The contribution of normative expectations to chronic stress: A focus on stress in clergy and seminary students' wives

Annemarie Huebner, Marquette University

Abstract

The Contribution of Normative Expectations to Chronic Stress: A Focus on Stress in Clergy and Seminary Students' Wives Measurement of chronic stress has typically focused on assessing the extent to which everyday situations provoke stress, but the influence of social structures in creating stressful situations has not been addressed. For professionals occupying traditional status positions, the inability to fulfill social expectations may constitute a powerful source of chronic stress. This research, therefore, centered on evaluating a normative stress scale which measures chronic stress arising from role expectations among a population of professionals' wives who may be influenced by the expectations of their husbands' occupational organizations. A random sampling of clergy wives from a Protestant denomination in the United States completed a demographic questionnaire, the SF-12 Physical and Mental Health Summary Scale, the Health Attribution Test, and an adapted version of The Hassles Scale which included the normative stress scale. Additional questions measured life and role satisfaction and optimism on a 3-point likert scale. Comparative information was also obtained from wives of the denomination's seminary students. It was hypothesized that (1) the normative stress scale would be identified as a valid and reliable instrument; (2) the normative stress scale would improve the predictive validity of the Hassles Scale in measuring chronic stress by accounting for a significant amount of the variance in mental health; (3) the interaction of age with psychosocial variables would account for a significant amount of the variance in mental health in comparison to the interaction of age with demographic variables. Responses demonstrated a 44% return rate for students' wives (N = 49) and a 53% return rate for clergy wives (N = 111). Results established initial reliability and validity for the clergy wives' scale but not for the student wives' scale. An alpha coefficient of.81 was obtained, and content validity was substantiated by inter-correlations between scale items and strategic items from the Hassles Scale. A coefficient of.19 was obtained demonstrating concurrent validity in predicting mental health, and a coefficient of.55 demonstrated convergent validity with the Hassles Scale. The normative stress scale also improved the predictive validity of the Hassles Scale by accounting an additional 7% of the variance in mental health. Finally, the interaction of age and life satisfaction, a psychosocial variable, was identified as the only variable accounting for a significant amount of the variance in mental health. Discussion of results identified limitations to the current study and future research implications.

Recommended Citation

Huebner, Annemarie, "The contribution of normative expectations to chronic stress: A focus on stress in clergy and seminary students' wives" (1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9929161.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9929161

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