Findings showed that women/men in the lowest employment grade were almost three times/three times more likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) than those in the highest grades. For both genders low control in the workplace was the most significant factor in the development of CHD and was more important than other risk factors that had been well established such as cigarette smoking.
Marmot’s study has beneficial practical applications. For instance, with the knowledge that stress in the work place can increase the risk of diseases and illness, steps can be taken to attempt to reduce this stress. This would not only be valuable to business owners as productivity would be increased, but the government as well. This is due to the fact if illness was reduced, absence from work would in turn be reduced; this would save the government the costs of paid leave due to sickness. In addition to this, marmot’s study revealed that it is not only a demanding workload that can cause stress, but an undemanding job can be equally as stressful and detrimental to a person’s health. This piece of information gives an important insight into a major source of stress that demonstrates reducing work load significantly could be counter-intuitive.
The population validity of Marmot’s study is on first glance fairly high; there was huge sample of around 10,000 participants which included both genders. This naturally increased how generalisable the findings were to the rest of the population. Yet the population validity is significantly decreased due to the fact that all the participants were civil servants which means the findings can only be generalised to a narrow sample of people, those working as civil servants. This challenges the validity because there is the possibility that there are characteristics present in the participants that are not found in the population as a whole.
The methodology of Marmot’s study involved self report techniques from the participants due to the series of questionnaires and having to self report symptoms. These self report measures are subjective due to the fact they are reliant on the memory on the participant and symptoms for example could be exaggerated or underplayed. Had a more objective measure been used such as being physically examined by a doctor or professional, then the results might have been more reliable.
In 1978 Johansson et al also carried out research into work based stress focussing in particular on work stressors such as repetitiveness, high levels of responsibility and a pace of work regulated by a machine. The research compared two groups, one of which was a high risk group of 14 finishers in a Swedish sawmill and the other, the control group of 10 cleaners. The finisher’s work was machine paced, repetitive and had a large amount of responsibility placed on it, due to the fact their productivity rate dictated the wage rates for the whole factory. Yet in contrast the cleaner’s work was self paced and allowed time for social interaction. It was found that the finishers secreted more stress hormones on work days than on rest days and these levels were higher than the control group. The finishers also had higher levels of absenteeism and stress related illnesses like headaches.
Johansson’s study has poor population validity due to a combination of factors. There was not only a very small sample size of 24 but all the participants were Swedish which means the research is ethnocentric. In addition to this the work environment in which the finisher’s worked was extremely specific and it is possible that this would not be found in other industries. These factors mean the findings have been based on a small number of people, from one country in the world that work in a very specialist industry; this considerably lowers the amount the research’s findings can be generalised to the population.
Another weakness to the research is that individual differences are not controlled. This is because there is the possibility that people with certain personality traits are attracted to particular jobs and it is this that could cause their health problems as opposed to a lack of job control. It is important to take into account the idea of individual differences because it has been shown through research that has revealed that not all workers with low control and high demand jobs become ill. This indicates that responses vary from person to person.