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.524-541 Chapter 16 Mar. 14/10
Some people show little risk of becoming ill during or after chronic stress – hardy people. They
view the stressors in their lives as challenges and that they met these challenges head on—they
did not avoid them or become anxious about them. They also felt that they had control over the
challenges rather than that the challenges had control over them.
How we initially size up the stressor, how we tackle it, and the extent to which we believe that
we can control the stressor seem to influence whether we become at risk for illnesses related to
being chronically stressed. However, a hardy personality is correlated with the combination of
parental warmth, a stimulating home environment and family support.
One of the leading causes of death in Western societies is CHD—diseases of the heart and the
blood vessels. CHD can cause heart attacks and strokes. The likelihood that people will suffer
from CHD may depend on how they react to stress.
Type a pattern – a behaviour pattern characterized by high levels of competitiveness and
hostility, impatience, and an intense disposition; supposedly associated with an increased risk of
CHD. They are more likely to smoke and to have high blood pressure and high blood levels of
Type b pattern – a behaviour pattern characterized by lower levels of competitiveness and
hostility, patience, and an easygoing disposition; supposedly associated with a decreased risk of
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – an anxiety disorder in which the individual has feelings
of social withdrawal accompanied by atypically low levels of emotion caused by prolonged
exposure to a stressor, such as a catastrophe. Usually, the symp