiety.
Methods: we used the edited Chinese version of challenge-hindrance stress scales to measure challenge and hindrance stress over 6 months. The level of anxiety was measured by state-trait anxiety inventory. We also carried out a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) in laboratory and recorded the change of cortisol level during the 60 minutes right after the acute stress.
Results: Results show that the recent level of hindrance stress positively predicts trait anxiety, but the level of challenge stress does not predict trait anxiety. It is also found that, the cortisol decline rate during the recovery of acute stress moderates the association between stress and anxiety. To be exact, individuals with low cortisol decline rate could not recover to baseline level even after rather long rest, and hindrance stress in their lives would lead to higher level of anxiety. But for individuals who has high cortisol decline rate after acute stress, they recover fast to baseline after the stressor disappear, and they become less anxious although facing the same level of hindrance stress
Limitations: Firstly, we only examined anxiety but left other distal outcomes of stress such as wellbeing to be further studied. Secondly, we choose the decline rate of cortisol to represent the HPA-axis function instead of taking different systems into consideration. Thirdly, stress appraisal could be further examined in the challenge-hindrance stress researches in addition to different stressors.
Conclusions: The current study checked the association between stress and anxiety under the framework of challenge-hindrance stress. We examined the moderating mechanism of HPA-axis function, and discussed the effect of physiological toughness from the respective of resources and demands.