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Chapter 13

Chapter 13 Notes - Stress, Coping and Health

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Ayesha Khan

C HAPTER 13:S TRESS , COPING ,A ND H EALTH (PGS . 594-637) The Nature of Stress Introduction  Biopsychosocial Model – holds that physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors  Health Psychology – concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention and treatment of illness Stress As An Everyday Event  Stress – any circumstances that threaten or are perceived to threaten one’s well-being and that thereby tax one’s coping abilities  The threat may be to immediate physical safety, long-range security, self-esteem, reputation, peace of mind, or mnay other things that one values  Stress is cumulative – it adds up (stresses at home, at school) and yet collectively they could create great strain Appraisal: Stress Lies in the Eye of the Beholder  Primary Appraisal – Is an initial evaluation of whether an event is (1) irrelevant to you, (2) relevant but not threatening or (3) stressful o Primary appraisal would determine whether you saw an upcoming psychology exam as stressful  Secondary Appraisal – which is an evaluation of your coping resources and options for dealing with the stress o Secondary appraisal would determine how stressful the exam appeared, in light of your assessment of your ability to deal with the event  People’s appraisal of stressful events are highly subjective depending on the person  Anxious, neurotic, and unhappy people report more stress Major Types of Stress Introduction  Acute Stressors – are threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear endpoint. Ie. Dealing with the challenge of a major exam  Chronic Stressors – are threatening events that have a relatively long duration and no readily apparent time limit. Ie. Ongoing pressures from an aggressive boss  There are four major types of stress: frustration, conflict, change and pressure Frustration  Frustration – occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some good is thwarted  Failure and losses are two common kinds of frustration that are highly stressful Conflict  Conflict – occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or behavioral impulses compete for expression  There are three basic types of conflict:  Approach-Approach Conflict – choice must be made between two attractive goals o Tend to be least stressful with a generally happy ending o Ie. You have a free afternoon, so should you play tennis or basketball?  Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict – choice must be made between two unattractive goals o Usually unpleasant and highly stressful  Approach-Approach Conflict – choice must be made about whether to pursue a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects o Common and can be quite stressful o Vacillation – where you are indecisive Change  Life Changes – are any noticeable alterations in one’s living circumstances that require readjustment  Changes in personal relationship, work, finances, etc., can be stressful even when the changes are welcomed 1/6 C HAPTER 13:S TRESS, COPING ,A ND H EALTH (PGS. 594-637)  Holmes and Rahe developed Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) to measure life changes as a form of stress o High scores are associated to physical illness and psychological problems o People with higher social scores tend to be more vulnerable to many kinds of physical illness and to many types of psychological problems. Pressure  Pressure – involves expectations or demands that one behave in a certain way o Pressure to perform – when expected to execute tasks and responsibilities quickly, efficiently, and successfully o Pressure to conform to others expectations are always common in our lives  There is a strong relationship between pressure and psychological symptoms and problems  Pressure has a negative effect on task performance Responding To Stress Introduction  A Person’s reaction to stress can be analyzed at three levels – emotional, physiological and behavioral Emotional Responses  When people are under stress, they often react emotionally  Emotions Commonly elicited – o Strong link between specific cognitive reactions to stress (appraisals) and specific emotions o Common emotional responses to stress include: (a) annoyance, anger, rage, (b) apprehension, anxiety, fear, (c) dejection, sadness, and grief. o Others emotions include guilt, shame, envy, jealousy, and disgust  Effects of Emotional Arousal – o The inverted U-hypothesis – task performance should improve with increased emotional arousal until a point, after which further increases in arousal become disruptive and performance deteriorates o The level of arousal at which performance peaks is called “optimal level of arousal” for a task o Depends on complexity of task at hand i.e. as a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal (for peak performance) tends to decrease Physiological Responses  Stress elicits strong emotional responses  The Fight or Flight Response – a physiological reaction to threat in which the autonomic nervous system mobilizes the organism for attacking (fight) or fleeing (flight) an enemy o Mediated by the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) (which controls blood vessels, smooth muscles, and glands)  The General Adaptation Syndrome – model of the body’s stress response, consisting of three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion o Selye formulated an influential theory of stress reactions called the general adaptation syndrome o Alarm reaction – 1st stage, occurs when organism realizes the existence of a threat i.e. Flight or Fight Response. o As stress continues, reach 2nd Stage – Stage of resistance – Where physiological changes stabilize, as coping efforts get under way. o Substantial Period of time, 3rd stage – Stage of Exhaustion – if stress can’t be overcome, bodily resources depleted, and organism may collapse; Resistance goes down, leading to diseases of adaptation.  Brain Body Pathways o The endocrine system consists of glands located at various sites in the body that secrete hormones called hormones o The hypothalamus – brain structure that appears to initiate action along these 2 pathways  In the1st pathway – o The hypothalamus activates the sympathetic division of the ANS in response to stress 2/6 C HAPTER 13:S TRESS, COPING ,A ND H EALTH (PGS . 594-637) o The adrenal medulla releases large amounts of catecholamines into the bloodstream which radiate throughout the body producing the physiological changes seen in flight-or-fight response o Cardiovascular response, respiration, perspiration, blood flow to active muscles, muscle strength, ndntal activity increases  In the 2 pathway – involves more direct communication between the brain and endocrine system o The hypothalamus sends signals to the so-called master gland of the endocrine system, the pituitary o The pituitary secretes a hormone (Adrenocorticotropic hormone - ACTH) that stimulates the outer part of the adrenal glands to release another important set of hormones – corticosteroids o The hormones stimulate the release of chemicals that help increase your energy and help inhibit tissue inflammation in case of injury Behavioral Responses  Coping – active efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands created by stress  There are four physiological and behavioral responses to stress:  Giving Up and Blaming Oneself o When confronted with stress, people sometimes simply give up o Learned Helplessness – is a passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive event o Blaming oneself is another common response when confronted by stress  Striking Out at Others o Aggression – any behavior that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally. o Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis (Dollard) – aggression is always caused by frustration (however, not inevitable). o Displacement – lashing out aggressively at others who had nothing to do with their frustration, apparently because you can’t vent anger at the real source (Freud). o Catharsis – release of emotional tension, through behaving aggressively to get pent up emotion out of one’s system. Adaptive technique proposed by Freud. (Little support).  Indulging Oneself o Stress sometimes leads to reduced impulse control or self-indulgence o Stress may result in excessive consumption, including eating, drinking, smoking, using drugs, spending money, etc. o When things go poorly in one area of a person’s life, people may try to compensate by pursuing substitute forms of satisfaction o Easy to execute, highly pleasing o Internet Addiction – spending an inordinate amount of time on the
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