Conservation of resources. A new attempt at conceptualizing stress

Am Psychol. 1989 Mar;44(3):513-24. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.44.3.513.


Major perspectives concerning stress are presented with the goal of clarifying the nature of what has proved to be a heuristic but vague construct. Current conceptualizations of stress are challenged as being too phenomenological and ambiguous, and consequently, not given to direct empirical testing. Indeed, it is argued that researchers have tended to avoid the problem of defining stress, choosing to study stress without reference to a clear framework. A new stress model called the model of conservation of resources is presented as an alternative. This resource-oriented model is based on the supposition that people strive to retain, project, and build resources and that what is threatening to them is the potential or actual loss of these valued resources. Implications of the model of conservation of resources for new research directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*