Friday, 15 May 2015

STRESS - Causes and Measures of stress

In this topic of stress you can use the same studies for both causes and measures of stress. This can make a big difference to your revision as you have less studies to learn :) WIN, WIN!

Johansson (cause = work, measure = combined approach)
Kanner et al (cause = hassles/life events, measure = self-report measures)
Geer and Maisel (cause = lack of control, measure = physiological measures)

Johansson (cause = work, measure = combined approach)

Work-related stress is generally caused by when the pressures or demands of a job are not suited to the employee. The daily pressures of work can consist of a lot of stressors, including responsibility, meeting deadlines, long hours, repetitiveness and lack of control. High stress can lead to both poor mental and physical health. Stress at work also costs businesses billions of pounds per year and is a common reason for sick leave from work. Thus, it's important that work as a cause of stress is considered.

Aim: To look at work as a cause of stress with Swedish Sawmill workers.

Method: It was a quasi-experiment in a field setting which compared the stress experienced by maintenance workers and piece workers.

Sample : The first part of the sample was 14 "finishers", who completed piece work. The work was repetitive, mechanised, socially isolated, complex and pressured, and so this group was given the category of "high risk". Also in the sample were 10 maintenance workers, who were deemed as "low risk" workers; they worked as technicians or cleaners.

Procedure: (combined approach measure) Psychological measures included self-reported mood and well-being, as well as nicotine consumption, whilst physiological measures consisted of urine sample to assess adrenaline levels. These measures were taken before work started (baseline measure) and at various intervals throughout the working day.

Findings: The results showed that the adrenaline levels of the high risk workers was 2x their baseline reading, and that this increased throughout the day

The low risk workers had adrenaline 1.5x their baseline reading, and this dropped throughout the day.

Thus, physiological measures suggested stress was more pronounced in the high risk group.

Self-report measures showed similar findings; the finishers (high risk group) reported being more irritable, and having lower well-being.

Conclusions: Thus, it was concluded that work which is repetitive, mechanised and paid per piece (wood work) may be more stressful than work which is paid per hour and is less pressured.

Kanner et al (cause = hassles/life events, measure = self-report measures)

The effects of daily hassles on stress are often ignored. Hassles are minor irritating inconveniences that occur on a daily basis, such as losing keys, getting stuck in traffic, or the water running cold halfway through your shower. Hassles are individual to each person, because we're not all bothered by the same things.

Psychologists believe that if you are subject to an overwhelming number of hassles, and these are not balanced by uplifts (little things that cheer you up, like listening to your favourite song or finding money in your jeans' pocket), then you're more likely to feel stressed. And, the more hassles, the more stress you'll feel.

Aim: Investigating whether hassles and uplifts or life events were better indicators of stress was.

Method: It was a longitudinal study where questionnaires were sent via post

Sample: 100 Californians

Participants were asked to record (self-report measures) their daily hassles and uplifts for nine months, and they had to complete it every month. At the end of ten months, they were asked to complete the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale to measure their life events. Psychological stress response was measured by the Bradburn Morale Scale and the Hopkins' Symptom Checklist which were also given every month for 9 months.

The findings suggested that hassles were more significantly correlated with stress response and thus were a better predictor of stress. Therefore, if someone experienced more hassles they were more stressed.

For women the more life events that a woman experienced, the more hassles and uplifts they had (positive correlation)

For men, the more life events men had experienced, the more hassles they had (positive correlation).

Interestingly, for men, the more uplifts men had the fewer the life events (negative correlation).

Typical, the more responsibility and commitment men have lead to less uplifting happiness :/

The questionnaires that were used in the study are displayed below:

Bradburn Morale Scale:

The scale is made up of two components: the positive affect and the negative affect component. Each component has 5 items. The scale asks participants if, in the past few weeks, they have felt certain emotions. The participant answers “Yes” or “No” to each question. The “No” score is subtracted from the “Yes” score to create a positive/negative affect difference score.


Positive affect questions: During the past few weeks (did you feel)…
1. Particularly excited or interested in something?
2. Proud because someone complimented you on something you had done?
3. Pleased about having accomplished something?
4. On top of the world?
5. That things were going your way?

Negative affect questions:
During the past few weeks (did you feel)…
1. So restless that you couldn't sit long in a chair?
2. Very lonely or remote from other people?
3. Bored?
4. Depressed or very unhappy?
5. Upset because someone criticized you?

Hopkins Symptom Checklist:


Below is a List of problems and complaints that people sometimes have. Please read each one carefully. After you have done so, please put a check ( ) in one of the four boxes to the right that best describes how much that problem has bothered you during the last week (7 days), including today. Check only one box for each problem and do not skip any items. Make your checks carefully. If you change your mind, erase your first mark completely. Read the example below before beginning.

1. Backaches
If the symptom is "backaches" and backaches have bothered you not at all, put a 1 = Not At All. If backaches have bothered you a little bit, put a 2 = A Little Bit. If backaches have been bothering you quite a bit, put a 3 = Quite A Bit. If backaches have been bothering you extremely, put a 4 = Extremely.

Now put a 1, 2, 3, 4 for each of the following based on how much it bothers you.

