Stress and Life Changing Events

Stress and Life Changing Events experiments/research


Stress and Life Changing Events - Holmes and Rahe

Holmes and Rahe (1967) observed in their patients that stress and poor health seemed to be associated with certain life events. In particular those that involve change from a steady state such as getting a divorce or moving house. They claimed that these events could be positive or negative. They argued that life changing events absorb psychic energy, leaving less energy available for other matters such as physical defence against illness.
In order to investigate whether life events did have an effect on stress levels and illness, they analysed 5000 patient records and came up with 43 common life events that preceded illness. They gave each life event a score to indicate how stressful it was. They called it the Social Readjustment Rating Scale and measured the life changes in Life Changing Units.

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Stress and Life Changing Events - Rahe et al (1970

Rahe et al (1970) used the SRRS to test the hypothesis that the number of life events measured in Life Changing Units would be positively correlated with illness (which may indicate stress). This research aimed to study norm population rather than those already ill. Rahe devised a military version of the SRRS and give it to 2700 men on board 3 naval crusiers. They completed the questionnaire just before a tour of duty noting life events from the past six months. Their illness scores were recorded during the tour of duty.
Rahe found a weak positive correlation (0.118). Although this is weak, it is still significant due to the large number of participants used. This supports the hypothesis of a relationship between illness and life changes. This link could be stress.

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