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 assess how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded respondents find their lives to be. 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.
Copyright © 1994 by Sheldon Cohen
Features of the PSS
Purpose: Measure the perception of stress
Length: 10 items
Average completion time: 5-10 minutes
Target population: Individuals with at least a junior high school education
Administration: For individual or group administration
Uses of the PSS
From the PSS
"...a psychometrically sound global measure of perceived stress could provide valuable additional information about the relationship between stress and pathology.... the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) [was] developed in response to these issues. The PSS measures the degree to which situations in one's life are appraised as stressful."
-- Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R., "A Global Measure of Perceived Stress"
Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R., "A Global Measure of Perceived Stress," in Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24 (1983), 385-396. Full text here (pdf)
Sheldon Cohen & Gail Williamson, "Perceived Stress in a Probability Sample of the United States," in Social Psychology of Health, ed. S. Spacapan & S. Oskamp (Sage, 1988). Full text here (pdf)
More on Stress and Social Support at Sheldon Cohen's personal website at Carnegie Mellon University
Perceived Stress Scale Form
Download the PSS Form free of charge. Mind Garden does not publish the PSS. Many questions can be answered on on the Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity, and Disease website .