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stress


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY100Y5
Professor
Dax Urbszat

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The Nature of Stress
Stress is any circumstance that threatens or perceives to threaten ones well
being and thereby tax ones coping
Many everyday events such as waiting in line, having car trouble, shopping
for gifts and/or misplacing ones chequebook are all different types of stress
A major event such as getting a divorce can also lead to a number of stressors
such as looking for a lawyer, changing bank accounts and taking on new
household responsibilities.
The Culmative Nature of Stress Stress adds up: At home, at school and at work
A study of hospitalized patients awaiting surgery showed only a slight
correlation between the objective seriousness of a persons upcoming
surgery and the amount of fear experienced by the patient. This notion
concludes that peoples appraisal of stressful events is highly
Major Types of Stressors
Acute Stressors: are threatening events that have a relatively short
duration and a clear end point. For example, dealing with an exam.
Chronic Stressors: are threatening stressors that have a relatively long
duration and no really apparent time limit. For example, an ongoing
pressure from a hostile boss at work.
Four Major Types of Stressors
1.Frustration: This is when the pursuit of the goal is thwarted
Traffic jams, can lead to intense anger and aggression
Failure and losses can also cause frustration
2.Conflict: This is when two or more incompatible motives or behavioral
impulses compete for expression.
High levels of conflict are associated with high levels of anxiety,
depression and physical symptoms
Approach- approach is when a choice must be made between two
attractive goals
Avoidance- avoidance is when a choice must be made between two
unattractive goals. For example, choosing whether to be
unemployed or doing a degrading job.
Approach- avoidance is when a choice between choosing a goal
that is both attractive and unattractive in some aspects, therefore,
you find yourself going back and fourth until you find the perfect
3.Change: Any noticeable alteration in ones living circumstance that
requires re-adjustment.
The Social Readjustment Scale (SRS) measures life change as a form of
People with higher scores on SRS tend to be more vulnerable to many
kinds of physical illness
Life change is inedibility stressful
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Some life changes may be quite challenging while others are quite
good
4.Pressure: pressure from what we have to and what we want to do at
the same time. The expectations or demands that one behaves in a
certain way.
For example, stand up comedians are constantly under pressure to
make people laugh
Pressure has turned out to be more strongly related to mental health
Pressure is often self-imposed. For example, signing up for an extra
class to finish school faster)
Emotional Responses When people are under stress they react emotionally
There is a link between specific cognitive reactions to stress
(appraisals) and emotions
Annoyance, anger and rage
Apprehension, anxiety and fear
Dejection, sadness and grief
Positive emotions can widen peoples scope of attention and promote
healthy coping responses
Positive emotions can lead to an enhanced immune response
Effects of Emotional Arousal
Emotions serve as warnings that one needs to take action
High emotional arousal can interfere with attention and memory
retrieval and impair judgment and decision making
The inverted U hypothesis predicts that task performance should improve
with increased emotional arousal
As a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal (for peak
performance) tends to decrease
Physiological Responses
The fight or flee response is part of the Autonomic Nervous System
(ANS) which controls the blood vessels, smooth muscle and glands
An acceleration in their breathing and heart rate and a reduction in
their digestive process
Most human stressors cannot be handled through flight or flee
response
The General Adaption Syndrome
Hans Selye exposed lab animals to both physical and psychological stressors and
found that stress reactions are non-specific. The Body Stress Response:
Alarm Reaction: organism first recognizes the existence of the threat
Resistance: psychological changes stabilizes as coping effects get
underway
Arousal continues to be higher than normal, although it may level off
somewhat as the organism becomes accustomed to the threat
Exhaustion: If the stress cant be overcome, the body resources may
be depleted
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