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UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI MARA

Stress Among UiTM Students

MOHAMMAD ZIA UR REHMAAN


ziamailbox787@yahoo.com

FACULTY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

APRIL 2010

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Abstract

University students are prone to stress due to the intensive nature of university life. High levels

of stress are believed to affect students’ health as well as their academic performance. The aims

of this study were to identify stressors and reactions to stressors among UiTM students, ways

that UiTM students distress themselves and to identify stressors and reactions to stressors among

science-based and non-science-based students. Student-life Stress Inventory (SSI) was used to

measure the stressors and reactions to stressors. The final sample consisted of 100 students.

Descriptive methods via Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 16.0 were used such as

means and standard deviations to find out stressors and reactions to stressors. Results indicated

that the highest group of stressors experienced by students were ‘self-imposed’ stressors

followed by ‘pressures’ and reactions to stressors were group of reactions to stressors

‘emotional’ followed by ‘physiological’. There was no significant difference between the way

the science-based and the non-science-based students in terms of stressors and reactions to

stressors. For both group of students the most prevalent stressor and reactions to stressors were

‘self-imposed’ and ‘emotional’ respectively. The most common ways the UiTM students distress

themselves were watching movies, listening to music and playing video games. Stress

management, self-help courses, time management and counseling sessions will be effective in

reducing stress experienced by students.

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1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background

“I believe in work, hard work and long hours of work. Men do not break down from
overwork, but from worry and dissipation” (Charles E. Hughes, 1996)

This study aims at assessing stress among UiTM students. Nowadays stress has become

an important issue in the academic circle as well as in our modern society. The stressful

nature of university students’ roles and expectations are not secret to anyone. University

is a stressful time for many students as they go through the transitional phase of adhering

to the new educational and social environments after finishing high school. This study is

based on relevant information obtained from previous studies by many experts. Firstly,

according to Rees and Redfern, 2000; Ellison, 2004; Ongori and Agolla, 2008; Agolla,

2009, many scholars in the field of behavioural science have carried out extensive

research on stress and its outcomes and concluded that the topic needed more attention.

Secondly, from Smith, 2002; Tweed et al., 2004; Stevenson and Harper, 2006, stress in

academic institutions can have both positive and negative consequences if not well

managed. Academic institutions have different work settings compared to nonacademic

and therefore one would expect the difference in symptoms, causes, and consequences of

stress in the two set up (Elfering et al., 2005; Chang and Lu, 2007).

Thirdly it is important to the society that students should learn and acquire the necessary

knowledge and skills that will in turn make them contribute positively to the development

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of the general economy of any nation. However, the intricate academic environment

sometimes poses great medical problems to the students’ lives (Danna and Griffin, 1999;

Dyck, 2001; Grawitch et al., 2007; Ongori, 2008) that tend to negate the positive gains

that one would expect after completion of University.

Lastly, students at the university have different expectations, goals, and values that they

want to fulfil at the university, which is only possible if the students’ expectations, goals,

and values are integrated with that of the university (Goodman, 1993). Students’

expectations vary with respect to their personality and their backgrounds. Therefore it is

important for the university to maintain well balanced academic environment conducive

for better learning, with the focus on the students’ personal needs.

By browsing through the previous studies, it is found that much attention is required

towards the scholars’ assertion for the needed stress management in the university to be

effective. Subsequently we were encouraged to come up with a study on this particular

subject matter in UiTM.

Stress

There are many definitions of stress. The one we have found simple is ‘stress occurs

when pressure exceeds your ability to cope’ (Palmer et. al, 2007). ‘The usual descriptions

of stress involve something happening (the stressor) and the body responding with some

predictable physiological and psychological reactions (the stress response)’ (Rugg et. al,

2008).

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1.2 Terms of reference

On the 28th of January 2011, Assoc. Prof Norlaila binti Yahya requested her students to

conduct a research and to come up with a report on the study of stress among UiTM

students. The report includes background information and detailed statistical data with

clear cut findings alongside conclusions and recommendations and is due on the 21st of

April 2011.

1.3 Problem Statement

It is found that the need for stress management has be effective in the university.

Therefore, a research study is performed to investigate about the current status quo of

stress among students in UiTM.

1.4 Objectives

1.4.1 To investigate the main factors leading to stress among UiTM students.

1.4.2 To find out the main reactions to various stressors among UiTM students.

1.4.3 To investigate about different ways students employ to distress themselves.

1.4.4 To investigate the effects of stress among science based and non-science based

students.

