Rethinking Stress: The Role of Mindsets in Determining the Stress Response

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2013 Apr;104(4):716-33. doi: 10.1037/a0031201. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Abstract

This article describes 3 studies that explore the role of mindsets in the context of stress. In Study 1, we present data supporting the reliability and validity of an 8-item instrument, the Stress Mindset Measure (SMM), designed to assess the extent to which an individual believes that the effects of stress are either enhancing or debilitating. In Study 2, we demonstrate that stress mindsets can be altered by watching short, multimedia film clips presenting factual information biased toward defining the nature of stress in 1 of 2 ways (stress-is-enhancing vs. stress-is-debilitating). In Study 3, we demonstrate the effect of stress mindset on physiological and behavioral outcomes, showing that a stress-is-enhancing mindset is associated with moderate cortisol reactivity and high desire for feedback under stress. Together, these 3 studies suggest that stress mindset is a distinct and meaningful variable in determining the stress response.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Arousal*
  • Character*
  • Communication
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*