SVIBOR - Project code: 6-06-149


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Project code: 6-06-149

Environmental Stressors, Mediators and Reactions to Stress

Main researcher: MANENICA, ILIJA (76866)

Type of research: basic
Duration from: 01/01/91. to 12/31/95.

Papers on project (total): 66
Papers on project quoted in Current Contents: 2
Institution name: Filozofski fakultet, Zadar (70)
Department/Institute: Department of Psychology
Address: Obala Kralja Petra Krešimira IV br.2
City: 23000 - Zadar, Croatia
Phone: 385 (0)23 437 111
Fax: 385 (0)23 25 882

Summary: The work on the Project (1991-1995) included a series of investigations of various aspects of stress, induced by different stressors, and their effects on psychophysiological, behavioural and psychosomatic field. Although the tentative model of stress-process differentiated rather well the input, mediator and output variables, in some segments of the work certain mediator-variables were singled out, with the aim of assessing their intervening role in the stress-process. Different levels of task-load by mental and perceptual-motor tasks under paced and self-paced working conditions were used as the input variables. The stress effects were observed via the changes in pulse rate, sinus arrhythmia, subjective assessment, cross-modal comparisons and residual mental capacity. Furthermore, the effects of pacing on production lines, as well as, the stress induced by various life roles (teachers, parents, unemployed adolescents, students, pupils) were assessed on the relevant groups of subjects, by the use of specially designed or adapted questionnaires and scales. The analysis of results showed significant effects of different task-load levels and pacing on some sinus arrhythmia parameters, subjective and cross-modal assessment, and health. Anxiety as the mediator-variable had also same effects on the same variables especially the residual mental capacity, which may have implications on information processing. The investigation of "the role-stress" showed that different "defence mechanisms" and coping strategies are adopted by the individuals depending on their role, the status in the role, as well as the stress situation. Self-esteem was also found as an intervening variable between stress and it's psychological effects on the individual. An investigation on young girls showed that after the first menstruation, their self-esteem declined during the first year, most probably because of an increased parental control. The first year students' stress was shown to be related to gender, change of the habitat and academic load. The teacher stress, however, was found to be related to teaching experiance, alocated time and the numbers in the class, but not to the teaching subject. Pupils examination anxiety was found to be best related to the trait anxiety, perception of situation, coping strategies and causal attribution of achievement. The war stress induced anxiety in young women with the effects on cognitive and psychophysiological side, such as immagination of horrifying sceens, sweatting, higher pulse etc. The defense mechanisms they used were suppression and regression. The soliders with higher anxiety levels used emotionally oriented stress coping strategies, while those with a lower level used problem oriented strategies. Generally speaking, the obtained results support the interactional models of stress, where the outcome depends on the stability of some personality traits, social support and the nature if stress.

Keywords: stress, stress reactions, psychophysiological reactions, psychosomatic problems, mediator-variables, anxiety, teachers stress, adolescent stress, parental stress, student stress, pacing stress, task load-level, sinus arrhythmia, residual mental capacity, secondary task

Research goals: The aim of these investigations was to define various segments of the processing model of stress and to test it in different stress situations by taking into account and/or changing some of their qualitative and quantitative aspects.Although there is a significant terminological confusion in this area, it was necessary to define various phases of stress process and to indicate their interactions. The proposed model defines stress as some external agent (force) affecting the person.The agent gets subjective attribution in terms of magnitude and elementary emotions (pleasant-unpleasant). On the bases of various elements of stress situation through the process of cognitive elaboration, stress situation gets the final subjective qualitative and quantitative dimensions. In the assessment of these dimensions, a prominent role is given to the past experience in similar situations, and to the estimation of ones own coping capabilities with the situation. These two factors are major determinants of the reaction to the stress. The reaction could take place as the psychophysiological and/or behavioural change. In between the input (stress) and output (reactions) the model accepts the exsistance of a series of mediator-variables, which, to a large extent, influence the processes of mental elaboration, as well as, the coping strategies. Most of these variables are seen as more or less stable personality traits,which, due to their different configurations in relations to each other, may form different reactions at the output. The final aim of the research on this project was to find out some interaction schemes of the input (stress) and mediators variables, as well as, their effects on the psychophysiological and behavioural side, as well as, on the coping efficiency side. The expected results would make posible to form more explicative model of stress process, which would make theoretical explanations easier and the research methodology simpler when dealing with stress. A whole series of new or adapted measuring instruments and methods used in this research could be considered as a methodological contribution.


  1. Name of institution: Ergonomics Information and Analysis Centar, University of Birmingham
    Type of institution: University/Faculty
    Type of cooperation: Systematic exchange of information
    City: Birmingham, Velika Britanija

  2. Name of institution: University of Nottingham
    Type of institution: University/Faculty
    Type of cooperation: Systematic exchange of information
    City: Nottingham, Velika Britanija

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Last update: 10/12/95