RMIT – Principles of Psychology

PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY

The Impact of Extraversion, and Social Connectedness on First-year University Student Stress 

1. Abstract

This research study sheds light on the changing lifestyle of the students that are responsible for increasing the stress level in their respective lives. The factors like extraversion, social connectedness, and their relationship with academic stress is being described in this study. The tools that are used to collect the data and the result found in interpreting the data are also given in this research study. 

2. Participants

The survey collected data of 525 students, but only 384 students qualified as first-year RMIT University students, who enrolled in the first year of Psychology. According to the descriptive statistics regarding age, the mean age is 19.52 years with SD equals to 3.65 year, with age ranging from 17 to 51. The attendants are mainly female students (288 out of 384), in comparison to male (95 out of 384), and others (1 out of 384). Though the participation was voluntary, a motivation about assessment grade was provided to encourage students to participate and complete the survey. 

3. Materials

i. Social Connectedness. 

Social Connectedness Scale-Revised (SCS-R) developed by Lee et al (2001) was used to measure social connectedness, which is the degree to which people in a given social environment feel connected to one another. The 20-item scale used a set of statements and asks participants to select their level of agreement toward the statements on a 6-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 6 (Strongly agree). The scale has score range between 0 and 120, taking into consideration that the higher the score, the stronger sense of social connectedness. (Lee et al, 2001)

 

ii. Personality 

OCEANIC (Openness Conscientiousness Extraversion Agreeableness Neuroticism Index Condensed) was used to assess personality (Schulze  & Roberts, 2006). OCEANIC is a 45-item inventory that consists of 5 subscales for each personality trait, each subscale contains 9 items. Survey participants were instructed to review statements and rate their level of frequency on a 6-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (Never) to 6 (Always). 

Add connection between extraversion and OCEANIC

iii. Stress

University Stress Scale (USS) was used to measure stress level (Stallman & Hurst, 2016). USS is a 21-item self-report inventory to measure stress level that university students experienced with specific stressors. The scale asks participants to report on the level of frequency a specific item caused them stress in the past month on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (Not at all) to 4 (Constantly). Given the scoring method produced by Stallman & Hurst in 2016, the USS presented a good level of reliability (with a=0.83) and good validity (Stallman & Hurst, 2016).

4. Procedure

The survey was e-mailed to participants and set to expire after 14 days. The estimated completion time for the survey is approximately 8 – 10 minutes. The detailed instruction has been provided in the e-mail and in the survey description, which suggests the participant to take the survey in a private place without the presence of friends, and can be fully focused. To assure personal privacy, disclosure about confidentiality has been included in the survey and in the email. In regard to OCEANIC, the responses that concern extroversion will be used to support the data analysis progress and the production of reports. 

Table 3.1. Mean and Standard Deviation of Student Stress, Social Connectedness and Extroversion

M SD
Student Stress 20.68 9.01
Social connectedness 81.88 14.35
Extroversion 18.81 3.90

 

According to Salkind’s recommended interpretation (Salkind, 2014), Extraversion has a significant, very weak, and negative correlation with student stress r(382) = -.111, p = .029. It means that there is a very weak negative relationship between extroversion and student stress.

Social connectedness has a significant, moderate, and positive relationship with student stress, r(382) = -.426, p < .001. This indicates that there is a significant, moderate, and positive relationship between social connectedness. In other words, it means that the first year students feel more belonging to their surrounding social environment, they would feel just about the same or more stress.

 

5. Discussion

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship and correlation between first year student stress with extraversion and social connectedness. The first hypothesis is that extraversion would have a positive relationship with student stress was rejected due to the analysis derived from survey data. According to the study, extraversion has a significant, very weak, and negative correlation with student stress. Previous studies indicate the prevalence of stress among doctors and medical students appears to be reduced by higher levels of conscientiousness and extraversion and lower levels of neuroticism (Vollrath & Torgersen, 2000).

The second hypothesis is that there is a negative relationship between social connectedness and student stress. According to this study’s findings, the hypothesis has been rejected, the data analysis indicates a significant, moderate, and positive relationship between social connectedness. A study demonstrates how important it is to offer services to international students in order to maintain social bonds. Particularly, international students’ acculturative stress 25 was lower among those who were content with their social networks and a sense of social connectedness. This discovery has a significant relevance for counsellors, who should create initiatives to help international students interact and form communities (Yeh & Inose, 2010).

However, there are some limitations to this study. Regarding the quality of the sample, firstly, the number of female participants is significantly higher (75% of samples) than the number of male and others. Given that each gender would have a different population of personality traits, this limitation would affect the overall result of the study. Secondly, the age of participants would have similar problems, different age groups would favour a specific personality trait, for example, men tend to have higher probability to have higher extraversion index when they get older (Rose, 1994).

The study’s findings indicate that social connectedness has a more significant impact on reflecting stress of first year university students. 

 

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