Stress
HEALTH & CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
a.
b.
G543
c.
Causes of Stress
Measuring Stress
Stress Management
 What
is stress?
 What causes stress?

While the class settles down, think of as many causes
of stress as you can.

Ext: Are there different types of stress? What makes
them different?
 Clearly
there are many types of stress and
how we experience stress will vary from person
to person.
 It
is, however, useful to have a general
understanding of what we mean when we
refer to ‘stress’, psychologically speaking
DEFINING STRESS

Stress is a state of physiological or psychological
strain caused by unpleasant stimulus.

Stress can be defined as being; a pattern of
negative physiological states and psychological
responses occurring in situations where people
perceive threats to their well being which they
may be unable to meet.

Stress has 3 main elements; the stressor or
stimulus, the perception the person feels that they
are under threat and the
DEFINING STRESS
Cognitive Responses:
 Confused thought
 Emotions – anxiety, worry, depression
 Learned helplessness – little mental activity
Behavioural Responses:
 Poor co-ordination – fumbling, trembling
 Fidgeting
 Aggression
 Slow movements, lacking motivation
Can be measured through observation or selfreport methods
Psychological Response to Stress
a.
b.
c.
Workplace: Johansson
Hassles: Kanner
The Role of Control: Geer
& Meisel
1. Causes of Stress
WORKPLACE
January 2010
Describe one piece of research which considers workplace stress. (10)
Discuss problems of conducting research into the causes of stress. (15)
June 2014
Outline how work can be a cause of stress. (10)
Evaluate the use of quantitative data when researching the causes of stress. (15)
DAILY HASSLES
June 2011
Outline one piece of evidence which suggests that stress can be caused by hassles and
or life events. (10)
Evaluate the reliability of methods of measuring stress. (15)
ROLE OF CONTROL
Example
Outline one piece of evidence which suggests that stress can be caused by lack of
control. (10)
Evaluate the use of qualitative data when researching the causes of stress. (15)
a.
b.
c.
Workplace: Johansson
Hassles: Kanner
The Role of Control: Geer
& Maisel
Stress is a biological response to an external stimulus.
 The biological response is the fight or flight
mechanism where stress causes an increase in blood
pressure, a reduction in blood flow to the extremities
and an increase in adrenaline.

Background:

Activity

On your worksheet, highlight the sources of workplace
stress in each scenario

Work in 2s or 3s
Workplace scenarios
You have an overview in your textbook so annotate that or
the slides as we go through them.
WORKPLACE STRESSORS: JOHANSSON
Aim
To measure the amount of stress experienced by sawmill workers
and to look for a causal relationships on work satisfaction and
production.
Background
Modern production methods require constant attention to detail on
monotonous repetitive production lines which have increased efficiency
by requiring workers to specialise in particular tasks. However, this has
led to low self-esteem and a lack of work satisfaction in the workforce,
increasing stress-related illness.
Sample
• Swedish mill workers
• 14 high-risk workers, who cut, edged and graded wood – isolated
and highly skilled
2a. Summary Information: WORKPLACE
• Control group of 10 repair and maintenance workers – more
freedom to set the pace of their own
work/socialise
JOHANSSON,
1978
• The mean age of both groups was 38.4.
• All were shift workers paid by piece rate based on group
performance.
WORKPLACE STRESSORS: JOHANSSON
Method
Procedure
This was a quasi-experiment where the workers fell
naturally into the two groups.
• Levels of stress-related hormones were measured using
urine samples on work and rest days.
• Self-report questionnaires were also given to assess
mood, alertness and caffeine and nicotine consumption.
• Body temperature was measured at the time of the
urine sample.
• Self-rating scales were given, rating words such as
‘well-being’, ‘sleepiness’ and ‘irritation’.
• Records were kept of stress-related illnesses and
absenteeism.
These were compared to a day spent at home where
workers were asked to stay up as if they were at work.
Results
Conclusions
Excretion of adrenaline in the urine of the high-risk workers was
twice as high as the baseline and continued to increase to the
end of the day, while the control group peaked in the morning
then declined for the rest of the day.
Self-reports showed the high-risk group feeling more rushed and
irritated than the control group.
More positive mood was reported by those doing non-repetitive
tasks.
A combination of work stressors such as machine pacing,
repetitiveness and a high level of responsibility, lead to chronic
physiological arousal, leading to stress-related illnesses and
absenteeism.
Reducing work stressors can reduce illness and absenteeism.
Reliable?
YES
NO
Valid?
Self-report useful?
Sample limited?
Situational vs
dispositional
Usefulness
Psych as a Science
 Based
on what you have learnt today, how could
we improve the experience of workers?
 In
pairs, come up with an idea or concept to
improve the workplace.
Plenary task
a.
b.
c.
Workplace: Johansson
Hassles: Kanner
The Role of Control: Geer
& Maisel
Daily hassles and uplifts
In pairs, discuss for a couple of minutes what you would include
on a ‘hassles’ and ‘uplifts’ scale.
Let’s briefly clarify what we mean by this:
HASSLES: irritants—things that annoy or bother you; they can
make you upset or angry.
UPLIFTS: events that make you feel good; they can make you
joyful, glad, or satisfied.
Some hassles and uplifts occur on a fairly regular basis and
others are relatively rare.
HASSLES
UPLIFTS
DAILY HASSLES: KANNER, 1981
Aim
Background
To compare the Daily Hassles and Uplifts Scale versus
the Major Life Events Scale to see if hassles were in fact
the greater cause of stress.
Kanner believed that it was not just the big events in
life, but the many smaller daily events, in life, but the
many smaller daily events, such as bad traffic, queuing,
being left on hold on a phone that add up to make us
stressed. He believed a person can withstand a major
event once in a lifetime far more easily than constant
smaller ones. He also believed that uplifts such as
feeling joy or good news had to be part of the picture.
DAILY HASSLES: KANNER, 1981
Sample
Opportunity
52 women and 48 men all white, who
participated in a 12-month study of stress in
Canada.
DAILY HASSLES
KANNER, 1981
Each person took both the measures of stress
above once a month for 9-months. They also
completed the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist (of
stress symptoms) and the Bradburn Morale Scale
of well-being towards the end of the study.
Method/
procedure
Asked to circle the events on both scales that
they had experienced the previous month and
rate each according to severity (for the hassles)
and frequency (for the uplifts).
Each participant was tested once a month for ten
consecutive months using the two stress measures
together with another two psychometric tests for
psychological well-being
Top hassles:
• Weight
• Health
• Money
Top uplifts:
• Good relationships with partner and friends
Results
•
•
•
•
•
Participants self-reported hassles were consistent from month to
month.
For men, life events positively correlated with hassles and negatively
with uplifts.
For women, life events positive correlated with hassles and uplifts.
Hassle frequency positively correlated with psychological symptoms
on the HSCL.
Hassles proved a stronger predictor of stress than life events
Assessment of daily hassles and uplift may be a better approach to the
prediction
of stress and ill Information:
health than the life events
approach.
2b. Summary
DAILY
HASSLES
Conclusions
KANNER,
1981
Hassles contribute to psychological symptoms,
whatever life
events
happen.
Self-report?
Sample?
Longitudinal/snapshot
Ecologically valid?
Internally valid?
Reliable?
Ethics?
Determinism and freewill
Reductionism/holism
Psych as a science
Suggests that everyday
hassles (possibly beyond our
control) determine our stress
levels.
Takes into account and
investigates multiple
factors affecting stress
levels.
Self report not a reliable
or scientific measure as
may be subject to
interpretation.
 Read
the ‘model’ answer and do the following
1.
2.
Give it a mark out of 10
Suggest and write up improvements
Describe one piece of research which considers
workplace stress. (10)
EXAM PRACTICE

