Exploring Psychology: Applying Psychology (Exploring by Helen L. Westcott, Nicky Brace

By Helen L. Westcott, Nicky Brace

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Finally, there is a fundamental question about what exactly it is that these scales are measuring. , 2000). Consequently, people who feel that they are experiencing stress are likely to identify with more of the items CHAPTER 1 STRESS on the list, whether or not this is a true and accurate representation of their current life status. As we shall see below, there are alternative methods that overcome some of these problems. However, despite their many drawbacks, rating scales can be a useful research tool – they provide a means by which stress can be measured quickly, they are easy to administer, and, as they yield quantitative data, statistical analysis can be performed and levels of stress in populations can be compared against published norms and/or other research findings.

6 have not included women in their samples? This is not untypical of healthcare research. Women are often excluded from study samples because it is considered that their normal hormonal fluctuations may contaminate the results of studies which measure biological responses. In cardiac studies, women are often excluded because CHD is a greater health risk for men than women (Niven and Carroll, 1993). However, despite the exclusion of women from the research, the findings of such work are often used to inform the treatment of female as well as male patients.

For most of the women, the problem was depression related to a particular stressful event such as bereavement. There were some women, however, who had experienced a similar stressful event but who had not developed mental health problems. This posed a very interesting research question: what factors were operating to protect some women from the negative psychological effects of their life stressors? Brown and Harris concluded that although a number of factors distinguished the two groups of women, the most important one seemed to be whether or not the woman had a close and supportive relationship.

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