Interpersonal Communications, Healthy Relationships Stress Self-Test

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Healthy Relationships and Interpersonal Communications Stress Self-Test

Richard T. Lovelace, PhD, MSW

Communications and relationships that work (at work and elsewhere) involve interactions between people who are experiencing comfortable emotions and physical states. An uncomfortable emotional state such as anger with an uncomfortable physical state like a "tension headache" discourage getting along. The most direct cause of such discomfort is psychological stress: the biochemical response to an unknown perception of threat. To the point, the more stress you have the more your relationships suffer. The more your relationships or interpersonal communications are hurting, the greater the likelihood you will have even more stress.

Note: A guide to using the stress test portion of this lifestyle, health risk assessment with work groups is in the 2000 Training and Performance Sourcebook, published (December, 1999) by McGraw-Hill.

Interpersonal Communications and Relationships Lovelace Stress Test / Inventory

  • Please read each of the ten statements below.
  • As you go, gauge how well each statement describes you in recent times. (The last six weeks.)
  • Respond to each statement with a number from one to seven. The more you believe the statement describes you, the higher the number you give.
  • Not at all like me....Moderately like me.....Just like me


  • Be sure to type your numbers as you go and avoid skipping statements.
  • Stress test portion of this assessment. © Copyright 1987-Present, R. T. Lovelace, Ph.D., MSW All rights reserved.

    1. I believe that I have too much stress. [Type numbers (1 to 7) in the boxes to the right.]
    2. I worry about people or about things.
    3. I have a fear that interferes or holds me back. You might relate the fear to activities such as asserting yourself, calling or meeting with present or prospective customers/clients, being rejected, handling objections, dealing with criticism, driving or maybe flying.
    4. I believe that one or more of my relations at work or elsewhere suffers because of my irritability or sadness.
    5. I doubt that I'm as successful in my work, or at home, as I should be.
    6. The way I eat and drink is nutritionally poor or I eat too much fattening food.
    7. I have a physical problem that I suspect, or someone tells me, comes from pressures in my life. The problem could be headaches, stomach upsets, back or neck pain, difficulty sleeping, teeth grinding, bitten finger nails, excessive sweating, too much body fat, decreased romantic interest, skin problems or cold hands. Please note that factors, other than stress, can cause some of these physical concerns. If you haven't already, check with your physician.
    8. Most days, there are too many tasks that I should complete.
    9. I use something to calm or relax me. Or I use something to pep me up or to give me energy/excitement. You might, for example, use nicotine, caffeine, a medicine, a dietary supplement, alcohol, a forbidden drug, gambling, extramarital relations or maybe "too much" watching television.
    10. I exercise--not activity done at work, yard or house work--too little or the exercise I do doesn't help enough.

    Please add your numbers now. Type that initial score here:

    Overstating Stress.

    If your "Obvious Stress Score" (above) was 58 or higher, check to see how often you gave a response of seven (7). (The total presence of something so infrequently happens that it's reasonable to consider such a response to be a subconscious attempt to overstate it.) Deduct three (3) points from your "Obvious Stress Score" for each response of seven. If, for example, your "Obvious Stress Score" was 61, and you gave seven responses of seven, then subtract 21 points from your "Obvious Stress Score" for an "adjusted score" of 40.

    If needed, put your adjusted score here:

    Note: Skip "Identifying Hidden Stress" below if you scored 40 or higher. Go directly to "What your number suggests."

    Identifying Hidden Stress

    If you got an "initial score" of 39 or less, you still might have some "Hidden Stress." Three key items can tell you if you have this concealed, and particularly menacing, strain. Worry (inventory item # two) hurtful eating (# six) and using "home remedy" or prescribed "painkillers" (# nine) are common ways to unwittingly avoid an awareness of stress.

    Type your initial score here:

    If you scored 39 or less and still rated yourself with a five or more on statement two, six or nine, then add seven points to your initial score for each statement. That means, for example, if your score totaled 37 and you rated yourself as five on statement number two and statement nine then add 14 (two statements time seven) to your 37 for a new total of 51.

    Did you respond to any of the 10 items by rating yourself with a number one? If so, add three points to your score for each. (It infrequently happens that there is a total absence of something. So it's appropriate to consider such a response to be a subconscious attempt to ignore stress.) For instance, if you answered two of the statements with a number one, you would add another six points to the 51 for a final adjusted total of 57. The difference between the 37 you started with and 57 represents Hidden Stress.

