In stress research area, although some scholars (e.g., Selye,1974) suggested that stress could be appraised as “bad” (distress) or “good” (eustress), most of the studies paid more attention to the negative outcomes of stress. Recently, Cavanaugh and his colleagues (2000) found that some stressors might result in positive outcomes, and perceived stressors could be differentiated into two types: challenge stressors and hindrance stressors. Based their definitions, challenge stressors refers to “work-related demands or circumstances that, although potentially stressful, have associated potential gains for individuals, including high workload, time pressure, job scope, and high responsibility”, whereas hindrance stressors refers to “work- related demands or circumstances that tend to constrain or interfere with an individual’s work achievement, and do not tend to be associated with potential gains for the individual, including organizational politics, red tape, role ambiguity, job insecurity” (Cavanaugh et al., 2000). It has consistently been found that challenge stressors associated positively with desirable outcomes, such as job satisfaction and performance, while hindrance stressors associated negatively with these same outcomes. However, both types of stressors were founded harmful to well-being. The purpose of this study is to extend the previous studies to investigate the moderating effects of general self-efficacy (GSE) among the challenge-hindrance stress process.
A self-administered questionnaire survey method was used to collect data from 309 air dispatchers. A series of hierarchical regression analyses were conducted for data analyses. The results consistently showed that ⑴hindrance stressors were negatively related to job satisfaction, and positively related to turnover intention, while challenge stressors were negatively related to turnover intention. However, the positive relation between challenge stressors and job satisfaction was not significant; ⑵both challenge and hindrance stressors were positively related to strains; ⑶GSE buffered the relations between hindrance stressors and strains, and job satisfaction. However, GSE did not have any moderating effect on the relation between hindrance stressors and turnover intention. That is, individuals with higher GSE would react less negatively to hindrance stressors than those with lower GSE; ⑷GSE strengthened the relations between challenge stressors and job satisfaction, and turnover intention. Nevertheless, GSE did not have any moderating effect on the relation between challenge stressors and strains. Specifically, when dealing with increasing challenge stressors, individuals with higher GSE had higher job satisfaction, and lower turnover intention, whereas for those with lower GSE, there were adverse trends.
The present study contributes to challenge-hindrance stressors literature by elaborating the different moderating effects of general self-efficacy. GSE tends to strengthen the relations between challenge stressors and outcomes but buffer the relations between hindrance stressors and outcomes. In terms of practical implications, work stress should be discriminated when stress managements and coping strategies are proposed. Hindrance stressors should be eliminated. Regarding to challenge stressors, instead of reducing or moving them, organizations or managers might be open to encourage employees to meet such challenges as long as they can endure the levels of stressors.