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Research Proposal: The Stresses Faced by Young Adults

Introduction

Stress is a major emotional pressure commonly faced by the modern people. There are many reasons for this: the world is moving fast and changing constantly, and thus people are forced to change accordingly and to adapt to the new environment. As a result, the fast pace of the new society is creating tremendous stresses to the modern people. There are many evidences on the subject that modern people are being troubled by various types of stresses in daily life. For example, modern people are more likely to suffer from modern diseases that are related to excessive stresses such as heart attacks, cancer, depression or even obesities. Not only that, it is also easily observed that people are currently experience more emotional swing and less tolerance against others mistakes or disturbances due to the stressful lifestyle in the modern society. The research in this writing will carry out a research to investigate the stresses faced by young people in today society.

 

Research Objectives

The purpose of this study is to examine the factors that are influencing young people’s stress level in UK. This study will try to identify the factors causing stresses among young people in the modern society; and by identifying the factors causing stresses among the young people in UK, to propose corrective actions or suggestions on how the stresses intensity faced by young people can be reduced or mitigated. Thus, to outline the research objectives in proper sequence; the aim of this research can be categorized into three objectives as follow:

  • To identify the perception of the young people regarding stresses.
  • To determine the factors influencing the stresses faced by young people in UK.
  • To provide suggestions on how to reduce the stresses faced by young people in UK.

 

Research Questions

Following the discussions of the research objectives as outlined above, three research questions can be identified as follow:

  • How the young people perceive the issue of stress?
  • What are the factors influencing the stress level faced by young people in UK?
  • What are the methods to reduce the stresses faced by young people in UK?

 

Rationales of the Research

Stress is becoming a more important topic in terms of human psychology and health in the recent decades. This is not something hard to understand, as the environment becoming fast changing and a lot of burdened is placed on the people of the modern day, people will automatically experience more stresses. In fact, stress is a widely researched topic in the field of sociology, psychology and organizational behaviours. This is not hard to understand, as stress can influence the performance, health and emotions of a person. Due to the importance and huge impacts from stresses towards people, a research on this topic is necessary. Furthermore, there is relatively few updated research on the topic of stress faced by young people. Worse, there is no research on the issue of stresses faced by young people in UK. Considering the current economic situation as well as the highly demanding and fast pace society we are currently facing today, a research on the subject concerning stresses faced by young people in this country is indeed timely and necessary. In fact, according to Greenberg and Baron (1995), stress if left undiagnosed causes impaired functioning in the workplace such as reduced efficiency, decreased capacity to perform, dampened initiative, reduced interest in working, increased rigidity of thought, lack of concern for the organisation and loss of responsibility. Therefore, it is timely and beneficial to consider a research in this area of human resources.

 

The Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is limited to the following; firstly the study is focused on the young adults (which are defined as people with the age of 21 to 35 years-old) currently staying in UK. For this purpose, a total of 180 respondents will be selected randomly, interviewed and surveyed. In this research design, a total of seven factors are assumed to have huge impacts to the stress level faced by young people in UK (please refer to the discussion on ‘data analysis’ and ‘research methods’).

 

Literature Review

Studies on stress are extensively covered in the area of Human Resource Management, psychology and sociology. The construct of stress is quite complex. So much so, researchers cannot agree on a single definition and measure for stress because stress causes a variety of reactions and feelings, and may vary from person to person (Kahn et al, 1964).  As a result of this, there are several different definitions (models) for stress (Ivancevich & Matteson, 1980).

The renowned researcher in stress, Hans Selye (1974), defined stress as a physiological reaction to certain threatening environment events. From Selye’s perspective, the stresses faced by young people may comes from the fears of losing jobs, economy uncertainty, demands or expectations from family or friends and even from the self-imposed expectations that may hurt or disappoint a particular person if they are unmet.

Psychologist John French and his colleagues (French, Rogers, & Cobb, 1974; French, Caplan and Harrison, 1982) stated their view point that stress results from a lack of “fit” between a person’s skills and abilities and the demands of the task and the work place. What is meant here is that, a person who is totally unqualified for a particular task would feel a tremendous amount of stress. From this perspective, young adults may face tremendous stress when they feel they are not capable of surviving in the harsh real-life environment or living up to the expectations of the society (due to lack of personal abilities).

Lazarus (1993), on the other hand espoused on the “transactional” approach of person stress, viewed stress as resulting from the person’s perception that a certain environmental event is a threat or a challenge. For this, viewing from the context of the stresses faced by young people in UK, it is possible that the uncertainty in environment may be a source of stresses for these students.

 

Variables or Factors Causing Stresses among Young People

In the following paragraphs, a few variables will be suggested to be the factors that can or are exerting stresses towards young people in UK. The variables are mainly selected from a review of the various literature on the topic of stress.

The Person-Environment Fit Theory found that when a person’s task differed too much in complexity or overload, the person reported more stress than others (Blix et al., 1993; Chemers, Hays, Rhodewalt, & Wysocki, 1985). Work overload has been reported as a common source of stress mainly in jobs such as soldiers, air traffic controllers and health care workers (Iverson, DeFrank and Ivancevich, 1998; Sparks and Cooper, 1999; Taylor et al., 1997). As such, work overload has been placed as the independent variable in this research to ascertain the correlation towards the stresses faced by young people in UK.

Job Characteristics Theory asserts that ambiguity is the dominant cause of stress (McDonold & Korabik, 1991). According to Beehr (1985); Burke, (1988); and Nelson and Burke (2000), ambiguity, which occurs when aspects of a task are not clearly outlined or the environment faced by a person is uncertain, can be a potential source of stress. Due to this, it is felt that ambiguity would be relevant to the research as the young people are often found uncertain on their directions or meaning of life.

