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Occupational stress in men and women: a comparative study of coping resources

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dc.contributor.advisor Professor A. D. Stuart en
dc.contributor.author Long, Susanne Ingeborg
dc.date.accessioned 2008-11-06T07:30:23Z
dc.date.available 2008-11-06T07:30:23Z
dc.date.issued 2008-11-06T07:30:23Z
dc.date.submitted 2001-05
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/1541
dc.description M.A. en
dc.description.abstract The ramifications of stress-related illnesses and disorders impact on the individual, the organization that the individual works for and the nation’s economic status as a whole. Coping with occupational stress has thus become the focus of occupational health specialists, organizations and industrial psychologists. South African managers and executives work under constant stress and pressure (Strumpfer, 1983). With the emergence of women into previously male dominated occupations, a greater number of women now hold managerial jobs, resulting in a larger percentage of women being exposed to stress-related illnesses and diseases. Past research regarding occupational stress and coping has largely focused on male managers, with many of these findings frequently being incorrectly generalized to women. Neglecting to include gender as a variable in most stress-related research has resulted in contradictions and perceived biases in the study of stress and coping (Barnett, Biener & Baruch, 1987). A review of the literature indicated that some studies report gender similarities in stress and coping, whilst others report that men and woman differ in this regard. The findings of these studies have been critically evaluated in the literature with some authors indicating that the measurement instruments and research designs of the studies were not adequate. The many contradictions found in the literature pertaining to how men and women cope with stress thus provided an important motivation for the present study. The overall aim of the research was to determine whether male and female managers differed in work-related stressors and whether they differed in the coping strategies adopted to deal with the stressors. A more general aim of the study was to amplify any existing research regarding occupational stress and its impact on men and women managers. A comparative ex post facto research design was applied. In this type of design, the researcher selects two or more groups of subjects that already differ according to one variable. The total sample (N= 70) consisted of 35 male managers and 35 female managers. The subjects worked in administrative support functions and were selected from two large financial organizations. The measurement instruments had to be culturally fair and have universal meaningfulness. Only instruments with sound psychometric properties were selected. The battery of five questionnaires consisted of: two tests taken from the Occupational Stress Inventory-Revised, namely the Occupational Roles Questionnaire (ORQ) and the Personal Strain Questionnaire (PSQ). The other three questionnaires consisted of the Sense of Coherence Questionnaire (SOC), the Locus of Control Inventory (LCI) and the Personal Views Survey (PVS). The research question for the present study was whether there are any significant differences between men and women regarding occupational stress and coping resources. The composite null hypothesis was formulated as follows: There are no statistically significant differences between men and women regarding their scores on a battery of five instruments measuring the sources of occupational stress specifically with reference to role strain in the workplace, psychological strain as a result of work stress, sense of coherence, internal or external locus of control and hardiness. In order to ascertain the difference between the two groups, the statistical techniques included the use of the Hotelling’s T-Square Test and Student’s t-test. The overall results, with the exception of the Personal Strain Questionnaire’s sub-scale reported no significant gender differences regarding the perception of occupational stessors, and no overall significant gender differences in coping resources. Thus, regarding the scores of the five questionnaires the following results were reported: The scores taken from the Occupational Role Questionnaire (ORQ) reported a Hotelling’s Trace Value of 0,039 with an associated F value of 0,410. This variance is statistically not significant (P>0,05). The scores taken from the Personal Strain Questionnaire (PSQ) reported a Hotelling’s Trace Value of 0,181 with an associated F value of 2,944. This variance is statistically significant (P<0,05). The difference manifested only in one sub-scale, namely the Vocational Strain sub-scale (P=0,075) which is significant at the 0,10 level of significance. In speculating the reason for this, it was suggested that the male subjects may have experienced greater levels of boredom or lack of interest in their work than the female group. Interestingly, the male group also reported a significant difference regarding the Meaningfulness sub-scale of the Sense of Coherence Questionnaire. The Meaningfulness sub-scale (P=0,060) being significant at the 0,10 level of significance. The Meaningfulness sub-scale includes a motivational element similar to the Vocational Strain sub-scale, further reinforcing the male group’s less positive perception of their work. The scores taken from the Sense of Coherence Questionnaire (SOC) reported a Hotelling’s Trace Value of 0,069 with an associated F value of 1,517. This variance is statistically not significant (P>0,05). The scores taken from the Locus of Control Inventory (LCI) reported a Hotelling’s Trace Value of 0,084 with an associated F value of 1,851. This variance is statistically not significant (P>0,05). The scores taken from the Personal Views Survey (PVS) reported a Hotelling’s Trace Value of 0,048 with an associated F value of 1,051. This variance is statistically not significant (P>0,05). The final conclusion of the study’s findings was that with the exception of one scale, there were no overall significant differences in the way that men and women a) perceive occupational stressors and b) utilize coping resources. The findings of the present study have challenged the widely held belief that men and women should be different in the way they think, feel and respond to stress-related events. It is hoped that the present study has not only amplified any existing research regarding occupational stress and coping, but has provided further ideas and recommendations for the design and implementation of South African occupational stress management programmes. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Job stress for men en
dc.subject Job stress for women en
dc.subject Stress (Psychology) en
dc.subject Adjustment (Psychology) en
dc.title Occupational stress in men and women: a comparative study of coping resources en
dc.type Thesis en


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