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The Social Readjustment Rating Scale
An inventory of common stressors
This Social Readjustment Rating Scale was created by Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe, University of Washington School of Medicine, in the late 1960s to provide a standardized measure of the impact of a wide range of common stressors.
Using the Scale
To use the scale, simply add up the values for all of the listed life events that have occurred to you within the past year. If a particular event has happened to you more than once within the last 12 months, multiply the value by the number of occurrences. Enter your value total at the end of the list.
Each life event is assigned a value in arbitrary “life changing units” chosen to reflect the relative amount of stress the event causes in the population studied. Stress is cumulative, so to estimate the total stress you are experiencing, add up the values corresponding to the events that have occurred in your life over the past year.
Interpretation of the overall score is difficult because of the large differences in each person's ability to cope and their particular reactions to stress, but here are some general guidelines.
A total of 150 or less is good, suggesting a low level of stress in your life and a low probability of developing a stress-related disorder.
If your score is 300 or more, statistically you stand an almost 80% chance of getting sick in the near future.
If your score is 150 to 299, the chances are about 50%. At less than 150, about 30%. This scale seems to suggest that change in ones life requires an effort to adapt and then an effort to regain stability.
About the Scale
The scale is based on the observation that important life changes, whether positive such as marriage or negative, such as death of a close friend all induce stress. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed the scale by listing common stressful events and arbitrarily assigning a value of 50 “life-changing units” to the stress caused by marriage. They then had a large number of men rate the stress caused by the other events in comparison to marriage. The results were combined to create the scale. Studies show a modest correlation between the number of life-changing units experienced in the previous year with a person's health in the present year. Specifically correlations have been shown between SRRS scores and heart attacks, broken bones, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, complications of pregnancy and birth, decline in academic performance, employee absenteeism, and other difficulties. Although the scale was originally developed and validated using only male subjects it provides useful results with both male and female subjects and it has been validated in Japanese, Latin American, European, and Malaysian populations.
The stress caused by a particular stressor varies greatly from one person to the next because of the variability in the circumstances, interpretation, goals, personality, values, coping strategy, and resources from one person to the next. Therefore, although this scale is well-researched, the values are only a rough approximation at best.
Psychology: Core Concepts, by Phillip G. Zimbardo, Ann L. Weber, Robert L. Johnson
The social readjustment rating scale, Holmes, T. H. and Rahe, R. H. 1967, Journal of Psychosomatic research, 11(2), 213-21.
Stressful Life Events: Their Nature and Effects, by Barbara Snell Dohrenwend, Bruce P. Dohrenwend
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