Johansson et al (1978) – Work & Combined Approach

Johansson et al (1978) “Social psychological and neuroendocrine stress reactions in highly mechanised work.” Ergonomics21.8 (1978): 583-599.

 

Background

This is the first study we will be looking at from the ’causes of stress’ section of ‘Stress’, as part of your OCR A2 Health and Clinical Psychology course. It is further categorised into ‘Work

This also is the third study we will be looking at from the ‘measuring stress’ section of ‘Stress’, as part of your OCR A2 Health and Clinical Psychology course. It is further categorised into ‘Combined Approach

 

Synopsis

Johansson et al (1978) – researched the workers of a Swedish sawmill  and found that people whose jobs involved responsibility for meeting targets and a lack of social contact were more stressed than those without those conditions of work. 

However, even the people with less stressful jobs were found to be more stressed at work than at home, suggesting that any job is going to cause some sort of stress

Johansson et al (1978) suggests that work is a stressor

Aim

To measure the psychological and physiological stress response in two categories of employees.

Method and Design

A quasi-experiment where workers were defined as being at high risk of stress or in a control group, which was low stress.

As the experiment was quasi, there was no manipulation of the independent variable and the experiment was independent measures.

Self-reports and urine measurements were used.

Participants

24 workers at a Swedish sawmill. 

The two groups of workers were:

The high-risk group consisted of 14 workers who had to work at a set pace. Their job was complex and they were responsible for their own and their team’s wages.

The control group consisted of only 10 workers who were cleaners or maintenance men.

Procedure

Caffeine and nicotine consumption by the participants was noted, because they could have been confounding upon the results.

Each participant was asked to give a daily urine sample when they arrived at work and at four other times during the day.

They also gave self-reports of mood and alertness.

Baseline measurements were taken at the same time on a day when the workers were at home.

Catecholamine levels, specifically epinephrine was measured from the participants urine. Body temperature was measured at the time of urine collection.

Self-rating scales of words such as ‘sleepiness’, ‘wellbeing’, ‘irritation’ and ‘efficiency’ were made on scales from none to maximal 

Findings

The high-risk group had adrenaline levels twice as high as their baseline and these continued to increase throughout the day. The control group had a peak level of 1½ times their baseline level in the morning and this then declined during the rest of their shift.

From the self-reports, the high-risk group felt more rushed and irritated than the control group. Furthermore, they also rated their wellbeing lower than the control group.

The baseline measures were used to compare simply the presence of being at work compared to being at home stress levels.

Conclusion

The repetitive, machine-paced work, which was demanding in attention to detail and was highly mechanised, contributed to the higher stress levels in the high-risk group.

Johansson et al (1978) Evaluation

– Validity – as the experiment was quasi, the experimenter could not manipulate the variables – we cannot be sure if it was the conditions or other variables which caused the change.

– Ethnocentrism – the sample consisted of only Swedish workers in a mill, which is clearly not representative of a great many jobs and therefore the results may prove difficult to generalise.

– Small sample – the sample is rather limited and cannot be easily generalisable.

+ Measuring biochemical responses is highly reliable and somewhat valid, as some biochemicals are present in different situations.

+ The study measured both psychological and physiological measures therefore it is low in reductionism.

References

Johansson et al (1978) “Social psychological and neuroendocrine stress reactions in highly mechanised work.” Ergonomics21.8 (1978): 583-599.

Further Reading

OCR A2 Psychology Student Unit Guide New Edition: Unit G543 Health and Clinical Psychology (Student Unit Guides)

Psych Yogi’s Top Ten Psychology Revision Tips for the A* Student

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