The role of negative affectivity in the stress process: Tests of alternative models



The prominence of the personality trait of Negative Affectivity (NA) in the stress literature has increased over the last decade. Negative affectivity has been widely reported both to have direct effects on measures of strain, and to act as a potential confounding variable of stressor–strain relations in self-report research (Watson and Clark, 1984). However, more recent work has demonstrated that NA can also moderate environment–outcome relationships, acting as a vulnerability factor in the stress model, or alternatively that its influence may be mediated through perceptions of the work environment. In the present study, these four possible pathways through which NA may be implicated in job satisfaction and symptom report were examined.

In terms of symptom report, NA was found to have direct effects, to act as a partial confound, and to play a significant moderating (vulnerability) role. In contrast, for the prediction of job satisfaction, the influence of NA was found to be mediated through perceptions of the work environment. It is concluded that all these potential roles of NA should be more thoroughly considered in future stress research.