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Chapter 15

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 15: Cirrhosis, Aerobic Exercise, Methadone

Course Code
PSYCH 1000

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Chapter 15: Stress, Coping & Health
Nature of Stress
View stress in three ways:
o Stimulus
Events that place strong demands on an individual
o Response
Cognitive, physiological & behavioural components
Presence of negative emotions is an important feature of stress response
Links the study of stress with emotion
o Organism-environment interaction
Transaction between organism & environment
Pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses and behavioural
tendencies that occurs in response to a perceived imbalance between situational
demands and resources needed to cope with them
Specific kinds of eliciting stimuli
Place demands that endanger well-being requiring adaption
Greater imbalance between demands & resources more stressful a situation
o Microstressors
Daily hassles & everyday annoyances encountered at school, at work & with family
o Catastrophic Events
Occur unexpectedly & typically affect large numbers of people
Ex. Natural disasters, acts of war, & concentration camp confinement
o Major Negative Events
Victim of major crime or abuse, loss of loved one, academic or career failure, or illness
Sudden, unpredictable events or ones over a long period of time greatest toll on well-being
Measuring Stressful Life Events
Life Event Scales
o Study linkages between life events and well-being
o Quantify amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of time
o Asks people to indicate:
Whether a particular event occurred

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Appraisal of whether event was positive or negative
Whether it was a major event or everyday event
Rate the predictability, controllability and duration of each event
Early Perspective: Any life event that requires adaptation stressor
Modern Perspective: define stress in terms of negative life changes only
Stress Response
Respond to situations as we perceive them
Starting point for stress response is appraisal of situation and its implications for us
Four aspects of the appraisal process:
o Appraisal of the demands of the situation (primary appraisal)
o Appraisal of the resources available to cope with it (secondary appraisal)
o Judgments of what the consequences of the situation could be
o Appraisal of the personal meaning, that is, what the outcome might imply about us
Example: Important Job Interview
o Primary Appraisal
Situation can be:
How difficult an interview might be
How badly you want or need the job
o Secondary Appraisal
Appraising perceived ability to cope with situation (resources available to deal with it)
Coping resources include:
Knowledge & abilities
Verbal skills
Social resources (emotional support)
Demands of the interview greatly exceed resources likely experience stress
Potential Consequence
Failing to cope successfully (seriousness of consequences & likelihood of
Appraising consequences of failing: costly & likely to occur increases
Psychological meaning of consequences
Related to basic beliefs about yourself or the world
Certain beliefs or personal standards can make people vulnerable to particular
types of situational demands
Ex. If your feelings of self-worth depend on how successful you are in situations,
may regard doing poorly during interview as evidence of being worthless
Distortions & Mistaken Appraisals
o Can occur at any of four points in the appraisal process
o Causing inappropriate stress responses
o May overestimate the seriousness of situation
o May underestimate their own resources
o May exaggerate seriousness of consequences and likelihood that they will occur
o May have irrational self-beliefs that confer inappropriate meaning on the consequences
Appraisal patterns differ from person to person individual variation
Appraisals body responds to them: mutually affect one another
o Autonomic & somatic feedback can affect reappraisals of how stressful a situation is and
whether resources are sufficient to cope with it
Chronic Stress & GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome)
Described a physiological response pattern to strong and prolonged stressors
Consists of three phases:
o Alarm Reaction

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SNS has activating effect on smooth muscles, organs & glands of body
Helps the body deal with source of stress
Slowing of digestion leads to blood being diverted to muscle
Increased heart rate & respiration means blood arriving at skeletal muscles contains
extra oxygen
Pupil dilation: sensitive to light and enhance vision
Endocrine or hormonal, stress response is present
Threat leads messages from hypothalamus to pituitary gland & then adrenal glands
Adrenal glands produce different hormones - most important for stress is cortisol
Triggers an increase in blood sugar - acting on the liver
Extra blood arriving at
skeletal muscles
contains additional sugar
and oxygen
Suppresses immune
system - suppresses
o Cortisone (body
converts it to
cortisol) treat
joint inflammation
Natural tendency to maintain
homeostasis results in
parasympathetic nervous
system activity reduce
If stressor continues stress
response continues body on
red alert
o Resistance
Resources continue to be mobilized so that body can function despite presence of
Last a long time body’s resources are being depleted
Depends on
Severity of stress
Individual health
Available support
o Exhaustion
Stressor is intense and persists for long
Body's resources are dangerously depleted
Increased vulnerability to disease and, in extreme cases, collapse and even death
Determined by a number of factors
Severity of the stress
Person's ability to cope with stress
General health
Whichever system of body is weakest first to be affected during exhaustion
Stress & Health
Stress & Psychological Well-Being
Effects of stress on psychological well-being clearest & most dramatic with people who have
experienced catastrophic life events
Some stressors are so traumatic that they can have a strong and long-lasting psychological impact
o Depression
o Crying spells
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