Chapter 18.odt

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Chapter 18
Stress, Coping, Adjustment, and Health
The Adjustment Domain
Personality helps (or hinders) us to adjust to the challenges and demands of life
Stress exists for everyone – but how we perceive, interpret, respond to, and cope with stress will differ,
depending in part on our personality
Psychologists & Health Professionals in the Adjustment Domain work to understand why some person-
alities are more resistant to stress, better able to cope, and better able to adjust.
An important goal with a practical application
Models of the personality-illness connection
One important variable present in all the models is Stress, the subjective feeling produced by events that
are uncontrollable or threatening, it refers to how people respond to a particular situation
The Interactional Model suggests that objective events happen to people, but personality factors deter-
mine the impact of those events by influencing people’s ability to cope
In the transactional model: personality has three potential effects:
- It can influence coping, as an interactional model
- it can influence how the person appraises or interprets the events. Here it is not the event that causes
stress but how the event is appraised or interpreted by the person
- it can influence the events themselves. Here people don’t just respond to situations, they also create situa-
tions through their choices and actions
The health behavior model adds another factor to the transactional model.
In this model personality does not directly influence the relationship between stress and illness. Instead,
personality affects health indirectly, through health-promoting or health-degrading behaviors.
The Predisposition Model holds that personality and illness are both expressions of an underlying predis-
position or a third variable, unlike the other models which state that personality influences the relationship
between stress and illness either directly or indirectly.
Illness is the presence of an objectively measurable abnormal physiological process
Illness behavior, on the other hand, is the action that people take when they think they have an illness
This model suggests that personality influences the degree to which a person perceives and pays attention
to bodily sensations and the degree to which a person interprets and labels those sensations as an illness,
which then influences the person’s illness behaviors such as reporting the symptoms and going to the doc-
The concept of Stress
Events that cause stress are called stressors, which have several common attributes:
stressors are extreme, they produce a state of feeling overwhelmed or overloaded
stressors often produce opposing tendencies, such as wanting or not wanting an activity or object
stressors are uncontrollable
Stress can have a positive or negative effect on the individual - positive (“eustress”) when it helps per-
formance or negative (“distress”) when it causes upset or illness
External Sources of Stress: Environmental, social, interpersonal, organizational, life events, daily hassles
Internal Sources of Stress: Lifestyle choices, negative self-talk, thought patterns, stressful personality
Stress Response: when stressors appear people typically experience a pattern of emotional and physio-
logical reactions, your hearts beats faster, your blood pressure goes up, and the your palms and the soles
of your feet begin to sweat (e.g., fight or flight responses
If the person is exposed to a particular stressor daily then the physiological fight or flight response be-
comes the first step in a chain of events called General Adaptiation Syndrome (GAS) by Hans Selye
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Alarm stage: consisting of the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system and the associ-
ated peripheral nervous system system reactions. Including the release of hormones that prepare the
body for challenge
Resistance stage: the body is using its resources at an above average rate, stress is being resisted but is
taking a lot of effort and energy
Exhaustion stage: this is the stage in which the person is most susceptible to illness and disease, and his
or her physiological resources are depleted
Major Life Events
Major Life Events are those that require people to make major adjustments in their lives
Subsequent experimental work suggests that people under chronic stress deplete bodily resources and
become vulnerable to infections
Current thinking is that stress lowers the functioning of immune system, leading to lowered immunity to
infection and resulting in illness
stress is the subjective response to an event and even though an event may be positive, it may have three
characteristics associated with stressors: intensity, conflict, and uncontrollability
The Student Stress Test Table 18.1 p. 562
Cohen and colleagues (1997) obtained reports of stressful life events or a group of volunteers and were
able to score each participant along the lines of Holmes and Rahe’s criteria for stressful points for vari-
ous events. They found that participants with more negative life events in the previous year, who indicat-
ed they were experiencing a lot of life stress, were more likely to develop a cold after being given the
cold virus than were the participants with fewer stressors in their lives, who were more resistant to the
cold virus
Stress: Theories & Models
Hans Selye: the non-specific result of any demand upon the body, be the effect mental or somatic
Lazarus & Folkman: a relationship between a person & the environment that is appraised by the person
as taxing or exceeding her/his resources and endangering his/her well being
Daily Hassles
Daily Hassles are the major sources of stress in people’s lives, such as getting stuck regularly in heavy
Research on daily hassles have shown that persons with a lot of minor stress in their lives suffer more than
expected from psychological and physical symptoms. The top 10 most daily hassles are listed in Table
18.2 p. 563
Varieties of stress
Psychologists distinguish four varieties of stress:
Acute stress: it results from the sudden onset of demands as is experienced as tension headaches, emotion-
al upsets, gastrointestinal disturbances, feelings of agitation, and pressure
Episodic Acute Stress: it refers to repeated episodes of acute stress such as having to meet a deadline each
month. It can lead to migraines, hypertension, stroke, anxiety, depression, or serious gastrointestinal dis-
Traumatic stress: refers to a massive instance of acute stress, the effects of which can reverberate for
years or even a lifetime. Traumatic stress differs from acute stress in terms of symptoms.
This collection of symptoms called Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is a syndrome occurring in
some persons following the experience of or witnessing life-threatening events.
People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares or intense flashbacks, have
difficulty sleeping, have physical complaints, have flattened emotions, and feel detached or estranged from
Chronic stress: a serious form of stress referring to stress that does not end. Serious systemic illness such
as diabetes, decreased immune system functioning, or cardiovascular disease, can result from chronic
Psychologists believe that stress has additive effects, which means stress adds up and accumulate in a per-
son over time
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