Conceptualizing stress: Stress often has negative connotations. Failure, illness, pain are often labeled as stress. Stress can also be caused by factors such as job promotions, transfers, first loves, etc.
Ivancevich and Matteson (1980) defined stress as an adaptive response mediated by individual traits or psychological processes, the result of any internal behavior, situation, or event that places particular physical or psychological demands on a person. The seminal work of Hans Selye (1974) clarified stress and introduced the concept of stress to the scientific community. As mentioned above, different psychologists have given different definitions of stress. Bourne and Ekstrand (1982) defined stress as “any state in which the body tends to mobilize its resources and utilize more of the energy it would otherwise produce”. According to Shanmugham (1981), stress is any situation that strains a person’s ability to cope.
Stress can also lead to dysregulation in the body, as the body’s internal systems change in response to stress. Some physical ailments have short-term effects, such as an upset stomach, while others have long-term effects, such as stomach ulcers. Prolonged stress can also lead to degenerative diseases of the hearing, kidneys, blood vessels, and other parts of the body. Research has revealed certain personality variables that make individuals more susceptible to stress. Certain occupations were also found to provide more stress. Lachman (1983) gave the example of intensive care unit nurses experiencing higher work stress than general duty nurses. Dharmangadan (1988) reported that police officers scored significantly higher on stress than other occupational groups. Extensive research attacks and theoretical considerations aside, the stress field lacks a comprehensive framework capable of explaining most research findings in a logical and theoretical manner (Cooper, 1983).
Several studies have attempted to identify and explore different domains and dimensions of stress. (Pestonjee, 1992, Balagangadharan and Bhagavathy, 1997). The most widely used stress assessment tools include the Recent Experience Inventory (Holmes and Rahe, 1967), the Personal Stress Assessment Scale (Kindler, 1981), and the Life Experience Survey (Sarason et al., 1979). Different methodological issues in stress assessment are discussed in Rabkin and Sterning (1986). Saracen et al. (1978) concluded that a measure of life stress should have three characteristics, a) It should include a list of events experienced by the population being surveyed. b) Respondents should be allowed to rate themselves. c) It should allow for personalized ratings of the individual impact of events experienced.
Based on the work of James (1982), Sutherland and Cooper (1990), and Pohorecky (1991), researchers identified eight stress domains to measure overall stress in individual subjects.
1. Stress as a disposition: The concept of stress as a disposition has evolved over the years in response to experimental findings, clinical observations, theory formation, and prospective validation. Friedman and Roseman (1974) observed a behavioral pattern, particularly in young CHD patients, that was later termed Type A behavior. Type A people are those who put in a relatively long-term struggle to get more and more in a shorter amount of time.
2. Household stressors: The house can be a potential stressor. Both routine and unexpected situations require individual adaptability and coping styles. Unexpected events such as relationships, marriage, communication difficulties, relocation of family members, illness or bereavement can all add to stress.
3. Occupational sources of stress: Occupation is another potential source of stress. Routine situations, such as engaging in risky work against interests. Work for low wages. Job insecurity, lack of evaluation from employers, receiving conflicting instructions from higher authorities can be stressful for anyone. Add to this the stress of losing a job, late payments, and strained relationships among co-workers.
4. Subjective assessment of the situation: The individual’s subjective assessment of the situation is important in labeling the situation as stressful. A stressful situation for one person, such as a job transfer, may be seen by another as an opportunity to meet new people and see new places.
5. Physical consequences of stress: Physical consequences such as migraines, angina, loss of appetite, constipation, respiratory problems, excessive sweating are often considered indicators of stress.
6. Psychological consequences: insomnia, nightmares, restlessness and hopelessness, anger at criticism, anxiety,
Tiredness, excessive smoking, and substance abuse can all be reflected in stress.
7. Specific patterns of coping with stress: An individual’s pattern of responses to stress is an indicator of his character. Some people show hatred and irritability in stressful situations, while others become hopeless and remorseful.
8. Engage in stress-reducing activities: In everyday life, people encounter many stress-inducing situations. The desire to escape stress, conscious or not, is evident in increased interest in sports and games, joining clubs, pets, watching movies, etc.
Based on the relevant literature and detailed discussions with experts in the field, it was planned to construct an inventory to measure stress on a five-point scale. Fifteen to 20 items were constructed for each stress area that emerged from the discussions. Maximum care has been taken to ensure that each item corresponds to the specific area it was built in, and that they do not overlap each other.
Listed items are structured as reports. Each statement relates to a situation that created or resulted in a subjective experience of stress. A total of 140 statements were built and the following precautions were taken while building the test project.
1. Each item is structured in plain Malayalam for easy understanding.
2. Careful attention is paid to keeping these programs free from social desirability factors.
3. Pay full attention to each item is closely related to stress.
4. To control for the default set of subjects, items were constructed in both positive and negative forms.
Test items were randomly assigned and applied to 50 unselected school teachers. There is no time limit for the subjects, and they are asked to read each item carefully and express their opinion according to any of the five options, “strongly agree”, “agree”, “not decided”, “disagree”, “strongly agree” no Agreed’ as the case may be. They were also asked to mention whether the statements were ambiguous or differed in meaning. The test items are checked again against the responses obtained in the trial. Statements falling into any of the following categories have been removed.
1. A statement that almost always receives a positive or negative response.
2. Highly proposed statements that elicit an “indecisive” response.
3. Statements deemed difficult or ambiguous.
Thus, out of 140 projects, 28 projects were rejected outright. The remaining 112 statements were given to psychology teachers to judge the clarity and apparent validity of each item. Based on their judgment, 11 more items were removed and the remaining 101 items were retained for final trial and item analysis.
The item analysis of the 101-item sample of 300 college students was conducted on a Liker Type 5 scale ranging from ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Undecided’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’. Each individual’s response scores are summed across 101 items. (after converting negative item scores to positive). 75 high-scoring and 75 low-scoring subjects were screened out. These two extreme groups were used to examine each discriminant index using the internal consistency criterion suggested by Likert (1932). Compute t-values to compare the mean scores on each item for the two extreme groups. All t-values are given in the appendix. Those items whose t-value was significant at the 0.01 level were kept in stock. Therefore, 66 items are selected for the final table.
To determine the reliability of the checklist, internal consistency determined by the half-and-half method was calculated based on the responses given by a sample of 50 university students. The internal consistency corrected by the Spearman-Brown formula was found to have a product moment coefficient of 0.74. To test temporal consistency, 50 college students were surveyed after 4 weeks. The test-retest correlation coefficient was found to be 0.79 and the temporal consistency was 0.88.
To determine whether the HSI is an effective tool, content validity was determined. These items were offered to five psychology teachers (as mentioned earlier) who had sufficient orientation and experience in the field. They read each item, carefully judging the level of stress each item expressed. To do this, the judges were given a form asking them to place each item into one of 5 categories, strongly agree/agree/not decided/disagree/strongly disagree. Judges were also asked to refer to such poorly worded or incomprehensible items. According to their comments, only 101 items were analyzed, of which 66 items that fully met the criteria were finally included in the list.
Dr. Hari S. Chandran, M.Phil (Psy), Ph.D, PGDPC is serving as Cons. Psychologist, Department of Death and Mental Health, St. Gregorios Mission Hospital, Palumala.Kerala dr_hari@sancharnet
Balagangadaran, A and Bhagavathy, KA, Study of Personality and Perceived Risk Factors in Coronary Heart Disease, Paper presented at Symposium on Stress and Stress Management, Department of Psychology, University of Kerala, 1997
Bourne, EL and Ekstrand, G. Psychology, London: CBS College Press, 1982
Cooper, CL, Stress Research, 1980s Issues.New York: John Wiley Press, 1983
Dharmangadan B., Stress at Work – A Comparison of Five Occupations, Psychological Research, 1988, 162-69.
Holmes.TH and Rahe, Social Adjustment Scale, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1967 (11) 211-218
Ivancevich JM and Matterson, Stress at work. Scot. Foreman, 1980.
James, CN, New York Introduction to Medical Psychology; Freedom of the Press, 1982.
Kindler, HA, Personal Stress Assessment Checklist, New York: Center for Managerial Effectiveness, 1981
Lachman. VD, Stress Management – A Nurses Handbook, New York: Grune and Stratton Inc, 1983.
Likert, R, Measuring Techniques for Attitude Scales, Archives of Psychology, New York, 1932.
Pehoreeky.LA, Stress and Alcohol Interactions, Human Research Update,
Journal of Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research 1991 (3) 438-59.
Pestonjee DM, Stress and Coping: The Indian Experience, New Delhi,
Rabkin JG and Struening. EL Life events, Stress and illness, Science 1986, 1013-020
Sarason IG, Assessing the impact of life changes on stress and anxiety (ed.)
Saracen, IG London: Hemisphere Pub.Co.1979
Selye HA, Stress Without Pain, Philadelphia: Lippincot, 1974.
Shanmugham, TE, Abnormal Psychology, New Delhi: TMH Bar. 1981 company
Sutherland.VJ and Cooper.CL, Understanding stress: A psychological perspective for health professionals, London: Chapman and Hall 1990.
Leave a Comment