The possible benefits of difficulty: How stress can increase and decrease subjective well-being

  • Karlsen E
  • Dybdahl R
  • Vittersø J
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This study explores the effects of stress, trauma, coping and growth orientation on subjective well-being. Based on cognitive stress theory, it was hypothesized that adversity may contribute to increased or decreased well-being, depending on the subsequent meaning these experiences are given. Survey data from Norwegian UN/NATO veterans (N= 142) showed that stress and well-being were negatively associated (r=-0.20, p < 0.05) at the level of zero-order correlations. However, a full structural equation model revealed that the effect of stress on well-being was mediated positively through a problem-focused coping process combined with a growth component. Stress was negatively mediated through an avoidant-focused coping process and a distress component. The effect from stress was fully mediated in the model. The hypothesis that stress can produce both increased and decreased subjective well-being was confirmed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coping
  • Growth
  • PTSD
  • Stress
  • Subjective well-being
  • UN/NATO veterans

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  • Elin Karlsen

  • Ragnhild Dybdahl

  • Joar Vittersø

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