Research regarding with stress_ Unfinished_

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                                  Theoretical Background

       A well known phenomenon that has long been of concern in the world of students

is stress. It’s a well known fact by now that stress is not good for the body. Two

contradicting theories presented the factors that would possibly cause stress. In Hans

Selye’s “stress- adaption syndrome” (1970’s) theory, He characterized stress reaction in

three stages. First stage is the alarm stage which is triggered by a threatening event or

situation. It is a short term reaction however, should the threat not end the reaction stage

is entered. Second stage is the Exhaustion stage which left the body susceptible to illness,

fatigue and injury due to this state of exhaustion. The last stage is the resistant stage

which is the adaptive efforts by the body to cope with or resolve stressor. Hans Selye’s

theory gives us a good look at just how damaging stress could be and it also shows that

stress is caused by the changes in our life events. In the other hand Clifford Lazarus’s

Cognitive theory of stress was subjective and that the levels of stress were influenced by

the way in which people view their situation (Malucci, 2004). Richard Dienstbier (1989)

Physiological toughening model of stress states that if intermittent stressor is viewed as a

challenge, it may improve one’s physiological resistance to stress.

                               Review of Related Literature

         According to psychiatrists Richard Rahe and Thomas Holmes there is a way to

measure how much stress you have experienced in the past year and the potential impact

of that stress on your physical and mental health and the tool use to measure stress is

called ”rahe-holmes Scale”(SRRS) and The researchers used this kind of scale in thier


Here’s the story of how the SRRS came into being. At the University of Washington

School of Medicine, first and second year students could apply for a small research grant

to work within a department of their choice during summer vacation. Rahe’s first

summer he worked with Robert Rushmer, a noted cardiovascular researcher. The second

summer was spent in psychiatry with Thomas Holmes. He first suggested that he will

review all the life changes and illness papers coming from the Department of Psychiatry.

Rahe did so and wrote a review article, where, among other issues, He pointed out that in

many of these articles, recent life changes were measured differently. Most often, simple

counts of the number of changes were used, but none of the methods differentiated

between severe life changes, like death of a spouse, from minor changes, such as a


On Rahe’s Psychiatry rotation as a third year student, Dr. Holmes and he had attended a

presentation by Eugene Galanter, PhD, on scaling the severities of juvenile crimes using

a proportionate scaling technique devised by his mentor, E.E. Stevens. On the way back

from the talk, Dr. Holmes speculated that this scaling method might be an answer to hsi

review article critique. All Tom needed to do was to suggest this possibility and Rahe

quickly volunteered to conduct such a scaling study. It took two years to collect all the

data from over 400 subjects of differing ages, gender, education, race, and social status.

Rahe did the first analyses of these data by sorting questionnaires into various

demographic groups on the living room floor of his apartment. Later on, He obtained

funding for a computer scientist to collate all this information. He finally submitted the

report in a publishable form at the end of his fourth year of medical school. Although

Tom assiduously edited his drafts, he always left the work to him. Rahe later discovered

he had done the same with a sociologist graduate student who studied life changes in

patients prior to the onset of tuberculosis. This common academic practice ultimately led

many peer reviewed journal editors to begin requiring authors to specify their individual

contributions to a submitted manuscript.

          According to a high school psychology textbook, stress is “a particular pattern

of disturbing psychological reactions that occur when an environment event threatens

important motives and taxes one's ability to cope." (OPPAPERS,2010) In plain English,

stress is the "wear and tear" our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually

changing environment. However, not all stress is bad. Some stress is good. In fact,

everyone needs stress in his or her lives, because without it, life would be dull and

unexciting. Stress adds flavor, challenge and opportunity to life. Stress can pump you up,

give you energy, or supply that zest for living. Stress is an unavoidable part of


The challenges caused by stress help to develop new skills and behavior patterns. The

problems occur; however, when stress becomes excessive. It can become destructive and

can turn into distress. Too much stress on your mind and body can make you feel

miserable, worried, sad and ill. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not the pressure from

the outside, such as divorce, death, burned supper, vacation that didn't seem like one, and

isolation. Those are simply the stressors, causes to the stress, but your response to those

situations constitutes the actual stress.

Teenagers face a specific kind of stress. It could be problems at home, with parents, with

siblings, an alcoholic parent, divorce, or it could be problems at school, pressure from

your teachers, pressure from your friends, or pressure from your parents to do well.

Teenagers may also suffer from the high competition for jobs out in the "real world."

