Sources Of Stress
The most important stressors are life events, daily hassles and work-related stressors, including environmental stressors such as overcrowding, tempreture and noise. The nature of the stress response depends on the situation. Seyle's definition does not consider adequately the different sources of stress and responses to it. Cox (1978) proposed a transactional model that described stress in terms of an interaction between the individual and their environment. Cox proposed that stress is experienced when the percieved demands of the environment are greater than the individuals percieved ability to cope.
Holmes and Rahe (1967) observed that patients often experienced several life events in the few moths before the onset of their illness, and that these life events seem to associate with the stress and bad health. They suggested that the changes associated with major life events absorb "physic energy", leaving less available for other matters such as defending against against illness.
To measure life events, Holmes and Rahe created the SRRS by examining 5000 patients and making a list of 43 life events that seemed to precede illness. 400 participants had to rate the stress of each events. Results were averaged and and used as a measure in terms of life change units (LCU). After testing SRRS, they decided it was a valid measure for all types of people. If you took the SRRS and resulted in over 300 LCUs over one year then you are at greater risk than most people at getting illnesses like heart attacks, diabetes, TB, anxiety, asthma or depression. However, the correlation between LCUs and susceptibility to any particular disease was weak and low.
Anita Delongis et al (1982) critisise life events approach. They say that frequent, smaller daily hassles are more likely to cause stress and stress-caused illnesses.
Evaluation of Hassles approach;
- Hassles and health had better correlation than life events and health
- Individual differences affect the extent which a hassle is stressful or not
- Delongis et al overlooked many chronic sources of stress like poor housing, low incomes, unsatisfying work etc. Health is probably affected by all three: hassles, chronic situations and life changes
- Khan and Patel (1996) found that older people tended to have less severe hassles than younger people
In general, these scale approaches have limited usefulness. It is not possible to identify a global set of events, large or small, to provide a dear link with subsequent stress. It may be more profitable to focus on particular hassles such as overcrowding.
Remember - daily hassles are not life events and therefore the research by Delongis et al should not be used to answer questions on life changes or events, except as means of evaluation. E.g. life events are not frequent whereas daily hassles are more involved in our life and cause higher risk of illness shown by the positive correlation in Delongis et al (1982) study,
Pressures of work and the work environment are potential workplace stressors.
Examples of these are:
- Job Insecurity