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The problem of stress has become a major issue in our time, yet our life conditions are less stressful than those of our ancestors. How often do we have to flee from a wild animal, or face constant physical threats from the environment as did early man in whom the stress response first emerged? The answer is never, or at worst most infrequently. Conditions in contemporary society are less stressful than those of previous generations. Our society does, however, face problems of stress, many of which are created by changes in technologically advanced societies. The demands that trigger the same 'fight or flight' mechanisms that enabled our ancestors to survive may no longer be appropriate to the modern age, yet nevertheless still exist.

Technological progress needs some kind of working definition in order that a more meaningful discussion may arise. Here, technological progress will be defined as 'those changes which have been brought about in our society by the impact of the microchip, with particular regard to the computer'. These changes are seen throughout our everyday lives; in the supermarket, where bar codes are scanned by optical character readers (OCRs), the checkout operative may be placed under pressure to scan an increasingly large number of items in a shorter and shorter time as queues build at busy shopping times. This could of course place the operative under stress. Similarly, the shopper waiting to collect and pack purchases, may be placed in a situation of tension and stress as OCRs can generally scan faster than one person can pack. How often does one come away from a checkout in a store feeling exhausted, not from the physical work, but from the emotional demands of not wanting to delay anyone else in the queue? At quiet times the checkout operative may suffer from boredom stress in that there is nothing to do, but sit on guard duty over their technological emporium. Changes in many offices have involved the introduction of computerised systems, whereby each member of staff is linked to another through a network, thus removing the old-established face-to-face dealing. This may result in a silent world where social skills and creative conversation and ideas are diminished, or even become extinct.

It must be acknowledged that the rate of technological change is greater than it has ever been. This rate of change affects the nature of work at all levels and in many organisations. There have always been changes , but the current rate far exceeds previous rates and as such technological progress may cause workers to be concerned about their jobs and therefore must be considered as a cause of stress. Hall (1969) has likened the rapidly developing technology with a motor car, "whose driver is steadily pressing down on the accelerator of an increasingly powerful engine. The view behind recedes more quickly, the surrounding scenery becomes more quickly unfamiliar, and the speed of the movement gives one a feeling of strangeness and insecurity."

Davis and Blomstrom (1975) have observed an analogous situation to that described by Lewis Carroll (1865) in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland : "You have to run as fast as you can to stay where you are." Both these views would appear to support the contention that technological change per.se. does not necessarily cause stress, but that it is the rate of technological change which leads to stress.

 Technological change where job security is threatened , coupled with feelings of not being able to adapt to a new situation are causes of stress amongst the workforce. In the early 1980's, technological change must have caused stress to the workforce of National Cash Register (NCR), where the invention of a tiny silicone chip that replaced most of the mechanical parts used in making cash registers led to a drastic downsizing of the workforce; at Dayton, Ohio, the workforce was reduced from 20000 to 5000, and world-wide from 103000 to 65000 employees. Not only was the workforce diminished, but the nature of the jobs was also dramatically altered. Thus job insecurity, job loss and job changes would be contributory factors in increasing workplace stress in employees.



 Maharishi Mahesh Yoga has defined stress as 'that which blocks the full expression of creative intelligence'. Hence he discusses the relationship between stress and creative intelligence. In certain respects there appears to be confusion here in that it has been established that creativity and intelligence are different and separable (Wallace and Kogan, 1965), where individuals may be divided into four distinct groups : creative and intelligent; creative but not intelligent; not creative but intelligent; and not creative and not intelligent. However, the basic thrust of his argument is taken to mean that stress causes people to under-perform, and that technology could remove the more mundane aspects of life and allow the individual to concentrate on higher level things. Yes, it must be true to say that people should be free to express their creative intelligence and that computer technology allows us to do this, but only up to a point. An individual using a computer program may feel that they are being creative, but they can only be as free to be creative within that program as the person who wrote the program has allowed. No program yet produced can possibly take into account all nuances of individual thought and channels every individual would like to follow and so in this respect the incentive to develop creative intelligence further has been removed. It could be argued that the truly creative person is the developer of the program, but again this is constrained by the type of computer package under consideration. An interesting avenue to explore along this particular path is that of artificial intelligence, where problem solving, itself a core value of creativity, is effected by computer. Many psychologists hold the view that humans and computers are similar in that they are both information-processing systems and as such exhibit similarity between the sequence of inferred events in human memory and the actual steps of a computer program that handles the storage and retrieval of various materials. Newell and Simon (1972) were able to produce reasonably good simulations of human performance on a variety of problems with their General Problem Solver, but the pre-requisite for this was that in the computer simulation, precise states had to be defined for the activity to take place. In human activity states for problem solving are not always so carefully set out, and this is where the application of creative intelligence comes into play. To reinforce the assertion made earlier, the creativity of the computer user is only as good as the routes defined within the computer program and therefore creative intelligence may not be expressed to the full, it may become frustrated and lead to the individual experiencing stress. If this is the way forward through the use of the modern technology as in the definition, then the individual has been robbed of the incentive to develop creative intelligence.

The view is advanced here that it is not possible to render society stress-free, unless that society is sublimated into an unthinking, unaware state that exists in a rigid environment that has no vitality. To make society stress-free is to ask its members always to move away from a potentially stressful situation, and clearly this is not always possible or even desirable. It is well recognised that where an individual is placed under no or too little pressure that stress will occur through boredom and performance will be low. Clearly, at the other extreme, too much pressure also leads to stress and again performance tails off. An intermediate, or optimum state is required and this is where the importance of being able to manage stress is required. The contention here is that all individuals react differently to real or imagined threats, individual coping methods will be necessary. In summary, to make society as stressproof as possible it is suggested that individuals cope with stress by learning to avoid situations they know will cause them stress; they cope with stress by learning to change their perceptions of situations and the labels they attach to them; and they cope with stress by controlling the stress response by doing such things as taking exercise to become fitter, learn how to switch off and learn appropriate techniques of relaxation.