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Perceived stress among female adolescents.


Stress is an unavoidable and inevitable experience of life and is closely linked with human striving for excellence in the complex world. Stress refers to the extreme condition of force, pressure, strain or hardship at physical, psychological and behavioural levels, accounting when a person's internal or external wants exceeds his capacity power, reflecting a mismatch or depletion of resources available for adaptation. Threat to cope with survival, safety and security is associated with stress affecting the vital functions and creating psychosomatic complications. Stress is an integral part of our lives.

It is a many faceted process that occurs in reaction events on situations in our environment. When stress is prolonged it affects the physical health and impairs the psychological functioning as well. Hans Selye (1976) proposed GAS (General Adaptation Syndromes) to explain the bodily consequences of stress. The three stage model of stress include : (i) the alarm stage (ii) resistance stage and (iii) exhaustion stage. Psychologists believe that persistent stress leads to psycho somatic disorders such as hypertension, asthma, ulcer, allergy, pains and even diabetes. Everything from cold to cancer has been attributed to mental stress.

Stress is a fact of life. It is impossible to eliminate it completely. To cope effectively with stress people use different types of coping strategy namely task oriented coping, emotion-focused coping and ego-defensive in coping. Research findings reveal that the consequences of stress are many, individuals react and cope differently. The same stress may ruin one, while another remains untouched. Ross (1999) found that the most common source of students stress was interpersonal change in eating and sleeping habits, increased work load and responsibility alternatively high level of social support, strong friendship help and improve student adjustment. Stress is the term to describe the physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral response to events that are appraised as threatening and/or challenging.

According to Selye (1974) "stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change". Thus, it is a state of psychological and physiological imbalance resulting from the disparity between situational demand and the individual's ability and motivation to meet those needs. For young people and students, in particular, stressful life events can weigh and impact heavily on their lives. Students face stress because of time and other difficulties including sleep deprivation, social conflicts and relationship uncertainty that may jeopardize their academic performance. Significant life events and more common stress during the adolescent period have been linked to behaviour and more serious mental health problems. The academic period of life is a stressful period for adolescence role shift, identity change and additional stressor make college students stressful. Students are often stay away from their homes and have expectation to achieve academically while experiencing a lot of interpersonal and environmental changes. Students encounter life stressors such as adjustment to college, death of close family members or friends difficulty with room mates relationship problems, social isolation, rejection, increased workload at college and other stressful life events.

Earlier research on student stress using the students survey (Ross 1999) found that the most common source of student stress was interpersonal change in eating and sleeping habits, increased work load, and increased responsibilities. Studies also indicated that a high level of social support in the form of on-campus support, strong friendship and social impact of stress help and improve students adjustment. The main stress of undergraduate college students is academic workload.

Self esteem is sometimes affected by academic adjustment in the college life. Studies have indicated that strong emotions such as frustration anger and hatred etc. were associated with stress. Students with lower emotional intelligence scores engaged in health damaging behaviour such smoking, drinks and risk taking but in case of higher emotional intelligence students may apply coping strategies with more positive outcomes.

College students have a unique cluster of stressful experiences or stressors. According to Ross, Neibling and Heckert (1999) there are several explanations for increased stress level in college students. First, students have to make significant adjustment to college life. Second, because of the pressure of studies, there is strain placed in interpersonal relationships. Third housing arrangements and changes in lifestyle contribute to stress experienced by college students. In addition students in college experience stress related to academic requirements, support systems and intellective coping skills.

Frazier and Sehauben (1994) used the Psychological Distress Inventory to obtain information regarding stress experienced by a group of female college student. The researchers found that female college students experienced stress related to financial problems, test pressure, failing a test, rejection from someone, dissolution of relationships, depression and feelings of low self-esteem. Ross (1999), conducted a study on college students of both genders and found a different set of stressors that were common among all college students, those experiences associated with stress included a change in eating and sleeping habits, new responsibilities, heavier work loads and breaks. Dill and Henly (1998) offered another view point on stressors among college students. These investigations suggested that there were pointed differences in the perception of stressors between traditional versus non-traditional college students.

