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Chapter 14

PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 14: Perceived Control, 18 Months, Learned Helplessness

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Elizabeth Page- Gould

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Chapter 14: Stress and Health [Lecture 22]
Stress and Human Health
Effects of Negative Life Events
Stress is the degree to which ppl have to change and readjust their lives in
response to an external event
The more change required, the more stress occurs
E.g. graduating from university is a happy occasion, but it can be stressful b/c
of the major changes it sets in motion in ones life
Social Readjustment Rating Scale
Perceived Stress and Health
Subjective situations have more of an impact on ppl than objective situations
Stress: negative feelings and beliefs that occur whenever ppl feel unable to
cope w/ demands from their environment
Is the life experiences that we perceive as negative that are bad for our health
Stress caused by negative interpretations of events can even affect our
immune systems, making us more susceptible to disease
Feeling in Charge: The Importance of Perceived Control
Research in social psychology suggests that the feeling that we dont have
control is detrimental to our psychological and physical health
Perceived control: belief that we can influence our environment in ways that
determine whether we experience positive or negative outcomes
Ppl who had a high sense of control over their futures were less likely to
experience subsequent heart problems than those w/ a low sense of control
Increasing Perceived Control in Nursing Homes
Ppl are often placed in long term care facilities against their wishes, and have
little say in what they do, whom they see, or what they eat
Disease, Control, and Well- Being
Link b/w perceived control and distress is stronger in Western cultures than
in Asian cultures
Less of a relationship b/w perceived control and psychological distress among
Danger in exaggeration the relationship b/w perceived control and physical
Researchers have found that even when ppl who are seriously ill w/ cancer or
AIDS feel no control over the disease, many of them believe that they can
still control the consequences of the disease
The more ppl feel they can control the consequences of their illness, the better
adjusted they are, even if they know they cant control the eventual course of
the disease
It is important to feel in control of sth- even if it is not the disease itself
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Chapter 14: Stress and Health [Lecture 22]
Knowing You Can Do It: Self- Efficacy
Self- efficacy: belief in ones ability to carry out specific actions that produce
desired outcomes
E.g. if Sam believes that he can perform the behaviors that will enable him to
quit smoking- throwing away his cigarettes, avoiding situations in which he
is most tempted to smoke, distracting himself when he craves a cigarette-
then chances are he will succeed
oIf he has low self- efficacy in this domain, believing that he cant
perform the behavior necessary to quit, then he is likely to fail
Self- efficacy increases the likelihood that ppl will engage in the desired
behavior in 2 ways
o1) it influences ppls persistence and effort at a task
Ppl w/ low self- efficacy tend to give up easily, whereas ppl
high in self- efficacy set higher goals, try harder, and persist
more in the face of failure- thereby increasing the likelihood
that they will succeed
o2) it influences the way our bodies react while we are working toward
our goals
E.g. ppl w/ high self- efficacy experience less anxiety while
working on a difficult task, and their immune system
functions more optimally
Self- efficacy operates as a kind of self- fulfilling prophecy
oE.g. the more you believe that you can accomplish sth such as
quitting smoking, the greater the likelihood that you will
Believing that we can do sth is a powerful determinant of whether we actually
Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness
Learned helplessness: state of pessimism that results from explaining a
negative event as stemming from stable, internal, and global factors
oE.g. student B gets poor grades on first calculus test, says to himself
wow, I guess I cant really cut it. I was worried that I wasnt smart
enough to make it in university and, boy, was I ever right
Stable attribution: belief that the cause of an event is a result of factors
that will not change over time (e.g. our intelligence), as opposed to unstable
factors that will change over time (e.g. the amount of effort we put into a
Internal attribution: belief that the cause of an event is factors inherent in
you (e.g. our own ability or effort), as opposed to factors that are external to
you (e.g. difficulty of a test)
Global attribution: belief that the cause of an event is a result of factors
that apply in a large number of situations (e.g. our general intelligence,
which will influence our performance in many areas), as opposed to the
belief that the cause is specific and applies in only a limited number of
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