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Describe and critically access Cooper's Model (1976) of occupational stress

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Introduction Occupational stress indicates the potential influence on both individual and organizational outcomes. Various researchers have attempted to give general models of stress in the working environment such as Cooper and Marshall 1976. Warr 1981, 1990, and 1994 as well as Cooper and Baglioni 1998 all referred to Cooper's Model (1976). Although Cooper's and Warr's Models differ in most areas, they both take a transactional approach to the study of occupational stress in that they both make the assumption that stress results from a complex dynamic interaction between the individual and his/her environment. However, it is important to focus on the effects of work-related stress, both in terms of individuals, and organizations. Work-related stress may affect individuals physiologically, psychologically and behaviourally (Goodspeed and Delucia 1990) and these outcomes may cause low levels of self-esteem, job satisfaction and motivation. Other effects include; High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, depression, ulcers, and heart disease. Furthermore, depression and anxiety are the most common stress-related complaints presented to General Practitioners and are reported to affect about 20% of the working population in the United Kingdom (Quick et al 2001). Symptoms of stress not only cause individuals a considerable amount of suffering and distress, but there is also a substantial burden put on the community as a whole, as well as a significant effect of absenteeism and a decrease in productivity within the workplace. ...read more.


The most damaging to their health was found to be job dissatisfaction and stressors associated with career development. Other stressors were found to be sexual discrimination with regards to promotion, inadequate training, and male colleagues being treated more favourably. Relationships at Work The nature of relationships and social support from ones colleagues and superiors has also been related to job stress. French and Caplan (1972) found that poor relationships with other fellow members of an organization could have arisen from role ambiguity, which may produce psychological strain in the form of job dissatisfaction. Cooper and Melhuish (1980) found from their study of 196 senior male executives that their outgoing, tough-minded approach and their relationships at work were central to the increase in blood-pressure that they experienced. It was found that they were particularly vulnerable to the stresses caused by poor relationships with colleagues, that they also had a lack of personal support from home and work, and that conflicts arose from a difference between their own values and those of the particular organization. Organisational Structure and Climate Another potential source of stress includes factors relating to office politics, lack of effective consultation, lack of participation in decision making, and restrictions on behaviour. Marglois et al (1974) and French and Caplan (1972) found that greater participation led to higher productivity, improved performance, lower staff turnover, and lower levels of physical and mental illness. ...read more.


Although Cooper has incorporated individual differences in the model, further evidence is required to establish whether or not these differences have a direct effect or moderate strain outcomes. In addition to these criticisms, Cooper's model does not account for other well known researched individual differences such as neuroticism (relating to well-being) and less researched factors such as extroversion and competence (Warr 1987). Conclusions Cooper's 1986 model of work-related stress describes the main features of an individual's work and also of his/her home environment. He describes these in the 'Model of Stress at Work.' Although Cooper's model is simplistic, it does give a general overview of how stress can influence an individual's relationships at work and at home. It could be argued that Cooper's model only concentrates on organizational stressors i.e. organizational structure, relationships at work, or career development. That being said, he mentions the feature of 'intrinsic to job', which is in fact related to occupational stress. Cooper's model is still widely use today in the field of occupational psychology, but further revisions need to be made which describe the individuals coping strategies and personality, as they play a major role in the workplace with regards to a persons health. Further research also needs to be conducted on existing data and then it needs to be analysed directly with the H.S.E. ...read more.

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