University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dept. of Psychology


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Within the occupational stress literature, researchers have often identified stressors as being inherently challenging or hindering, based on previous classifications or on the outcomes usually associated with each. Although the challenge-hindrance model is based on the transactional theory of stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), which emphasizes the importance of an individual’s cognitive appraisal of stimuli, much of the research on this framework has failed to measure an individual’s direct appraisal of stimuli in the environment as challenging, hindering, and threatening, which can be problematic when attempting to understand and predict occupational stress. In the present study we identify and share a taxonomy of common workplace stressors, contrast actual appraisal patterns with how researchers in this area tend to position each stressor, and reveal the pattern of appraisal tendencies associated with each of the 17 stressors. The results indicate that a priori classifications of stressors are not always accurate between or within individuals. We discuss implications for future research, which include re-evaluating a priori classifications, measuring appraisals, understanding complex stressors, and the possibility of appraisal tendencies.


Industrial and organizational psychology


occupational stress, stressors, appraisal, challenge, hindrance, threat


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Health Psychology | Human Resources Management | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Organization Development | Personality and Social Contexts

Document Type

grey literature



Language Code


Digital Collection

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Industrial and Organizational Psychology Translational Research and Working Papers



Challenge, Hindrance, and Threat Stressors: A Within- and Between-Persons Examination of General and Specific Stressor Appraisal Tendencies and A Priori Categorizations