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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Psych Ch. 3: Stress & Its Effects Stress can be viewed as Stimulus (divorce), or Response (physiological arousal). New concencus: it is a combination of the two. Stress : any circumstance perceived to threaten one’s well-being. Stress levels are high & rising; 1/3 americans report extreme stress, ½ say it increased over past 5 years. Stressful events may have cumulative effect (minor stressors may end up having big consequences). Individual perception is important in determining experienced stress. Richard Lazarus & Susan Flokman : Primary & Secondary appraisals. Primary Appraisal : initial evaluation of whether an event is irrelevent, relevent but not threatening, or stressful. (is it stressful?) Secondary Appraisal (if stress is perceived): Evaluation of coping resources & options. (Can I cope?) Ambient Stress : Chronic environmental conditions that are negatively valued, require adaptive demands. ie, traffic, polution Stress is influenced by culture Acculturation : Adaptation to a new culture. Stressful for immigrants. Related to expected vs. experienced stress. Major Sources of Stress Acute stressors : Short duration & Specific point. (SARS scare didn’t last long..) Chronic Stressors : relatively long duration, no apparent time limit Anticipatory Stressors : Future events that are perceived to be threatening. Unique to humans. 4 major sources of stress: 1) Frustration : when the pursuit of some goal is thwarted. Wile E. Coyote. 2) Internal Conflict: Two or more incompatible motivations compete for expression. 3 typesLewin & Miller ):  Approach-approach: Choice must be made b/w 2 attractive goals.  Avoidance-avoidance: Choice must be made b/w 2 unattractive goals  Approach-Avoidance: Choice of whether or not to pursue a single goal that has both, pros and cons. 3) Change : Alterations in living circumstances that require readjustment. Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)- used to measure change-related stress.argued that it measures frustration more than change ). 4) Pressure : expectations/demands to behave a certain way. Often self-imposed. More strongly related to mental health than change. Responding to Stress Emotional Response: mainly uncontrollable feelings with physiological consequences. Stress ilicits negative emotions: anger, anxiety, sadness. Positive emotions are also common during stress (gratitude, compassion). Inverted U hypothesis: emotional arousal helps performance to a point, but too much is detrimental. Optimal level depends on the task; simpler tasks require more arousal (or you’ll get bored), complex tasks require less arousal (or you’ll get distracted). Physiological Response: Fight-or-Flight, triggered by autonomic nervous system. General Adaptation Syndrome: 3 stages: Alarm (fight-or-flightResistance (more adapted to stressor),Exahaustion Brain-body pathways: Endocrine system- Hypothalamus stimulates adrenal glands to release catecholamines or corticosteroids. Behavioural Response: Coping : Active effort to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands of a stressor. The Potential Effects of Stress:  Impaired task performance: performance pressure increases self- consciousness, distracting from the task at hand, or over-focusing. Effect may be less severe in pro athletes; they’re more adapted to pressure. *Chronic stress  over-reliance on habits (saves energy, but reduces adaptability)  Disruption of Cognitive Function: increased tendency to jump to conclusions, narrow thinking. Reduced attention may be defense mechanism in consolidating traumatic memories. Mild short-term stressors may enhance memory.  Burnout: Physical & emotional exhaustion, cynicism, reduced self-efficacy from work-related stress (overload, lack of support/contro/reward). Consequences: reduced health & performance.  Psychological Problems & Disorders: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- lasting psychological disturbances caused by a traumatic event. Twice as common in females. Intensity of one’s reaction during the event is a predictor of PTSD (specifically dissociative reactions/experiences)  Physical Illness: Psychosomatic diseases- physical ailments caused by stress.  Positive Effects: Positive Psychology- study focused on the positive shit, rather than psychological problems. ie, “Post-traumatic growth”. Stress can promote positive psychological change, it can satisy the need for stimulation/challenge, and it can vaccinate against future stress. Factors influencing Stress Tolerance Moderator variables : can soften the impact of stress on an individual  Social Support (both giving and receiving)  Hardiness: a disposition marked by commitment, challenge, & control. Associated with stress resistance.  Optimism: General tendency to expect good outcomes. Optimistic explanatory style: people tend to blame temporary, situational factors. Pessimistic explanatory style: People tend to blame their own incompetence. Reducing Stress through Self-Control Behaviour modification: Systematic way to change behaviour through conditioning; what was learned can be unlearned (reconditioned). 5 steps: 1. Specify Target Behaviour: Use examples of behaviours, rather than listing traits. 2. Gather Baseline Data: Frequency/extent of the behaviour (how often you bite your nails, hours spent studying, etc..), Identify Antecedents (behaviours that precede your target behaviour, they may trigger the unwanted behaviour), monitor the Consequences of your behaviour. 3. Design your program: Increasing response strength- Select a reinforcer to reward the behaviour/avoid consequence. Arrange contingencies (promise a reward, contingent on completing some behaviour); if reinforcement is too easy/generous, you may become satiated, reward loses its value. A Token Economy can solve this issue; grant tokens for behaviour, exchange them later for reinforcers. Shaping is useful for approximating behaviours closer and closer to the target (to overcome public speaking fear, start talking to small groups, work your way up to large presentations). Decreasing Response Strengh: Reward reduced behaviour, control antecedants, or apply punishment. 4. Executing & Evaluating your program: Behavioural Contract- a written agreement (like an FB status proclaiming the legalities of your account) promising to adhere to the contingencies of the behaviour modification program. Watch for weak reinforcers, delays b/w behaviout & reward, unrealistic goals. 5. Ending your program: Reach your damn goal and stop.. restart.. whatever. Ch. 4: Coping Coping : efforts to master, reduce or tolerate the demands created by stress. It’s most adaptive to use a variety of coping strategies (more flexibility). Coping strategies vary in their adaptive value; not all strategies are equal. Common Coping Patterns of Limited Value: Giving up :Learned Helplessness - passive behaviour produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive events. Its development depends on the person’s cognitive interpretation of the event. *Withdrawing effort from an unattainable goal can be an effective coping strategy. Acting Aggressively : any behaviour intended to hurt somebody. Frustration Aggression Hypothesis : aggression is always due to frustration. Not proven, but there’s some relationship. Lashing out at innocent people= displacement , according to Freud. Aggression as a form of emotional release= Catharsis (Freud). Modern view is that blowing off steam has the opposite effect, fueling aggression. Catharses are NOT common in continuing relationships; they illicit backlash.. doesn’t work. Indulging Yourself: stress can reduce impulse control self-indulgence. To compensate for stress, we often develop alternative rewardseating, smoking, drugs, etc. Internet Addiction: uncontrollable amount of time spent of facebook, tetris, and other productive shit. Debate over calling it an addiction. Blaming Yourself: negative se
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