Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is a measure of the degree which situations in an individual’s life is evaluated as stressful. Items were designed to assess how overloaded, unpredictable and uncontrollable respondents find their lives. These three issues are central components of the experience of stress. Additionally, the scale includes a number of questions about the current levels of experienced stress. The 14 item scale (PSS14) was developed in 1983 and there has been no major revisions since. A four-item and 10-item (PSS10) versions of the scale has also been validated. The PSS10 allows the assessment of perceived stress without any loss of psychometric quality. The PSS was developed in the USA for individuals with a minimum of a high school education. Items include:

In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?

In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?

Psychometric Properties

The PSS14 was factor analysed using a principal components method with varimax roatation. Ten items loaded positively on the first factor at .48 or above. The remaining four items had a low loading <.39. The PSS10 consisted of 10 items eliminated those four items. Cronbach’s alpha for the PSS14 was acceptable ( = .75). Cronbach’s alpha for the PSS10 had a slightly higher reliability score ( = .78). Test-retest reliability was not reported.  The mean and standard deviation scores for PSS14 and PSS10 were 19.62 (SD = 7.49) and 13.02 (SD = 6.35) respectively.  PSS scores were moderately related to responses on other measures of appraised stress supporting convergent validity. Cross-cultural validations have been conducted (eg. Australia, Japan and Greece). All showed satisfactory psychometric results.


The items of the scale are available in the appendix of the article by Cohen et al. (1983). Alternatively, the PSS can be sourced through a simple search online. No permission is required to use this scale. It was intended to be an economical tool to be used for research purposes. The PSS is primarily used in research settings.


Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A Global Measure of Perceived Stress. Journal Of Health And Social Behavior, 24(4), 385 – 396.    doi: 10.2307/2136404