Exam Stress (Kiecolt Glaser et al, 1984)

revision cards on stress from exams

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Aim

To investigate the effect of exam stress upon the immune system. 

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Procedure

Blood samples of 75 first year medical students taken. (1 month before first exam and on the day of first exam) 

  • Level of killer T cells measured. 
  • Questionnaires filled in to measure psychological factors, such as social support and life events
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Results

Fewer killer T cells found in the second sample than the first, especially when students reported loneliness and high numbers of life events

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Conclusion

Even short-term exam stress can become damaging to health, especially when experiencing other stressors

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Evaluation

  • A natural experiment - high ecological validity.
  • Cause and effect cannot be established 
  • Measuring killer T cells is objective - investigator effects are not a problem 


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Evaluation 2

  • All participants were students, so results may not be generalisable
  • HOWEVER, other studies have shown the same effects with different population groups. 
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