Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Sources of Stress

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Sources of Stress

For many of us, stress is a part of our daily lives. It’s what you feel when the deadline for an assignment approaches or an exam is just around the corner. People who work, for example, feel stress when they have to complete specific tasks or struggle with the workload. Stress itself is an old mechanism that puts the body into a heightened state of reaction to cope with the situation at hand. But because of its archaic origins, it does not always do its job well (and does not always adapt well to the modern age).

So what would be some types and sources of stress?

Sources of stress are the environmental factors that trigger a stress response and affect our mental health.

These factors can be:

  • Everyday struggles inherent to our routine

  • Workplace stress includes all factors related to work, such as workload related to project deadlines.

    There are six main areas of work-related stress. These are related to demands (e.g., not being able to cope with job demands), control (e.g., someone feeling like they have no control over how they work), support (e.g., not receiving enough support), relationships (e.g., being harassed at work), role (e.g., not fully understanding what the role entails) and change (e.g., adjusting to when changes at work happen).

  • Significant life changes, such as the death of a loved one, disrupt one’s life.


Sources of Stress Stress StudySmarter

Stress, Flaticon

Types and sources of stress

Losing your job can be a source of psychological stress as it causes much social and economic distress. Another example could be having to go through a divorce can be psychological stress for many people.

Some top sources of stress are financial problems, work stress, stress from personal relationships (e.g., friends, partner, family), stress from parenting (managing a busy schedule), and daily hassles. In addition, our personality can play a part in the stress we experience; for example, perfectionists may demand too much of themselves, leading to stress.


Let us examine some of these different sources of stress.

Causes of stress: life changes


Life changes are significant events that disrupt daily routine to such an extent that the tasks automatically become more strenuous, such as getting ready for work every day. We then invest more mental energy in these minor tasks, leaving us exhausted and unable to focus on other areas of our lives.

Life changes can be positive (e.g., a marriage) and negative (e.g., a divorce) at the same time. Any type of life change requires physical and psychological adjustment; the more significant the life-changing event, the more adjustment it will require.

The Holmes and Rahe (1967): Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)

Holmes and Rahe (1967) developed a Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) based on 43 everyday life events and analysed 5000 patients. These events are referred to as life-changing units (LCU) and constitute the numbers of each score. A higher LCU means the event was more stressful.

The death of a spouse, a divorce, and school change are examples of one of the 43 everyday life events included in the list.

The scale itself is composed of these LCUs, and Holmes and Rahe ranked them according to how stressful they were reported to be. The death of a spouse would have an LCU value of 100, while a change in eating habits would have a value of 15.A total LCU score of less than 150 was associated with a healthy life. However, people who reported a total LCU value of over 150 were 30% more likely to have a disease in the next year. People with an LCU score above 300 were 50% more likely to report poor health.So we see that the more stressful life events occur in a person’s life, the more likely they are to become ill afterwards.

Life events are a group of experiences collected from the patients in the sample (400 participants) and then rated according to the degree of adjustment in their lives.

Further supportive research of the SRRS and illness

The researchers wanted to investigate the relationship between life events and disease (Rahe et al., 1970). The sample included 2500 members of the US Navy who were screened to ensure they had no common illnesses. Participants recorded the life events they had experienced in the previous six months on a questionnaire. The researchers completed an LCU rating for each participant before starting their tour of duty.

Participants were not informed about the motive of the study (blind study). During their tour of duty, each participant was to report any illness they suffered from to a health official who accompanied them on their tour of duty. At the end of their six months of service, researchers correlated their illness scores with their LCU scores. Rahe et al. found:

  • A significant and positive correlation between life events and illness.

  • Participants who had a low SRRS score (LCU) were less likely to be ill during the trip.

  • The change itself causes stress rather than the negativity or positivity of the change.

Evaluation of sources of stress: life changes

As life changes affect the vast majority, if not all members of the human population, it’s important that we evaluate the different sources of stress and the tests used to measure them.