1. Headaches
2. Nervousness or shakiness inside
3. Being unable to get rid of bad thoughts or ideas
4. Faintness or dizziness
5. Loss of sexual interest or pleasure
6. Feeling critical of others
7. Bad dreams
8. Difficulty in speaking when you are excited
9. Trouble remembering things
10. Worried about sloppiness or carelessness
11. Feeling easily annoyed or irritated
12. Pains in the heart or chest
13. Itching
14. Feeling low in energy or slowed down
15. Thoughts of ending your life
16. Sweating
17. Trembling
18. Feeling confused
l9. Poor appetite
20. Crying easily
21. Feeling shy or uneasy with the apposite sex
22. A feeling of being trapped or caught
23. Suddenly scared for no reason
24. Temper outbursts you could not control
25. Constipation
26. Blaming yourself for things
27. Pains in the lower part of your back
28. Feeling blocked in getting things done
29. Feeling lonely
30. Feeling blue
31. Worrying too much about things
32. Feeling no interest in things
33. Feeling fearful
34. Your feelings being easily hurt
35. Having to ask others what you should do
36. Feeling others do not understand you or are unsympathetic
37. Feeling that people are unfriendly or dislike you
38. Having to do things very slowly to insure correctness
39. Heart pounding or racing
40. Nausea or upset stomach
41. Feeling inferior to others
42. Soreness of your muscles
43. Loose bowel movements
44. Trouble falling asleep
45. Having to check and double check what you do
46. Difficulty making decisions
47. Wanting to be alone
48. Trouble getting your breath
49. Hot or cold spells
50. Having to avoid certain things, places or activities because they frighten you
51. Your mind going blank
52. Numbness or tingling in parts of your body
53. A lump in your throat
54. Feeling hopeless about the future
55. Trouble concentrating
56. Feeling weak in parts of your body
57. Feeling tense or keyed up
58. Heavy feelings in your arms or legs

Social Readjustment Rating Scale:

To use the scale, simply add up the values for all of the listed life events that have occurred to you within the past year. If a particular event has happened to you more than once within the last 12 months, multiply the value by the number of occurrences. Enter your value total at the end of the list. The Scale Each life event is assigned a value in arbitrary “life changing units” chosen to reflect the relative amount of stress the event causes in the population studied. Stress is cumulative, so to estimate the total stress you are experiencing, add up the values corresponding to the events that have occurred in your life over the past year.
Life Event Value

Death of Spouse - 100
Divorce  - 73
Marital separation -  65
Jail term  - 63
Death of close family member - 63
Personal injury or illness  - 53
Marriage - 50
Fired at work  - 47
Marital reconciliation - 45
Retirement  - 45
Change in health of family member - 44
Pregnancy - 40
Sex difficulties  - 39
Gain of new family member  - 39
Business readjustment  - 39
Change in financial state  - 38
Death of close friend  - 37
Change to a different line of work  - 36
Change in number of arguments with spouse  - 35
Home Mortgage over $100,000*  - 31
Foreclosure or mortgage or loan - 30
Change in responsibilities at work  - 29
Son or daughter leaving home  - 29
Trouble with in-laws - 29
Outstanding personal achievement  - 28
Spouse begins or stops work  - 26
Begin or end school  - 26
Change in living conditions  - 25
Revision of personal habits  - 24
Trouble with boss  - 23
Change in work hours or conditions  - 20
Change in residence  - 20
Change in schools  - 20
Change in recreation  - 19
Change in church activities - 19
Change in social activities  - 18
Mortgage or loan of less than $100,000* - 17
Change in sleeping habits  - 16
Change in number of family reunions  - 15
Change in eating habits  - 15
Vacation  - 13
Christmas  - 12
Minor violation of the law  - 11

The Hassles and Uplifts Scale:


0 = None or not applicable
1 = Somewhat
2 = Quite a bit
3 = A great deal

DIRECTIONS: Please circle one number on the left-hand side to present how much of a hassle the item was for you today? and one number on the right-hand side to present how much of an uplift the
this item was for you today?

0 1 2 3          Your child(ren)                                                             0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Your parents or parents-in-law                                     0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Other relative(s)                                                            0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Your spouse                                                                  0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Time spent with family                                                 0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Health or well-being of a family member                     0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Sex                                                                                 0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Intimacy                                                                         0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Family-related obligations                                             0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Your friend(s)                                                                0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Fellow workers                                                              0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Clients, customers, patients, etc.                                   0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Your supervisor or employer                                         0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          The nature of your work                                                0 1 2 3
0 1 2 3          Your work load                                                              0 1 2 3

Geer and Maisel (cause = lack of control, measure = physiological measures)

The NHS has reported that one of the major causes of stress is feeling overwhelmed by a situation and thus feeling out of control. It's important to recognise the applications of this explanation, because control is a part of so many activities relating to stress, including work, life events, and hassles. It also suggests why people with physical illnesses such as cancer feel more stressed, and why we get stressed when we're not sure what's going on.

Method: The study was a laboratory experiment.

Sample: 60 students,

Procedure: The participants were made to look at photographs of dead car crash victims. The sample was split into three conditions, each with a varying amount of control.

  1. Group 1 were told the timings of the photographs so they knew when they'd appear and disappear, and they were also told how to get rid of the photographs from the screen.
  2. Group 2 knew the timings of the photos and tones, but had no control over the photos 
  3. Group 3 were unaware of timings and how to get rid of the photographs.

Stress response was measured physiologically by two measures: an ECG machine measuring heart rate (though this measurement was discarded) and through galvanic skin response, which is essentially the change in your skin's ability to conduct electricity due to an emotional response, such as fear or stress.

Results: Group 1 had the lowest stress according to the GSR, and Group 2 had the highest, suggesting that lack of control can increase stress, and that control over your environment could help to reduce stress.

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