Core Studies - Stress

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Aim: To investigate the psychological and physiological stress response in 2 groups of employees.

Sample: 14 high risk workers and 10 low risk workers.

Procedure: On a sawmill, 24 employees asked to give urine samples when they arrived for work and during the day (the same time that baseline results were taken) to measure their adrenaline. They were asked if they had consumed alcohol or nicotine. P's completed a self-report on mood and well-being. High risk workers had fast-paced, demanding jobs and were responsible for worker's payrate. Low risk workers were cleaners or maintenance workers. 

Findings: 1st urine sample of the high risk group was twice as much as baseline and increased. | Low risk groups' level decreased. | High risk group felt more rushed and irritated.

Conclusions: The repetative, demanding and highly mechanised work contributed to the higher stress levels of high risk group.

Criticisms: Good validity due to objective measures, low validity due to self-report, good and bad ecological validity.

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Aim: To compare the Hassles & Uplifts scale and the Berkman Life Events scale as predictors of psychological symptoms of stress.

Sample: 100 (48 male, 52 female) people from California.

Procedure: P's were sent scales in post. Completed H&U scale, Bradburn Morale scale and Hopkins Symptom Checklist scale every month for 9 months. Completed BLE scale every month for 10 months.

Findings: The top hassles were weight, money and health. | For women, the more life events reported, the more hassles and uplifts reported. | For men, life events correlated positively with hassles and negatively with uplifts. | Hassles were constant from month to month.

Conclusions: Hassles and uplifts are more powerful predictors of stress because they are daily, and therefore more frequent compared to life events.

Criticisms: Lacks reliability because some p's might lie, has reliability because all p's given the same scales, ethnocentrism may be an issue because hassles and uplifts are relevant to Americans only.

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Geer and Maisel

Aim: To see if perceived control or actual control can reduce stress reactions to aversive stimuli.

Sample: 60 undergraduates on a Psychology course. Split into 3 groups, Group 1: had actual control, could press a button when they wanted to remove picture. Group 2: saw pictures for same time as group 1 and told a tone would come before each picture. Group 3: told they would see pictures and hear tones, saw for same time as group 1+2.

Procedure: Each p was taken into a room and wired up to a GSR and heart rate monitor to collect baselines. Pictures showed up and GSR ratings were taken before, during and after tone.

Findings: Heart rate readings were invalid. | Group 2 showed most stress during tone. | Group 1 experienced least stress during pictures.

Conclusions: Having control over an unpleasant situation proves less stressful.

Criticisms: Ethical isssues. | Lacks ecological validity. | Lacks validity - objective measures.

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Holmes and Rahe

Aim: To create a method that estimates the extent to which life events are stressors.

Sample: 349 p's (179 males and 215 females) from a range of education, ethnic groups, religions and ages.

Procedure: P's had to rate 43 life events, in comparison to marriage that was randomly rated at 50. Were asked to consider how much readjustment it would take and how long this would take. P's could base it on personal experience or somebody else's.

Findings: Correlations in groups were found to be high in all groups but one; males and females, different ages, religions and education levels. But blacks and whites didn't agree.

Conclusions: Mostly normal apart from imprisonment. | Socially desirable events subject to western lifestyle. | Agreement between groups was impressive.

Criticisms: Lacks generalizability. | Reasonably valid but also not. | Ratings don't go up consistently.

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Aim: To compare SIT with standard behavioural systematic desensitisation and a control group on a waiting list.

Sample: 21 students (aged 17 to 25) were assessed before and after treatment using tests and grade averages, using the blind method.

Procedure: P's were tested on an anxiety questionnaire and IQ tests which were analysed using the Anxiety Adjective Checklist. P's allocated to SIT, systematic desensitisation or the control group whilst being matched on gender and anxiety levels. SIT: 8 therapy sessions and the 'insight approach' to help them identify their thoughts. Positive statements to say to themselves and relaxation. SBSD: 8 therapy sessions and relaxation training. Control: waiting list.

Findings: SIT improved more than others. | Difference on test between therapy groups and control. | SIT showed most improvement with anxiety.

Conclusions: SIT is an effective way of reducing exam related stress because it has a cognitive element.

Criticisms: Ungeneralisable to any other ages. | Practical applications.

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Aim: To assess the effects of social support and self-control in older adults in India.   Hypothesis: Social support and self-control will act as moderators for a positive attitude towards life and perceived control.

Sample: 300 adults (150 male, 150 female) aged 60-85 years from high-density households in Agra, India. They were university graduates and worked with the government.

Procedure: P's completed the Self-Control Schedule, the Social Support Questionnaire, the Perceived Control Scale and the Life Attitude Profile. Details collected from 900 people about age, education, income from pension, family memebers living in house and total area of house lived in in past 2 years. 300 selected and split into groups; age (old/old or young/old), self-control (high/low) and social support (high/low).

Findings: O/o reported less control than y/o. | H self-control reported more control than L. | H social support reported more control than L. | O/o had L social support and L self-control. | Y/o more positive. | H self-control and H social support more positive.

Conclusions:Social support acts as a buffer for older adults from stress and loss of control. Social support ehances old people's perceived control and negative attitudes toward life.

Criticisms: Low reliability but standardized procedure. | Subjective data.

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Aim: To see if previous research on biofeedback as a treatment for tension headaches was due to the placebo effect, or if biofeedback is an effective way of treating tension headaches.

Sample:18 people (16 females and 2 males) aged 22-44 from Colorado.

Procedure: Psychiatric and medical exams to be sure they was no other reason for headaches. Assigned to 1 of 3 groups; Group A: had biofeedback sessions with relaxation and EMG. Group B: had relaxation but only psuedo-feedback (saw a tape of someone receiving biofeedback). Group C: waiting list, still brought to the study. For 2 weeks, p's rated their headaches from 0 (mild) to 5 (severe) and filled in MMPI to test for depression, hysteria and hypochondria. A and B given 16 sessions, A taught relaxation and the 'clicks' on the biofeedback machine presented their muscle tensions. B told to focus on 'clicks' and practice relaxation at home. After 3 months, A and B given EMG, completed a questionnaire and the MMPI.

Findings: A's muscle tension lower than B. | A's reported headaches dropped. | High levels of D, H, H at beginning, all dropped at end but A's significantly. | A and B better social groups.

Conclusions: Biofeedback is an effective way of training patients to relax and reduce tension headaches.

Criticisms: Ethical issues. | Objective and subjective data. 

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