Researchers launch study about losses and gains associated with life events

Nov 01, 2006

A new research study from Purdue's Department of Educational Studies in the College of Education aims to determine how life events affect people by asking about the gains and losses associated with those life events.

The Perceived Impact of Life Event Scale survey, or PILES, will survey adults ages 18 and older and ask questions relating to a personal life event they choose to evaluate. The study began in September and will continue until May.

"When you experience any event in life, you will have gains and losses," said Heather Servaty-Seib, assistant professor of educational counseling and the study's lead researcher. "This research will call attention to losses associated with 'good' events and gains associated with 'bad' events."

Servaty-Seib and her team want to know how people honestly and uniquely view their own significant life events. One of the challenges in such a study is the uniqueness that people have in viewing the impact of life events, she said. For example, two people may experience the same event but have strikingly different perceptions of how that event affected their lives.

Individuals responding to the survey choose a significant life event and then indicate the gains and losses they attribute to that event. The completed survey places the impact of a person's life event on a scale with a score determined by the combination of the gains and losses experienced. This score is accompanied by a brief explanation.

Servaty-Seib believes the overall results will help counseling psychologists determine what areas of life are affected by significant events and how the impact of events may vary depending on factors including cultural differences, personality traits and family environment.

"'Positive' events can be offset by feelings of loss that stem from a variety of changes associated with those events," Servaty-Seib said. "Conversely, when someone goes through a 'negative' event, there can eventually be gains that are connected with the experience.

"These gains and losses connected to life events vary for everyone and are frequently overlooked by individuals and by society. Instead of looking at life events as black and white or negative and positive, we are looking at them as a combination of gains and losses and more in terms of shades of gray."

The team of researchers working with Servaty-Seib includes graduate students working on separate studies that focus on specific life experiences, including sexual abuse, unemployment, divorce, alcoholism and drug recovery, grandparents raising grandchildren, and acquired disabilities.

To participate in the Perceived Impact of Life Event Scale survey, go online.

Source: Purdue University

Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

6 hours ago

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Debating the future of infrastructure

Apr 15, 2014

Cities face much of the burden of preparing for global changes—whether climate shocks, rapid population growth, or population decline, when industries relocate. Beneath every skyline, a city's leaders and ...

Recommended for you

Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

Apr 16, 2014

Science has often come to the rescue when it comes to the world's big problems, be it the Green Revolution that helped avoid mass starvation or the small pox vaccine that eradicated the disease. There is ...

Japan stem cell body splashes cash on luxury furniture

Apr 14, 2014

A publicly-funded research institute in Japan, already embattled after accusing one of its own stem cell scientists of faking data, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer Italian furniture, reportedly to use up ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease?

The cause of neuronal death in Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but a new study proposes that neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the person's own immune system, similar to the ...