PSYC*1000 video documentary – Week 7
Topic: Stress & Health
Stress: Portrait of a Killer (aka Killer Stress)
Aired on PBS in 2008
Companion website: http://www.pbs.org/programs/killer-stress/
Social status & health
Why are baboons in their natural environment a good model for the effects of stress on
humans in modern society?
Since baboons only spend 3 hours of their day gathering food, the rest of the day they are
often stressing each other out. There stress is a result from philological and social
What are the two primary hormones of the stress response system? From what gland are
both types secreted? Adrenalline a form of epinepherine, and glucacortical from adrenal
What is the function of the stress response system?
In animals it helps keep them alives. Humans turn on this stress response system as
animals for no philological reason and don’t know how to turn it off.
For both baboons and humans, what is the relationship between position in the social
hierarchy and stress levels?
The most cunning aggressive males are the top of the hierarchy. Their rank determined their
stress level present in the body. Those at the bottom with high stress levels, had high
blood pressure and immune and reproductive system doesn’t work as well, brain chemistry
is like brains in clinically depressed humans.
In humans, jobs with hierachies often have the same effect on humans. Those with little
seniority in their job, receive high work loads and as a result have high stress levels. Their
bosses (higher heirachies) often push their stress onto the people that are lower than
them, like found in baboons. The lower in the heirachy had higher risks of high blood
pressure, risk of disease and length of life.
What were Sapolsky’s two fundamental discoveries about the effect of status on stress
hormones and health?
The more stress you have the more you are prone to disease and health problems. PSYC*1000 video documentary – Week 7
Topic: Stress & Health
In the Whitehall study, what confounding factor was ruled out that could have explained
the superior health of higher status employees?
Stress & ulcers:
What is the current scientiﬁc consensus on the role of stress in ulcers?
Ulcer causing bacteria in 2/3 of people, only a few people developed ulcers. Stress, immune
system shuts down and stomach no longer ﬁghts the bacteria.
Stress & cardiovascular health:
What are the short term effects of circulating stress hormones on the cardiovascular
Pounding heart, increased blood pressure.
What is the causal chain by which stress leads to atherosclerosis?
Stress damages artery walls, allowing