Personality and stress


Margarete Vollrath Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 66, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail:


Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of interest in how personality affects the stress process. This paper reports on a broad spectrum of findings on the relationships between personality and stress, taking transactional stress theory as the point of departure. A first part outlines the different approaches stress research has taken within personality psychology as opposed to research based on transactional stress theory and discusses the debate between these two paradigms. The second part gives an overview of empirical findings, with a focus on the Big Five personality factors, in order to demonstrate that personality affects the stress process in every aspect. The discussion suggests that we address unresolved problems of transactional stress research in the framework of interactionist personality psychology. Special attention ought to be given to developing a better understanding of situational characteristics, stress-producing mechanisms, and the functions of situational choices and coping strategies for personality.