  • Because life changes affect the vast majority, if not all, members of the human population, it is important to evaluate the sources of stress and the tests for measuring them.
  • There are individual differences in how life-changing events are measured. Some events may be stressful to one person but trivial to another. Byrne and White (1980) noted that individual participants’ interpretation of life events plays an essential role in determining whether a participant might suffer a myocardial infarction because of life-altering events.
  • Lietzen et al. (2011) confirmed the association between disease and stressful events Holmes and Rahe (1967) described. They found a high level of life changes in 160,000 participants caused them to develop asthma without any prior evidence gradually.
  • In contrast, no cause and effect relationship can be established between the co-variables (stress and life events). Studies that cite life changes as a cause of stress rely on correlational studies that cannot account for other external variables, such as diet or depression. The correlative relationship also means that we cannot scientifically prove life changes cause stress.
  • The research conducted is ethnocentric; it focuses on findings from Western cultures. The SRRS includes life-altering events that are most relevant to Western cultures. If replicated in other cultures, events such as droughts and problems in collectivist cultures could be relevant to this scale.
  • The assumption that negative and positive life-altering events cause similar levels of stress and adjustment is questionable. Turner and Wheaton (1995) suggested that adverse or negative life-altering events related to illness cause the most stress.
  • The life-altering events questionnaire relied on retrospective data that participants were required to recall themselves. Self-report techniques are unreliable due to the nature of memory, which can lead to inaccuracies.

Causes of stress: physiological sources of stress

We can also experience physiological sources of stress. This is any stress, internal or external, that affects our internal body system and disrupts homeostasis (a stable internal environment). There are three ways in which our body may experience physiological stress; these are from the environment, development, and ageing.

Environmental stress refers to anything in the environment that can disturb the body, such as extreme temperatures.

If someone was climbing an icy mountain and unfortunately got lost and stuck there, plunging the body into a freezing temperature, they would experience physiological stress from this cold.

Developmental stress is the stress the body experiences as it develops from an embryo until adulthood.

The nervous system undergoes stress due to the developing brain increasing in mass.

We can also distinguish stress from ageing. As we age, different parts of the body deteriorate, such as areas of the brain that may lose their functionality as someone grows older. Synaptic connections between other areas of the brain are also affected.

Causes of stress: daily life hassles and uplifts

Small but frequent events that produce stress and frustration characterise daily annoyance. Daily annoyances are cumulative because they occur frequently and build up. They can also cause chronic stress.Lazarus (1980) stated that daily hassles cause more stress than life changes because life changes are less frequent. Daily hassles are common, everyday struggles, such as missing a train, being late for work, getting a warning, etc.

Everyday occurrences that can cause stress are both positive and negative.

  • Negative problems are smaller, frequent events that cause stress throughout the day.

  • Positive uplifts are small, good things that counteract stress during the day.

Sources of Stress A woman having burnout from managing daily life events StudySmarter

A woman having burnout from managing daily life events, Pixabay

Research supporting daily hassles and uplifts as a cause of stress

According to some research, daily inconveniences and uplifts are a source of stress. Let us look at the studies that support this concept.

Kanner et al. (1981)

Kanner et al. (1981) developed a hassle and uplift scale. The hassle scale consisted of 117 events that included work, family, and friends. Participants had to rate the intensity of the hassles they experienced on a three-point scale. The uplift scale included 135 positive events, such as a good night’s sleep. Participants had to rate how often they experienced these events during the period.

Kanner et al. (1981) examined the relationship between daily hassles, uplifts and stress symptoms they caused. The SRRS scale served as a predictor of stress symptoms.

Methodology:

The researchers conducted the study on 100 American, white, middle-class individuals aged 45-64 years. All participants completed the SRRS questionnaire one month before the studys start and completed another SRRS questionnaire during the nine-month study. Once a month, all participants completed the hassles and uplift questionnaire and a questionnaire measuring symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Findings:

  • Researchers found a positive association between daily hassles and symptoms of stress such as depression and anxiety.

  • Researchers found a negative correlation between uplifts and stress symptoms in women but not in men.

  • Daily hassles cause more stress symptoms than life events.

Gervaise et al. (2005): Study on daily uplifts

Gervaise et al. (2005) examined the relationship between daily hassles and stress symptoms. The participants were all nurses.

  • Nurses had to keep a daily diary for one month in which they recorded their daily hassles and uplifts in their jobs.

  • They also had to rate their job performance during the month.

  • After one month, the nurses reported their uplifts counteracted the negative stress related to their daily hassles.

  • The nurses’ performance also improved.

DeLongis et al. (1988)

DeLongis et al. (1988) developed a combined hassles and uplifts scale in which they rated 53 items according to the extent to which they were either a hassle or an uplift to an individual. In addition to the scale, participants also completed a questionnaire that captured life events.

They also observed the hassles and illnesses to coincide the next day. Still, there was no association between life events and illness, suggesting the daily hassles we described above have more impact on stress and health.