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1.5 Significance of study

Student life consists of several strands namely stress, the academic world and student life.

This research investigates these three strands together and also gives conclusions and

recommendations how to improve upon the actual status quo to positive well-being.

1.6 Limitation

The maximum number of respondents for this research is limited to 100.

1.7 Methodology

1.7.1 Sample

The sample consisted of 100 respondents in this case study. The respondents were

from four faculties namely Engineering, Medical, Law and Business.

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1.7.2 Secondary sources

Literature review in terms of students’ stress and the questionnaire were

effectuated mainly from related articles, journals, and books.

1.7.3 Instrumentation

Student-life Stress Inventory (SSI) was modified and used to collect data. The

survey started on Monday 27th of March and lasted until Tuesday 4th of April. The

SSI is a 51-item Likert-type response format questionnaire with possible

responses ranging from 1 to 5 (1 = never, 2 = seldom, 3 = occasionally, 4 = often,

5 = most of the time) (Gadzella et al., 1991). However, for the practicability of

this research, the SSI was reduced to 37-item questionnaire and adapted

eventually. The SSI is a self-administered instrument that consists of two parts:

stressors and reactions to stressors. The stressor parts comprise of 20 items

measuring four categories of stressors (frustrations, pressures, changes and self-

imposed stressors). The reactions to stressor parts comprise of 17 items measuring

three categories of reactions to stressors (physiological, emotional and

behavioral). The SSI been reported to have an acceptable internal consistency

reliability as evidenced by Cronbach’s α = 0.684, a statistical measure done in

Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) 16.0 to check the consistency of the

questionnaire thus confirming its applicability to this case study.

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2.0 FINDINGS

2.1 Descriptive Results of demographic variables

2.1.1 Gender

Gender

49%
51%
Male
Female

Figure 1: Pie chart representing gender

Figure 1 shows the pie chart of gender. There are 51% female students and 49%

male students who participated in the study.

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2.1.2 Age

Age

2% 1%
10% 9%

19
20
36%
21
42% 22
23
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Figure 2: Pie chart representing Age

Figure 2 shows the percentage of respondents based on age. It was found that the

majority of the respondents are 22 years old and noted to be 42%. Then it is

followed by 36 % which is 21 years old, 10 % of the students are 23 years old, 9

% are 20 years old, 2 % are 24 years old and only 1% of the total is 19 years old.

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2.1.3 Faculty

Faculty

25% 25%

Medical
Law
Business
25% 25%
Engineering

Figure 3: Pie chart representing faculty

Figure 3 represents the faculty of the respondents. All respondents come equally

(25%) from the four faculties as shown above namely Medical, Law, Business

and Engineering.

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2.1.4 Current Semester

Semester

2%

13%
25%
Sem 2

5% Sem 3
Sem 4
Sem 5
55%
Sem 6

Figure 4: Pie chart showing the current semester

Figure 4 shows the percentage of students in their respective current semesters. A

remarkable majority of 55% of the total number of respondents are actually

pursuing their fourth semester. Then it is followed by semester 6 with 25 % of the

respondents. Semesters 3, 5 and 2 have a percentage of 13, 5 and 2 respectively.

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2.1.5 Transport

Transport

14%
24%

Car
Motorcycle
19% Bus
43%
Others

Figure 4: Pie chart representing Transport

It is observed from the above pie chart that most of the respondents come by

motorcycle (43%) followed by others (24%) and bus which is 19%. The lowest

percentage of students comes to UiTM by car (14%).

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2.2 Testing internal consistency of questionnaire

Reliability analysis is a type of statistical technique to test the internal consistency of the

questionnaire. A value called Cronbach’s alpha value is used to assess the reliability of

the questionnaire. According to Hair et al., 2000, a coefficient of less than 0.6 indicates

marginally low internal consistency.

Reliability Statistics

Cronbach's Alpha N of Items

.684 37

Figure 5: Reliability analysis in SPSS

The reliability analysis was performed in SPSS on all the questions in the questionnaire.

Since the value of .684 is higher than the benchmarked value of .6, this means that the

questionnaire was reliable and consistent.

