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Lecture 6

PSY333H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Immunocompetence, Catecholamine, Corticosteroid

Course Code
Nevena Simic

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What Is Stress?
Stress Defined
Negative emotional experience
Accompanied by predictable
-Behavioral changes
Source Of Stress
1) Relationships
-College students: 1/3 stressful events caused by
relationships (Ptacek et al 192)
-Married couples: up to 80%
What do couples stress about?
-How to spend money
-Work-family time balance
-Fair distribution of childcare/household tasks
2) Work pressure
Long hours, constant deadlines, responsibility
o ex) final exam time
-My life is in your hands” job = high stress (doctor,
firefighter, air traffic controller)
-Coworkers/bosses, lack of resources, physical
-Longer commutes = higher stress
Commuting is stressful
1hr-2hr commute and cortisol level (stress hormone)
Subtracted cortisol from when they arrive and did they
on weekends too
Compared levels of cortisol on weekday and weekend
Found that longer commutes resulted in more stress
Asked them to rate level of stress in questionnaire
and found a direct relationship between length and
perceived levels of stress
Physiology underlies the perceived stress levels
Looked at participant ability to perform task
(proofread an essay), they had to catch errors

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Percentage of errors detected dropped with length of
the commute
3) Environmental pressures
-Noise, crowding, natural disasters
4) Internal conflict
-Torn between goals (travel/work; eat/lose weight)
5) Lack control
-Wait in line at post office; traffic jam
-Illness diagnosis
Stress Defined
Has 2 components:
-Physical: involves direct material or bodily
-Psychological: involves how we perceive circumstances
in our lives
Three Ways of Examining Stress
1) Stress as stimulus:
-Focus on environment
-Physical/psychological challenges = stressors
Pain, fight, studying
2) Stress as response:
-Focus on people’s reactions
-Physical (heart pounds, mouth dry) & psychological
(thoughts/emotion patterns) reactions
3) Stress as process
Relationship between person and environment
-Transactions = continue interactions and adjustments
-Person and environment each affecting ad being
affected by the other
Stress: The circumstance in which transactions lead a
person to perceive a discrepancy between physical or
psychological demands of a situation and the resources
of his or her biological, psychological, or social
Psychological Appraisal and the Experience of Stress
Lazarus = psychological view of stressor
-Primary Appraisal
o Perception of new or changing environment as
beneficial, neutral, or negative in its consequences
o Harm, threat, challenge?
-Secondary Appraisal

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o Assessment of one’s coping abilities and resources and
judgment as to whether they will be sufficient to meet
the harm, threat, or challenge
Psychology & Stress
-Appraising events as harmful, threatening, or
challenging, and assessing one’s capacity to respond to
those events
-Events that tax or exceed one’s resources = perceived
as stressful
“The Experience of Stress”
What is this pain? Am I in danger?
Irrelevant: “happened before”
Good: “Don’t have to write exam:
Bad: “ I could die
Harm: damaged my heart
Threat: can’t work; how pay my bills
Challenge: I can make job change
Potential stressor (external event)
Primary Appraisal: Is the event positive, neutral, or
negative in its implications? If negative, to what
extent is it presently harmful, threatening for the
future, and potentially challenging?
Secondary Appraisal: Are coping abilities and
resources sufficient to overcome the harm, threat, or
challenge posed by the event?
Stress Physiological, cognitive, emotional, and
behavioral responses
I’m alone and can’t get help – I'll die
The ambulance is on its way I’ll be okay
This is a wake-up call I need to make changes
Stress Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
Individual differences are huge factors
-What is stressful for some people isn’t for others
Perceptions of discrepancies between environmental
demands and actual resources
-Can be either real of just believed to exist
-Stress often results from inaccurate perceptions
Factors Leading To Stressful Appraisal
1) Personal factors
-Intellect, motivation, personality
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