Evaluation of sources of stress: daily hassles and uplift

  • Ivancevich (1986) found that daily hassles were highly related to poor health and bad work performance, which Kanner et al. (1981) and Lazarus (1980) confirmed.
  • However, research cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship. It is unclear whether everyday hassles cause people to experience stress in the form of depression or whether depression causes them to experience daily stress as more stressful.
  • The studies are ethnocentric. Social support for stress (emotional support) is still common in Western cultures. However, it may be different in other cultures. Therefore, it cannot be generalised to other cultures.
  • When someone experiences a major, life-changing event, they are more likely to receive social support; this is not the case for daily hassles, considered normal. As a result, daily hassles correlated more strongly with stress symptoms than life changes.
  • In addition, the study relies on unreliable self-reports.

Linking daily hassles and life changes

Daily life hassles

Life changes

Require minor readjustment.

Require major readjustment.

Frequently occurring events in the daily course of life.

Rarely occurring events throughout life.

Research supported by Kanner et al. (1981).

Research supported by Rahe et al. (1967).

Receives less social support.

Receives more social support.

There is no cause and effect relationship between stress and daily hassles (measured with correlation studies).

There is no cause and effect relationship between stress and life changes (measured with correlation studies).

Problems of social desirability as stress symptoms were measured through questionnaires.

Problems of social desirability as stress symptoms were measured through questionnaires.

Sources of support can be accessed in many ways. One of them is seeking professional help.

Sources of Stress - Key takeaways

  • Sources of stress are the environmental factors that trigger a stress response.

  • Sources of stress are daily hassles, life changes and workplace stress.

  • Life changes are significant life events that can disrupt the daily routine. The more stress, the more psychological adjustments are required. Holmes and Rahe (1967) developed the SRRS scale to measure major life events and their effects on stress.

  • Small but frequent events that cause stress and frustration characterise daily hassles.

  • Daily hassles are more likely to be associated with symptoms of stress than life changes.

  • Kanner et al. (1981) support the research on daily hassles, whereas Rahe et al. (1970) support the research on life changes.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sources of Stress

  • Losing your job can be a source of psychological stress as it causes us much, social and economic distress.
  • Another example could be having to go through a divorce can be psychological stress for many people.

The two main types of stress are life changes and daily hassles.

Sources of support can be accessed in many ways. One of them is seeking professional help.

Some top sources of stress are financial problems, work stress, stress from personal relationships (e.g., friends, partner, family), stress from parenting (managing a busy schedule), and daily hassles. In addition, our personality can play a part in the stress we experience; for example, perfectionists may demand too much of themselves, leading to stress.

There are six main areas of work-related stress. These are related to demands (e.g., not being able to cope with job demands), control (e.g., someone feeling like they have no control over how they work), support (e.g., not receiving enough support), relationships (e.g., being harassed at work), role (e.g., not fully understanding what the role entails) and change (e.g., adjusting to when changes at work happen).

Final Sources of Stress Quiz

Question

What are the types and sources of stress listed in the text?

Show answer

Answer

Following are the types and sources of stress described in the text:

  • Daily life struggles that we deal with, in our daily routine. 
  • Workplace stress includes all the factors that surround your work (cross-link).
  • Major life changes such as the death of a loved one may disrupt our overall life.

Show question

Question

What leads us to invest more mental energy if the source of stress is life changes?

Show answer

Answer

Life changes are significant events in our lives that may disrupt our daily routine to the extent that we need to think about how to fulfil the tasks that we normally do automatically such as getting ready for work every day. This leads us to invest more psychological energy, even in small tasks, leaving us worn out and unable to focus on other parts of our lives.

Show question

Question

______ is more significant in causing the symptoms of stress compared to life changes.


Show answer

Answer

Daily hassle

Show question

Question

Describe daily hassles as a source of stress.


Show answer

Answer

Daily hassles are characterised by small but frequently occurring events that are a source of stress and frustration.

Show question

Question

There are only negative life-changing events. Is this true or false?


Show answer

Answer

This is false. Life-changing events can be positive (eg marriage) and negative (eg divorce). A significant life-changing event will cause more stress and require more psychological readjustment.

Show question

Question

Which research supported the impact of life changes on stress?


Show answer

Answer

It was Rahe et al (1967).

Show question

Question

Who provided research in support of daily hassles as a source of stress?


Show answer

Answer

It was Kanner et al (1981).

Show question

Question

The SRRS scale was developed by which researcher?


Show answer

Answer

Rahe (1967)

Show question

Question

Why a cause and effect relationship cannot be established in research supporting daily hassles?


