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The Hardy Personality and Stress

Kobasa and Maddi 1977 Kobasa 1979a


Homework answer q4 p155 Exploring Psychology

BATs AO1 Outline the concept of hardiness and the research of Kobasa and Maddi. AO2 Analyse and evaluate Kobasa and Maddis research
Use the sheet to make notes

Hardiness (Kobasa and Maddi 1977)

The concept of 'hardiness' is taken to mean resistance to illness, or ability to deal with stress. From studies of highly stressed executives, Kobasa et al were able to identify the characteristics of those who handled stress well from those who did not. They proposed hardiness can be taught and used to manage stress.

Kobasa 1979
Studied 800 American business execs, assessing stress using Holmes and Rahes SRRS. 150 classified as high stress Some had high illness scores, but others had low Suggests something else modifying effects of stress

Hardiness (Kobasa and Maddi 1977)

Those who reported the fewest illnesses showed three kinds of hardiness.

1.Challenge -They showed an openness to change,

i.e. life changes are seen as challenges to be overcome rather than threats or stressors.


- They had experienced a feeling of involvement or commitment to their job, and a sense of purpose in their activities. their lives, rather than seeing their life controlled by outside influences.

3.Control - they experienced a sense of control over

Hardiness (Kobasa and Maddi 1977)

Kobasa found that the most important of these factors was the first, openness to change. Those who perceived change (such as the loss of a job) as a challenge rather than a devastatingly personal event, were more likely to interpret the event positively and show fewer signs of stress.

Supporting research Maddi et al 1987

Studied employees of Illinois Bell Telephone, which was drastically reducing the size of its workforce over a year. 66% of employees suffered stress related health problems 33% thrived. This group showed more evidence of hardiness characteristics

Supporting Research Lifton et al 2006

Measured hardiness in 5 US universities to see if hardiness was related to how likely they were to complete the course. Students scoring low on hardiness tests were more likely to drop-out than those with a high Hardiness rating

Try it out..
Complete the Hardiness questionnaire What could you correlate this score with? What ethical issues does this questionnaire throw up? Confidentiality, privacy, right to withdraw How could you deal with these issues? Anonymity, allow pps to withdraw at any time

Evaluation of research
Type A and hardiness Many type A individuals resistant to CHD. May be because they also possess aspects of hardy personality. Greer et al (1979) found that women with a fighting spirit were more likely to recover from cancer suggesting behaviour causes health/illness.

Evaluation of hardiness
The relative importance of the three aspects of 'hardiness (control, Commitment and challenge) is uncertain, although it is likely that control is the most significant of these. Watson and Clark (84) a simper explanation is that Hardy personalities have low Negative Affectivity (NA)

Evaluation of hardiness
Kobasa's studies have tended to involve middle-class businessmen - results cannot reliably be generalized to other social and cultural groups. Most research into link between hardiness and health has relied on data from selfreport questionnaires, which were difficult to fill in however new Personal Views Survey is better.

Some people cope really well under pressure and others just crumble at the slightest hint of stress. Discuss how differences in personality factors can affect an individuals ability to cope with stress and the damage that having a stressful life could do to them. 12 marks In pairs or small groups plan how you would answer this question. Complete the essay for homework

How can Hardiness be used to reduce stress?

Hardiness (Kobasa and Maddi 1977)

Kobasa proposed three ways in which hardiness could be improved.
I. Focusing. People can be encouraged to focus on various body sensations in order to identify times of stress. This will help the person to consider what these sorts of stress might be. Reconstructing stressful situations. This technique has the person think about a recent stressful situation and make two lists: ways it could have turned out better and ways it might have turned out worse. Doing this allows the person to examine alternative courses of action and realise that the situation could be worse.


Hardiness (Kobasa and Maddi 1977)

III. Compensating through self-improvement. When people face a stressor they cannot avoid or change, it may be helpful for them to take on a new challenge they are likely to master. Doing so reassures them that they can still cope.

Hardiness at work
Employers can help by giving workers some degree of control over aspects of their jobs (Quick and Quick, 1984). One approach involves having employees working in groups to make certain managerial decisions or solve problems, such as how to improve the quality of the product they manufacture. Other approaches include allowing workers to have some control over their work hours, which tasks to work on, and the order in which they do them.

Hardiness and the elderly

Elderly people in nursing homes and families can be allowed to do things for themselves and have responsibilities, such as in cleaning, cooking, and arranging social activities.