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Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) « Mental Health « Surveys/Scales « Downloads

Date postedFebruary 2, 2012
Downloaded1644 times
CategoriesMental Health, Surveys/Scales, Conflict


Perceived Stress Scale, PSS (Cohen et al. 1983)- a 14-item, self-reported unidimensional instrument developed to measure a perceived stress in response to situation’s in a person’s life. Respondents report the prevalence of an item within the last month on a 5-point scale, ranging from never to very often. A 4-item version is available for telephone interviews, and a 10-item version has been psychometrically tested (see Cole 1999). Although developed for a general population, the tool has been used with caregivers of people with dementia/Alzheimer’s and spinal cord injuries.

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is the most widely used psychological instrument for measuring the perception of stress. It is a measure of the degree to which situations in one’s life are appraised as stressful. Items were designed to tap how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded respondents find their lives. The scale also includes a number of direct queries about current levels of experienced stress. Moreover, the questions are of a general nature and hence are relatively free of content specific to any sub-population group. The questions in the PSS ask about feelings and thoughts during the last month. In each case, respondents are asked how often they felt a certain way.

Perceived Stress Scale Scoring

PSS-10 scores are obtained by reversing the scores on the four positive items, e.g., 0=4, 1=3, 2=2, etc. and then summing across all 10 items. Items 4,5, 7, and 8 are the positively stated items.

The PSS was designed for use with community samples with at least a junior high school education, The items are easy to understand and the response alternatives are simple to grasp. Moreover, as noted above, the questions are quite general in nature and hence relatively free of content specific to any sub population group. The data reported in the article are from somewhat restricted samples, in that they are younger, more educated and contain fewer minority members than the general population. In light of the generality of scale content and simplicity of language and response alternatives, we feel that data from representative samples of the general population would not differ significantly from those reported below.

Conditions of Scale Use

Permission for use of the scale is not necessary when use is for academic reseach or educational purposes.

If you need written permission, please write the letter with a line for signature, along with a self addressed, stamped envelope,and send to:

Laurie Nelson
Department of Psychology
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
or email your request with your complete address included:

Sheldon Cohen

Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385-396.

Cohen, S., & Williamson, G. (1988). Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. In S. Spacapam & S. Oskamp (Eds.), The social psychology of health: Claremont Symposium on applied social psychology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Coefficient alpha reliabilities have been shown to range from 0.67 to .86

HIV-Related Outcomes: