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Stress Related Illnesses
and the Immune System
Research A01 A02
Kiecolt- Aim: To see the effect of stress on the Immune system. Kiecolt-Glaser's research used scientific measures (blood
tests to assess for NK levels) which increases the reliability
Glaser
Procedure: PPs completed questionnaires on life events and validity of the research.
and social isolation. Also had their NK cell activity assessed
before and during their exams. However, this research only used medical students which
makes it ungeneralisable and reduces the population validity
Findings: Immune function was significantly lower during of the research.
the high-stress exam period and even lower still in those
experiencing social isolation. Sergerstom and Miller found that short-term stressors
actually lead to an increase in natural immunity, suggesting
This research showed... that exam stress had a negative that Kiecolt-Glaser and Cohen may not be entirely correct
effect on immune system functioning. when they say that stress will always have a negative effect on
our immune system.
Cohen et al Aim: To see the effect of stress on the Immune system. Cohen et al's research has mundane realism ­ it reflects real-
life well and so tells us more about how stress affects immune
Procedure: Asked 394 PPs to rate their stress levels and system functioning than lab-based studies where there is
completed questionnaires on stressful life events lower ecological validity.
experienced in the previous year. Then exposed to the
common cold virus. However, Cohen et al. were unable to say whether the high-
stress participants suffered from illness more as a result of
Findings: 82% of PPs became infected and the most their stress or other factors. It could be, for example, that
stressed PPS developed full blown colds a week later as poor lifestyle choices (e.g. smoking or drinking) may have
they could not fight it off. influenced the results. This means that cause and effect
cannot be established and so we cannot say for sure that the
This research showed... that stress is likely to lead to down stress caused the illness.
regulation and illness.…read more

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Life
Research
Holmes and
A01
Events
Aim: To see the increase/decrease of stress through
A02
The SRRS is frequently used in stress research, showing that
different life events. it is a valuable and valid framework for establishing stress.
Rahe
Procedure: Asked 394 people to assess the personal impact SRRS is flawed as different people may rate certain life
(stress value) of 43 life events and averaged out the scores. changes differently to others.
This was the basis for their SOCIAL READJUSTMENT RATING
SCALE (SRRS) which predicted how stress could influence
someone's health.
Findings: Researchers proposed that scoring between 150-
299 LPs increased the chance of illness by 30% whereas a
score of 300+ LPs on the scale was associated with 50%
increase.
Rahe et al Aim: To assess the effect of life changes in relation to Rahe et al. (1970) only found a very weak correlation,
illness. suggesting that the link between life stress and illness is just
as weak.
Procedure: Asked 2500 male US Navy Men to complete the
SRRS for the previous 6 months and followed that up for a Correlational studies cannot confirm cause and effect,
7-month tour of duty where all illnesses were recorded. suggesting that other factors (not just stress/life events) may
have caused illness.
Findings: There was a weak (but significant) correlation of
It is difficult to generalise the research from Rahe et al. due
0.018 found between life event scores and illness scores.
to the specific sample type used (US Navy Men). This lowers
This research showed... that an accumulation of life events the population validity and external validity of the research.
can lead to illness.…read more

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Daily Hassles
Research A01
A02
Delongis Aim: The Hassles and Uplifts Scale (HSUP) was created by It is likely that daily hassles have a greater impact on our
Delongis et al. as a way of measuring attitudes towards health than life events, adding to the validity of the
daily situations. explanation (and subsequent research).
Procedure: It contains 53 items which PPs can rate as being
a hassle, uplift or both. The ratings of the items tell
researchers how stressful minor events are to people.
Bouteyre Aim: Bouteyre et al. investigated the relationship Research into this field suffers from culture bias and there
between daily hassles and the mental health of new is currently no research which identifies whether PPs from
undergraduate university students. non-western cultures experience the same issues associated
Procedure: First-year Psychology students who attended a with daily hassles as western PPs. This reduces the external
validity and generalisability of research done by psychologists
French University completed the hassles section of the
such as Delongis, Bouteyre and others.
HSUP and the Beck Depression Inventory which was
designed to measure any symptoms of depression that
might be attributable to the hassles of the transition from
school to university.
Findings: The results found that 41% of students suffered
from depressive symptoms, and that there was a positive
correlation between scores on the hassles scale and
incidences of depressive symptoms.
Evans and Evans and Edgerton found that daily hassles scores Daily hassles research has significant real-life application
on the HSUP could predict the likelihood of developing a and can be used to predict and prevent stress-related illness.
Edgerton
clinical cold, again highlighting the link between minor
everyday stressors and illness.…read more

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Work Place Stress
Research A01 A02
Marmot Procedure: Followed up over 7000 UK civil servants over 5 Marmot's research took into account a range of lifestyle
years. All PPs were free from heart problems at the start of factors which helped them to draw accurate and more
the experiment and a range of workplace stressors were reliable conclusions about the effect of workload and control
factored in to the study (levels of workload, perceived on illness.
control etc.) in addition to lifestyle factors such as drinking,
smoking and obesity.
Both male and female PPs were studied resulting in no
gender bias (hooray!)
Findings: The researchers found that workers in the lowest
grades had 1.5 times the rate of heart disease than those in
higher grades. The most significant factor between these Despite using over 7000 people, Marmot's study can only
two groups of people was the degree of personal control be generalised to office workers in similar jobs. This reduces
they had over workload (high grades = high control, low the external validity of the research.
grades = low control).
Johansson Supporting research was conducted by Johansson et al. Johansson's research gives us an insight into how workload
found that low levels of control, high levels of workload and control may influence illness in another culture but again
and high levels of responsibility were most responsible the research is ungeneralisable due to the specific people
for high stress levels and illness in Swedish saw-mill used in the study.
workers.…read more

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Personality Factors And
Stress
Research A01 A02
Friedman Procedure: Categorised 3454 American men as either Type Rosenman et al. controlled for other factors (e.g. smoking)
A or B using structured interviews. They followed these so were able to draw clear links between personality type and
and
men up for 8.5 years whilst taking into account smoking, illness. This increased the validity of the research. The
Rosenman drinking and obesity levels. research was also longitudinal which gives us a valuable
insight into how stress affects the body in the long-term.
Findings: The researchers found that twice as many Type As
had died of heart problems, were more likely to smoke and Despite using 3454 people, Rosenman's study can only be
have a history of CHD. This told them that having a TAB generalised American PPs which Type A or B personality types.
(type A behaviour pattern) was a key risk factor for stress- This reduces the external validity of the research and allows it
related heart disease. to be criticised for possessing culture bias as well as gender
bias.
Kobasa Procedure: Studied 800 American business executives, Kobasa et al's research can also be criticised for having
assessing their stress levels using Holmes and Rahe's SRRS. culture bias.
Around 150 of the participants were classified as having
high stress levels yet very few of these had a high stress- However, all research in the field of workplace stress has
related illness record. real life-application and helps employers to identify high-risk
employees and design/use strategies in the workplace to
Findings: Upon further investigation, the researchers found reduce stress, illness and possibly even death.
that high scores on all three Cs (commitment, challenge,
control) were associated with lower levels of stress-related
illness regardless of the level of stress the PPs actually
experienced.…read more

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Comments

emma

Soooo helpful! Thanks Lara! 

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