Mental Load and Stress
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleSOW-PSB2SP20E
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryB2 (Second year bachelor)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Social Sciences; Psychology;
dr. L.S. Fruhen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L.S. Fruhen
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. L.S. Fruhen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L.S. Fruhen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. P.K.C. van de Pol
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
KT-PER2  (06/11/2023 to 26/01/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksPositive BSA required
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listYes
Placement procedureThrough a weighted lottery system
ExplanationThrough a weighted lottery system
Upon completion of this course you can:
  1. Explain what the concepts “mental load” and “stress” involve, and place both phenomena in the context of societal, theoretical and historical developments (FQ1, 2)
  2. Make clear which mechanisms play a role in the stress response, which processes play a role in the formation of chronic stress, and how chronic stress can influence health and illness (FQ1)
  3. Describe and analyse the cognitive processes that play a role in human information processing during mental work, and illustrate these with practical examples (FQ1)
  4. Explain which characteristics of the work environment can lead to work stress, what role is played in this by personal characteristics and social support, why sufficient recovery is necessary to prevent work-related health problems, and how interventions can be used to reduce work stress (FQ2)
Interest in the topic of (work-related) mental load and stress has increased during the past years, and this is at least partly due to the negative consequences of excessive mental load and stress at work for workers’ physical and mental health (e.g., burnout). 

In this course, we address the question of what mental load and stress actually entail, and how they relate to performance and health. The concepts will be discussed from the perspectives of different areas within psychology: biological, cognitive and work and organizational psychology. Biological psychology addresses the effects of stress on the body. Among other things, the various substances that are secreted in the body due to stress will be discussed. Cognitive psychology addresses mental load in terms of attentional processes and task characteristics. For example: What are the conditions under which a task requires too much concentration? From the perspective of Work and Organizational psychology, both mental load and stress will be discussed in a more applied way. Examples of issues that will be discussed are the characteristics of a job that can result in load or stress, and how we can prevent that acute work-related stress develops into more serious health complaints such as burnout.

This course consists of i) lectures in which mental load and stress will be discussed from the perspectives of the different areas in psychology, and  ii) interactive lectures in which the topics of the lectures are covered in more detail or in a more applied way (e.g. by means of guest lecturers, movies, or discussions).

Presumed foreknowledge
  • Psychology students who are admitted to the second year (B2)
  • The course may not be taken by non-Psychology students
  • The course cannot be taken as contract education.
Test information

Corethemes are admissible for Psychology students only. Further information: see Course enrolment in the General Information section. .
Required materials
To be announced
The chapters and articles that are used in this course will be announced on Brightspace.

Instructional modes
Type of instructional modeLecture

Question-and-answer seminar
Type of instructional modeResponse course

Attendance MandatoryYes
Type of instructional modeWorking group

Open answer exam
Test weight1
Test typeDigital exam with CIRRUS
OpportunitiesBlock KT-PER2, Block KT-PER3