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Chapter 4. Cultivating Awareness > Hardiness and Stress Resistance

Hardiness and Stress Resistance

Take a moment to fill out the Stress Hardiness Inventory. Research has documented an association between high hardiness scores and lower rates of physical illness among white-collar male executives and women in various occupations (Rhodewalt & Zone, 1989), blue-collar workers (Manning, Williams, & Wolfe, 1988), college students (Roth et al., 1989), and adolescents (Sheppard & Kashani, 1991). Hardiness is also associated with psychological health. Stress-hardy individuals report lower anxiety levels, less depression, greater job satisfaction, and lower levels of tension at work. In other studies, hardy subjects were shown to have stronger physical tolerance for stress. When exposed to a stressor they have a lower increase in diastolic blood pressure (Contrada, 1989) and a smaller increase in heart rate (Lawler & Schmied, 1987?).

One interesting study (Allred & Smith, 1989) demonstrated that male college students who scored low on hardiness experienced high levels of tension before the onset of a stressor (that is, as they waited and anticipated), while those scoring high on hardiness displayed higher arousal only during exposure to the stressor. It appeared that the hardy subjects got aroused only when they needed an adrenaline surge to confront the stressor more effectively, while the others spent valuable energy worrying. Hardy individuals do get physiologically aroused, but at the right time and to the right level.


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