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Chapter 7

PSYC 328 Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Moderators of the Stress Experience

Course Code
PSYC 328
Barbel Knauper

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Chapter 7 Moderators of the Stress Experience
LO1 What is Coping?
Coping: thoughts and behaviours used to manage the internal and external demands of situations that
are appraised as stressful
o Relationship between coping and a stressful event is a dynamic process.
Coping series of transactions between a person (set of resources, values, and
commitments) and environment (own resources, demands, and constraints)
Set of responses, occurring over time, by which the environment and the person
influence each other
o Breadth many actions and reactions to stressful circumstances coping efforts are
moderated by the resources that the individual has available
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Personality and Coping
o Personality can be a result of both genes and environmental factors
o Those that improve stressful situations can be thought of as internal coping resources that
increase resilience, whereas those that make such situations worse are considered risk factors
o Negativity, Stress, and Illness
Certain people are predisposed by their personalities to experience stressful events more
powerfully affect their psychological distress, their physical symptoms, and/or their
rates of illness.
Negative affectivity: a pervasive negative mood marked by anxiety, depression, and
High in negative affectivity (or neuroticism), express distress, discomfort, and
dissatisfaction across a wide range of situations
High more prone to have genetic markers linked to alcohol dependence,
depressed increased risk for suicide
Neuroticism is related to poor health
Increased risk for diabetes, arthritis, kidney or liver disease, stomach or
gallbladder problems, and ulcers
Friedman: weak but consistent evidence of a relationship between asthma,
arthritis, ulcers, headaches, and coronary artery disease and negative emotions
o Psychological distress (depression, anger, hostility, and anxiety) constitute
the basis of a “disease- prone” personality that predisposes people to these
o Longitudinal: a role for negative affectivity in increasing the risk of
disease among those who have a family history of certain illnesses
o Twins study: levels of negative affectivity (as assessed by neuroticism)
predicted greater risk for one of 13 chronic health conditions over 25 years
Associated with elevated cortisol secretion biopsychosocial pathway linking
negative affectivity to adverse health outcomes
Particular behavioural styles that have negative affectivity as a central feature
may also be more prone to health issues for this reason
Directly linked to a higher risk for mortality in old age
Negativity can sometimes create a false impression of poor health when none exists.
Report higher levels of distressing physical symptoms, such as headaches,
stomachaches, and other pains, especially under stress BUT no evidence of an
underlying physical disorder
Negative affectivity was associated with a higher number of complaints but not
with more objective measures of disease.
More use of health care
More likely to get sick, but they also show distress, physical symptoms, and
illness behaviour even when they are not getting sick
Procrastination stress
Chronic procrastinators reported higher levels of stress, poor wellness behaviours,
delays in seeking medical care, and a greater number of health problems including
headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems
Both stress and certain health behaviours may make procrastinators vulnerable to
poor health.
Procrastination is associated with the generation of stress
Procrastination - low levels of self-compassion
o Pessimism
Pessimism: Relatively stable dispositional characteristic to expect negative outcomes in
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the future OR explanatory style that can be learned
Pessimistic explanatory style: explain the negative events of their lives in terms of
internal, stable, global qualities of themselves.
Men who explained bad events by referring to their own internal, stable, global
negative qualities had significantly poorer health
Reduced immunocompetence
Post-menopausal women, those who showed the pessimistic explanatory style
were found to have poorer functioning cell-mediated immunity
Direct relationship between pessimistic explanatory style and a biological
pathway that can have health implications.
Compromise coping efforts and the use of coping resources
Linked to one’s larger social and economic circumstances
Lower socio-economic status (SES) greater expectancy that negative events
will occur in the future
o Perfectionism
Perfectionism: tendency to experience frequent cognitions about the attainment of ideal
Multidimensional construct that can take several forms
Unidimensional: linked to several negative health outcomes, including migraines, chronic
pain, asthma
Socially prescribed perfectionism - the belief that others hold unrealistically high
standards for their behaviour
Variety of negative health outcomes
High stress, physical health symptoms, and even greater risk for mortality among
older adults
Self-oriented/critical perfectionism, the tendency to set high personal standards that
motivate achievement, is not.
Increase vulnerability for stress and poor health outcomes in the context of chronic illness
Both socially prescribed and self-oriented perfectionism were associated with
poor physical functioning in women with fibromyalgia
Self-critical perfectionism linked to the active generation of stress and increased
stress sensitivity in people with chronic fatigue syndrome
Perfectionism levels were found to be higher among people suffering from
chronic fatigue syndrome compared to healthy constant striving for unrealistic
goals may play a role in the development of certain chronic health issues
Maladaptive perfectionism is associated with practising fewer wellness-promoting
behaviours high stress (Sirois, 2013)
Socially prescribed perfectionism and health was explained by stress
Both socially prescribed and self-oriented perfectionism were associated with
poorer health via high stress
Links between perfectionism and procrastination - similar pathways involving
stress and health behaviours may also explain how perfectionism poses a risk for
Coping Resources
o Optimism
An optimistic nature can also lead people to cope more effectively, reduce their risk for
Dispositional optimism: general expectancy that good things, not bad, will happen in the
Scheier and Carver: the Life Orientation Test (LOT), measure of dispositional optimism
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