11.1 Can psychosocial factors affect health? Health psyc: integrates research on health and psyc, involves application
of psyc principles to promote health, well-being: positive state, feel best, strive for optimal health, life satisfaction.
Biopsychosocial model of health incorporates multiple perspectives for understanding/improving health:
integrates effects of bio, behavioral, social factors on health/illness. “Views health, illness as product of
combo of factors inc. bio characteristics, behavioral factors, social conditions.” Thoughts/actions affect enviro
we interact with, which affect bio underpinnings of thoughts/actions. In traditional model, individual is
passive, for health psychologists, thoughts/feelings/behaviors central to understanding/improving health.
Behavior contributes to death: can prevent heart disease by changing behaviors. Probability of car accidents
can be reduced; same for other causes of death such as risky sexual behavior, drugs, firearms, etc.
Placebo effect: improvement in health following treatment with placebo (drug/treatment w/ no apparent
physiological effect on health condition for which it was prescribed). Person must believe it will work.
Strongest effects when placebos produce minor physical reactions. Placebo effect partially due to reduced
anxiety, creates psyc changes that reduce pain, help recovery. Placebo effect is “all in head” but effect is real.
Placebo effect is example of biopsychosocial model: belief that medication will work is psyc factors, and it
affects body in ways similar to those of medications w/ known bio effects.
11.2 How do we cope w/ stress? Basic component of daily lives, does not exist objectively – results from ways we
think about events in our lives. Stress: pattern of behavioral, psyc, physiological responses to events that match/
exceed ability to respond in healthy way. Stressor: enviro event/stimulus threatens organism. Coping response:
avoid/escape/minimize stimulus. Eustress: positive. Distress/duress: negative. Major life stressors: changes/
disruptions that strain central areas of lives. Daily hassles: small irritations/annoyances, wear down resources.
Stress has physiological components: hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis: bio system responsible
for stress response. Stress begins in brain w/ perception of stressor. Hypothalamus sends chem message to
pituitary glandsecretes hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotropic)travels through blood to adrenal glands
secrete cortisolincreases amount of glucose in blood. Adrenal glands release norepinephrine,
epinephrineactivate SNS, increase blood pressure, heart rate, other sympathetic responses, all help body
prepare to respond. Hormones have long-lasting effects - stress affects organs after stressor is removed –
excessive stress disrupts working memory, long-term memory impairment.
Sex differences in how we respond: ability to deal w/ stressors important to survival. Cannon fight-or-flight:
physiological preparedness to deal w/ danger. HPA axis efficiently increases energy. Physical reaction: heart
rate, redistribute blood from skin/visceramuscles/brain, respiration, pupil dilation, inhibit gastric secretions,
increase liver glucose. Postpone less critical autonomic activities. Most experiments use M to avoid menstrual
complication, research bias blinds; M/F respond differently. F tend-and-befriend: protect/care for offspring,
form social alliances. Oxytocin: hormone important for mothers bonding to babies, affiliation during social
stress. Produced in hypothalamus, released into blood through pituitary, higher when F socially distressed.
General adaptation syndrome is bodily response to stress: each manipulation of stress produced same pattern
of physiological changes: enlarged adrenal glands, decreased lymphocytes, stomach ulcers. Less lymphocytes
(specialized white blood cells) due to damaged lymphatic structures in immune system (body’s mechanism
for dealing w/ invading microorganisms). Altogether, reduces potential ability to resist more stressors.
General adaptive syndrome: pattern of responses to stress 3 stages: alarm (emergency reaction, prepare body
to fight/flee, immune system kicks in, body begins fighting), resistance (defenses prepare for sustained attack,
immunity increases), exhaustion (physiological/immune system fail).
o Immune system: stress alters its, interferes w/ natural process of action to destroy invaders.
Psychoneuroimmunology: response of immune system to psyc variables. Short-term stress boosts,
chronic stress weakens, partially b/c decreased lymphocyte productionbody less capable of warding
off foreign substances. More stressedmore likely to get colds. More happymore antibodies.
Stress affects health: long term stress hormones alter immune, increase blood pressure, cardiac disease,
diabetes, less sex interest, dwarf. Chronic stress: cancer, AIDS, cardiac disease, unhealthy coping behaviors.
o Heart disease: leading cause of death, + 7 million die from heart attacks/year. Affected by genetics,
health behaviors, personality traits related to stress response. Stress, negative emotions increase risk of
coronary heart disease in 2 ways: people cope w/ unhealthy behaviors, stress causes wear/tear on heart,
more likely to fail. Chronic stressoverstimulation of SNS, higher blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels, more cortisol, more release of fatty acids to blood, buildup of plaque on arteries. Set of
traits that predict heart disease. Type A behavior pattern: competitive, achievement oriented,
aggressive, hostile, restless, impatient, unable to relax. Type B behavior pattern: noncompetitive,
relaxed, easygoing, accommodating. These traits produce direct physiological effects on heart: chronic
fight-or-flight causes wear and tear on heart. Higher levels hostility ~ reduced pulmonary function.