THE INFLUENCE OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY, AND THE NESTED-SELF IN THE STRESS PROCESS: FOCUS ON HEALTH
Hobfoll, S.E., Kent State University, USA
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 cycles. 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 organizational 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. Stress in the health context must consider the full range of resources considered by COR theory because health threat impacts the self, the family, work, relationships, material resources, and the ability to apply resources in the service of adaptation. Finally, the limitations and criticisms of COR theory will be discussed.