PSYA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 16: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Autonomic Nervous System, Anxiety Disorder
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524-541 Chapter 16 Mar. 14/10
Self control – behaviour that produces a larger, long term reward when people are faced with
the choice between it and a smaller, short term reward.
Fig 16.3 – vertical axis is the value of reward and the horizontal axis is time: (a) a long term goal
we wish to achieve – ex: eating healthy (b) a short term goal – ex: pleasure from eating ice
cream or having a smoke (c) there comes a point in time at which the value of the small, short
term reward become greater than that of the larger, long term reward (d) self control is a prior
commitment to a course of action that precludes making this decision.
Health psychology – the branch of psychology involved in the promotion and maintenance of
sound health practices.
Stress – a pattern of physiological, behavioural and cognitive responses to stimuli that are
perceived as endangering one’s well being. Stress is not always bad, such as competition stress,
however over long periods of time it can have negative effects.
Stressors – stimuli that are perceived as endangering one’s well being.
General adaptation syndrome (GAS): the model proposed by Selye to describe the body’s
adaptation to chronic exposure to severe stressors. The body passes through an orderly
sequence of 3 physiological stages: alarm, resistance and exhaustion. (Fig 16.4)
1. Alarm reaction – arousal of autonomic nervous system which occur when the organism
is first confronted with a stressor. Resistance to the stressor drops below normal and
the organism may experience shock (impairment of normal physiological functioning).
2. Stage of resistance – the autonomic system returns to normal functioning and
resistance to the stressor increases and eventually plateaus at above normal levels. The
stage of resistance, then reflect the organism’s adaptation to environmental stressors.
3. Stage of exhaustion – resistance plummets to below normal levels, leaving the organism
susceptible to illness and even death. We are able to adapt to the presence of
environmental stressors for only so long before we become susceptible to exhaustion
Fight or flight response – physiological reactions that help ready us to fight or to flee a
Several studies have demonstrated the deleterious effects of stress on health. Ex: survivors of
concentration camps, who were obviously subjected to long term stress, have generally poorer
health later in life than do other people of the same age. Ex: fig 16.5 – air traffic controllers,
especially those who work at busy airports where the danger of collisions is greatest, show a
great incidence of high blood pressure, which gets worse as they grow older.
Because of individual differences in temperament or experience with a particular situation,
some people may find a situation stressful and other may not.
Cognitive appraisal – one’s perception of a stressful situation. This is a two stage process: (1)
evaluate the threat – if the threat is real we pass to the second stage (2) asses whether we have
the resources necessary to cope adequately with the threat. The belief that we cannot deal
effectively with a stressor perceived as extremely dangerous leads to the highest levels of stress.
Because different people may evaluate differently both the stressor and their ability to cope
with it, they are likely to show different levels of stress when faced with the same stressor.