There is a sense of the feeling there are no jobs out there that are right for the individual

teenager. Financial pressures will start to build up around this time. Part time work is

scarce and parents don't have as much money as they did when the teenager was younger.

Educational choices are another stress that teenagers come in contact with.

        In Hans Selye’s view he described stress as the nonspecific response of the body

to any demand, whether it is caused by, or results in, pleasant or unpleasant conditions.

Selye identified three stages of adaptation which a person goes through in his General

Adaptation Syndrome in 1936. They are: 1. Alarm 2.Resistance 3. Exhaustion. Alarm

stage - Your first reaction to stress recognizes there’s a danger and prepares to deal with

the threat, a.k.a. the fight or flight response. Activation of the HPA axis, the nervous

system (SNS) and the adrenal glands take place. During this phase the main stress

hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, is released to provide instant energy.

If this energy is repeatedly not used by physical activity, it can become harmful. Too

much adrenaline results in a surge of blood pressure that can damage blood vessels of

the heart and brain – a risk factor in heart attack and stroke. The excess production of

the cortisol hormone can cause damage to cells and muscle tissues. Stress related

disorders and disease from cortisol include cardiovascular conditions, stroke, gastric

ulcers, and high blood sugar levels. At this stage everything is working as it should – you

have a stressful event, your body alarms you with a sudden jolt of hormonal changes,

and you are now immediately equipped with enough energy to handle it.

Resistance Stage - The body shifts into this second phase with the source of stress being

possibly resolved. Homeostasis begins restoring balance and a period of recovery for

repair and renewal takes place. Stress hormone levels may return to normal but you

may have reduced defenses and adaptive energy left. If a stressful condition persists,

your body adapts by a continued effort in resistance and remains in a state of arousal.

Problems begin to manifest when you find yourself repeating this process too often with

little or no recovery. Ultimately this moves you into the final stage.

Exhaustion Stage - At this phase, the stress has continued for some time. Your body’s

ability to resist is lost because its adaptation energy supply is gone. Often referred to as

overload, burnout, adrenal fatigue, maladaptation or dysfunction – Here is where stress

levels go up and stay up! The adaptation process is over and not surprisingly; this stage

of the general adaptation syndrome is the most hazardous to your health. Chronic stress

can damage nerve cells in tissues and organs. Particularly vulnerable is the hippocampus

section of the brain. Thinking and memory are likely to become impaired, with tendency

toward anxiety and depression. There can also be adverse function of the autonomic

nervous system that contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, rheumatoid

arthritis, and other stress related illness.

Hans Selye distinguished between distress and eustress. Both distress and eustress

result in the activation of the General Adaptation Syndrome. However Selye noticed that

changes we feel upset about (distress) cause much more biological damage than

changes we feel good about (eustress). Selye understood that “how you take it”

determines, ultimately, whether you can adapt successfully to change. Acceptance of

change reduces the impact of stress. Thus one could say that increasing our levels of

emotional acceptance about a situation helps us adapt to change and reduces the

damage of stress. If we realize stress is our response to circumstances and events in our

life then reducing stress is possible.

        As a graduate student of psychology, Arnold Allan Lazarus and Clifford Lazarus

developed their first theory based on behavioral psychology which they have expanded

into their cognitive behavioral theory then later lengthened into a multi-faceted

psychotherapy or also known as multimodal theory. In recent years, Arnold Allan

Lazarus held numerous professional positions and won many honors including the

distinguished service award of yje american board of Professional Psychology in 19982

and the distinguished Psychologist Award of the division of Psychotheraphy of the

American Psychological Association(APA) in 1992. On the other hand Clifford Lazarus

became a licensed psychologist and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition

to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and

neuropsychology.Clifford Lazarus once said that stress was subjective and that the levels

of stress were influenced by the way in which people view their situation (Melucci,


Statement of the Problem

         The purpose of this study is to know whether the corresponding life events would

lead the first year students to be stress.

Statement of the hypothesis

         Not all life events are considered as a stressor in a 1 st year psychology student.

Significance of the study

               The study aims to benefit those individuals by giving them an overview on

what may cause them stress, specifically when life situation changes. And this overview,

individuals may be able to assess themselves to prevent it to be a stressor in their lives


Research Design

       In this study the researchers used descriptive survey design. The primary tool

used in gathering data and information related to the study involve the usage of Rahe and

Holmes scale. The researchers also conducted a focused group discussion (FGD) to

further supplement the data gathered. They were asked questions to clarify their

responses from the given survey.

