Suppression Effects in Social Stress Research and Their Implications for the Stress Process Model

  • Scott Schieman


Leonard Pearlin’s “The Sociological Study of Stress”, a classic piece, published in the 1989 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, has inspired two decades of research. One of the central messages in that paper is that the sociological study of stress aims to document patterns between social status or dimensions of stratification and indicators of physical or mental health (Pearlin 1989, 1999). Other scholars have pursued this line of inquiry by documenting a social distribution or epidemiology of stress exposure and their subsequent links to health outcomes in large community-based or nationally representative surveys (e.g., Mirowsky and Ross 2003a, b; Turner et al. 1995). So, for example, women tend to report higher levels of depression; age is inversely associated with levels of anger; the well-educated tend to report fewer physical symptoms and so on. In addition, researchers have then sought to explain the reasons for variations in health outcomes across social status or dimensions of stratification (Mirowsky 1999). These explanations are often linked to the unequal distribution of exposure to various forms of adversities (among other things) (Aneshensel 1992; McLeod and Nonnemaker 1999; Wheaton 1999).

This basic orienting framework of the stress process model has guided my own research over the past decade. As Pearlin (1983) has observed, some of the most common chronic stressors occur in the main social roles of daily life – especially work and family (or their intersection). The broad scope and utility of the stress process framework is especially notable here. For example, scholars in the sociology of religion have sought to apply its concepts and predictions to describe the religion–mental health association (Ellison 1994). Thus, in addition to work and family contexts, there has been recent interest in linking the activities and beliefs embedded in the religious role with stress and mental health processes.


Personal Resource Religious Involvement Stress Process Creative Work Religious Participation 
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A grant award from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control supports this study (R01 OH008141; Scott Schieman, Principal Investigator).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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