Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counseling and Personnel

First Advisor

Dr. Robert F. Hopkins

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward Trembly

Third Advisor

Dr. Thelma Urbick


Current research has demonstrated a relationship between stress and subsequent psychological and/or physical dysfunction. It has been shown, however, that some organisms, both animal and human, are more resilient to stress than others. Several researchers have suggested that intervening variables available to the organism may play a role in stress resilience. Intervening variables have been defined as any resource which has stress reducing properties. Examples of proposed intervening variables include intelligence, wealth, reasoning, friends, and assertiveness. Although many resources have been suggested as possible intervening variables, there has been little scientific research into this area. The present study investigated the stress reducing properties of five intervening variables. These variables were social support, stress buffers, control of the stress event, warning of the stress event, and the number of previous experiences with the stress event. The subjects for this study were 50 staff and 50 patients at Moss Rehabilitation Hospital, a center specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The subjects ranged in age from 22 to 77. There were 28 males and 72 female subjects. Each subject was administered the Schedule of Recent Experience (SRE), an instrument containing 42 life events which previous research has shown to have stress eliciting properties. Physical and/or psychological dysfunctioning was measured by the number of hospital admissions during the previous three years. Each subject was asked to indicate the number of their empathic friendships, their method of stress management, and the amount of warning, control, and previous experience for each of the 42 life events on the SRE encountered during the past three years. The results were analyzed on the basis of age, sex, and the number of hospitalizations. Subjects reporting two or fewer hospitalizations indicated a higher number of friendships compared with subjects reporting three or more hospitalizations. A chi-square analysis indicated this difference to be significant at the .0006 level of confidence. Subjects experiencing two or fewer hospitalizations also reported employing both a physical activity and a cognitive strategy to stress management compared to subjects experiencing three or more hospitalizations who reported primarily an activity approach to stress reduction. A chi-square analysis reveals this difference to be significant at the .001 level of confidence. Females and subjects over 50 years of age employed primarily an activity approach to stress management while males and subjects under 50 years of age were more apt to employ both an activity and a cognitive approach to stress management. A chi-square analysis indicates these differences to be significant at the .05 level of confidence. All subjects reported little control, minimal warning, and few previous experiences with the stress events. It appears that lack of control, warning, and previous experience are components of stress events and not intervening variables as suggested in the literature.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons