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Lecture 6

Lecture 6.docx

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Nevena Simic

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LECTURE 6 – STRESS & MODERATORS OF THE STRESS EXPERIENCE What Is Stress? Stress Defined  Stress:  Negative emotional experience  Accompanied by predictable -Biochemical -Physiological -Cognitive -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 -Illness/divorce 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 environment -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  Percentage of errors detected dropped with length of the commute 3) Environmental pressures -Noise, crowding, natural disasters -Poverty 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 challenge -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 systems 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 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  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 i. Self-esteem: higher = more likely to meet demands -Bad situation but I can overcome it -Challenge rather than Threat ii. Motivation: more important threatened goal = more stress iii. Belief system: irrational beliefs increase stress 2) Situational factors  Events that involves strong demands and are imminent tend to be seen as more stressful  Ex) Physically uncomfortable or painful medical procedure (surgery) tomorrow > blood pressure test next week What Makes Events Stressful?  Valence -Negative events are more likely to produce stress than are positive events (shopping, party planning = + stress)  Control -Uncontrollable or unpredictable events are more stressful than controllable to predictable events  Clarity -Ambiguous events are often perceived as more stressful than are clear-cut events  Burden -Overloaded people are more stressed than are people with fewer tasks to perform  Domains -More vulnerable to stress in central life domains than in peripheral ones Appraisal Exercise  Potential Stressor -Midterm exam -Rush-hour traffic -Oral presentation -Flat tire -Meeting boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents Biological Aspects Of Stress  Physiological reactions to stress -Increased heart rate, breathing, muscles tremble (arms and legs),… -Body is aroused and motivated to defend itself -Sympathetic nervous system & endocrine system cause this arousal  Reactivity: physiological portion of stress response -Measured against a baseline (resting) level of arousal -Influenced by genetic factors, chronic stress Fight or Flight  Cannon (1932) -We are usually in a state of internal balance (homeostasis) -Feel threatened -Physiological response mobilizes body to act -Shift in resources from nonessential body systems to those that are needed to meet the challenge  Perceive threatsympathetic + endocrine arousalattack or run away  Activate SNS & ES -Adrenomedullary response -Epinephrine, Norepinephrine  Rise in epinephrine & norepinephrine: including heart rate, blood pressure, breathing; widen pupils; movement of blood to muscles  Positive & negative effects -Adaptive: fast mobilization in response to danger -But: prolonged high arousal can be harmful to health General Adaptation Syndrome  Selye (1956, 1976) -Extended Cannon’s work to describe the stages a body goes through in reaction to stress -Rats exposed to different stressors (cold, electric shock)  Stress response always same physiologically  Physiological response -Enlarged adrenal cortex -Smaller thymus & lymph glands o Immunity -Ulceration of the stomach GAS Consists Of Three Stages 1) Alarm reaction –SNS: Epinephrine + Norepinephrine -Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal HPA axis: glucocorticoids (cortisol) -Cortisol: increases ATP production from glucose, inhibits inflammation  Negative feedback  Prepare fuel for the body  Slows down inflammation at the sight of a cut 2) Resistance  Strong stressor continued but is not severe enough to cause death  Body continues to work hard to resist stressor -Physiological arousal remains high -Body replenishes adrenal hormones 3) Exhaustion  Resources are limited  Epinephrine & cortisol can damage heart and blood vessels, suppress immune system  Disease and damage to internal organs is likely  Alarm (A) Resistance (B) Exhaustion (C)  Reduced immune function in C  illness: ulcers, depression, diabetes, digestive & cardiovascular problems  Non-specific mobilization (SNS activity) GAS: Nonspecific  All stressors produce same physiological response  Positive stress (e.g. getting married) less harmful than negative stress (e.g. getting divorced), both can lead to same negative physiological response Updates To Fight-Or-Flight And GAS Models  People may very in how they respond to stress -Men have higher blood pressure increases than women in response to challenging tasks (root of higher CHD in men?)  Difference types of stressors are associated with different types of physiological responses -E.g.. Different hormones released in response to type and intensity of emotion experienced
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