Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Mayo Clinic, Jhumpa Lahiri, John Bowlby

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CHAPTER 4
COPING PROCESSES
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
The Concept of Coping (APA Goal 4)
Describe the variety of coping strategies that people use.
Discuss the role of flexibility in coping.
Common Coping Patterns of Limited Value (APA Goals 1, 4)
Analyze the adaptive value of giving up as a response to stress.
Describe the adaptive value of aggression as a response to stress, including the research
on media violence as catharsis.
Evaluate the adaptive value of indulging yourself as a response to stress.
Discuss the adaptive value of negative self-talk as a response to stress.
Explain how defense mechanisms work.
Evaluate the adaptive value of defense mechanisms, including recent work on healthy
illusions.
The Nature of Constructive Coping (APA Goal 4)
Describe the nature of constructive coping.
Distinguish among the three categories of constructive coping.
Appraisal-Focused Constructive Coping (APA Goals 1, 4, 9)
Explain Ellis’s analysis of the causes of maladaptive emotions.
Identify some assumptions that contribute to catastrophic thinking.
Describe some ways to reduce catastrophic thinking.
Discuss the merits of humor in coping with stress, including the work on different types
of humor.
Assess positive reinterpretation as a coping strategy.
Problem-Focused Constructive Coping (APA Goals 4, 9)
List and describe four steps in systematic problem-solving.
Discuss the adaptive value of seeking help as a coping strategy.
Describe cultural differences in seeking social support.
Explain five common causes of wasted time.
Identify the causes and consequences of procrastination.
Summarize advice on managing time effectively.
Emotion-Focused Constructive Coping (APA Goals 4, 9)
Clarify the nature and value of emotional intelligence.
Analyze the adaptive value of expressing emotions.
Discuss the importance of managing hostility and forgiving others’ transgressions.
Understand how exercise can foster improved emotional functioning.
Summarize the evidence on the effects of meditation and relaxation.
Describe the requirements and procedure for Benson’s relaxation response.
APPLICATION: Coping with Loss (APA Goals 8, 9)
Discuss cultural and individual attitudes about death, including death anxiety.
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54 CHAPTER 4
Describe Kübler-Ross’s five stages of dying and research findings about the dying
process.
Analyze cultural variations in mourning practices, and discuss the grieving process.
Discuss various types of loss and what helps people cope with bereavement.
CHAPTER OUTLINE
I. The Concept of Coping
A. Coping: efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands created by stress
B. General points about coping
1. People cope with stress in different ways
2. Using a variety of strategies if most adaptive
3. Coping strategies vary in their adaptive value
II. Common Coping Patterns of Limited Value
A. Giving up
1. Learned helplessness: passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable
aversive events
a. Martin Seligman did early research on animal subjects
b. Originally viewed as a product of conditioning
1) Current view includes cognitive interpretation as a determinant of learned
helplessness
2) Helplessness is associated with belief that events are beyond your control, a
pessimistic explanatory style
2. Generally not viewed as positive method of coping
a. This behavioral disengagement is associated with increased distress
b. Can contribute to depression
3. Giving up may be adaptive in some situations, particularly if goals are unrealistic
B. Acting aggressively
1. Aggression: any behavior intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally
2. Frustration-aggression hypothesis: frustration frequently elicits aggression
3. Aggression may be displaced onto substitute target
4. Freud suggested aggression can produce catharsis: a release of emotional tension
a. Thus, aggression can be adaptive, according to Freud
b. But recent research indicates that aggression does not reliably lead to catharsis
c. Behaving in an aggressive manner tends to fuel more anger and aggression
d. Exposure to violent media is not cathartic, rather appears to be associated with
aggression
C. Indulging yourself
1. Evidence relating stress to increases in eating, smoking, drug use, gambling
2. Developing alternative rewards is a common response to stress
3. Recent manifestation is Internet addiction, which consists of spending an inordinate
amount of time on the Internet and inability to control online use
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55
4. Strategy can have merit if kept under control, but excesses generally result in
negative consequences
D. Blaming yourself
1. When confronted with stress, people may become self-critical
2. Albert Ellis calls this catastrophic thinking and suggests that it is rooted in irrational
assumptions, as people
a. Unreasonably attribute their failures to personal shortcomings
b. Focus on negative feedback while ignoring positive feedback from others
c. Make unduly pessimistic projections about the future
3. Recognizing one's weaknesses has some value, but negative self-talk is generally
counterproductive
4. Can contribute to development of depression
E. Using defensive coping
1. Nature of defense mechanisms
a. Defense mechanisms are largely unconscious reactions that protect a person
from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt
b. Defend against emotional discomfort elicited by stress
c. Work through self-deception
d. Include both conscious and unconscious reactions
e. Are normal and common patterns of coping
2. Can defense mechanisms ever be healthy?
a. Generally, no
1) Operate as an avoidance strategy
2) Represent "wishful thinking" that accomplishes little
3) Repression has been found to relate to poor health, linked to delay in facing
problem
b. Some researchers suggest that illusions may be adaptive for mental health
c. Others have expressed skepticism
1) Suggest that accuracy and realism are healthy
2) Report data showing that overly favorable self-ratings are correlated with
maladaptive personality traits
d. Baumeister proposes an “optimal margin of illusion,” beneficial small illusions
III. The Nature of Constructive Coping
A. Constructive coping refers to efforts to deal with stressful events that are judged to be
relatively healthful
B. What makes a coping strategy constructive?
1. Confronting problems directly
2. Based on realistic appraisals of one's stress and coping resources
3. Recognizing and managing potentially disruptive emotional reactions to stress
4. Exerting control over potentially harmful habitual behaviors
C. Categories of constructive coping
1. Appraisal-focused coping, aimed at changing one's interpretation of stressful events
2. Problem-focused coping, aimed at altering the stressful situation itself
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