Stress and Life Changes/Daily Events

Studies about Stress and Life Changes/Daily Events that cause stress

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Social Readjustment Scale Holmes and Rahe (1967)

A: Individuals are more likely to show symptoms of illness, both physical and psychological, following periods of stress and the greater the stress, the more serious the illness

P: Examined medical records of 5000 patients. Noticed 43 major life changes in the months prior to the illness. 100 judges were told that marriage rated '500' had to rate the other events in comparison. Average of the numbers assigned to each life change was divided by ten and the amount of life stress a person experiences in a given period is measured by the total number of Life Change Units (LCUs).

F: Only 6 events, including death of spouse, were rated as more stressful than marriage. People with higher LCU scores were more likely to experince physical illness.

Co: Stress can be measured objectively as an LCU score. Stress can lead to illness. LCU scores can predict the chances of someone becoming ill, physically or mentally.

Cr: Brown: may not be change, but unexpected, uncontrollable change that's stressful. Correlation doesn't indicate causality. Very small corrleation, individidaul differences not accounted for. Nature of the health prioblem is not apparent.

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Rahe et al (1970)

A: Investigate the relationship between life events and the onset of stress related illness

P: Correlational study. Gave the SRRS to 27000 sailors to assess the number of life changes undegone in the previous six months. Detailed medical records were kept for each salior over the 6 month tour of duty. At the end, the sailors score on the Social Readjustment Scale (SRRS) was correlated with their illness score.

F: A weak correlation of +0.118 was found, as the score on the Social Readjustment Scale increased, so did their illness score.

Co: There is a relationship between life changes and physical illness.

Cr: The study was correlational, so a cause and effect could not be determined. The SRRS is a self-report technique, so socail desirability could have effected the relaibilty of the results. The study lacks population validity becasue the sample consisted of only American, navy male personel.

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De Longis (1988)

A: To investigate the relationship between daily hassles, life events and stress related illness

P: 75 married couples were given a life evetns questionnaire - the SRRS - and the hassles and uplifts scale.

F: No relationship between events and health or uplifts and health was found. They found a moderate positive correlation (+0.59) between daily hassles and immediate health issues, such as colds, sore throats and headaches.

Co: Suggests that there is a relation between the amount of daily hassles that someone has and their stress levels.

Cr: As it was a correlational study, cause and effect cannot be determined. Individual differences could have also effected results, such as susceptability to illness. Also, as all of the participants were over 45, the results are not generalisable.

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Marmot et al (1991)

A: Investiagte how job demand and job control affected stress levels

P: Sample of over 3000 civil servants working in Whitehall, London, and measured their levels of job demand and job control. Participants also filled in a questionnaire asking about their grade, sense of control, social support, etc, and had a health check to assess signs of stress-related illness. They were reassessed 5 years later.

F: There was a negative correlation between levels of job control and illness, so as levels of job control increases, illness levels decrease. Workers who had low levels of job control (their workload and type of work was decided by others, such as managers) were four times more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had high job control (they had more independence in deciding thier workload and type of work to be carried out.

Co: Those at the top of the organisatinal heirarchy, despite having higher job demands, were less likely to experience stress because they were able to control the workload.

Cr: A high degree of job control may only be beneficial to those who can handle it, people deal with stress differently. Also, cannot determine casue and effect becasue it was a correlational study. 

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Friedman and Rosenman (1974)

A: Investigate the relationship between having a type A personality and and coronary heart disease

P: Approximately 3000 men aged 30-59, living in California, were examined for signs of CHD and their personailities were assessed using a structured interview. The interview included questions about how they responded to everyday pressures. The interview was conducted with a provocative manner to try to elicit type A behaviour. Based on the responses, participants were then categorised as having type A or type B personalities.

F: After 8 1/2 years, twice as many type A participants had died of cardiovascular probelms than type B's. 12.8% of type As had experienced a heart attack compared to 6% of Bs.

Co: This suggests that type A personality is related to increased stress levels

Cr: This study only used Californinan men, which is an unrepresentative sample, therefore lacks population valididty. (Particularly as Californina men a notoriously more tense than those from other areas due to high pressures and expectations of individuals in the state of California.)

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Johanson et al (1978)

A: To investigate the effect of repetitiveness, high demand and lack of control on levels of stress at work

P: 14 high risk finishers in a Swedish sawmill, whose job was to finish the process of limber production. No control over the pace and highly demanding, high levels of concentrarion required and minimal social interaction. Higher risk of stress. Compared to 10 low stress workers, such as cleaners. Levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the urine was measured, both at work and in their free time, and number of illnesses and absences from work were recorded.

F: Those in the high risk group secreted more stress hormone on work days than rest days, had higher levels than the control group. Higher levels of stress related illness such as headaches, and higher levels of absenteeism than the low risk cleaners/maintenance staff.

Co: Repetitiveness, high demand and lack of control were linked to higher levels of stress, which increased illness and absenteeism.

Cr: Which workplace stresors were most stressful was not identified. Individual diffeences were not accounted for, it may be that people who are more vulnerable to stressors are attracted to demanding jobs with lots of responsibility.

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Kanner et al (1981)

A: Investigate how daily hassles effect a person's stress level

P: Designed a Hassles scale of 117 negative items covering all aspects of daily life and and Uplifts scale of 135 positive items. Performed a study of 100 men and women, aged 45-64 years, over a 12 month period.

F: Found that hassles are correlated with undesirable psychological symptoms and that hassles were a more powerful predictor of illness than life events. For instance, divorce creates a number of hassles, like having to cook for oneself, handling money matters and having to tell people about it. 

Co: This suggests that daily hassles intervene between critical life events and health, with the collective impact of such irritations proving harmful to health

Cr: The effects of uplifts was unclear

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Kobasa et al (1985)

A: Investigate the most important factors against stress

P: Conducted as study

F: Found that exercise, social support and having a hardy personality were the three most important protective factors against stress, of which having a hardy personality was the most significant

Co: Supports that personality factors, and hardiness in particular can modify the levels of stress expereinced by invdividuals


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