Ideas in depth
In the workplace and in organizational psychology it is common for people to think that only particular individuals are likely fall victim to the pressures of stress and to experience burnout – those who are insufficiently resilient or hardy.
In contrast, our study makes it clear that whether people are exposed to stressors and what strategies they use to deal with them both depend very much on features of social context that impact upon their group and their sense of social identity.
In particular, we can see that these factors determine the different coping strategies that people resort to in order to deal with stress.
Avoidance – attempting to escape from the stressor – is a strategy that people are likely to prefer when they are isolated and lack support from other group members.
Denial – attempting to redefine the stressor – is a strategy that people prefer when opportunities for escape are limited, but when the stressor cannot be directly challenged.
Resistance – attempting to confront and remove a stressor – is a strategy that people are more likely to adopt when they have support from fellow group members and are aware of cognitive alternatives that suggest the possibility of social change.
- Maslach, C. & Leiter, M. P. (1997). The truth about burnout: How organizations cause personal stress and what to do about it. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Schmitt, M. T., & Branscombe, N. R. (2002). The meaning and consequences of perceived discrimination in disadvantaged and privileged social groups. European Review of Social Psychology, 12, 167-199.