One problem when conducting research into the causes of stress is the generalisation of the sample, if the sample is restricted; this has limitations in terms of generalising the results to the total population. In the study by Johansson, a sample of only 24 workers was used and from a specific job type. This sample is unreflective of all job types and is too small to be applicable to the general population. Conclusions made may only be relevant to this sample. However it could be argued that the factors that cause stress in jobs such as deadlines and the dependence of others on you are common in all types of jobs and therefore using a sample of the specific job type becomes less restricted and applicable to other people in jobs with common stressors. A second problem when conducting research into causes of stress is the validity of measurements.
Validity refers to whether the results measure what they are supposed to measure and this is often affected by the research method. The self report method is often questioned in terms of validity as participants have the ability to give socially desirable answers and steer away from the truth. In the study by Kanner, questionnaires were posted out to participants and a Hassles and uplifts scale was asked to be completed every month for 9 months and the Berkman life events scale after 10 months. This study, due to the use of self report lacks in validity, as researches are unsure as to whether data obtained reflects the true opinions of participants, which is an issue when trying to apply to everyday life. However the self report method is useful, despite it lacking in validity.
It gives participants the freedom to write about their own subjective feelings and due to stress being individually perceived differently, it is useful in tailoring treatment to individuals to meet their needs. A third problem is reductionism, studies often reduce many factors that cause an individual stress to one factor, such as in the case of Johansson study, it was concluded work was the source of stress. However individual factors such as personality could play a role, researchers do not know that stress prone individuals are more likely to be in a high risk job. By failing to take into account other factors, resources and time may be used in the wrong area. However reductionism is useful as it does pinpoint an area that causes stress and allows in-depth research to be carried out to help participants.
Courtney from Study Moose
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