One study which looked at lack of control as a cause of stress was Greer and Mammals. The study was a laboratory experiment using a sample of 60 students, who were made to look at photographs of dead car crash victims. The sample was split Into three conditions, each with a varying amount of control.
- Group 1 was told the telling of the photographs so they knew when they’d appear and disappear, and they were also told how to get rid of the photographs from the screen.
- Group 2 knew the timings only, and
- Group 3 was unaware of timings and how to stop the hotplates remaining on-screen.
Stress response was measured physiologically by two measures: an EGG machine measuring heart rate (though this measurement was discarded) and through galvanic skin response.
Group 1 had the lowest stress according to the GARS, and Group 3 had the highest. Overall, the results suggest that lack of control can increase stress and that control over your environment could help to reduce stress. b Discuss limitations of research into causes of stress. 151 One limitation of research into causes of stress is that the ecological validity of some searches can be low and limit the findings.
An example of this can be seen in Greer and Missile’s study on their laboratory experiment with the use of pictures on a screen of dead victims. This is very low in ecological validity because you don’t often get people to purposely look at a dead victim to make someone feel stressed. If something doesn’t seem realistic and can’t be applied to everyday life then it might make the results limited or invalid, after all, you could simply be measuring demand characteristics or fear levels rather than stress levels. Therefore, perhaps a better way to complete a similar study could be to do a self-report on people who have seen dead victims, I.
Witnesses etc. Nevertheless, laboratory experiments are the only true way to get results that you know are extremely controlled and with no extraneous variables, and therefore reliable. Another limitation of research Into causes of stress is that sometimes research can be very subjective and selective, Like the explanation of causes through life events by Holmes and Rare. Holmes and Rare use the life event scale to plan point some of the most stressful to least trustful situations In a person’s life.
However, the life event was very particular and subjective and only had very specific examples Like the death of a spouse, etc. This means that rather than look at stress as a whole and look at It holistically, the researchers tried to look at lots of different explanations to stress.
This means that self-report might not be the best way to research into stress because a person can easily lie or show social desirability bias, thus making results not true of the participant’s real thoughts. However, and have said that, self-report is the only way to understand suggesting that perhaps it can be useful.
Another limitation of research into causes of stress is that it can sometimes break ethical guidelines, in particular harm. Take Greer and Missile’s study into people’s reactions when shown pictures of dead car crash victims.
Seeing a dead body would most probably make people feel very uncomfortable and could affect physiological measures. This might mean that the participant’s results are not a true cause of stress, but a reaction to seeing something which harmed them. However, I do believe that it is a good way of getting results.