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2.3 To investigate the most prevalent stressor among UiTM students

Category Mean S.D Number of items


Stressors

Self-Imposed 3.62 1.81 6


Pressures 3.22 .69 4
Frustrations 2.83 .65 7
Changes 2.71 .74 3
Reactions to
Stressors

Emotional 3.00 .82 4


Physiological 2.66 .63 7
Behavioural 2.13 .59 6

Table 1: Means and standard deviations of stressors and reactions to stressors

According to Table 1, the most prevalent group of stressors experienced by the students

were those related to ‘self-imposed’ stressors mean = 3.62, SD = 1.81). Examples of

‘self’-imposed’ stressors were ‘I like to compete and win’ and ‘I like to be noticed and be

loved by all’. The second most common group of stressors was those resulting from

‘pressures’ (mean = 3.22, SD = .69). Examples of ‘pressures' stressors were ‘My stress

resulted from competition (on grades, work and relationship with friends)’ and ‘My stress

due to an overload (attempting to do many things at one time)’. The third most common

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group was those resulting from ‘frustrations’ (mean = 2.83, SD = .65). The groups of

stressors experienced least were those relating to ‘changes’ (mean = 2.71, SD = .74).

2.4 To found out the most common reaction to stressor among UiTM students

According to Table 1, the results revealed that the respondents react to the experienced

stressors in different ways, including emotional, physiological and behavioral. Emotional

stressors is found to be the most prevalent reaction among students (mean = 3.00, SD =

.82). Examples of particular responses to stressors are ‘Fear, Anxiety, worry and Anger’.

Physiological responses are found to be the second most common responses to stressors

(mean = 2.66, SD = .63). Examples of particular responses are ‘Sweating, Stuttering,

Trembling’. The least common responses to stressors are Behavioral (mean = 3.47, SD =

1.1). Examples of particular responses are ‘Cried, Abused others, Abused self’.

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2.5 Finding out how students distress themselves

Ways students distress themselves


Yes No

78 83
67
59
53 50 50
47
41
33
22 17

Figure 6: Bar charts showing ways students distress themselves

From Figure 6, it is observed that most of the students watch movies, listen to music, play

video games (78%) to distress themselves followed by sleeping (67%), hanging out with

friends (59%), surfing the web (53%), physical activities (50%). The least prevalent way

students distress themselves is smoking (83%).

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2.6 Comparison of stress between science-based and non science-based students

Mean S.D
Category Science-based Non science- Science-based Non science-
students based students students based students
Stressors

Self-imposed 3.92 3.32 2.43 .71


Pressures 3.47 2.97 .67 .62
Frustrations 2.89 2.76 .78 .78
Changes 2.70 2.73 .76 .76
Reactions to
stressors

Emotions 5.00 3.07 .86 .77


Physiological 3.86 2.83 .68 .66
Behavioral 3.67 2.11 .58 .60

Table 2: Means and standard deviations of stressors and reactions to stressors among science-

based and non science-based students

According to Table 1, the most prevalent group of stressors experienced by both science-

based and non-science-based the students were those related to ‘self-imposed’ stressors.

Likewise, the most common responses to stressors for both science-based and non

science-based the students are ‘emotions’. Both statements are explained by the highest

mean for both groups as bolded in Table 2.

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3.0 Conclusions

Based on the findings, these are some of the conclusions that can be further looked into:

 The most prevalent stressor which is self-imposed among UiTM students is due to the

fact that the students are very ambitious.

 The most common reaction to stressor is emotional (fear, anxiety, worry, anger, guilt,

grief, depression) and this can be attributed to the fact that competitions in this new

era of globalized economy are fierce.

 The majority of UiTM students choose to watch movies, listen to music and play

video games to distress themselves.

 The most common stressor among science-based students and non-science-based

students is self-imposed. This is due to the fact that both groups of students are

enrolled in courses of what will make them involve in the top most ladder of society.

 The most frequent reaction to stressor among both science and non-science based

students is emotional. Both science and non-science based faculties are labor

intensive, thus explaining why such reactions are predominant among them.

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4.0 Recommendations

 Stress among university students cannot be eliminated completely, but a lot should be

done to prepare students to positively manage stress in order to maximize their

opportunities to effectively learn and grow during their student life and achieve

success in both the academic and social environments (Misra et al., 2000).

 Stress management programmes specific to the needs of students should be

considered by university administrators.

 Effective communication between students and the lecturers should be promoted.

This could help students find appropriate stress reduction methods to improve their

academic and social performance.

