There have been various ways that stress has been defined. Stress in general terms is an emotive word which can be related to harmful and negative events. In psychological terms, individual differences make stress difficult to define as what is stressful to one, may not be stressful to another. Twining (1998) defined stress as “any situation or circumstance that threatens or that we believe will threaten our normal functioning and our ability to cope.” Personally, I think this is a good definition of stress as it takes into consideration that stress can be dealt with differently depending on how we individually perceive the situation that we are presented with.
Stress as a response is a definition where the key mediating factor is how a person perceives or interprets the stress as this will depend on how they feel and respond. As an example, losing a mobile telephone to one person may be stressful and cause the person to get very tense and frustrated another person may move on from the situation without feeling stressed. Masuda, Holmes and Rahe (1967) proposed a demand based theory of stress, they described this as when a person experiences life event stress or a change in environment, for example an individual who has suffered a marital breakdown or lost their home. Therefore, unlike the response based definition, the stress is the independent variable. The transactional definition of stress combines stress as a response and demand together as well as taking into consideration how the interpretation of a stressor will affect different people on an individual basis. This definition assumes that when an individual is facing a stressor that they are able to evaluate the situation and their response will be dependent on how they react to the demands. For example, someone who