Measure stress

a) outline one technique to measure stress. (6) One technique used to measure stress is the social readjustment rating scale. The scale lists a number of life events which can be used to used to estimate the likelihood of a stress related illness. The social readjustment rating scale has forty two life events which range from the death of a spouse to more minor events such as a change in eating habit.

Each life event is given a value from one to one hundred based on the amount of stress it is likely to cause. A divorce for example is given a high value of seventy three wheras a change in sleeping habits is given a lesser value of fifteen. The person in question then identifies all the events that have occurred in the last twelve months noing the rating each is given. At the end the participant adds up their total score which could range from a low score such as 15 to a high score such as 400.

If the participant attains a score of more than 200 points In the last two years then they can be said to ave encountered such high levels of stress that they have a 40% chance of suffering from a stress related illness. This likelihood is increased to an alarming 70% if the participant attains a score higher than 300 points. b) Evaluate the difficulties in measuring stress. (10) In measuring stress there are like to be many difficulties encountered. One problem in measuring stress is that it is likely to be reductionist.

Reductionism is defined as suggesting that ,stress for example, is explained through a restricted nuuber of reasons. This proves to be a difficulty in measuring stress because the reasons for stress could be incredibly vast however in Kobasa’s study on hardiness for example we see just three “C’s” taken into consideration (control, commitment, challenge). Kobasa suggests that these are the reasons for people getting ill when stressed however the reasons could extend beyond this with factors such as family life having a significant influence for example.

However the reductionist approach allows a very complex area of psychology to be studied at a simpler level and allows for the isolation of ky factors which may be useful when looking at research. Measuring a persons stress level is often conducted through the use of a questionnaire, direct questions or self report (the social readjustment scale for example). This however, creates the problem of social desirability. Social desirability is the term given define the situation in which people give answers which they feel are acceptable to society and the social norm instead of an honest answer that is a true reflection of how they’re feeling.

For example participants who are asked by a researcher about personal issues such as home life or divorce (issues with a clear link to stress) may say that their home life is fine or play down the effect a divorce has had on them as they are aware that people may be judmental on such life events. The use of questionnaires does however, allo for data to be easily analysed, especially in the case of closed questions though this does somewhat limit a participants response forcing them into a particular category.

Mesauring a persons stress level could also be difficult due to the ethical implications that may be raised. This is because talking to researchers about the very things that stress people may bause them considerable stress. Ethics is the term given to guidlines which must be taken into account when conducting research with the aim of maintaining the wellbeing of participants. If for example the researcher is looking at the causes for a persons stress a participant may have to talk about emoitional events such as the deth of the spouse.

This may cause upset to the participant and so could be seen to go against ethical guidlines which explicitly express the importance of a participants well being. The breaking of ethical guidlines is however often seen as crucial if a study is to truly investigate and measure a persons level of stress. If the researcher acknowledged that raising issues such as death may provoke upset and consequently did not broach the this topic when attempting to measure stress it is likely that the measure would be a lot less accurate.

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