Stress in Everyday Life; Daily Hassles


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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 03-05-12 16:59

Daily Hassles

What are daily hassles?

  • irritating, frustrating, (or) distressing demand…” Experienced within everyday life. (Kanner et al, 1981) E.g. having too many things to do.
  • These daily hassles can be offset to a certain extent by more positive experiences such as daily uplifts, such as a smile from a stranger or an email from a long lost friend, and these may counteract the damaging effects of stress.
  • Daily uplifts: Are boosts that make people feel better e.g. relating well to friends, completing a task, getting enough sleep.
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Research into Daily Hassles - Kanner

  • Devised a hassles and uplifts scale, comprising of 117 negative events covering all aspects of daily life and 135 positive events.
  •  In one survey, 100 middle-aged American adults were tested over a nine month period. 
  • The top six most frequent hassles to emerge were: concerns about weight, health of a family members, rising prices, home maintenance, too many things to do and misplacing or losing things.
  • Scores on the scale have been found to correlate with developing illness such as depression and catching a cold. 
  • In addition, De Longis et al did a study comparing scores on both the hassles and uplifts scale and the SRRS, dealing with life events. 
  • The findings has been confirmed by several other studies.
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  • asked nurses to keep diaries for a month and record daily hassles and uplifts connected to the job and also to rate their own performance during this time
  • Results showed that nurses felt the uplifts usually counteracted the negative effects of their daily hassles, and also improved their performance and lowered their stress levels.

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Lazarus and colleagues devised the Hassles Scale (Kanner et al 1981) The original form had 117 items, but this could be broken down into subgroups e.g. students. They also introduced uplifts, 135 items that cheer people up, e.g. feeling healthy, getting on well with your partner.

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Other studies

  • Scores on the hassle scale correlate with levels of depression, anxiety and health problems. (Kanner et al 1981) 
  • DeLongis et al (1982) compared daily hassles with life events and found that although they both correlated with health, the relationship with hassles was stronger. 
  • Ruffin (1993) found daily hassles produced greater psychological and physical dysfunction than major life events. 
  • Gulian et al (1990) found that participants who reported a difficult day at work subsequently reported higher levels of stress on their commute home. When unresolved ‘non driving’ hassles are carried forward into the driving situation, events (such as car breakdown or actions of other road users) are more likely to be interpreted as stressful by the driver
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Other studies

Bouteyre et al (2007) established a significant relationship between daily hassles and mental health of students. 223 first year psychology students answered a questionnaire based on the Beck Depression Inventory and the Hassles Scale. 41% of students suffered from depressive symptoms, and daily hassles encountered during the first year at uni could be a significant risk factor for depression. 

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Why are they so stressful?

  • Minor Daily Stressors - These affect well-being by accumulating over a series of days to create persistent irritations
  • These irritations can result in more serious stress responses such as anxiety and depression
  • Pre-existing Stress - It was claimed daily hassles arose from pre-existing chronic stressors and so amplify the effects of that existing stressor
  • e.g. a husband struggling to come to terms with the loss of his wife might have a relatively minor issue with the washing machine which will be harder to deal with because of the pre-existing stressor
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Causality: Most of the data on daily hassles is correlational, which means we cannot establish a causal conclusion. We can only safely state that daily hassles have the potential to have adverse effects on our health

Cultural relativism: Social support is an important factor in protecting against stress. Researchers have looked at the way different ethnic groups use social support as a protection against stressors. Kim and McKenny looked at social support networks in a range of cultural groups living in America. They found that African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics all used the social support offered by significant others more than white Americans did.


Sims: found that Korean early adolescents reported having more daily hassles that contributed to maladjustment than they had social support from significant others. Therefore there is cross cultural research supporting the claim that daily hassles contribute to health and social problems

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