Another important source of stress as espoused by Karasek (1979), for the manufacturing industry, is the lack of control, i.e. when employees sense that they have little control over the work they carry out. Applying such an assertion in our work, it can be postulated that one of the factors causing stresses among young people is due to a sense of lack of control in their life.

Another factor that may trigger stress is interpersonal conflict, as it is argued by Matteson & Ivancevich (1982) that interpersonal conflict is a source of stress. As such, it is highly probable that one of the factors casuing stresses among young people is due to interpersonal conflicts.

Sharpley (1996) also included factors such as gender, age and job categories in his sample collection for his research on the nature and effects of stress in Monash University. Therefore, the same will be done for this research. Thus, variables such as age, gender and job categories will also be used as the independent variables in investigating their relationship with the stresses faced by young people in UK.

 

Research Methodology & the Expected Results

In this section, an outline of the way in which the research will be conducted is presented. Details of the research design, the methodology for collecting the census, approach and data analysis is given in this section.

 

Research Design

As discussed above, the purpose of the research is to find out and examine the factors that influence the stresses faced by young adults in UK. This research is mainly quantitative in nature. To explain, a list of Likert-scale, specially designed questions will be distributed to the research participants top collect their perceptions and feedbacks on the subject of stresses faced by them. For a review of the questions, readers can refer to the Appendix section attached at the end of this report.

 

Data Collection Method

The research will be based on primary data collection approach. For this purpose, a survey using self-report close-ended questionnaires would be conducted on the census of randomly selected young adults in UK. Close ended questions would enable the coding to be done easily and will have lesser problems when conducted data analysis. The usage of questionnaire would be able to capture human behaviour pattern much easily (Robson, 1993). As this study also intends to capture human behaviour / characteristics, the usage of questionnaire is appropriate. The use of questionnaire is a technique in which selected persons will be asked to respond to the same set of questions in a predetermined order (de Vaus, 1991).

Self-report questionnaires will be able to obtain valid measures of stress (Frese, 1985). Frese (1985) demonstrated that self-reported measures of stressful workplace factors do correlate with observations made by other people in the workgroup and those made by trained observers. As such, with that observation, a study of the perceptions of stress by the research participants can be regarded as a well representation of the real stress level faced by them.

For this study, the questionnaire will be self-administered and will be answered by the respondents and collected immediately by the researcher. The questionnaires will be handed out to the potential respondents on a random basis. It will be ensured that the respondents are assured of anonymity. Respondents will be assured that their responses will be treated as confidential and will be analysed at the aggregate level only.

The questionnaire (survey instrument) in this research will be based on the Likert-style rating scale that was anchored using descriptors (strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree). These descriptors were chosen to neutralise any tendency to over-report difficult conditions. This method would ask respondents on how strongly they agree or disagree with a statement or series of statements on a five-point scale. As propounded by Kervin (1992), the series of statements in the questionnaire will be maintained in the same order of response in order to avoid confusion. The questionnaires designed are provided in the Appendix section at the end of this writing.

 

Ethical Considerations

The potential ethical dilemma in this research is the infringement of human privacy. This is due to the potential leakage of the research participants’ feedback and survey to their friends, relatives or the public, which is not something beneficial to the research participants. In fact, research participants should reserve the right to keep their answer private and confidential. To avoid this, the research will be carried out in a careful manner, where the particulars of the research participants will not be disclosed to anyone except the researcher. Besides, the name of the respondents will also not be collected, as to avoid leakage of sensitive information to the other people.

 

Expected Results

From the first set of questionnaire delivered to the research participants, it is expected that the research can elicit important findings on the perceptions of stress faced by young people in UK. Besides, it is expected that the dimensions of stress faced by them can also be elicited. In the second set of questionnaire being distributed to the research participants, it is expected some relationships between the stress levels faced by young people to the following variables can be obtained: (a) work overload, (b) uncertain on personal direction, (c) lack of control, (d) interpersonal conflicts, (e) age, (f) gender, and lastly, (g) job categories. Lastly, based on the research findings, various suggestions on how to reduce the stresses faced by young people will be provided and recommended.

 

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Appendices

 

Section 1: General Information

Please tick one answer for the following questions:

 

  1. Gender:

____    Male

____    Female

 

  1. Race & Nationality: ________________________

 

  1. Age: ________________________

 

Section 2: Stress

For each of the following question, please circle the relevant number that indicates the extent you have experienced the following symptoms.

 

 

Part A: Physiological Reactions

   Never                               Always
1 Increased heart and respiratory rates 1          2          3          4          5
2 Elevated blood pressure 1          2          3          4          5
3 Profuse sweating 1          2          3          4          5
4 Appetite disorder 1          2          3          4          5
5 Exhaustion / fatigue 1          2          3          4          5

 

Part B: Psychological Reactions

   Never                               Always
1 Feeling of anxiety 1          2          3          4          5
2 Feeling of fear 1          2          3          4          5
3 Feeling of frustration 1          2          3          4          5
4 Feeling of Despair 1          2          3          4          5

 

Part C: Behavioural Reactions

   Never                               Always
1 Drug abuse 1          2          3          4          5
2 Over / under eating 1          2          3          4          5
3 Poor interpersonal proneness 1          2          3          4          5
4 Abusive behaviour 1          2          3          4          5

 

Section 3:

  1. Please indicate how each of the following factors are contributing to the stresses faced by you:
    1. Work overload
    2. Uncertainty on personal direction
    3. A feeling of not able to control the events around you
    4. Experiencing inter-personal conflicts
    5. Age factors
    6. Gender effects
    7. Job scope and the nature of job to be performed daily

 

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