Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Richard E. Munsterman

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol Sheffer

Third Advisor

Dr. Jack Asher


Schools, being a part of the larger social system, have not escaped the increasing pressures evident in our society. The principalship as an important component of the educational process has not enjoyed immunity from this same problem.

Because school principals are individuals, they react differently to life stressors. Some appear to have the ability to handle all stressors without suffering any onset of medical problems. Others appear not to have this immunity and as a result have medical difficulties. Because of this seeming difference and because of a lack of research of this type in education, the relationships between life stressors, personality and stress related medical problems was investigated. Therefore the purpose of this study was to examine the moderating affect of the self-actualized personality on life stressors and the difference, if any, of reported medical problems.

The population investigated for this research was the membership of the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Association. A sample of 325 principals was randomly chosen and a mail survey was used to accumulate data. Of those principals contacted, 60% participated by completing the survey instruments as requested.

Three survey instruments were used in this investigation. The Life Styles Inventory measured the degree of self-actualization exhibited by the principal. The level of life stressors experienced by the principal was determined by The Social Readjustment Rating Scale. The number of medical problems experienced by the principal was reported on the Medical Problem Checklist. All three instruments were part of the Human Synergistics' Evaluation System Level I: Life Styles Inventory, therefore negating the need for three separate protocols.

Three Major Research Hypotheses investigated the relationship of the independent variables "life stressors" and "self-actualization" to the dependent variable "reported medical problems." The two-way ANOVA was used to test the Major Research Hypotheses. Hypotheses 1 and 2 represented the main effects and Hypothesis 3 represented the interaction effect of the ANOVA model.

The results of testing the nulls of the Major Research Hypotheses indicated that the incidence of reported medical problems from those in the high stressor group did not differ significantly from those in the lower group. Also, principals exhibiting a high degree of self-actualization did not differ significantly from their counterparts in the incidence of reported medical problems. Finally, the interaction effect between life stressors and self-actualization was not found to be significant. Highly self-actualized principals from the high level life stressor group did not differ significantly in the number of reported medical problems from those in the high stressor/low self-actualized group.

In summary, the findings contradicted what little research had been conducted linking life stressors, personality, and medical problems. The review of the literature had indicated that mounting life stressors would result in the onset of medical problems and that certain personality types had seeming immunity to stress disease. The majority of these studies were longitudinal in nature with access to the medical records of each subject available. In contrast, this investigation involved a one time measurement making use of self report instruments and may well account for the differences in findings. In conclusion, the lack of replication of results pointed to the need for continued research in the area of stress as it relates to personality. The ability to select and train middle management educators who have a seeming immunity to stress may in the future become a basic necessity rather than an academic luxury.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access