Monday, 31 January 2011

DeLongis et al (1982)

Relationship of daily hassles, uplifts, and major life events to health status

Classic research by Rahe and colleagues (e.g. Rahe et al, 1970) showed a small but statistically link between ill-health and major life change events such as divorce, a jail term, or the death of a close friend.  Measuring the number of life change events over a period of six months was shown to reliably correlate with a person's instances of ill-health.  The researchers viewed the change involved in an event, rather than whether the event itself is positive or negative, as the crucial factor.

Delongis et al (1982) disagreed - they believed that for all the impact of major life change events, the biggest source of stress is the load of day-to-day troubles such as getting stuck in traffic or losing your keys.  They felt that these could be mitigated by the effect of 'uplifts' - little daily boosts, such as receiving a compliment.

In their study they recorded the frequency of such daily life events on a 'hassles scale' and an 'uplifts scale'.  100 participants (45–64 year old) completed these as well a recent life events schedule and a health status questionnaire.

Their analysis showed that hassles - the strains of everyday life - were more strongly associated with health than were life events.  Daily uplifts had a weaker connection with health.

Although demonstrating that hassles have a bigger impact than life events, Delongis and colleagues were still working under the assumption that stressors accumulated in a way that was objectively countable.  However, within a couple of years of this research, two of the co-authors - Susan Folkman and Richard Lazarus -  presented the transactional model of stress, which states that the key factor in the effect of a stressor is the individual's own thought processes - in particular, how much of a threat they perceive it to be.  This greater emphasis on cognitive factors has defined the study of stress ever since.


DeLongis, A., Coyne, J.C., Dakof, G., Folkman, S and Lazarus, R.S. (1982).  The impact of daily hassles, uplifts and major life events to health status.  Health Psychology, 1(2), 119-136.

Rahe, R.H., Mahan, J. and Arthur, R. (1970).  Predictions of near-future health-change from subjects’ preceding life changes.  Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 14, 401-06.

See also: Modern-day stress and the benefits of meditation


  1. I'm a student taking up a basic psychology subject and your blog is interesting and helpful, as I can learn a bit more than what's in class. We're now in learning and memory.

  2. That's great, I'm glad you are finding it useful. I hope to gradually build up the number of posts on research studies to help students find them with the search facility. Good luck with your studies!

  3. hi , bless ur hands , iam doing my thesis on Daily Hassles , and i realy need some past researches , if u have it please send me or let me know where i can find them .... best regards .