Sources of Stress - Life Changes

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  • Created by: Grace
  • Created on: 19-04-14 15:16

Holmes and Rahe

1) Holmes and Rahe assumed that both positive and negative life events involve change, and that change leads to experiencing stress.

2) To test this assumption they studied approx 5000 hospital patients' records and noted any major life events that had occured before the person became ill.

3) It wa found that patients were likely to have experienced life changes prior to becoming ill and that more serious life changes seemed to be more linked to stress and illness.

They ranked life events on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)

1) Holmes and Rahe made a list of 43 common life events and asked loads of people to give each one a score to say how stressful it was. They called the numbers that made up each score the Life Change Units (LCU). The higher this number of LCU's, the more stressful it was.

2) Then they ranked the events from most stressful to least stressful and called it the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)

3) They found a positive correlation between the likelihood of illness and the score on the SRRS - as one variable increases, so does the other. The more stress a person experienced, the more likely they are to suffer illness. 

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Rahe et al - LCU Score and Illness

Method: In a correlational study, more than 2500 American Navy seamen were given a form of the SRRS to complete just before they set sail on military duty. They had to indicate all of the events that they had experienced over the previous six months.

Results: Higher LCU scores we found to be linked to a higher incidence of illness over the next seven months.

Conclustion: The stress invilved in the changes that life events bring is linked to an increased risk of illness

Evaluation: The results are not representative of the population and can only be generalised to American Navy seamen. Also, the results son't explain individual differences in response to stress. There are also limitations associated with using correlational research. You can't assume a causal relationship between the variables - the correlation might be caused by a third unknown variable. As well as this, there are problems with using the SRRS to rank stressful events.

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