Friday, September 01, 2006

Evaluation Points You Should Know for Stress

Point 1: Compare and contrast Kanner's hassles and up-lifts measures with Holmes and Rahe's social readjustment rating scale (SRRS).

Comparisons; They both try to measure stress and both provide us with quantitative data.

Differences; measuring major life events (Holmes and Rahe) or measuring everyday events (Kanner).

Kanner argues, and has provided evidence, that measuring everyday hassles is a better predictor of stress related illness than measuring life events.

Point 2: Methodology.

Problems with fixed choice self-report measures (SRRS and/or Hassles and Uplifts). All the data is quantitative; lacks insight, lacks descriptive power. May ellicit oversimplified responses from Ps. If the participant's test-taking attitude is poor, the results will be unreliable and, more importantly, less valid.

In regards to the SRRS many of the stressors can be interpreted in many different ways. For example, the death of a spouse may vary significantly in regards to the level of stress as a life event; sudden death of a spouse will probably very stressful however the death of a spouse who had been chronically ill would probably not be half as stressful as originally thought.

Further, stressors are culturally specific and historically specific. For example, not everyone is married. Many of the life events may only be relevant to certain groups within a society and not to all, e.g. a mortgage. This means that as a measure of stress the SRRS may not be applicable to all people within a nation.

It doesn't allow us to look at how individual's cope with stress. Being fired from different jobs will present a range of different reactions; e.g. if you hated the job, you wouldn't care that much and therefore probably would not be as stressed. However, if it was a high-powered and well paid job, a lot of stress could be incurred, especially if you were fired suddenly for a questionable reason. thus individual differences are somewhat overlooked by this approach. Their method was trying to make the self report measures objective. Marriage for example, could be seen as an uplift, but on their test it is automatically marked as a stressor.

Finally some people may not be able to use such approaches to measuring stress - children are automatically excluded, and those who are introverted and may be put off by the test. Those with learning disabilities, and at the later stages of old age dementia. These all affect the usefulness of such approaches.

Point 3: Determinism

Holmes and Rahe's approach only measures one aspect of stress that might contribute to ill health. This is an example of determinism. If they wanted a better approach, they should include more variables, e.g. does the individual smoke, do they do much exercise etc. by measuring these other variables are they would gain it a more valid picture of how stressful life events affect the individual. The adoption of a deterministic approach to this topic leads us to only gaining a partial, incomplete and potentially invalid understanding of stress. Determinism in psychology in regards to stress assumes a very simplistic relationship between stressor and stress. Whereas this relationship needs to be seen as mediated through age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic factors and individual differences.

Point 4: Modernist & Post-modernistic Views.

Modernist approaches are ones which assume that laws, facts and causal relationships can be found if the correct approach is adopted. Holmes and Rahe's approach can be seen as modernist because it assumes that if an individual experiences too many critical life events in the previous year they are highly susceptible to illness. However a post modernist approach would argue that a it is only by investigating the numerous factors that contribute to stress and how they interact together in complex and unpredictable ways, would we gain a valid understanding of the experience of stress and what contributes to this experience. Kanner's work starts to address this issue with it's emphasis on the same daily event as being both a potential hassle and potential uplift.


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