Behavior Economics as an Approach to Stress Theory

  • Wolfgang Schönpflug
Part of the The Plenum Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


The behavior economics approach (Schönpflug, 1979, 1983) has been developed as an extension and partial reformulation of earlier cognitive stress theories (Appley, 1967; French & Kahn, 1962; Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964; Lazarus, 1966; Lazarus & Launier, 1978; McGrath, 1976). Cognitive stress theories deal with problem states as sources of stress, that is, with task demands and threats that heavily tax or even overcharge an individual’s abilities and resources. Attempts have been made to assess demands and threats, and abilities and resources objectively, as features of a person’s environment or as characteristics of the person. However, cognitive theorists rely more on subjective appraisal than on objective problem states. Subjective appraisals establish mental representations of problem states, yielding large interindividual differences in representations of the same objective situation; veridical representations, as well as biased, incomplete, and illusionary versions can be observed. Cognitive theorists then relate emotional and physiological stress reactions to these subjective representations rather than to objective problem states.


Behavior Economic Initial Problem None None Subjective Representation Coping Attempt 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Schönpflug
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für PsychologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlin 33Federal Republic of Germany

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