Research Environment

        The study was conducted in Talamban Cebu. In particular, the researchers

focused on those respondents who are studying in a particular school, USC-TC, which is

located in Nasipit Talamban Cebu City. The study was conducted in one of the classroom

of the said school. The school is administered by the Scientia Virtus Devotio (SVD) with

the policies and standards by the department of education.

Research Respondents

        The researchers selected 65 first year psychology students, 53 females and 12

males aging from 16 to 19 to answer the survey questions.

Research Instrument

        The researchers made use of the Rahe and Holmes scale. The respondents were

given a 50 item open minded questionnaire that will determine the stressors in their

college life.

        Each item pertains to the different life events that might be a stressor in one’s

college life and that would support the Hans Selye’s adaption syndrome theory.

Questions from the first part down to the last part of the questionnaire aims on assessing

the respondents view on stressor. After gathering all data we read all their responses and

tallied it. We categorized all traits based from their answer which was supplemented by

the FGD.

Research Procedure

        Gathering of Data. 65 respondents were chosen to answer the survey

questionnaires. Each respondent had presented an informed consent saying that he or she

approved to be our subject to our survey. The respondents, after handing over to us their

informed consent, was informed by giving careful explanations about the topic and the

instructions on how to go about the process. Retrieval of the questionnaires was done

after the respondents answered the test. Data collection was done through tallying from

the life events that the respondents chose. The researchers also conducted a Focused

Group Discussion (FGD) to further supplement the data gathered. The researchers asked

several questions to explain the respondent’s choice of life events. The respondents

answer would result to Hans Selye’s stress adaption syndrome.

        Treatment of Data. The results of the survey questionnaires were gathered for the

purpose of knowing what life events would cause or would lead the first year students to

stress. Responses from each life events were noted, tallied and tabulated. The design of

the study is only to assess the student’s life events.

Definition of Terms

Distress – is a kind of suffering wherein an individual cannot adapt to stress.

Eustress- is a healthy stress or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings.

It is also a process of exploring potential gains

Stress adaptation syndrome - Responses to stress through psychological coping such as

stress management, anxiety, and depression. Over the long term, distress can lead to

diminished health and/or increased propensity to illness; to avoid this, stress must be


Rheumatoid arthritis - is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many

tissues and organs, but principally attacks the joints producing an inflammatory synovitis

that often progresses to destruction of the articular cartilage and alkalosis of the joints.

Cortisol - usually referred to as the "stress hormone" as it is involved in response to stress

and anxiety its primary function is to increase blood sugar and stores of sugar in the liver

as glycogen, and also suppresses the immune system.

                                        CHAPTER 2

                       Presentation, interpretation and analysis of data

          This chapter presents and analyzes data gathered from the survey made to 65 first

year psychology students.

Table 1

Female’s point of view

               Life Events                            f                         %

failure of a grade in school                         40                      75.47%

Death of parent                       37   69.81%

Change in parent’s financial status   33   62.26%

Suspension from school                33   62.26%

Serious illness requiring             33   62.26%


Death of a close friend               33   62.26%

Becoming involved with drugs or       32   60.38%


Increase in arguments between         32   60.38%


Loss of job by parent                 31   58.49%

Death of a brother or sister          30   56.60%

Hospitalization of a parent           29   54.72%

Jail sentence of a parent of parent   29   54.72%

over one year

Breaking up with boyfriend or         28   52.83%


Increased absences of parent from     28   52.83%


Divorce of parents                    27   50.94%

Marital separation of parents         27   50.94%

Change in acceptance by peers         27   50.94%

Unwed pregnancy                       25   47.17%

Jail sentence of parent for over 30     25   47.17%


Hospitalization of a sibling            24   45.28%

Getting married                         23   43.40%

Acquiring visible deformity             20   37.74%

Having a visible congenital deformity   18   33.96%

Death of a brother or sister            16   30.19%

Not making an extracurricular           15   28.30%


Discovery of being an adopted child     12   22.64%

Marriage of parent stepparent           11   20.75%

Pregnancy of unwed sister               10   18.87%

Fathering an unwed pregnancy            8    15.09%

Addition of third adult to family       8    15.09%

Outstanding personal achievement        7    13.20%

Decrease in argument with parents       7    13.20%

Beginning to date                       6    11.32%

Others                                  6    11.32%

Becoming a full fledged member of a     5    9.43%


Decreased in arguments between          4    7.55%


Accepted at college of choice                        4                      7.55%

Being a senior in highschool                         4                      7.55%

Birth of a brother or sister                         2                      3.77%

Mother or father beginning work                      0                        0%

        The first table shows that failure of a grade is considered as the major stressor to

female Psychology students since mothers held higher educational aspirations for their

children and furthermore, most daughters tend to achieve higher grades in school.