Show answer

Answer

It is not clear if daily hassles cause stress as depression in people or depression causes people to consider daily hassles as more stressful.

Show question

Question

Outline the research on daily uplifts by Gervaise et al (2005).


Show answer

Answer

Gervaise et al (2005)  investigated the relationship between daily hassles and stress symptoms. The participants were all nurses.

  • Nurses were asked to maintain a daily diary for a month recording the day to day hassles and uplifts they faced during their job
  • They were also asked to score their job performance during the month
  • After a month, the nurses reported that the negative stress related to their daily hassles was counteracted by the uplifts they received.
  • The performance of the nurses also improved.

Show question

Question

How was the hassles and uplift scale developed?


Show answer

Answer

  • The hassle scale consisted of 117 events that spanned over work, family and friends. The participants had to rate the intensity of the hassles they experienced on a three-point scale. 
  • The uplift scale consisted of 135 positive events that were measured such as good night sleep. The participants had to rate how often they experienced the measured events over the period.

Show question

Question

Who developed the hassles and uplift scale?


Show answer

Answer

Kanner et al (1981) developed the hassle and uplift scale.

Show question

Question

Why studies on daily hassles and uplift, provided in the text cannot be generalized to other cultures?


Show answer

Answer

The studies were carried out in western cultures, hence are ethnocentric. Social support for stress is still common in western cultures, however, it may vary in other cultures. Therefore, it cannot be generalized to other cultures.

Show question

Question

Which source of stress is more likely to receive social support in western cultures?


Show answer

Answer

Life change

Show question

Question

What is workplace stress?

Show answer

Answer

Workplace stress includes the aspects of the workplace that constitute as causing a stress response in the body, such as never-ending deadlines or an overly competitive environment (leads to increased workload).

Show question

Question

What are the physical causes of workplace stress?

Show answer

Answer

  • Noisy environment.

  • Long working hours or work overload.

  • Uncomfortable working conditions.

Show question

Question

What are the physiological causes of workplace stress?

Show answer

Answer

  • Relationship with peers.

  • Perceived control at work.

Show question

Question

Elaborate on the study by Karasek et al. (1979) about the causes of workplace stress.

Show answer

Answer

According to Karasek (1979), work-related stress elements, like work overload, can also lead to high absenteeism and stress-related illnesses. If an individual has more control over the elements of their job, they can reduce these consequences. The most stress-causing jobs have two elements: high demand and low control, whereas the least stress-causing elements are low demand but high control.

Show question

Question

Define the level of control as a source of workplace stress.

Show answer

Answer

Control is the level of freedom an individual enjoys in taking and implementing decisions independently. In many working atmospheres where, for example, the leadership is centralised (top management taking and approving decisions), employees’ freedom to make decisions is limited, and work patterns are pre-defined. 

Show question

Question

Define the degree of workload as a source of workplace stress?

Show answer

Answer

The high number of deadlines an individual has to meet in a specified time or the amount of work needing to be done (less or more) can be a source of stress.

Show question

Question

Which study supported low control and high demand related to more stress?

Show answer

Answer

Fox et al. (1993) unveiled that high demand professions, such as nurses, had little control over decision-making and had more chances of developing stress-related illnesses like high blood pressure.

Show question

Question

Which study provided support for work overload related to more stress?

Show answer

Answer

Breslow and Buell (1960) concluded in their light industry workers study, those working around 48 hours or more per week are more likely to develop heart diseases than those who worked 40 or less than in a week.

Show question

Question

What was the sample of Marmot et al. (1997)?

Show answer

Answer

10,000 British civil sector workers (male and female) in the age bracket of 35 to 55.

Show question

Question

What was the sample of Johansson et al. (1978)?

Show answer

Answer

It was a field experiment on the workers of a Swedish sawmill. They studied two groups of workers, one called the ‘finishers’ and the other the ‘cleaners’.

Show question

Question

What were the Marmot et al. (1997) study results on low control and high demand experiment?

Show answer

Answer

After five years, the researchers found that participants with a high workload had no significant likelihood of developing CHD. However, participants who perceived having little control over their job elements had an increased chance of developing a CHD at the end of the experiment.

Show question

Question

What were the results of the study on less demand and high control related to less physiological illness by Johansson et al. (1978)?

Show answer

Answer

The finishers had a high level of stress hormones even before starting their job. The cleaners had a low absenteeism rate or illnesses compared to the finishers.

Show question

Question

How did Johansson et al. check the stress hormone levels in the participants?

