A Comparison of Incident-based and Scale Measures of Work Stressors

Document Type




Format of Original

10 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

Source Publication

Work & Stress

Source ISSN



Occupational stress researchers have often questioned whether scale measures of work-related stressors accurately reflect the day-to-day experiences of employees. As an alternative to such measures, some have suggested the use of qualitative measures. Unfortunately, however, there have been no direct comparisons of these two measurement methods. In the present study, female employees (n = 151) were asked to complete scale measures of three common work stressors, strains, and self-esteem. Stressors were also measured using a qualitative methodology based on critical incidents. Results indicated good convergence between stressors measured by these two methods, although there was some indication that order effects may have led to method bias in the qualitative procedure. Both sets of measures explained a significant amount of variance in strains, although the scale measures explained more. Only the stressors measured by scales were related to self-esteem, suggesting that these may be more influenced by dispositions than qualitative measures. Implications of these findings for occupational stress research are discussed.


Work & Stress, Vol. 110, No. 3 (1997): 229-238. DOI.

Gary A. Adams was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh at the time of publication.