Carnegie Mellon University

Perceived Stress


Perceived Stress Scale (10-item; 14-item)



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Primary References

1. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385-396.

2. Cohen, S., & Janicki-Deverts, D. (2012). Who's stressed? Distributions of psychological stress in the United States in probability samples from 1983, 2006 and 2009. Journal of Applied Social PsychologyCMU Press Release, spring 2012


To assess the degree to which people perceive their lives as stressful

Type of Measure



Using a 5-point frequency scale, respondents indicate how often during the past month they found their lives to be unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded.


0 = Never, 1 = Almost Never, 2 = Sometimes, 3 = Fairly Often, 4= Very Often

Number of Items

BCS: 14

PCS1, PCS2, PMBC, PCS3: 10

Sample Items

  • 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 nervous and “stressed”?


Internal consistency in combined BCS, PCS2, PMBC, and PCS3 samples (n = 1142):  Cronbach’s α = 0.86

Test-retest reliability in PCS1 (n = 274):  one week, r = 0.85; two weeks, r = 0.82


10-item Scale (PCS1, PCS, PMBC, PCS3)

Reverse Items: 4, 5, 7,8
Sum Items 1, 2, 3, 4R, 5R, 6, 7R, 8R, 9, 10

14-item Scale (BCS)

Reversed Items: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 13
Sum Items: 1, 2, 3, 4R, 5R, 6R, 7R, 8, 9R, 10R, 11, 12, 13R, 14


Total Perceived Stress Score