Chapter 7 Moderators of the Stress Experience
- Earthquake 4 families affected by it in different ways, individuals with more resources find a
stressful situation less so whereas the ones with no resources may cope very poorly. Termed
stress moderators because the factors modify how stress is experienced and its effects.
Stress and Illness stress has effects on four physiological systems of the body: the sympathetic
adrenomeduallary system, the pituitary adrenocortical system, neuropeptide system, and the immune
system. (Fig 7.1).
- Initial Vulnerability pre-existing vulnerabilities are especially important in the stress-illness
relationship eg: hamster with heart disease, stress precipitated heart failure.
- Health Behaviours stress can alter a persons behaviour pattern and indirectly affect illness ex:
divorced couple, stressful event, man may be dependent on wife so his behaviour may change for
intake of food, sleeping, or alcohol consumption.
- Pre-existing physiological and psychological vulnerabilities, exposure to stress, and behaviour
changes may result, leading to a greater likelihood of illness.
Coping with Stress
- The impact of any stressful event is influenced by how a person appraises it.
- Lazaruss view of stress any new event or change in the environment prompts the individual to
make primary appraisals of the significance of the event. An event that may be judged to be
positive, neutral or negative in its implications for the self. If negative event it will be further
judged in terms of the harm or loss that has already been done, the future threat associated with
the event, and the challenge of the event.
- Also, secondary appraisals of his or her ability to cope with the event. It is the evaluation of ones
coping resources and options to determine wither they will be sufficient to overcome the harm
and threat that the event represents.
What is Coping? is the process of managing demands (external or internal) and uses up the
resources of the person.
- It consists of efforts, both action- oriented and intrapsychic.
- Relationship between coping and stress is a dynamic process, coping is a series of transactions for
a person who has resources, values, and commitments, and an environment with its own
resources, demands and constraints. Therefore, coping is not a onetime action occurs overtime
with a set of actions where the environment and the person influence each other.
- A second important part of coping is its breadth, which are many actions and reactions to
stressful circumstances. Emotional reactions can be a part of the coping process.
- Some personality characteristics make a situation worse whereas some improve them.
Negativity, Stress and Illness certain people perceive stress negatively which affects their
psychological distress, their symptoms and their rate of illness.
- Focuses on negative affectivity, a pervasive negative mood marked by anxiety, depression, and
- People who are high in negative affectivity are more prone to drinking, depression or suicide.
- Negativity is related to poor health, relating personality to five diseases asthma, arthritis, ulcers,
headaches, and artery disease show evidence of a relationship between disorders and negative
- Anger, hostility, and anxiety disease prone personality. Also, negativity is related to elevated
cortisol secretion and increased adrenocorticol activity. Also, affects adjustment to treatment. It
can compromise health, also create a false impression of poor health when none exists, higher
levels of distress, headaches and stomach-aches. Also, more vulnerable to illness.
Pessimistic Explanatory Style may relate to illness, some people characteristically explain the negative
events of their lives in terms of internal, stable, global qualities of themselves. Ex: asking people howthey encountered experiences of world war 2, they reported a pessimistic answer style. (ex pg 188 first
- Therefore pessimism in early adulthood seems to be a risk factor for poor health in middle and
- People marked by this personality may have reduced immunocompetence. In older people, people
who showed this personality had poorer functioning cell mediated immunity.
- Associated with denial, and distancing from the event, a focus directly on stressful feelings and
disengagement from the goal.
- Tied to onset of depression in middle age and cancer mortality in elderly.
Optimism can lead people to cope more effectively with stress and reduce the risk of illness. Life
orientation test (Box 7.1?) Some measure optimism, whereas others assess pessimism.
- Associated with less stress and depression and an increase in social support.
- People have more positive moods, which itself may lead to a state of resilience.
- Associated with a more problem focused coping, seeking social support, and emphasizing the
positive aspects of a stressful situation. Make favourable secondary appraisals, resources will be
sufficient to overcome the threat. Sometimes experience short term physiological costs in their
persistent efforts to pursue goals.
- Better physical functioning, less blood pressure, higher levels of pulmonary function, faster rate
of recovery, better postsurgical quality of life. Also, a potent and valuable resource.
Psychological Control Feelings that one can exert control over stressful event has been long known to
help people cope.
- Perceived control the belief that one can determine ones own behaviour, influence ones
environment, and bring about desired outcomes, closely related to self efficacy. Ex: people who
were unemployed turned to alcohol except those with high self efficacy.
- Control is important; beliefs in personal control are associated with better immune responses.
- Important for vulnerable populations such as medi