Chapter 13: Stress, Coping, and Health
Biopsychosocial Model: holds that physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological,
psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Health Psychology: concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the promotion and maintenance
of health and with the causation, prevention, and treatment of illness.
Stress as an Everyday Event:
- Stress can be caused by major issues such as natural disasters. Ex: earthquakes
- Stress can also be caused by small events throughout the day such as shopping for gifts,
waiting in line, etc.
- A major stressful event (ex divorce) can trigger minor stressful events (ex: finding a lawyer)
- Minor stress can result in significant harmful effects on mental and physical health (minor stress
does not always mean minor effects)
- Stress adds up; routine stress such as homework and a job can be minor individually, but
collectively add up and create greater strain
Appraisal: Stress lies in the Eye of the Beholder:
- Feeling stressed depends on what events a person notices and how they choose to interpret
them (ex: some people find going on a date with someone new stressful, while others find it
- People arent very objective in their appraisals of potential stressful events (sometimes they
over-think the situation and get more stressed out than they would otherwise be).
Major Types of Stress:
- Acute stressors: threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear endpoint.
Ex: dealing with the challenge of a major exam
- Chronic stressors: threatening events that have a relatively long duration and no readily
apparent time limit. Ex: demands of caring for a sick family member over a period of years
Four Major Types of Stress:
1) Frustration occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some goal is thwarted. In other
words, you experience frustration when you want something and you cant have it. Most
frustrations are brief and insignificant; some can be sources of significant stress. Ex: failures
and losses are two common types of frustration that are highly stressful
2) Conflict (Should I or Shouldnt I?) occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or
behavioural impulses complete for expression. Higher levels of conflict are associated with
higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Conflicts come in three types: 1. Approach-approach conflict: a choice must be made between two attractive goals. This is the
least stressful type of conflict.
2. Avoidance-avoidance conflict: a choice must be made between two unattractive goals. These
conflicts are most unpleasant and highly stressful.
3. Approach-avoidance conflict: a choice must be made about whether to pursue a single goal
that has both attractive and unattractive aspects. Ex: Career promotion that has a large increase
in pay, but youll have to move to a city where you dont want to live. These conflicts produce
vacillation you go back and forth, beset by indecision.
3) Change any noticeable alterations in ones living circumstances that require readjustment.
Positive events, such as marriage, produce stress because they produce change. Changes can
be stressful even when the changes are welcomed because they catch people off-guard and
force them to face situations they did not expect, or did not think too much about.
4) Pressure involves expectations or demands that one behaves in a certain way. You are under
pressure to perform when youre expected to execute tasks and responsibilities quickly,
efficiently, and successfully. Pressures to conform to others expectations also cause stress.
Responding to Stress:
1. Emotional Responses: when people are under stress, they often react emotionally.
- Researchers have begun to uncover links between specific cognitive reactions to stress and
Ex: self-blame leads to guilt, helplessness leads to sadness, etc.
- Common emotional responses to stress include: annoyance, anger, rage, apprehension,
anxiety, fear, dejection ,sadness, and grief
- Positive emotions also occur during periods of stress. Ex: during a stressful time, people may
count their blessings and feel gratitude
Positive emotions counter negative emotions in three ways:
1. They alter peoples mindsets by broadening their scope of attention and increasing their
problem solving creativity
2. They indo the lingering effects of negative emotions
3. They promote rewarding social interactions that help to build valuable social support, coping
strategies, and other enduring personal resources
High emotional arousal can interfere with attention and memory retrieval and can impair judgment and
Inverted-U hypothesis task performance should improve with increased arousalup to a point after
which further increases in arousal deteriorate performance.
The level of arousal at which performance peaks is known as the optimal level of arousal for
a task As a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal (for peak performance) tends
Therefore, a high level of arousal is optimal for simple tasks, and performance should peak
at a lower level of arousal on complex tasks
2. Physiological Responses: physiological changes that accompany the elicited emotional responses.
The Fight-or-Flight Response: a physiological reaction to threat in which the autonomic nervous system
mobilizes the organism for attacking (flight) or fleeing (flight) an enemy.
- This response is mediated by the sympathetic division of the ANS.
- Leads to an increase in breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and a reduction in digestive
- This response can also be seen in humans, and it is a leftover from humanitys evolutionary
- The response may differ slightly in males and females, since females allocate more time to
taking care of their offspring rather than just fighting or fleeing in terms of their own personal
- Despite minor gender differences, the basic neuroendocrine core of stress responses is largely
the same for both genders
The General Adaptation Syndrome (Hans Selye): a model of the bodys stress response, consisting of
three stages alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
1. Alarm reaction occurs when the organism first recognizes the existence of a threat. The body
prepares its resources to combat the chal