Stress in Everyday Life; Life changes

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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 01-05-12 15:34

Life changes

What are life changes? - Events that create a major transition in some aspect of our lives

Why are we studying this?-  Change causes us to adjust our lives. We assume that adjustment of our lives causes stress, and so the more adjustment needed, the more stress we experience.

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The Social Readjustment Rating Scale

The SRRS was developed by Holmes & Rahe

Examples of Life Events on the SRRS & their LCU (Life Change Units):

  • Death of a spouse - 100 
  • Sex difficulties - 39
  • Personal injury or illness - 53

Score over 50: 50% increased chance of stress related illness

Score over 150: 30% increased chance of stress related illness

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Evaluation of the SRRS

The scale takes no account of individual differences:

  • Ignores that we all respond differently to life events
  • E.g. Christmas: stressful for adults, fun for children

No account is taken of whether the emotional impact of the event is positive or negative:

  • The event could be postive; perhaps it is not as stressful or the same kind of stress as a negative event
  • Examples: Pregnancy, Marriage, Outstanding personal achievement

Retrospective self report of life events over the previous year can be unreliable:

  • Make mistakes, forget things or exaggerate
  • Social desirability bias
  • Raphael et al - asked people several times to complete the SRRS several times to complete the life event scale over a number of weeks and found variability in their account 
  • Thus not a reliable method (cannot repeat and get the same results)
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Evaluation cont.

The link with illness is correlational:

  • Unclear cause and effect
  • Stress = illness or illness=stress
  • Brown - people with high anxiety would be more likely to report negative life events more prone to illness
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Aim: To find out if the scores and the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale correlated with the subsequent onset of illness


  • 2500 male American soldiers were given the SRRS to assess how many life events they had experienced in the last 6 months
  • The total score on the SRRS - Life Change Score -was recorded for each participant
  • Then over the following 6 month tour duty, detailed records were kepts of each sailor's health status
  • Life change Scores were correlated with the sailor's illness scores
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What were the findings?: 

  • There was a positive correlation of +0.118 between Life Change Scores and illness scores
  • Although the positive correlation was small (a perfect positive correlation would be 1) it did indicate that there was a meaningful relationship between LCUs and health (this is often referred to as a statistically significant correlation)

What do these findings suggest?:

  • The researchers concluded that as LCUs were positively correlated with illness scores, experiencing life events increases the chances of stress-related health breakdown
  • Since the correlation was not perfect, life events cannot be the only factor contributing to illness
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  • A correlation does not imply causality or the direction of any effect; depression or anxiety may not be caused by life events, since depressed or anxious people may bring about life events, such as separation or divorce.
  • The sample was restricted to male US Navy personnel; therefore, it was both ethnocentric and androcentric. This reduces the validity of the study and makes it difficult to generalise to other populations
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Studies supporting the SRRS

Gupta: The more severe the condition, the higher the score on the SRRS

Mendendes Villava et al: People with a LCU of more than 150 showed a significant increase in blood pressure

Weaknesses of the SRRS:

Vidal et al: Tested patients with Inflammatory Bowl Disease in remission - gave them SRRS - all those that relapsed had scored low on the SRRS; there was no relationship.

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im probs still gonna fail


Rob wrote:

im probs still gonna fail

Haha same :) Not finished with this set atm; I'm getting on to it though :)

subina begum

psychology exam on the 29th not ready for it

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