According to the respondents having failure of a grade means having an uncomfortable

life ahead. This is because having a good grade is important predictor of a good future.

When grades come out, this may probably cause stress to students but most people

really finds a way to resist this kind of stressful event. In Hans Selye’s Theory he says

your body alarms you with a sudden jolt of hormonal changes, and you are now

immediately equipped with enough energy to handle it. From then you can be in

resistance stage in which your body shifts into the second phase with the source of

stress being possibly resolved. But in some ways the energy supply may be gone and

your body’s ability to resist is also gone. Often offered as overload which cause stress

levels to go up and stay up. And the Life event that has the lowest percentage is the

Father mother beginning to work. Possible reasons are girls now a day is not so

dependent on their parents, can do things in their own way, can take care of themselves

and a mother’s employment status and occupation tends to be a good predictor of the

outcome of the working mother’s daughter, since daughters tend to follow in their

mother’s footsteps.

              Life Events                          F                        %

Failure of a grade in school                       12                     100%

Divorce of parents                                 10                    83.33%

Fathering an unwed pregnancy                       10                    83.33%

Becoming involved with drugs or                    10                    83.33%


Marital separation of parents                      10                    83.33%

Death of a brother or sister                       10                    83.33%

Suspension from school                             10                    83.33%

Loss of job by parent                              10                    83.33%

Death of parent                                    9                      75%

Death of a close friend                            9                      75%

Serious illness requiring hospitalization          9                      75%

Unwed pregnancy                                    8                     66.67%

Hospitalization of a sibling                       8                     66.67%

Change in acceptance by peers                      7                     58.33%

Jail sentence of a parent over one year            6                      50%

                                                   6                      50%

Breaking up with boyfriend of                            5                       41.67%


Increased absences of parent from                        5                       41.67%


Pregnancy of unwed sister                                5                       41.67%

Getting married                                          4                       33.33%

Discovery of being an adopted child                      4                       33.33%

Others                                                   4                       33.33%

Brother or sister leaving home                           2                       16.67%

Being a senior in highschool                             2                       16.67%

Having a visible congenital deformity                    2                       16.67%

Acquiring visible conformity                             2                       16.67%

Not making an extracurricular activity                   1                        8.33%

Beginning to date                                        1                        8.33%

Change in parent’s financial staus                       1                        8.33%

Accepted at college of choice                            1                        8.33%

Addition of third adult in the family                    1                        8.33%

Becoming a full fledged member of a                      1                        8.33%


Mother or father beginning work                          1                        8.33%

         In Table 2, the highest percentage among the male responses that would probably

lead them to be stress is still failure of a grade. Notice that there is a big decrease of the

numbers presented, this is due to the limited number of male respondents that we had.

We can see that both male and female consider failure of a grade as a stressor in their

college life. According to the respondents they perceived this kind of life event as a

somewhat hindrance for their future, and other respondents say it could also ruin their

life. But other says that this could also be challenge in their college life to have a goal. In

Clifford Lazarus Cognitive theory, stress was subjective and that the levels of stress were

influenced by the way in which people view their situation. If one can practice a positive

attitude towards all of the problems facing them, then it makes all of the difference. In

this way you can resist stress in this kind of life event. The life event which is the Father

and mother beginning to work has the lowest percentage of being a stressor. Possible

reasons are males are negatively affected when their parents work and males with

working parents showed better social and personal skills than those of non-working


Table 4

Top 10 life events for male respondents

          Life events                         f                            %

Failure of a grade in school                  52                          80%

Divorce of parents                            46                        70.77%

Fathering an unwed                            43                        66.15%


Becoming involved in drugs                    42                         64.62

or alcohol

Marital separation of                         10


Death of a brother or sister                  10

Suspension from school                        10

Loss of a job                                 10

Death of parent                               9

Serious illness                               9

Table 4 shows us the top 10 highest ranked life events for the male respondents, unlike

the female respondents the male’s point of view is different because for them these

certain life events would put their family in shame and would ruin their family. For the

male respondents they want a united family and they don’t want to do anything that

would ruin it.

