PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Cognitive Dissonance, Social Comparison Theory, Thought Suppression
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Appendix B – Health
- Many social psychologists are very involved in the emerging area of health
oHealth Psychology: the study of psychical health and illness by
psychologists from various areas of specialization
- According to Statistics Canada, people today are more likely to die from cancer, heart
disease, lower respiratory diseases, accidents and diabetes.
oThese are all preventable through lifestyle changes, outlook and behaviour.
This is where the social psychologists come in.
Stress and health
-Stress: an unpleasant state of arousal in which people perceive the demands of an
event as taxing or exceeding their ability to satisfy or alter those demands.
oNobody knows the precise extent of the problem, but stress is a potent killer
oEveryone has experienced stress sometime in their lives.
- Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman (1984): the stress-and-coping process is an
ongoing transaction between a person and his or her environment
oFaced with an event that may prove threatening, our subjective appraisal to
the situation determines how we will experience the stress and what coping
strategies we will use
Appraisal: The process by which people make judgements about the
demands of a potentially stressful event and their ability to meet those
Coping: Efforts to reduce stress
What causes stress?
-Stressors: sources of stress
oThese can be sorted into three categories
2. Major life events
3. Daily hassles
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Crises and Catastrophes
- The earthquakes in Japan (2011) and Indian Ocean (2004) are examples of
- So is 9/11 = however this was man made
oCatastrophes cause intense stress in a population
oAnthony Rubonis and Leonard Bickman (1991): high rates of psychological
disorders are common among residents of areas that have been hit by these
Major Life Events
- Change can cause stress in forcing us to adapt to new circumstances
oThis hypothesis was introduced by Thomas Holes and Richard Rah (1967) by
interviewing hospital patients and found their illness often was triggered by a
big life change, both positive and negative
They came up with the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)
•43 major life events with a numeric value based on the amount
of readjustment it requires.
- Two problems to change causes stress:
1. Although research supports negative life events correlated with illness, it does not
support the same or positive events
2. The impact of any change depends on who the person is and how the change is
Microstressors: The hassles of Everyday Life
- The most common sources of stress arses from the hassles that irritates us every day
oEg: environmental factors: population density, loud noise, weather
Others: car problems, waiting in lines, money troubles etc…
- Paul Kohn and others (1991): the accumulation of daily hassles contributes more to
illness than major life changes
- Interpersonal conflicts are the most upsetting of our daily stressors and have a
longer-lasting impact that most others
How Does Stress Affect the Body?
- Hans Selye (1936) was the first to popularize the term stress
oNoticed that many patients hospitalized had many of the same symptoms.
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oTested his hypothesis on rats; all produced the same physiological responses
such as enlarged adrenal glands, shrunken lymph nodes and bleeding
The General Adaption Syndrome
-General adaption syndrome: A three-stage process (alarm, resistance and
exhaustion) by which the body responds to stress. Selye came up with this process.
1. Alarm reaction: to meet a challenge the body pumps adrenaline and other
hormones into the bloodstream.
a. Hearth rate, blood pressure and breathing rates increase, long-term
functions like growth, digestion and the immune system is inhibited
b. The body uses all its resources to ward off a threat
2. Resistance stage: the body remains aroused and alert
a. Continued release of stress hormones and local defences are alert
3. Exhaustion stage: happens if the stress persists for a prolonged period of time
a. Selye: our anti-stress resources are limited
b. Exhaustion does not just happen because of this but also because the
overuse of these resources causes other systems to break down
i. can cause death and illness
What Stress Does to the Heart
- Heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death for Canadians
- Psychological stress is a major factor in causing this
o23% of Canadians report a high level of life stress
- Mayer Friedman and Ray Roseman (1956): studied the relationship between
cholesterol and coronary heart disease.
oHusbands were more likely than their wives to have this = work related stress
oType A personality: A pattern of behavior characterized by extremes of
competitive striving or achievement, a sense of time urgency, hostility and
Of the men in their study 258 had heart attacks
•Type A 69 %, Type B 31%
- An issue with this was the way the personality types were measured, this came up in
oThe strength of the link between type A and heart disease depends on how
people are diagnosed.
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