Self-Rated Diurnal Rhythms of Stressfulness and Anxiousness in University Students

Open Access
Shaffer, Victoria Nicole
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Frederick Martin Brown, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth N. Levy, Honors Advisor
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • stressfulness
  • anxiousness
  • rhythms
  • rhythmicity
  • diurnal
  • penn state
  • self report
  • self rating
  • students
  • well-being
Although research on the topic is sparse, previous research suggests highest levels of anxiousness in the afternoon, with lowest levels in the morning and evening. To examine this rhythm further, we conducted a study on 39 students at The Pennsylvania State University to determine if, and when, rhythms of anxiousness and stressfulness occur during the day and during the week. They self-rated their anxiousness and stressfulness levels six times daily, every three hours beginning just after their natural wake-up time, for five consecutive days, Monday through Friday. The results suggest that university students do experience rhythms of stressfulness and anxiousness: for daily rhythms, with daily highest anxiousness and stressfulness in the early afternoon, and weekly rhythms, with highest anxiousness and stressfulness Tuesday and Wednesday. These results could advance aid clinicians who treat student patients who experience anxiety and stress, especially during specific times of the day and week.