Causes of stress



Geer and Maisel

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  • Created by: Amy Leech
  • Created on: 10-04-13 10:33

Johansson; Social psychological and neuroendocrine

Aim: To measure the amount of stress experienced by sawmill workers and to look for a causal relationship on work satisfaction and production.

Background: Modern production methods require constant attention to detail on monotonous repetitive production lines which have increased efficiency by requiring workers to specialise in particular tasks. However, this has led to low self-esteem and a lack of work satisfaction in the workforce, increasing stress-related illnesses.

Sample: 14 high risk workers, who cut, edged and graded the wood and a control group of 10 repair and maintenance workers. The mean age of both groups was 38.4. All were shift workers paid by piece rate based on group performance.

Method: This was a quasi experiement where the workers fell naturally into two groups.

Procedure: Work measure were collected 4 times a day through urine tests, body temperature and self-ratings of mood and alertness and consumption of caffeine and tobacco on the first or second day of the working week. These were compared to a day spent at home where workers were asked to stay up as if they were at work.

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Johansson; Social psychological and neuroendocrine

Results: Excretion of adrenaline in the urine of the high risk workers was twice as high as the baseline and continued to increase to the end of the day, while the control group peaked in the morning then declined for the rest of the day. Self-reports showed the high risk group feeling more rushed and irritated than the control group. More positive mood was reported by those doing non-repetitive tasks.

Evaluation: Good reliablity with the two methods supporting each other's findings. Good validity because it is a quasi experiment in the field. Small sample and self-report could mean problems with generalising these results to a wider sample in more interesting occupations. Situational vs. individual explanations of behaviour- are some people more stress prone or is it situationally determined? Useful to know how to improve conditions for factory workers. Moving them around the factory gives variety and therefore reduces monotony and stress.

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Kanner; Comparison of two modes of stress measurem

Aim: To compare the Daily Hassles and Uplifts scale vs. the Major Life Events scale to see if hassles were in fact the greater cause of stress.

Background: Kanner believed that it was not just the big events in life but the many smaller daily events, such as bad traffic, queuing, being left on hold on the phone that add up to making us stressed. He believed that a person can withstand a major event once in a lifetime far more easily than constant smaller ones. He also believed that uplifts such as feeling joy or good news had to be part of the picture.

Sample: 52 female and 48 men all White, who participated in a 12 month study of stress in Canada.

Methods: Each person took both the measures of stress above once a month for 9 months. They also completed the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (of stress symptoms) and the Bradburn Morale Scale of well-being towards the end of the study.

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Kanner; Comparison of two modes of stress measurem

Results: To hassles were weight, health and money, while the main upifts were good relationships with a partner and friends. Averaging over 9 months of hassles, a correlation of 0.60 was found with psychological symptoms of stress, suggesting a strong relationship. There were differenes between men and women with men showing a negative correlation (r=0.18) between uplifts and a negative mood while women showed a positive correlation (r=0.25). Hassles proved a stronger predictor of stress than life events. 

Evaluation: Ths was correlational data so shows relationships and not cause and effect. In the self-report data with scales, people may not be honest or may give social desirable answers. There could be ethnocentric bia from the all white sample. Nature/nurture could be used here because stress is a built in 'flight or fight' response which could be more efficient in some people than others, or it could be an environmental repsonse. Using both hassles and uplifts give a more realistic view of what actually happens to most people on a daily bais. Having a relaible scale is useful for doctors to quickly assess a patients stress level and compare their score to a standardised score for a normal person.

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Geer and Maisel; Evaluating the effects of the pre

Aim: Does lower stres result from being able to predict the occurrence of an unpleasant stimuli or is the lower stress related to the controlling behaviour itself?

Background: People prefer predictable rather than unpredictable averse events. By definition, people who control the termination of a stimulus can also predict its length. Therefore, people who predict when an unpleasant event is going to stop should have a lower response to it. 

Sample: 60 psychology students from NY Uni.

Method: A lab experiment involving three groups and using an independant measures design.

Procedure: The control group saw 10 pictures of victims of violent death at 60 second intervals with a warning tone ten seconds before each one. They could press a button to change the picture as they wished. The 'predictability' and 'no control' group had no button and instead were 'yoked' to the control group. The 'predictability' group were unable to terminate or control the presentation but they knew about the relationship of the warning tone to the picture so they knew it would come and how long it would last. The 'no control' group had no control and no idea how long each picture would last. The thought pictures and tones occured at random. Data was collected by heart rate monitors and galvanic skins reponse via a polygraph.

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Geer and Maisel; Evaluating the effects of the pre

Results: GSR results showed a clear difference between the prediction group and the other two with a much greater stress response to the warning tone. There was no difference in response to the photographs between the predictablity and no control groups but the control group itself showed a lower skin conductance. Therefore, being able to predict what was coming did not seen to prevent the stress response whereas being able to stop it did. Heart rate monitors malfunctioned and were not included in the analysis.

Evaluation: These images may have caused distress to participants, breaching ethical guidelines. GSR is known to be unreliable as a polygraph test and the heart rate measures were also unreliable. This was a poor reflection of 'psychology as a science' with weak generalisability and validity. It wa low in usefulness and failed to clarify the mechanism involved in prediction and control of aversive stimuli.

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