Stress and well-being at work: A century of empirical trends reflecting theoretical and societal influences

J Appl Psychol. 2017 Mar;102(3):389-402. doi: 10.1037/apl0000109. Epub 2017 Jan 26.


In various forms, research on stress and well-being has been a part of the Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP) since its inception. In this review, we examine the history of stress research in JAP by tracking word frequencies from 606 abstracts of published articles in the journal. From these abstracts, we define 3 eras: a 50 year-era from 1917 to 1966, a 30-year era from 1967 to 1996, and a 20-year era from 1997 to the present. Each era is distinct in terms of the number of articles published and the general themes of the topic areas examined. We show that advances in theory are a major impetus underlying research topics and the number of publications. Our review also suggests that articles have increasingly tended to reflect broader events occurring in society such as recessions and workforce changes. We conclude by offering ideas about the future of stress and well-being research. (PsycINFO Database Record

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Occupational Diseases* / history
  • Periodicals as Topic* / history
  • Periodicals as Topic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Periodicals as Topic* / trends
  • Stress, Psychological* / history