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Making sense of stress: Stress often has a negative connotation. Failure, illness, stress are often labeled as stress. Stress can also be caused by factors such as job promotions, transfers, first love, etc.
Ivancevich and Matteson (1980) defined stress as an adaptive response mediated by individual characteristics or a psychological process that results from any internal activity, situation, or event that places special physical or psychological demands on the individual. The pioneering work of Hans Selye (1974) shed light on stress and introduced the concept of stress to the scientific community. As seen above, different psychologists have given different definitions of stress. Bourne and Ekstrand (1982) define stress as “any condition in which the body tends to mobilize its resources and uses more energy than it would initially produce.” According to Shanmugham (1981), stress is any condition that burdens a person’s ability to cope.
Stress can also cause physical disorders because the body’s internal system changes to cope with the stress. Some physical disorders have short-term effects, such as an upset stomach, and others have long-term effects, such as a stomach ulcer. Long-term stress also causes degenerative diseases of hearing, kidneys, blood vessels and other parts of the body. Research has shown certain personality variables that make a person more vulnerable to stress. Certain occupations were also found to be more stressful. Lachman (1983) has given examples of nurses in intensive care units experiencing greater work stress compared to nurses in general care. Dharmangadan (1988) reported that police officers score significantly higher on stress than other occupational groups. Despite extensive research forays and theoretical reflection, the field of stress lacks an integrative framework that can logically and theoretically explain most research findings (Cooper, 1983).
Several studies have attempted to identify and examine different domains and dimensions of stress. (Pestonjee, 1992, Balagangadharan and Bhagavathy, 1997). The most widely used tools to assess stress include the Recent Experience Schedule (Holmes and Rahe, 1967), the Personal Stress Rating Inventory (Kindler, 1981), and the Life Experience Survey (Sarason et al. 1979). Various methodological issues of stress assessment are discussed in Rabkin. and Struening (1986). Sarason et al. (1978) have concluded that a measure of life stress should have three characteristics: a) It should contain a list of events experienced by the study population. b) It should allow the respondent to make their own judgments. c) It should allow individual assessment of the personal impact of the events experienced.
Based on the writings of James (1982), Sutherland and Cooper (1990), and Pohorecky (1991), the researcher identified 8 domains of stress that measure the global stress of an individual subject.
1. Stress as a predisposition: The concept of stress as a predisposition developed over many years in response to experimental findings, clinical observation, theory formulation, and prospective validation. Friedman and Roseman (1974) observed a pattern of behavior, particularly in young coronary patients, that later became known as Type A behavior. Type A people are those who engage in a relatively chronic struggle to get more and more in less time.
2. A source of stress in the family: the house can be a potential source of stress. Both ordinary and unexpected situations require an individual to adapt and cope. Interpersonal relationships, marriage, communication barriers, unexpected events such as a change of residence, illness or loss of a family member add stress to people.
3. Source of work stress: Occupation is another potential source of stress. Regular situations like taking a risky job that is against your interests. Working for low wages. Job insecurity, lack of appreciation from the employer, receiving conflicting instructions from higher authorities cause stress for every person. Along with them, job loss, late payments and strained relations between colleagues also cause stress.
4. Subjective assessment of situations: when labeling a situation as stressful, an individual’s subjective assessment of the situation is important. A situation that is very stressful for a person, such as a job transfer, can be seen as an opportunity to meet new people and see other places.
5. Somatic Effects of Stress: Somatic effects such as migraine headaches, angina pectoris, loss of appetite, constipation, breathing problems, excessive sweating are often considered indicators of stress.
6. Psychological consequences: psychological consequences such as insomnia, nightmares, irritability and hopelessness, anger at criticism, anxiety,
fatigue, excessive smoking and substance abuse can be considered to reflect stress.
7. Specific Stress Response Patterns: A person’s stress response patterns are indicators of their personality. Some people show hatred and irritability in stressful situations, while others become desperate and confess.
8. Involvement in tension reduction activities. In everyday life, people encounter many situations that cause stress. The deliberate or unconscious desire to get out of stress is evident in the increased interest in sports and games, joining clubs, raising pets, watching movies, etc.
SELECTION OF GOODS
Based on the relevant literature and a thorough discussion with experts in the field, it was planned to create an inventory to measure stress on a five-point scale. 15-20 items were compiled for each area of stress that arose during the discussion. Maximum care was taken to ensure that each unit corresponded to the specific area under which it was built and that they did not overlap each other.