 Emotional reactions to stressors can be targeted through self-help programmes such

as time management, motivation, self-discipline and so on.

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REFERENCES

Agolla, J.E., & Ongori, H., (2009). An assessment of academic stress among
undergraduate students: The case of University of Botswana. Educational
Research and Review Vol. 4 (2), pp. 063-070.

DeDeyn, R. (2008). A Comparison of Academic Stress Among Australian and


International Students. Journal of Undergraduate Research XI.

Hair, J.F., Anderson, R.E, Tatham, R.L., & Black, W.C. (1998). Multivariate Data
Analysis (5th ed). New Jersey: Prentice Hall International.

Landow, M. V. (2006). Stress & mental health of college students, 1-28

Palmer, S. & Cooper, C., (2008). How to deal deal with stress. 2nd Edition. The Sunday
Times. pp. 1-21

Rugg G., Gerrard S. & Hooper S. (2008). Stress-free guide to studying at university, 1-11

Sulaiman, T., Hassan, A., Sapian, M. V., Abdullah, K. (2009). The Level of Stress
Among Students in Urban and Rural Secondary Schools in Malaysia. European
Journal of Social Sciences.

Travers, J., & Cooper, C.L. (1996). Teachers under pressure:Stress in the teaching
profession, 36-45.

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APPENDICES

Appendix A: Questionnaire

Dear respondents,

This survey is carried out for the research titled ‘A study on stress among UiTM students’. All
information given is confidential and for research purposes only. Please tick (√) one answer in the box
for each question. If you are unsure about how to answer the question, please give the best answer you
can. We rely on your sincere response for it is the main contribution for our research. Thank you for
your time and cooperation.

Faculty: Engineering Medical Law Business

Age: .......................

Gender: Male Female

Means Of Transportation: Car Motorcycle Bus Others

Current Semester: ..............

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AMOUNT OF STRESS
Most of
STRESSORS
Never Seldom Occasionally Often the
time
A. As a student (frustrations):

1. I have experienced frustrations due to


1 2 3 4 5
delays in reaching my goals.
2. I have experienced daily hassles which
affected me in reaching my goals. 1 2 3 4 5

3. I have experienced lack of sources (money


1 2 3 4 5
for auto, books, etc.).
4. I have experienced failures in accomplishing
the goals that I set. 1 2 3 4 5

5. I have not been accepted socially (became a


social outcast). 1 2 3 4 5

6. I have experienced dating frustrations.


1 2 3 4 5
7. I feel I was denied opportunities in spite
1 2 3 4 5
of my qualifications.
B. I experienced pressures:

8. As a result of competition (on grades, work,


1 2 3 4 5
relationships with spouse and/or friends).
9. Due to deadlines (papers due, payments to
1 2 3 4 5
be made, etc.).
10. Due to an overload (attempting too many
1 2 3 4 5
things at one time).
11. Due to interpersonal relationships (family
and/or friends, expectations, work
1 2 3 4 5
responsibilities).

C. I have experienced (changes):


12. Rapid unpleasant changes.
1 2 3 4 5
13. Too many changes occurring at the same
time. 1 2 3 4 5

14. Change which disrupted my life and/or


1 2 3 4 5
goals.
D. As a person (self-imposed):

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15. I like to compete and win.
1 2 3 4 5
16. I like to be noticed and be loved by all.
1 2 3 4 5
17. I worry a lot about everything and
1 2 3 4 5
everybody.
18. I have a tendency to procrastinate (put off
1 2 3 4 5
things that have to be done).
19. I feel I must find a perfect solution to the
1 2 3 4 5
problems I undertake.
20. I worry and get anxious about taking tests.
1 2 3 4 5
E. During stressful situations, I have experienced the following (physiological):
21. Sweating (sweaty palms, etc.).
1 2 3 4 5
22. Stuttering (not being able to speak clearly).
1 2 3 4 5
23. Trembling (being nervous,
biting fingernails, etc.). 1 2 3 4 5

