General and specific stress mindsets: Links with college student health and academic performance.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The goal of this cross-sectional, correlational study was to evaluate (a) whether beliefs about stress as enhancing versus debilitating (i.e., stress mindsets) vary across sources of stress that differ in duration (acute vs. chronic) and controllability, and (b) how general and source-specific stress mindsets relate to health and academic performance. College students (n = 498) self-reported their general and source-specific stress mindsets, perceived distress, health, coping, and GPA. Stress mindsets varied as a function of duration and controllability, and general stress mindsets were only weakly associated with source-specific mindsets. Consistent with previous research, general stress mindsets were associated with health, but some source-specific mindsets were more predictive of health than others-viewing stress from chronic controllable sources as debilitating was most predictive of poor mental and physical health. Measures of stress were also associated with health, and this association was moderated by stress mindsets, suggesting that viewing stress as enhancing can provide a psychological "buffer" against the negative effects of stress. Approach coping and perceived distress were examined as potential mediators of the links between stress mindset and health. Viewing stress as enhancing was related to greater use of approach coping and lower perceived distress, which in turn was related to better health. This research suggests that stress mindset interventions may benefit students' health, and that interventions targeting mindsets for chronic controllable sources of stress may be more effective than general stress mindset interventions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jenkins, A; Weeks, MS; Hard, BM

Published Date

  • January 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 / 9

Start / End Page

  • e0256351 -

PubMed ID

  • 34495976

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8425538

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0256351


  • eng