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Personality - Lec 10

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PSYB30 Lecture #10 (03/16/2009) Personality and Health What is Stress? Stress is the subjective response, Stressor is the event that causes stress =Subjective response to life events (so you can have same stressor and different responses to that stressor) - Types of stressors: Acute, episodic acute, traumatic, chronic stressors o Acute stressors (one time, short duration stressors; don’t last long) this is what most people would call stress  Sudden onset of psychological or physical demands o Episodic acute stressor would refer to a reoccurring form of acute stress (for example, when I come home neighbour has a dog, and it barks. It lasts for a short time but it happens repeatedly and it’s predictable and it’s not controllable. Deal with it for a short time, repeatedly. o Traumatic stressor is another form of an acute stressor but it is a very severe acute stressor. But it differs from acute stressor, cuz of syndrome of responses that occurs from it. (Ex Post-traumatic stress disorder). o Chronic stressors are also serious forms of stress, because they are constant. They may be aspects of our social life or aspects of our physical life. (guy injured his rotator cuff). Stress does not just originate from negative life experiences. When we talk about stress, it can also derive from subjectively positive events. Key is different perceivers will have different assessments of these events. EXAMPLES: University Graduations, good thing but it’s also stressful. Weddings  can be exciting and stressful. Children  lots of positive feelings and benefits, but it costs money and your responsible for them. Home buying is a stressful process Birthday is fun time, but older we get its more a sign of our mortality than anything else. Can stem from “negative” and “positive” events - Perceivers will likely differ in their assessments Key here is that any event positive or negative can be stressful for right perceiver Stress is an additive problem Stress and Immune Function Direct experimental evidence that long-term stress reduces immune function in animals: o Wound healing takes longer o Susceptibility to flu is higher Correlational research on stress in humans: is lacking, not ethical to do these kind of studies on humans. o People usually deal well with short-term stressors o Ethically problematic to induce long-term stress Hans Selye (1907-1982) Derived the General Adaptation Syndrome General Adaptation Syndrome - model of stress resistance. What happens here is, there is a capability within the body to handle stress. And it’s in our Sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nervous system arouses the body, motivating motor actions. Reducing non-essential processing things like digestion and excretion. Heart rate increases, breathing rate increases. Parasympathetic NS  responsible for calming things down. First stage of exposure to stressors, we see what is called an alarm response; the body prepares itself for action, at first body is not in a resistance state. Decision state of the body, is it appropriate to continue this response. Then we see a climbing to some plateau, if stressor continues to be present the body resists at an above average rate (Resistance). But overtime, cuz body has limited resources, we eventually hit an exhaustion stage, heavy depletion of resources. It’s not that the immune function is not working, but its working over capacity. In Exhaustion state, the body is working as hard as it can but because of the resources at this point its over taxing the body. Its at this stage, the exhaustion stage that we start to see some somatic problems, (eg. breakdown of tissues and excesses of chemicals/waste products). People exposed to chronic stress, change their behavior in weird ways, eat differently, sleep in odd patterns, conversational styles are different. And this is because the entire body is motivating itself to action. And when its exhausted the entire body is exhausted. And even if sometime during our exhaustion state the stressor leaves, we will still be in a below average resistance state for some time. So if another stressor than appears (2 replace one that left or add one to one that is already present), body will be even more poor-equipped than usual to deal with that stressor. So to the extent that stress is additive, a new stressor creates more stress, more stressors create more stress. Alarm: Fight-or-flight (sympathetic nervous system) Resistance: Resources used at above-average rate Exhaustion: Heavy depletion of resources Stress Among Students Look at students in high/low levels of stress and look at their immune responses. Glaser et al. (1993) took blood samples from healthy medical students who were seropositive for the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) at two times: o One month before a block of examinations o On the last day of the block of examinations For both samples, compared memory T-cell proliferative responses to EBV polypeptides o EBV causes mononucleosis, and may play roles in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and certain cancers -Virus is a long protein chain, protein chains made up of polypetides. -T-cells are form of white blood cells, these T-Cells are the cells that have a memory of the genetic signature of virsues that have been encountered by the immune system before. So the memory T Cells act up when there is a proliferation of some virus that is already resident in the body. Glaser et al. (1993) Proliferative response significantly reduced: o In the ‘exam period’ blood samples (immune response suppressed during the exam period) o For people who reported seeking social support (tend to have a reduced immune-response as well) [basically social support can be used as a buffer against stress, so stressed out people with no support group do the worst of all] This suggests that stress and inadequate social support can impact immune functioning People’s chronic self-esteem has an influence on health problems they experience. But there’s an interaction with the quality of social bonds that they have. So lower self-esteem not only leads to more health problems, but it also tends to reduce the support network that we have when we have to deal with these sort of problems. Cohen et al. (1997) • Obtained reports of stressful events in past year • Administered nosedrops to all participants: – Half received nosedrops with weakened cold virus – Half received plain saline nosedrops (no virus)  can see how many people get sick as a result of this. N.B. Double-blinded and random assignment to prevent expectancy effects!! • Number of reported stressors predicted likelihood of developing cold infection Richard Lazarus (1922-2002) Susan Folkman Looked at coping styles. Coping Styles • Lazarus and Folkman (1984) distinguished between two types of appraisals: – Primary appraisals: “Is this event a threat to me?” – Primary appraisal: what is this event and what is its relation to me, is it a threat to me, is it important for me to consider or not? Some things are potential stressor but if you don’t pay any attention to them, you won’t – be concerned about them. Poverty in world, “well im not poor so i don’t care” so is it relevant to you or not. – Secondary appraisals: “Am I able to handle it?” – Am I able to cope with this? People may perceive a threat equally as some else but may vary in the belief in their competency/capability to deal with it. – Depending on secondary appraisals that people make, they tend to adopt varying coping styles. So there are 3 types of coping styles. • Problem-focused, emotion-focused and avoidance Avoidance is the easiest to understand, you just avoid it, remove yourself from the situation. Problem-focused AND emotion-focused  have to do with thinking about the emotion itself. Problem-focused  trying to attack the stressor, trying to remove the stressor or alter the stressor so it doesn’t bring you stress anymore. Get rid of it or lower its impact. Emotion-focused not removing the stressor but attempting to actively control our personal responses to that stressor. Maybe we cant do anything about poverty in world, cant do anything about it, so we might just change our opinion about it or how we think about it change our thoughts and emotions and reactions to these problems. – When is each most effective? – Generally speaking, avoidance is not effective, – Emotion-focused coping  is fairly effective – Problem-focused coping is arguably the best way to deal with stressors. Downside is that we can’t always deal with the problem directly. So in that case with problem focused copers we will be ultimately disappointed. (cuz its kind of like moving a mountain) – In general Problem-focused is the best cuz it would get rid of the stressor but in practice we cannot deal with all stressors directly; in these cases emotion-focused coping would be a better option. Avoidance is just not a good approach at all. – • Optimists and pessimists tend to differ in secondary appraisals  Optimists tend to perceive they have the resources to be able to cope with w/e stressors they face. They perceive these things as challenges.  optimists ten
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