KIN 360 Study Guide - Final Guide: Allostatic Load, Sympathetic Nervous System, Endocrine System

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26 Feb 2020
Lecture 5
Acute Stress Paradigm
People performing stressful tasks become psychologically distressed and show
physiological arousal
Identifies individuals most vulnerable to stress
Shows that stress responses can be reduced with the presence of a partner or a
o Ex: brought into lab and you have to give 30 min speech on a topic you
know nothing about to a crowd of people (purpose is to ‘freak someone
out and cause stress’)
Measure their distress before telling them about speech, when you
tell them they have to give it, when they actually give it, and 15
mins after the speech ends
o Another example is submerging your hand in ice cold water
o Another example is incidents of heart attack after your sport’s team looses
(MSU vs UM game recovering the fumble a few years ago) (this is a
naturally occurring stressor not done in a lab)
Criticism of Adaptation Syndrome Model
Three phases of Selye’s general adaptation syndrome (extremely early model)
o Alarm-encounter a stressor and appraise how threatening it is
o Resistance-overcome, make it go away, the stressor with personal
o Exhaustion-stress response system goes into period of exhaustion where
it’s down regulated
Assigns a limited role to psychological factors
Not all stressors produce the same endocrinological responses
Continued activation accumulates the most damage to physiological systems
Fails to address the debilitating (physical and mental) effects of stress
Fight-or-flight Response
Body is aroused and motivated via the sympathetic nervous system and endocrine
system when a threat is perceived
o Result-mobilizes an organism to attack the threat or to flee
o Releases cortisol (stress hormone)
o Sweat, focus on central details not peripheral ones, metabolism speeds up
Advantage-adaptive (helps us deal with threats)
Disadvantage-can be harmful
o If you get really stressed out for a test, the stress response system can be
activated even though the flight or fight response was designed to protect
you from predators but now you are getting anxious or stressed out for an
exam (but this was not meant to stress our system out but these are more
modern stressors that do it now a days)
Indicators of Allostatic Load
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Allostatic load: physiological costs of chronic exposure to the physiological
changes from repeated or chronic stress
Decreases in cell mediated immunity
The inability to shut off cortisol in response to stress
Lowered heart rate variability
Elevated epinephrine levels
A high waist to hip ratio (reflecting abdominal fat)
Hippocampal volume (which can decrease with repeated stimulation of the HPA)
Problems with memory (an indirect measure of hippocampal functioning)
High plasma fibrinogen
Elevated blood pressure
Multiple Roles
Women and multiple roles
o Conflicting home and work responsibilities increase stress
o Working women who leave children have:
Higher levels of cortisol
Higher cardiovascular reactivity
More home strain (stress)
^this is especially true for women with young kids and for women
with little support at home (spouse doesn’t help out much)
o Single women raising children on their own are most at risk for health
Lower support for their home environment
Protectives effects of multiple roles
o Combination of motherhood and employment
Is beneficial for health and well being
Improves self esteem
Improves feelings of self efficacy and life satisfaction
o Less stressful situations (for working & being full time parent)
Control and flexibility over one’s work environment
Good income
Domestic help and adequate childcare
Supportive, helpful partner
Men and multiple roles
o Distressed by financial strain and work stress (feel they need to be the
o Combining employment and marriage is protective for men’s health
o Stressful interpersonal events at work can increase conflicts with children
o Employed, unmarried fathers are more vulnerable to psychological
Men benefit more than women socially and psychologically for
being married/in a relationship
When men get divorced, they have more increase in depression,
less social interactions, etc
Men are less likely to engage in severe drug use (cocaine) when
they are in a relationship
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Primary Appraisal (of stressors)
Understanding what an event is and what it will mean (what impact it will have
on your life)
Events are appraised for their harm, threat, or challenge
o If you realize it won’t cause harm or be much of a challenge, your
primary appraisal will tell you not to stress very much over it
Role ambiguity
Cause of workplace stress
What to do and no standard
o Given tasks everyday by your boss but you are not really sure what to do
and there are no standards to evaluate your work then that causes
workplace stress
Role conflict
Cause of workplace stress
Occurs when a person receives conflicting information about work tasks or
standards from different individuals
o This happens when you have multiple bosses or coworkers who have
already do the tasks you have now
o These people tell you different things so you don’t know what you really
should be doing and this causes stress
Secondary Appraisal (of stressors)
Assessing whether personal resources are sufficient to meet the demands of the
o Can I deal with this problem given what I have now (do I have the money
to fix my car, friends to comfort me, etc)
Social Readjustment Rating Scale (first number is rank, second number is mean value)
Tries to index the impact of various life events on people: mean value tells you
how much you kind of need to reevaluate/change your life due to the stressful
situation (higher the number means the more you have to change your life). It just
measures whether or not this thing has ever happened to you
o 1) death of a spouse -100
o 2) divorce-73
o 4) detention in jail or other institution-63
o 5) death of a close family member-63
o 6) major personal injury or illness-53
o 8) being fired at work-47
o 41) vacation-13
o 42) Christmas-12
o 43) minor violations of the law (traffic ticket, jaywalking, etc)-11
Drawbacks of the social readjustment rating scale
o Some items on the life event list are vague
o Individual differences and choice are not considered
Death of a spouse is not a choice, divorce normally is a choice.
Some people are more likely to get sick than others
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