    Type your adjusted score here:

    What your score (initial or adjusted) suggests:

    • If you got an "initial score" of 33 or less, that suggests that you are using subconscious denial of how much stress you have. Don't take this as criticism. Instead, see it as a possibility you need to consider. Also with an "initial score" that low (33 or less), you may have misunderstood how to respond to this inventory. (The more you believe a statement describes you, the higher the number you give.)
    • If your "initial score" was 34 to 39, that implies that you have a low level of stress.
    • If you scored (initial or adjusted) 40 to 45, chances are you have a moderate level. Your score clearly points to a need to reduce your stress.
    • Scores (initial or adjusted) of 46 and higher suggest a high level. Doing something soon that works to significantly lower your stress is, I believe, easily justified.

    Obvious stress is harmful enough. Hidden Stress is worse. It can be difficult to get yourself to work on what, understandably, you don't realize is there.

    Next, write a number from one to seven that best describes (overall and in recent times) a relationship that is working less well. The number seven represents the greatest strain in the relationship in recent times (the last six weeks).

    Some guidelines can help you decide on an appropriate number:

    • Relations that involve giving or receiving physical "punishment," or any actions that do (or could) produce physical injury (bruises, scrapes, scratches etc.) would get a 6 or 7.
    • You would give a rating of 5 or 6 when you get or give some nonphysical counters that involve obvious conflict. Such verbal or written interactions sometimes contain criticisms or threats. One or both people involved at least occasionally believes that the other person hurts his or her feelings.
    • You might assign a rating of 4 or 5 to a relationship when the trouble or strain is confined to sometimes purposefully avoiding contacts or interactions, and there is hardly any obvious conflict.

    Note: Avoid “averaging” the strain. For instance, keep from telling yourself something like, “While it’s true that recently the relationship is usually strained and should get a rating of five or six, we got along well before … at a level of maybe a two or three. So, I’ll average those numbers and give a rating of four.” Please, don’t do it. Give the number that describes the level of hurt or strain in recent times.

    Relationship number:

    Finally, scroll down to the chart you find below to see how well you numbers match.

    © Copyright 1998-Present, R. T. Lovelace, MSW, Ph.D. All rights reserved. (For your personal use only and not to be printed or used other than for your personal use.)

    Please note: The author offers this inventory for educational purposes. No lifestyle, health risk assessment or appraisal tells absolute facts. Such assessments suggest possibilities to consider. When the results make sense and are helpful, then use them to your benefit. Avoid making significant changes in your life based on the results. Instead, use what you learn combined with appropriate professional support.

    Last stress score: Relationship number:

    Final Total Stress Score.

    Overall number you gave a relationship working less well.

    64 and above












    32 and below


    Did you find a close match between your scores? If so, that confirms the interaction we noted earlier:

    • The more stress you have the more your relations will suffer.
    • The more your relations are hurting the greater the likelihood that you will have even more stress.

    We recommend that you,

    • Do what you will and soon to relieve your stress. The more direct and realistic way is to learn how to and practice countering the thoughts that create stress.
    • Now that you have identified and rated a relationship that's more strained focus on it. As you will, contribute to strengthening the relationship. Click here and review some suggestions.

    The stress quiz part of the Interpersonal Communication Relationship Stress Inventory offers these important benefits:

    • Being experience based, it examines what you want to know about. It doesn't use so-called "life events" and other such "measures" to try and say something about how much stress you might have.
    • The assessment is brief (still long enough) and clear with 10, highly-refined items. Unlike other reputable instruments, you are apt to finish this one.
    • It recognizes the clear association between stress and moods. No other such instrument we know of, or have heard about, does that.
    • It is time-tested. The stress inventory was developed over 15-plus years and used with thousands of adults around the world.
    • It was (still is being) researched. Statistical procedures applied to data collected on the assessment indicated that it was both valid and reliable.
    • Because it is self-scored and not automated, this inventory is entirely confidential and private. Unless you tell, no one but you will know what you learn.
    • You don't need a manual to take or score this relationship risk assessment. It is straightforward enough that you can take it in a few minutes and score it quickly.
    • Access is FREE. (For your personal use only and not to be printed or used other than for your personal use.)


    Copyright © 1997-Present, R. T. Lovelace. All rights reserved.


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