The listed items were prepared in the form of statements. Each statement was related to the creation of a situation or a subjective experience of stress. A total of 140 statements were prepared and the following precautions were taken while preparing the test subjects.
1. Each unit is built in simple Malayalam language for easy understanding.
2. Careful attention was paid to ensure that the items were free of the social desirability factor.
3. Sufficient care was taken to ensure that each item was closely related to stress.
4. Items were constructed in both positive and negative forms to control subjects’ set of consent.
According to the sample
The test items were randomly placed and administered to a random sample of 50 school teachers. Subjects were not given a time limit and were asked to read each item carefully and express their opinion on any of the five alternatives: “strongly agree”, “agree”, “undecided”, “disagree” “strongly”. disagree regardless of the situation. They were also asked to mention whether the statements were vague or different in meaning. Test items were rechecked based on retest responses. A statement that fell into one of the following categories was excluded.
1. Statements that were almost always responded to either positively or negatively.
2. Statements that elicited a large number of “undecided” responses.
3. Statements deemed difficult or vague.
Thus, out of 140 items, 28 items were completely rejected. The remaining 112 statements were given to psychology teachers to rate the clarity and validity of each item. In light of their decision, a further 11 items were discarded, and the remaining 101 items were retained for final sampling and item analysis.
ANALYSIS OF THE PLACE
An analysis of 101 items of response from a sample of 300 students was conducted on a 5-point Liker scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “undecided” to “strongly disagree”. Each individual’s response score was summed over the 101 items. (After converting a negative item score to a positive one). 75 high and 75 low scoring subjects were screened out. These two extreme groups were used to test the discriminant indices of adopting Likert’s (1932) criterion of internal consistency. A t-value was calculated to compare the mean scores of the two extreme groups for each item. All t values are given in the appendices. Those items with t values significant at the 0.01 level were kept in stock. Thus, 66 items were selected for the final form.
Internal consistency determined by the split-half method was calculated from the responses of a sample of 50 students to determine the reliability of the inventory. The internal consistency moment coefficient of the product corrected by the Spearman-Brown formula was found to be 0.74. To test consistency over time, the inventory was administered 4 weeks later to the same 50 college students. The test-retest correlation coefficient was found to be 0.79 and the temporal consistency was 0.88.
To determine whether the HSI was a valid tool, content validity was determined. The items were administered to five psychology teachers (as mentioned earlier) who had adequate orientation and experience in the field. They read each article and carefully rated the level of stress they expressed. To do this, the judges were given a table in which they had to place all items in one of the following 5 categories: strongly agree/agree/undecided/disagree/disagree. Judges were also asked to mention points that were either poorly worded or difficult to understand. Based on their opinion, only 101 items were subjected to commodity analysis, and of those 66 items that fully met the criteria were eventually moved into the inventory.
Dr. Hari S.Chandran, M.Phil (Psy), Ph.D, PGDPC works as a cons. Psychologist, Department of Deaddiction & Mental Health, St. Gregorose Mission Hospital, Parumala. Kerala, dr_hari@sancharnet
Balagangadaran, A and Bhagavathy, KA, A study of personality and perceived risk factors in CHD, paper presented at the Stress and Stress Management Seminar, Department of Psychology, University of Kerala, 1997
Bourne, EL and Ekstrand, G. Psychology, London: CBS College Pub., 1982
Cooper, CL, Stress Research, Issues of the Eighties. New York: John Wiley, 1983
Dharmangadan B., Stress at work – a comparison of five occupations, Psychological Research, 1988, 162-69.
Holmes.TH and Rahe, The Social adaptation scale, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1967 (11) 211-218
Ivancevich JM and Matterson, Stress at work. a Scotsman. Woodman, 1980.
James, CN, Introduction to Medical Psychology New York; Free Press, 1982.
Kindler, HA, Personal Stress Assessment Inventory, New York: Center for Managerial Effectiveness, 1981
Lachman.VD, Stress Management – A Nursing Handbook, New York: Grune and Stratton Inc, 1983.
Likert.R, The technique of measuring attitude scales, Archives of Psychology, New York, 1932.
Pehoreeky.LA, Stress and Alcohol Interaction, 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 disease, Science 1986, 1013-020
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Sutherland.VJ and Cooper.CL, Understanding Stress: A Psychological Perspective for Health Professionals, London: Chapman and Hall 1990.
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