A study conducted by Misra and McKean (2000) also tested undergraduate students and found results that were consistent with previous studies, female students experience higher academic stress and anxiety than men. Gender differences also influence a student's perception and reaction to academic stressors. Female students more often report letting out their feelings, whereas men more often report controlling their emotions, accepting the problem, not thinking about the situation and engaging in problem-solving efforts. Coping styles of stressors also differ by gender. When compound at similar level of stress, women exhibit stress more overtly then males (Hyde and plant, 1995).

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the stress of undergraduate senior and junior females students.

Hypothesis: Senior undergraduate females students are expected to experience more stress than junior undergraduate female students.


Sample: The sample of this study comprised of 100 undergraduate females students (Senior-50 and junior-50) in Odisha, India.

Instrument: The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), developed by Cohen Kamarck and Mermelstein (1983) was used for this study. PSS has been widely used. Its reliability and valid have been established. The scale measured the degree to which situations in one life are appraised to be stressful. It comprises 10 items. For each item, the respondents are required to score between 0 to 4 (0 for never, 1 for almost never, 2 for sometimes, 3 for fairly often and 4 for very often). Scoring is reversed for item nos. 4, 5, 7 and 8. Scores ranging from 0-13 indicates low stress, 14-27 indicate medium stress and 28-40 indicate high stress.


Table-1 shows the significance of mean difference between junior and senior females undergraduate students on perceived stress. The result showed the mean for the senior female is found to 20.48 and SD is found to be 3.72. The mean for junior female on perceived stress is found to be 18.04 and SD is 3.69. The result is found to significant. It means there is difference between senior and junior females on perceived stress.

The objective of the present study was to investigate on perceived stress of college girl students. The result is found to be significant. It means there is difference in perceived stress between senior and junior female students. The mean for the senior females student is 20.48 and the mean for the junior females students is 18.04. From the result it is seen that the senior undergraduate students are found to be having more stress than the junior students, the result could be due the fact that the senior are about to complete their degree course and they are in search for their future career. As a result of which they experienced more stress compared to the junior undergraduate students. In case of junior college students they are in the beginning stage of their study. They are aware of completing their education and very much clear about their objective and are alert for which junior females students experience less stress compare to seniors. Thus it may be concluded that the senior undergraduate college students experience more stress compared to the junior college students. The result could be due to the fact that though the senior college students were about to finish their studies and have to select career choice for future. So in order to manage their stress senior students must consult career counselor for their suggestion and guidance which will help them to manage their stress in a better way.


Cohen, Kamarck T and Mermelstin R (1983), Global Merasure of Perceived Stress, Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, Vol. 24. pp. 385-96.

Dill, L.P. & Henly, B.T (1998), Stressors of College. A comparison of traditional and non-traditional students. The journal of Psychology, 132 (1). 25-31.

Frazier. A.P. & Schauben, J.L. (1994), Stressful life events and psychological adjustment among female college students. Measurement & Evaluation in counseling and Development, 27(1), 1-12.

Hyde J.S., & Plant. E.A. (1995), Magnitude of Psychological gender differences. Another side of the storey. American Psychology, 50, 159-161.

Misra, R. & Mc Kean M (2000). College stdent's academic stress and its relation to their anxiety time management and leisure satisfaction. American Journal of Health Studies, 26 ((1). 41-51

Misra, R., Mc Kean, M., West S., (2006) Neuro endocrinology 31(2): 187. PubMed Abstract / Publisher fall Tex

Ross, S.E. Neibling, B.C. & Heckert, T.M. (1999). Souro of stress among college students. College students Journal, 33 (2), 312-317.

Selye, Hans, (1974), Stress without Distress Philadelphia : signet Books.

Selye, Hans, (1956), The stress of life. New York McGraw-Hill.

Rasmita Behera (*)

(*) P.G. Department of Applied Psychology,Jewels International's Chetana College of Special Education,A/3, Institutional Area, PO- RRL Campus, Bhubaneswar--751013 India

Received : January 06,2018

Revised : February 28,2018

Accepted : April 15, 2018
Table 1 : M and SD of the scores and the significance of mean
difference between senior and junior female undergraduate college
students on perceived stress.

Group   N   Mean   SD    t

Senior  50  20.48  3.72  3.29 (**)
Junior  50  18.04  3.69
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Author:Behera, Rasmita
Publication:Indian Journal of Community Psychology
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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