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PSYC 1010 Lecture Notes - Autonomic Nervous System, Hans Selye, Type A And Type B Personality Theory

Course Code
PSYC 1010

of 6
Feb/17/2004, Tuesday CHANAPS
Notes From Reading
I. The Nature of Stress
A. Introduction
1. Biopsychosocial Model – holds that physical illness is caused by a complex
interaction of biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors.
2. Health Psychology – concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the
promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention and
treatment of illness.
B. Stress As An Everyday Event
1. Stress – any circumstances that threaten or are perceived o threaten one’s well
being and thereby tax one’s coping abilities.
2. Stress is cumulative – it adds up.
C. Appraisal: Stress Lies in the Eye of the Beholder
1. People’s appraisal of stressful events are highly subjective i.e. Depends on a
2. Anxious, neurotic, and unhappy people report more stress.
II. Major Types of Stress
A. Frustration
1. Frustration – occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some good is
2. Failure and loss are 2 common kinds of frustration which are highly stressful.
B. Conflict
1. Conflict – occurs when 2 or more incompatible motivations on behavioral
impulses compete for expression.
2. King and Emmons – used questionnaire to measure overall amount of internal
a. High Levels – anxiety, depression and physical symptoms.
3. Approach-Approach Conflict – choice must be made between 2 attractive
a. Tend to be least stressful.
b. Generally happy ending.
4. Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict – choice must be made between 2 unattractive
a. Usually unpleasant and highly stressful
5. Approach-Approach Conflict – choice must be made about whether to pursue
a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects.
a. Common and can be quite stressful
b. Vacillation – indecision.
C. Change
1. Life Changes – any noticeable alterations in one’s living that require
a. Changes in personal relationship, work, finances, etc., can be stressful
even when welcomes (Holmes and Rahe)
b. Developed Social Readjustment Rating Scale to measure life changes as
a form of stress.
c. People with higher social scores tend to be more vulnerable to many
kinds of physical illness and to many types of psychological problems.
Feb/17/2004, Tuesday CHANAPS
Notes From Reading
D. Pressure
1. Pressure – involves expectations or demands that make one behave in a
certain way.
a. Pressure to perform – when expected to execute tasks and
responsibilities quickly, efficiently, and successfully.
b. Pressure to conform.
2. Strong relationship between pressure and psychological symptoms and
3. Pressure has a negative effect on task performance.
III. Responding To Stress
A. Introduction
1. A Person’s reaction to stress can be analyzed at 3 levels – emotional,
physiological and behavioral.
B. Emotional Response
1. Stress tends to elicit unpleasant emotions
2. As stress increases, mood becomes more negative.
3. Emotions Commonly elicited –
a. Strong link between specific cognitive reactions to stress (appraisals)
and specific emotions
b. Common emotional responses to stress include –
i. Annoyance, anger, rage
ii. Apprehension, anxiety, fear
iii. Dejection, sadness, and grief.
c. Others emotions incl. guilt, shame, envy, jealousy, and disgust.
4. Effects of Emotional Arousal
a. Invented U-hypothesis – task performance should improve with
increased emotional arousal until a point, after which further increases in
arousal become disruptive and performance deteriorates.
i. The level of arousal at which performance peaks is called “optimal
level of arousal” for a task.
ii. Depends on complexity of task at hand i.e. as a task becomes more
complex, the optimal level of arousal (for peak performance) tends
to decrease.
C. Physiological Responses
1. The Fight or Flight Response – a physiological reaction threat in which the
autonomic nervous system mobilizes the organism for attacking (fight) or
fleeing (flight) an enemy.
a. Mediated by the ANS (which controls blood vessels, smooth muscles,
and glands)
2. The General Adaptation Syndrome – model of the body’s stress response,
consisting of 3 stages – alarm, resistance, and exhaustion (Selye)
a. Alarm reaction – 1st stage, occurs when organism realizes the existence
of a threat i.e. Flight or Fight Response.
b. As stress continues, reach 2nd Stage – Stage of resistance, physiological
changes stabilize as coping efforts get under way.
Feb/17/2004, Tuesday CHANAPS
Notes From Reading
c. Substantial Period of time, 3rd stage – Stage of Exhaustion – if stress
can’t be overcome, bodily resources depleted, and organism may
collapse; Resistance goes down, leading to diseases of adaptation.
3. Brain Body Pathways
a. Hypothalamus – appears to initiate action along these 2 pathways
b. 1st pathway – ANS 2nd hypothalamus to pituitary.
D. Behavioral Responses
1. Coping – active efforts to master reduce or tolerate the demands created by
2. Striking Out at Others
a. Aggression – any behavior that is intended to hurt someone, either
physically or verbally.
b. Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis (Dollard) – aggression is always
caused by frustration (however, not inevitable).
c. Displacement – lashing out aggressively at others who had nothing to do
with their frustration, apparently because you can’t vent anger at the real
source (Freud).
d. Catharsis – release of emotional tension, through behaving aggressively
to get pent up emotion out of one’s system. Adaptive technique
proposed by Freud. (Little support).
3. Indulging Oneself
a. Stress may result in excessive consummatory behavior, incl. eating,
drinking, smoking, using drugs, spending money, etc.
b. When things go poorly in one area of a person’s life, people may try to
compensate by pursuing substitute forms of satisfaction.
c. Easy to execute, highly pleasing.
d. Internet Addiction – spending an inordinate amount of time on the
internet and inability to control online use.
4. Defensive Coping
a. Defense Mechanisms – largely unconscious reactions that protect a
person from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt.
b. Used to defend against emotional discomfort that is elicited by stress,
incl. anxiety, anger, guilt and dejection.
c. Used to Distort Reality, by using self detection. Stages:
i. Stages of Self Deception – denial, fantasy, intellectualization
(isolation), undoing, overcompensation.
5. Constructive Coping – relatively healthful efforts that people make to deal
with stressful events. Strategies:
a. Confronting Problems directly.
b. Making realistic proposals of your stress and coping resources.
c. Learning to recognize (and inhibit) potentially disruptive emotional
reactions to stress.
d. Making efforts to ensure that your body is not especially vulnerable to
the possibly damaging effects of stress.
IV. The Effects of Stress on Psychological Functioning
A. Impaired Task Performance