Perceived Stress Scale

Measuring the self-perception of stress

Sheldon Cohen

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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.


Digital download (PDF)

PSS Form (pdf) Free PDF icon

Also see:  Stress Management Workbook

Please note: Mind Garden does not publish the PSS. Many questions can be answered on Sheldon Cohen's personal website and all questions should be addressed to

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Individuals are asked to indicate how often you felt or thought a certain way.

0 1 2 3 4
Never Almost never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

Sample inventory question

1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly? 0 1 2 3 4

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