24. Rapid movements (moving quickly, from


place to place). 1 2 3 4 5

25. Exhaustion (worn out, burned out, tired).


1 2 3 4 5
26. Weight loss (can't eat).
1 2 3 4 5
27. Weight gain (eat a lot).
1 2 3 4 5
F. When under stressful situations, I have experienced (emotional):
28. Fear, anxiety, worry.
1 2 3 4 5
29. Anger.
1 2 3 4 5
30. Guilt.
1 2 3 4 5
31. Grief, depression.
1 2 3 4 5
G. When under stressful situations, I have (behavioral):
32. Cried.
1 2 3 4 5
33. Abused others (verbally and/or physically).
1 2 3 4 5
34. Abused self (used drugs, etc.). 1 2 3 4 5
35. Smoked excessively. 1 2 3 4 5

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36. Was irritable towards others.
1 2 3 4 5

37. Separated myself from others.


1 2 3 4 5

38. Things I do to distress myself (you may tick more than one):

Watching movies, listening to music, or playing video games

Hanging out with friends (eat,shopping,etc)

Surfing the web (chat, social network, games, etc)

Physical activities (sports, outdoor activities)

Smoking

Sleep

Source: Adapted and modified from the Student-Life Stress Inventory (Gadzella, 1991).

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Appendix B: SPSS Outputs

Faculty

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid Engineering 25 25.0 25.0 25.0

Medical 25 25.0 25.0 50.0

Law 25 25.0 25.0 75.0

Business 25 25.0 25.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Age

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid 19 1 1.0 1.0 1.0

20 9 9.0 9.0 10.0

21 36 36.0 36.0 46.0

22 42 42.0 42.0 88.0

23 10 10.0 10.0 98.0

24 2 2.0 2.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Gender

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid Male 49 49.0 49.0 49.0

Female 51 51.0 51.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

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Transport

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid Car 14 14.0 14.0 14.0

Motorcycle 42 42.0 42.0 56.0

Bus 19 19.0 19.0 75.0

Others 24 24.0 24.0 99.0

99 1 1.0 1.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Semester

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid 2 2 2.0 2.0 2.0

3 13 13.0 13.0 15.0

4 55 55.0 55.0 70.0

5 5 5.0 5.0 75.0

6 25 25.0 25.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

watch movies, listening to music, playing video games

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid not ticked 22 22.0 22.0 22.0

ticked 78 78.0 78.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

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hanging out with friends (eat, shopping)

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid not ticked 41 41.0 41.0 41.0

ticked 59 59.0 59.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Surfing the web (chat, social network, games etc)

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid not ticked 47 47.0 47.0 47.0

ticked 53 53.0 53.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Physical activities (sports, outdoor activities)

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid not ticked 50 50.0 50.0 50.0

ticked 50 50.0 50.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Smoking

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid ticked 17 17.0 17.0 17.0

not ticked 83 83.0 83.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

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Sleep

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Percent

Valid not ticked 33 33.0 33.0 33.0

ticked 67 67.0 67.0 100.0

Total 100 100.0 100.0

Descriptive Statistics

N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation


frustrations 100 1.43 4.71 2.8286 .65324
Pressures 100 1.50 5.00 3.2175 .68595
Changes 100 1.00 4.67 2.7133 .73858
Self_imposed 100 1.50 20.17 3.6183 1.80523
Valid N (listwise) 100

Descriptive Statistics

N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation

Physiological 100 1.29 3.86 2.6614 .63293


Emotional 100 1.00 5.00 3.0000 .81650
Behavioral 100 1.00 3.67 2.1250 .58717
Valid N (listwise) 100

Science-based

Descriptive Statistics

N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation

Frustration 50 1.57 4.71 2.8943 .78289


Pressures 50 2.00 5.00 3.4650 .66817
Changes 50 1.00 4.00 2.7000 .76265
Self_Imposed 50 2.00 20.17 3.9167 2.42863
Valid N (listwise) 50

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Descriptive Statistics

N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation

Physiological 50 1.29 3.86 2.5514 .68421


Emotional 50 1.25 5.00 2.9250 .86344
Behavioral 50 1.00 3.67 2.1367 .58485
Valid N (listwise) 50

Non-science-based

Descriptive Statistics

N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation

frustrations 50 1.43 3.71 2.7629 .49031


Pressures 50 1.50 4.00 2.9700 .61578
Changes 50 1.33 4.67 2.7267 .72120
Self_Imposed 50 1.50 4.67 3.3200 .71018
Physiological 50 1.43 5.29 2.8286 .66319
Emotional 50 1.00 5.00 3.0750 .76806
Behavioral 50 1.00 3.33 2.1133 .59518
Valid N (listwise) 50

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