Relations between stress and work outcomes: The role of the felt challenge, job control, and psychological strain

Wendy R. Boswell, Julie B. Olson-Buchanan, Marcie A. LePine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

328 Scopus citations


Recent research on reported work stress indicates stress may not always be deleterious for an individual or organization. Research in this area, however, has not yet examined a variety of work outcomes, the mechanism by which stress leads to such outcomes, and the moderators of this effect. The present study hypothesized that two types of reported stress (challenge- and hindrance-related) have a divergent relationship with work outcomes (relating to desirable and undesirable outcomes, respectively) and a similar (positive) relationship with psychological strain. We also hypothesize felt challenge as a mechanism through which challenge stress relates to desirable outcomes and job control as a moderator of the effect. Results from a heterogeneous sample of university staff employees (N = 461) supported many of the hypotheses. The two types of stress differentially related to work outcomes yet both positively related to psychological strain. In addition, felt challenge mediated the relationship between challenge-related stress and work outcomes, yet the effect of challenge-related stress did not depend on job control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Challenge
  • Employee attachment
  • Psychological strain
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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