Mitigating Academic Distress: The Role of Psychological Capital in a Collectivistic Malaysian University Student Sample

Ryan Yumin Chua1, 2, *, Yin Lu Ng2, Miriam Sang-Ah Park1 , 3
1 Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Subang Jaya, Malaysia
2 Department of Psychology, HELP University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3 School of Social and Health Sciences, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK

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Creative Commons License
© 2018 Chua et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address Correspondence to this author at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Subang Jaya, Malaysia, Tel: +6016-3010320, E-mail: yumin.chua@monash/edu



The emphasis of education within the collectivistic Malaysian culture has exposed Malaysian university students to high levels of academic stressors. The experience of stress that stems from the experience of such stressors can be positive (eustress) or negative (distress). However, the presence of adaptive abilities to academic stress may influence the experience of stress. The present study examines psychological capital as the adaptive ability to academic stress among a collectivistic Malaysian university student sample.


This cross-sectional study was conducted with a total of 183 students from a university in Malaysia.


Analyses showed that university students with high academic distress did not predict low academic performance; while, university students with high academic eustress predicted high academic performance. Psychological capital was found to mitigate the influence of academic distress on academic performance but not on the influence of academic eustress on academic performance.


The study debunked the common misconceptions about academic stress. It highlighted that the experience of eustress and the presence of psychological capital may be an important resource for students’ stress coping.

Keywords: Collectivism, Academic stress, Psychological capital, Malaysian university students, Distress, Eustress.