Show answer

Answer

Johansson et al. measured stress hormones and the adrenaline and nor-adrenaline levels through the urine tests for both the finishers and cleaners during the day, and at the time the workers were free.

Show question

Question

Provide one argument in support of work-related stress research.

Show answer

Answer

The studies have economic importance since it highlights the crucial factors of workforce management. The absenteeism rate can be controlled since it caused the most economic drainage in the UK in 2013.

Show question

Question

Provide one argument against workplace stress research.

Show answer

Answer

Including control as a source of stress might differ across cultures. Gyorkos et al. (2012) argued that workers in collectivist cultures (such as China) have less desire for control at work, making it a less significant stressor. This finding suggested that including control as a source of stress for all cultures may not be practical. 

Show question

Question

What are life changes?

Show answer

Answer

Life changes refer to significant events such as marriage, the birth of a child, and the death of a loved one.

Show question

Question

Are both positive and negative life changes a source of stress?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

What did Holmes and Rahe (1967) develop?

Show answer

Answer

A self-report questionnaire called ‘The Social Readjustment Rating Scale’ (SRRS).

Show question

Question

What were Rahe et al.’s (1970) findings?

Show answer

Answer

There was a significant positive correlation of .118 between total life changes scores and illness. This finding indicates life changes are associated with stress and illness. 

Show question

Question

What are three weaknesses of life changes as a source of stress?

Show answer

Answer

Measures of stress such as the SRRS do not consider individual circumstances to a life change, which weakens the validity of the link between life changes and stress. Research into the effects of life changes on stress is only correlational. Positive and negative life changes are considered equally impactful; however, there is research that people consider negative life changes as being more stressful.

Show question

Question

What are daily hassles?

Show answer

Answer

Minor but frequent events causing stress, such as bus delays, marriage arguments.

Show question

Question

Did Lazarus (1980) propose daily hassles to be a bigger source of stress than life changes?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, Lazarus (1980) suggested that daily hassles are a greater source of stress than life events because they happen frequently, whilst life events are rare.

Show question

Question

According to Lazarus (1980), what are the two appraisals a person goes through when encountering daily hassles?

Show answer

Answer

The first is ‘primary appraisal’, i.e., when someone considers how threatening a situation is to their well-being. If a situation is deemed threatening, then ‘secondary appraisal’ is engaged when the person considers if they can cope with the situation.  

Show question

Question

What is the link between life changes and daily hassles?

Show answer

Answer

If someone is experiencing or has recently experienced a life event, the effect of daily hassles will increase.

Show question

Question

Are life changes a direct (proximal) or indirect (distal) source of stress?

Show answer

Answer

Indirect (distal).

Show question

Question

What were the Kanner et al. (1981) findings?

Show answer

Answer

They found significant positive correlations between the frequency of daily hassles and psychological symptoms. Daily hassles were a much better predictor of stress compared to life changes.

Show question

Question

Why is asking participants to recall what daily hassles they experienced a weakness?

Show answer

Answer

As hassles are quite little events, they may often be forgotten or misremembered, which questions the validity and reliability of the research into the link between daily hassles and stress.

Show question

Question

What was the scale that Homes and Rahe invented to measure the connection between life events and sickness called?

Show answer

Answer

The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)

Show question

Question

How many life events were listed on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale? 

Show answer

Answer

43 life events

Show question

Question

If a person's total Life Changing Unit was more than 300, what percentage was considered their chances of developing a stress-related illness?

Show answer

Answer

an 80% chance 

Show question

Question

What number was the positive correlation between the illness score and the Life Changing Units in Rahe's empirical study?

Show answer

Answer

+0.0118

Show question

Question

What does the small correlative number in the Rahe et al (1970) study indicate?

Show answer

Answer

That there was an error in calculation 

Show question

Question

Why can the Rahe et al (1970) study be considered correlational?

Show answer

Answer

Because it focused on the relationship between only two variables: the illness score and the Life Changing Unit.

Show question

Question

How does Holmes and Rahe's 1967 study fail to account for individual circumstance?

Show answer

Answer

Because it does not measure the level of disruption caused by the life event for that specific individual.

Show question

Question

Why are coping mechanisms an important differentiating factor?

Show answer

Answer

Those who resort to healthy coping mechanisms after a life event may be less likely to develop a stress-related illness.

Show question

Question

Which psychologists found that unwanted life events caused a higher majority of stress than positive ones?

Show answer

Answer

Turner and Wheaton.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Sources of Stress quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.