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Lecture 11

PSYB10 Lecture 11 Summary

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

STRESS & HEALTH (SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION 2) - Stress o The response to a demanding situation o The demanding situation is a stressor o Stressors can be:  Psychological  Physiological o Psychological stress  Degree to which people have to change and readjust their lives in response to an external event  Psychologically stressful events  Both good and bad things can cause significant stress o E.g., wedding, funeral, graduation o Physiological stress  A host of physiological responses in the body caused by physical or psychological stressors  Physiological stress response  Occur through two main pathways; o Nerves (the autonomic nervous system) o Blood (the endocrine system)  Autonomic nervous system (ANS) = Regulates the activity of the visceral organs o Sympathetic nervous system = Mobilizes the body in response to stress  Increased cardiovascular and respiratory activity  Increased strength of heart contraction  Increased sweat on palms o Parasympathetic nervous system = Facilitates social coordination and communication  The “rest and digest” nervous system  Not directly implicated in the stress response  Highly implicated in social processes  Polyvogal theory  The size of social groups corresponds with the development of the PNS  The PNS becomes more complex across species as social groups and social behaviour become more complex  PNS reactivity is associated with social engagement o Enteric nervous system  Major endocrine stress axes o Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) = Releases catabolic and anabolic hormones in response to stress  PVN of the hypothalamus triggers release of CRH  CRH triggers the pituitary gland to release ACTH  ACTH triggers the adrenal glands to synthesize cortisol and DHEA  Cortisol = Catabolic stress hormone regulated by the HPA axis  Catabolic “breaking down” hormone  Metabolize lipids and muscle tissue to create a surge of glucose  Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can have damage on the body over time  Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) = Anabolic stress hormone regulated by the HPA axis  Anabolic “building up” hormone  Synthesize complex molecules to build tissues o Sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis (SAM) = Releases catecholamine in response to stress  When the SNS is activated, the nerves directly stimulate the adrenal medulla  The adrenal medulla triggers the production of α-amylase, epinephrine, norepinprhine  α-amalyase = Catabolic stress hormone released by the SAM axis  Metabolize starches into blood and brain sugars  Epinephrine = Adrenaline  Norepinephrine = Noradrenaline  Increases heart rate  Increases blood output by the heart and circulation  Suppresses other resource-intensive processes (e.g., digestion) o Not necessary for survival  Allostasis  The body’s ability to adapt to constantly changing environments to maintain homeostasis  The process of achieving homeostasis through physiological or behavioural change  The healthiest body is one that can respond most flexibly and extremely to a stressful event  A tight allostatic system is one that moves from high to low levels of arousal very flexibly  Allostatic load  A chronically elevated state of arousal which damages the body and makes it less able to flexibly adapt to the environment o Result of chronic stressors o Associated with negative major long-term health outcomes  E.g., heart disease, diabetes, suppressed immunity, hypertension - Stress & performance o Fight-or-flight response  Responding to stress (stress response) either by attacking the source of the stress or fleeing from it  When under threat, mammals are energized by the release of hormones and they either attack or retreat as quickly as they can o Challenge or threat  In many cases, the purpose of the stress response is to improve your performance  Stress can either improve or inhibit your performance  This depends on how your body responds  When motivated to perform well, the way your body responds to the stressor can either IMPROVE or INHIBIT your performance  Challenge is a state where stress response improves performance  Threat is a state where stress response inhibits performance Challenge Threat ↑ heart rate ↑ heart rate Mild-or-no increase in strength of heart Physiological ↑ strength of heart contraction contraction patterns ↑ cardiac output ↓ cardiac output (1.5 to 2 liters of blood per minute) (blood is conserved in torso) ↑ diameter of circulatory vessels ↓ diameter of circulatory vessels (less resistance) (more resistance) ↑ blood flow to brain ↓ blood flow to brain Performance ↑ blood flow to effector muscles ↓ blood flow to effector muscles implications (more blood flow to arms and legs) (less blood flow to arms and legs) ↑ cognitive and physical performance ↓ cognitive and physical performance  Cardiac output is the amount of blood that the heart puts out with each beat  The amount of oxygenated blood that circulates through your body reflects the resources that you have to deal with the situation  Circulatory vessels do not have a constant diameter  The physiological patterns are triggered by cognitive appraisals of the stressor  What you expect is what you get  It all comes down you how you appraise the situation o Challenge  Personal resources > Situational demands o Threat  Personal resources < Situational demands  Cognitive appraisals o Method: Complete a verbal math task  Ask participants  Q1) How well can you cope with the task?  Q2) How threatening is the upcoming task?  Divided participants into two groups  Challenge appraisals: Q1 > Q2  Threat appraisal group: Q1 < Q2 o Result: Performance  Challenge appraisal group generated more answers and more correct answers  Threat appraisal group generated less answers and less correct answers o Extreme stress & memory  In response to extreme stressors, the body releases catabolic hormone cortisol  Cortisol o Reduces working memory span in humans o Decreases hippocampus mass in rats o Restricts blood flow in the hippocampus in rats and in humans  Cortisol constricts the blood vessels leading to the hippocampus - Stress & health o Stress & immunity  Psychological stress decreases immune functioning and increases susceptibility to disease  You have used up a lot of resources that you need in order to fight off disease  Cohen’s hotel study  There is a direct linear relationship  Lowest stress index  70% of participants got sick  Highest stress index  90% of participants got sick o Stress & long-term health  Allostatic load refers to the lack of flexibility in your stress system  Chronic stress predicts hypertension, type II diabetes, weakened immune system - Perceived control (feeling in charge) o The belief that we can influence our environment in ways that determine whether we experience positive or negative outcomes  Your own perception determines the outcome to be either positive or negative  A high sense of perceived control is associated with good mental and physical health  E.g., rape victims (less depression and fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress)  E.g., coronary angioplasty (less likely to experience heart problems after surgery)  E.g., older people (less risk for hip fractures, live longer, engage in more physical health) o Older people usually experience a great loss of perceived control than younger people  These studies are correlations rather than experimental designs  Such studies cannot prove that feelings of control cause good physical or emotional health  It is possible that good physical or emotional health causes one to feel more in control  It is possible that some third variable contributes to both good health and feelings of control - Self-efficacy (knowing you can do it) o The belief that you can competently complete the actions necessary to deal with a demanding situation o The belief in one’s ability to carry out specific actions that produce desired outcomes o The negative outcome because you believe that you can complete the task and deal with the demanding situation o The belief that we can execute the specific behaviours that will get us what we want  E.g., high self-efficacy that will enable one to quit smoking, lose weight, and lower cholesterol o It is not a general sense of control that predicts engaging in hea
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