Table 3

Result of the survey (both male and female)

Life Events                    f      %

Failure of grade in school     52    80%

Death of parent                46   70.77%

Suspension from school         43   66.15%

Becoming involved with         42   64.62%

drugs or alcohol

Death of a close friend        42   64.62%

Serious illness requiring      42   64.62%


Loss of job by parent          41   63.08%

Increase argument between      40   61.54%


Death of a brother or sister   40   61.54%

Divorce of parents             37   56.92%

Marital separations of         37   56.92%


Jail sentence of parent over   35   53.85%

one year

Hospitalization of a sibling   35   53.85%

Change in parent’s financial   34   52.31%


Change in acceptance by        34   52.32%


Breaking up with boyfriend     33   50.77%

or girlfriend

Unwed pregnancy                33   50.77%

Increase absence of parent     33   50.77%

from home

Hospitalization of a parent    32   49.23%

Jail sentence of parents for   31   47.69%

30 days

Getting married                27   41.54%

Acquiring a visible            22   33.85%


Fathering an unwed             20   30.77%


Having a visible congenital    20   30.77%


Discovery of being an          19   29.23%

adopted child

Brother or sister leaving      18   27.68%


Pregnancy of unwed sister      16   24.62%

Marriage of parent             16   24.62%


Not making an                  16   24.62%

extracurricular activity

Others                         10   15.38%

Addition of third adult to     9    13.85%


Beginning to date              8    12.31%

Outstanding personal           8    12.31%


Decrease in arguments with     7    11.11%


Becoming a full fledged        6    9.23%

member of a church

Being a senior in high         6    9.23%


Accepted at college of         5    7.69%


Decrease in argument           4    6.15%

between parents

Birth of a brother or sister   2    3.08%

Mother of father beginning     1    1.54%

to work

       Table 3 shows the result of the survey questions for both male and female. And as

a result both sexes viewed Failure of a grade as a major stressor in their life. In Clifford

Lazarus theory it says that stress depends on how you view the situation. According to

some respondents they could manage the situation but some says they can’t. The ability

to handle stress was equally important, the survey found. Those who said they could

effectively manage it performed much better than those who said they couldn't. That's an

important finding and the lowest percentage among the responses that they considered as

a less stressful event is the father and mother beginning to work. According to the

respondents working parents are in a good position to prepare that kind of lifestyle.

Healthy family dynamics including responsibility, team work and sharing are more easily

adopted when they are already familiar.

                                            CHAPTER 3

                           Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation


       The study was conducted to know what certain life events cause stress. Their

response clearly manifested how they view on such changing events.

        A ready-made questionnaire was used to asses the adolescents who were selected

from the University of San Carlos particularly 65 1 st year Psychology students. Their

responses were evaluated while their score were tallied and tabulated according to their

point of view.

        The result shows that there are different life events that cause stress and it

depends on how they view it, its either positively or negatively.


   Teenagers face a specific kind of stress. It could be problems at home, with parents,

with siblings, an alcoholic parent, divorce, or it could be problems at school, pressure

from your teachers, pressure from your friends, or pressure from your parents to do well.

Stress may help develop new skills and behavior patterns. But it can be destructive and

can turn into distress if it is too much it is where the problem occurs. However, not all

stress is bad. Some stress is good. In fact, everyone needs stress in his or her lives,

because without it, life would be dull and unexciting. Stress adds flavor, challenge and

opportunity to life. Stress can pump you up, give you energy, or supply that zest for

living. Stress is an unavoidable part of life.

        It has been extracted from the study that the major stressors that cause discomfort

depend on how they dwell with the situation and how they cope up on it. Respondents

view stress as a phenomenon that everyone is concerned.


        The study was intended to benefit 1 st year students who are not aware of the

different life changes that lead them to stress. Based on the findings of our study, it is

recommended that young adolescents nowadays be informed that life situations may

cause stress so that they may able to lessen the impact of the stress brought by the

changing of life events.

       For studies aimed to replicate this research, it is recommended to increase the

number of respondents as to provide greater representation from the target population. It

is also recommended that future researchers must use another stress scale available.



Appendix A

  Appendix B

Informed Consent

                               Appendix C

                  Important points during the discussion

o One of the most common factors influencing stress is failing in a major


o The respondents view stress as a hassle thing in life.

o Stress may cause different illnesses that could hinder one’s daily


o Being aware of the real world may lessen your burdens when stress


o According to the respondents, stress may change your moods, the way you

   think, you act and handle things.

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