Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes -Road Rage, Acculturation, Sympathetic Nervous System

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Published on 12 Apr 2013
School
Western University
Department
Psychology
Course
Psychology 2035A/B
Chapter 3- Stress and Its Effects
The Nature of Stress
Stress is any circumstance that threatens or is perceived to threaten one’s well-being
and thereby taxes one’s coping abilities
One-third of Americans surveyed reported “living with extreme stress”, and nearly half
believed that their stress had “increased over the past 5 years”
A major stressful event, such as going through a divorce, can trigger a cascade of minor
stressors, such as looking for an attorney, taking on new household responsibilities, and
so forth
Routine hassles may have significant negatives effects on a person’s mental and physical
health
o Researchers found that scores on a scale measuring daily hassles were more
strongly related to participants’ mental health than the scores on a scale
measuring major life events were
Stressful events can have a cumulative or additive impact
Certain personal characteristics such as resilience and optimism can buffer the
distressing effects of daily hassles
o Hassles that evoke strong negative emotions are the ones most related to stress
Perceiving a situation as threatening elicits negative emotions
Primary appraisal is an initial evaluation of whether an event is 1) irrelevant to you, 2)
relevant but not threatening, or 3) stressful
Secondary appraisal is an evaluation of your coping resources and options for dealing
with stress
People’s appraisals about stressful events alter the impact of the events themselves
o Negative interpretations of events are associated with increased distress
surrounding these events
Some people are more prone to feel threatened by life’s difficulties than are others
Ambient stress consists of chronic environmental conditions that, although not urgent,
are negatively valued and place adaptive demands on people
Crowding is a major source of environmental stress
o An association between high density and increased physiological arousal,
psychological distress, and social withdrawal
Living in arrears that are at risk for disaster
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o Residents in an area prone to earthquakes or hurricanes may experience
increased stress
Urban poverty and violence is also a source of environmental stress
Children who report recent exposure to traumatic events show increased stress
hormones
Culture sets the context in which people experience and appraise stress
Cultural change such as increased modernization and urbanization and shifting values
and customs, has been a major source of stress in many societies around the world
Racial discrimination negatively affects mental health and well-being
o Minority group members may experience stress not only from explicit
discrimination but also from the subjective perception of discrimination in
ambiguous situations
o Perceived discrimination has been linked to greater psychological distress, higher
levels of depression, and decreased well-being for a variety of minority groups
including sexual minorities
Acculturation, or changing to adapt to a new culture, is a major source of stress related
to reduced well-being
o Holds even for children
The discrepancy between what individuals expect before immigrating and what they
actually experience once they do immigrate is related to the amount of acculturation
stress they report
Major Sources of Stress
Acute stressors are threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear
end-point
Chronic stressors are threatening events that have a relatively long duration and no
readily apparent time limit
Anticipatory stressors are upcoming or future events that are perceived to be
threatening
o Anticipatory stress can affect us psychologically and physically just as strongly as
actual stressors do
Four Major Sources of Stress:
Frustration
o Frustration occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some goal is
thwarted
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o Some frustrations, such as failures and losses, can be sources of significant stress
o Most frustrations are brief and insignificant
o Frustration appears to be the culprit at work when people feel troubled by
environmental stress
Frustration also plays a role in the aggressive behaviours associated with
“road rage”
Internal Conflict
o Internal conflict occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or
behavioural impulses compete for expression
o Higher levels of conflict associated with higher levels of psychological distress
o Approach-approach conflict: a choice must be made between two attractive
goals
The approach-approach type tends to be the least stressful
Typically have a reasonably happy ending, whichever way you decide to
go
o Avoidance-avoidance conflict: a choice must be made between two
unattractive goals
Avoidance-avoidance conflicts are most unpleasant and highly stressful
People keep delaying their decision as long as possible, hoping that they
will somehow be able to escape the conflict situation
o Approach-avoidance conflict: a choice must be made about whether to pursue
a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects
Approach-avoidance conflicts are common, and they can be highly
stressful
Have to take a risk to pursue some desirable outcome
Produces vacillation- people go back and forth, beset by indecision that
can create stress
Change
o Life changes are any noticeable alterations in one’s living circumstances that
require readjustment
o Disruptions of daily routines are stressful
Changes in personal relationships, changes at work, changes in finances,
and so forth can be stressful even when the changes are welcomed
o People with higher scores on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) tend
to be more vulnerable to many kinds of physical illness- and many types of
psychological problems as well
The list of life changes on the SRRS is dominated by events that are
clearly negative or undesirable
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Document Summary

Stress is any circumstance that threatens or is perceived to threaten one"s well-being and thereby taxes one"s coping abilities. One-third of americans surveyed reported living with extreme stress , and nearly half believed that their stress had increased over the past 5 years . A major stressful event, such as going through a divorce, can trigger a cascade of minor stressors, such as looking for an attorney, taking on new household responsibilities, and so forth. Stressful events can have a cumulative or additive impact. Certain personal characteristics such as resilience and optimism can buffer the distressing effects of daily hassles: hassles that evoke strong negative emotions are the ones most related to stress. Perceiving a situation as threatening elicits negative emotions. Primary appraisal is an initial evaluation of whether an event is 1) irrelevant to you, 2) relevant but not threatening, or 3) stressful. Secondary appraisal is an evaluation of your coping resources and options for dealing with stress.

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