HOMEWORK

Outline one piece of evidence which suggests that
stress can be caused by hassles and or life events.
(10)

DUE NEXT LESSON
a.
b.
c.
Workplace: Johansson
Hassles: Kanner
The Role of Control: Geer &
Maisel
CONTROL: GEER & MAISEL, 1972
Aim
Does lower stress result from being able to predict the
occurrence of an unpleasant stimuli or is the lower
stress related to the controlling behaviour itself?
Background
People prefer predictable rather than unpredictable
averse events. By definition, people who control the
termination of a stimulus can also predict its length.
Therefore, people who can predict when an
unpleasant event is going to stop should have a lower
stress response to it.
Sample
60 psychology undergraduates from New York
University.
Here ‘control’ means in control, not a
comparison group.
CONTROL: GEER & MAISEL, 1972
Method
A laboratory experiment involving three groups and using an
independent measure design.
The ‘control’ group saw ten pictures of victims of violent death at 60second intervals with a warning tone ten seconds before each one.
They could press a button to change the picture as they wished.
The ‘predictability’ and ‘no control’ group had no button and instead were
‘yoked’ to the control group.
Joined to.
Procedure
The ‘predictability’ group were unable to terminate or control the
presentation but they knew about the relationship of the warning tone to
the picture so they know when it would come and how long it would last.
The ‘no control’ group had no control and no idea how long each picture
would last. They thought pictures and tones occurred at random. Data was
collected by heart rate monitors and galvanic skin response via a
polygraph.
GSR results showed a clear difference between the prediction
group and the other two, with a much greater stress response to
the warning tone. There was not difference in response to the
photographs between the predictability and not control groups
but the control group itself show a lower skin conductance.
Results &
Conclusions
Therefore, being able to predict what was coming did not seem
to prevent the stress response, whereas being able to stop it did.
Having control over aversive stimuli reduces its stressful impact.
Heart rate monitors malfunctioned and were not included in the
analysis.
Ethical?
Internally valid?
Reliable?
Sample limited?
Ecologically valid?
Useful?
Psychology as a
Science?
Reductionist?
 Homework
 Complete
the evaluation slide below
or on the A3 handout
 Complete
an essay plan for the
following essay:
DUE NEXT LESSON
Discuss problems of conducting research into the causes of stress. (15)
Introduction
P1
P2 (counter-argument)
P3
P4 (counter-argument)
P5
P6 (counter-argument)
Conclusion
Can each explanation explain all disorders? To what EXTENT is each explanation useful
and appropriate?