Objective: This study examined the relationship between the personal relevance of daily activities with respect to self-set work and family goals and affective and neuroendocrine stress reactions.
Methods: A total of 53 dual-earner couples with preschool children participated in a 1-week interval-sampling study. At the beginning, participants reported their personal work and family goals. During the time-sampling phase, both partners reported the goal relevance of their daily activities, current mood, and provided saliva samples for cortisol estimation every 3 hours.
Results: Hierarchical linear models show that the performance of goal-furthering activities is associated with more positive mood and decreased secretion of cortisol. The relationship between the goal relevance of daily activities and cortisol was partially mediated by affect quality.
Conclusions: These findings speak to a person-centered approach in research on stress by showing that knowledge of individual goals is important for an understanding of affective and neuroendocrine stress reactions in employed parents with preschool children.