Kanner (1981) – Hassles, Uplifts and Life Events

Kanner, Allen D., et al. “Comparison of two modes of stress measurement: Daily hassles and uplifts versus major life events.” Journal of behavioral medicine 4.1 (1981): 1-39.



This is the second 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 ‘Hassles and Life Events



Some research has found that hassles have a greater correlation with ill-health psychological symptoms than do the seemingly more serious life events, such as bereavement.

Examples of hassles.

  • Misplacing or losing things.
  • Troubling thoughts about your future.
  • Financial problems.
  • Arguments

Examples of Uplifts.

  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Earning money.
  • Passing your driving test
  • Getting good exam scores

Examples of Life events:

  • Getting Degree from University
  • Getting married

Kanner et al (1981) – have shown that stress can affect us all as he states that minor stressors can cause the psychological symptoms of stress.

Kanner  et al (1981) compared two factors that are thought to be stressful:

  • Hassles
  • Life events (using Holmes & Rahe 1967 Social Readjustment Rating Scale)

To compare the Hassles and Uplift Scale and the Berkman Life Events Scale as predictors of psychological symptoms of stress.

Method and Design

A 12 month Longitudinal study using both self-report and psychometric tests.

A repeated measures design was used, as the participants completed two self-reports.


100 people (52 women and 48 men)  aged 45-64, who participated in the 12-month study of stress, coping, and emotions.

The participants were predominately white from California.


All tests were sent out by post one month before the study began. This was to ensure all the participants had the tests in time for the study to start. 

A prearranged time of the month was set to fill out the questionnaires in order to encourage relatively uniform monthly intervals between administrations; despite this, there was some variation in the exact dates of completion.

The participants were asked to complete the following:

  • The Hassles rating every month for nine months.
  • The Life Events rating after ten months.
  • The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL) and the Bradburn Morale Scale every month for nine months.

Participants self-reported hassles were consistent from month to month.

For men, life events positively correlated with hassles and negatively with uplifts.

For women, life events positive correlated with hassles and uplifts.

Hassle frequency positively correlated with psychological symptoms on the HSCL.


Hassles are a more powerful predictor of psychological symptoms than life events.

Furthermore, hassles contribute to psychological symptoms whatever life events have happened.

Kanner et al (1981) Evaluation

– Order effects – the use of repeated measures means that order effects could have had a confounding effect upon the results.

+ Participants variables have been controlled for with the use of repeated measured design.

+ Longitudinal studies allow us to assess changes over time which is a more valid measure of human behaviour compared to snapshot studies.

+ Useful –  the results and conclusions show us which events are more likely to be stressful and which are likely to be suffered by people fulfilling a particular demographic means that strategies for coping with stress can be put in place.


Kanner, Allen D., et al. “Comparison of two modes of stress measurement: Daily hassles and uplifts versus major life events.” Journal of behavioral medicine 4.1 (1981): 1-39.

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

Article Name
Kanner (1981) - Hassles, Uplifts and Life Events
'causes of stress' section of 'Stress' revise OCR A2 Health and Clinical Psychology course. It is further categorised into 'Hassles and Life Events' Revision