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PSYA02H3 (961)
Chapter 16

Chapter 16

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Steve Joordens

Chapter 16 – Lifestyle, Stress, and Health Cultural Evolution: Lifestyle Choices and Consequences - Cultural evolution: the adaptive change of a culture to recurrent environmental pressures o Driven mainly by psychological factors o Product of human intellect and physical capacity - Lifestyle: the aggregate behavior of a person; the way in which a person leads his or her life - Law of effect – behaviors that produce favorable consequences tend to be repeated, and those that produce unfavorable consequences tend not to be repeated Stress and Health - Stress: a pattern of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive responses to stimuli (real or imagined) that are perceived as endangering one’s well-being/ blocking a goal - Stressors: stimuli that are perceived as endangering one’s well-being - The Biological Basis of Stress - Stress is a biological response that is experienced as an emotion - When sensing a stressor o Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, blood vessels constrict, blood sugar levels rise, and blood flow is directed away from extremities and toward major organs o Breathing becomes deeper and faster and air passages dilate, which permits more air to enter the lungs o Digestion stops and perspiration increases o The adrenal glands secrete adrenaline which stimulates the heart and other organs - Selye’s General Adaption Syndrome o 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 three physiological stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion o Responses in alarm reaction – involve arousal of the autonomic nervous system and occur when the organism is first confronted with a stressor o Stage of resistance – autonomic nervous system returns to normal functioning; resistance to stressor increases and eventually plateaus at above-normal levels o Stage of exhaustion – organism loses its ability to adapt, and resistance plummets to below-normal levels, leaving the organism susceptible to illness and even death o Fight-or-flight response: physiological reactions that help ready us to fight or to flee a dangerous situation - Physiological Mechanisms Involved in Stress o Emotions consist of behavioral, autonomic, and hormonal responses o Stress-related hormones: adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and cortisol o Glucocorticoid: a chemical, such as cortisol, that influences the metabolism of glucose, the main energy source of the body o Most harmful effects of stress are caused by the prolonged secretions of glucocorticoids o Long-term effects include increased blood pressure, damage to muscle tissue, one form of diabetes, infertility, stunted growth, inhibition of the inflammatory responses, and suppression of the immune system - Cognitive Appraisal and Stress - Cognitive appraisal: one’s perception of a stressful situation o Two staged process  Evaluate the threat: we attempt to judge the seriousness of the perceived threat posed by the stressor  If we decide the threat is real, we go to the next stage  Assess resources: assess whether we have the resources necessary to cope adequately with the threat  The extent to which we believe both that the stressor is a serious one and that we don’t have the resources necessary to deal with it determines the level of stress we will experience o Hardy individuals – people who show little, if any, risk of becoming ill during or after chronic stress - Stressful Lifestyles and Impaired Health - Stress and CHD o CHD – diseases of the heart and the blood vessels  Can cause heart attacks and strokes o Important risk factors of CHD are high blood pressure and high level of cholesterol in blood o Behavior pattern that appeared to be related to a person’s susceptibility to CHD  Type A pattern: behavior pattern characterized by high levels of competitiveness and hostility, impatience, and an intense disposition; supposedly associated with an increased risk of CHD  Type B pattern: a behavior pattern characterized by lower levels of competitiveness and host
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