Life Changes

How life changes affect stress

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  • Stress
    • Causes of Stress
      • Life Changes
        • Holmes and Rahe(1967) - 2 doctors who noticed heart patients reported major life event in year preceding heart condition.
        • H&R developed SRRS - a list of 43 life events requiring significant readjustments to life
        • Each event was rated according to Life Change Units (LCUs) e.g. the amount of readjustment needed (desirable or not)
        • Evaluation - Ignores individual differences - e.g. death of spouse traumatic & devastating or expected welcome release after long illness. May not be LCU causing stress but the unexpected nature of the event or lack of control over an event such as death. Measuring LCU retrospectively using questionnaires not reliable as memory of events may vary over time (RAHE 1974) Questionnaire lack validity as illness (especially depression) can affect perception of preceding life events.
      • Daily Hassles
      • Workplace Stressors
      • Personality Factors
    • Real Life Applications
      • Life changes & resulting stress may provide insight into suicide.
      • Research in Finland found significant life events preceded suicide.
      • These differed across age groups e.g. family loss & financial problems in young victims, physical illness in elderly victims.
      • Lazarus argues that life changes are relatively rare & therefore don't account for the everyday stress experienced as a result of minor daily hassles such as traffic jams, computer breakdown, losing things, rows with family, friends or colleagues, worries over weight etc.
        • According to Lazarus these daily hassles represent a more common experience which, though minor, when added together account for a great deal of stress.
      • Daily Hassles & Uplifts
        • Lazarus argued daily hassles are a more common experience which, when added together account for a great deal of stress. Also daily uplifts (positive events) could counteract negative effects of hassles
          • Research - Delongis et al (1982) produced a hassles & uplifts scale (HSUP) & found a correlation between scores on this scale of health. Ruffin (1993) found health was higher correlation with hassles scores than with life event scores.
    • Research
      • Rahe et al (1970) - aimed to establish link between LCU scores & illness. Pps = 2700 male US naval personnel. Pps completed questionnaire recording life events experienced over previous 6 months. Health was monitored over following 6 month tour of duty & illness scores calculated.
        • Findings - positive correlation between LCU score & illness score was found.
    • Evaluation - Findings show support for theory. Unrepresentative sample because LCU scores only give quantitative data so individual differences not accounted for. LCU questionnaires are unreliable measure & also they don't account for individual differences. Health scores may be unreliable as self reporting was used. Findings are correlational not casual.
    • Gervais (2005) asked nurses to keep a diary record of hassles & uplifts experienced over 1 month
      • Findings: Nurses reported hassles increased job stress & had a detrimental effect on performance at work. Uplifts had the opposite effect.
    • Individual Differences
      • Miller et al (1992) studied relationship with pets in more than 250 over 50s & found women see them as uplifts while men saw pets as hassles.
    • Evaluation
      • Methodological Problems: Hassles & uplifts scores involve self reporting, which is usually done retrospectively. This can be unreliable as, e.g. increased stress can cause increased negative reporting. Also focusing on hassles etc can increase their affect when they may have been forgotten.
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