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What is stress?
· Stress is often used to represent the reaction we have both
psychologically and physiologically to stressors. These may be
major, life-threatening events such as earthquakes, life events
such as divorce or the minor hassles of day-to-day life.
· We are programmed to respond to stress by producing adrenaline
which prepares our bodies for flight or fight by:
- increasing heart rate and respiration so that more blood can be
carried to the brain to help us think more clearly
- closing down functions that are not immediately vital, such as
- dilating our pupils so that out vision becomes clearer
· Adrenaline is still produced, but our bodies become used to it and
the physiological reactions calm down. The big problem however,
lies in the continuous production of adrenaline, which attacks
our immune system and reduces our ability to fight disease.
· There is much evidence to suggest stress is linked to illness and
there are psychological reactions to stress such as anger, crying,
insomnia and depression.…read more

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Causes of stress
· 3 main causes of stress are looked at:
- work: where the pressure of a repetitive and responsible job
are compared to a less pressured one
- hassles: the minor irritations that occur daily can predict
stress-related illnesses
- lack of control and how this can cause a physical stress
response.…read more

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Work - Johansson
· Johansson's research with Swedish sawmill workers found that
people whose jobs involved responsibility for meeting targets
and lack of social contact, were more stressed. However, even the
people with less stressful jobs were found to be more stressed at
work than at home, suggesting that any job is going to cause
some level of stress.
· Aim: To measure the psychological and physiological stress
response in 2 categories of employees.
· Methodology: A quasi-experiment where workers were defined
as being at high risk of stress or in a control group. Data were
collected through physiological measures of chemicals in urine
and self-report of mood.
· Pp's: 24 workers at a Swedish sawmill. The high-risk group were
14 workers who had to work at a set pace, governed by the
production line; their job was complex and required a great deal
of knowledge about raw materials. They were responsible for the
rate at which the finished objects were completed and so
responsible for their own and their team's wages. The control
group were 10 workers who were cleaners or maintenance…read more

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Johansson continued ...
· Design: An independent design with Pp's already working in
1 of 2 categories, so no manipulation of IV. The high-risk
group were classified as having jobs that were repetitive and
constrained, had little control of pace or work routine, were
more isolated and involved more responsibility.
· Procedure: Each pp was asked to give a daily urine sample
when they arrived at work and at four other times during the
day. They also gave self-report of mood and alertness, plus
caffeine and nicotine consumption.
The baseline measurements were taken at the same time on
a day when the workers were at home:
- adrenaline levels were measured in the urine
- body temp was measured at the time of urine collection
- self-rating scales included words such as sleepiness, well-
being, irritation
- caffeine and nicotine consumption were noted.…read more

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Johansson continued ...
· Findings: In the first urine samples of the day, the high-risk
group had adrenaline levels twice as high as their baseline
and these continued to increase throughout the day. The
control group had a peak level of 1.5 times baseline level in
the morning and this declined during the rest of their shift.
In the self-report, the high risk group felt more rushed and
irritated than the control group. They also rated their well-
being as lower than that of the control group.
· Conclusions: The repetitive, machine-paced work, which
was demanding in attention to detail and highly
mechanised, contributed to the higher stress levels in the
high-risk group.…read more

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