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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

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Psychology 2990A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Psych 2990A Chapter 3: Psychology and Health Stress and Human Health • stress can affect our physical health • many cases of death follow psychological trauma • some experience depression, paranoia, and anxiety following a trauma • large increase in stress during university life • Effects of Negative Life Events • Selye: stress as bodyʼs physiological response to threatening events • stress: degree to which people have to change and readjust their lives in response to an external event •more change required, more stress • to assess life changes, Holmes and Rahe developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale - each person gets a list of life events in which each event gets a pre-assigned score •people check the events that have occurred to them in the past year - score gets totaled up - ʻlife changeʼ score •peopleʼs higher score, the worse their physical and mental health was • people who are experiencing a lot of change and upheaval in their lives are more likely to feel anxious and get sick. • most studies in this area contain correlational studies than experimental studies - cannot determine whether the event causes stress or stress causes people to act in a certain way • there can also be extraneous variables like (poverty and racism) that factor into stress • Perceived Stress and Health • subjective situations (ie. divorce) has more of an impact than objective situations (ie. earthquake) • perceiving events as negative is also dependent on the individual • an event is stressful for people only if they interpret it as stressful • stress: negative feelings and beliefs that occur whenever people feel unable to cope with demands from their environment • life changes that were rated as negative produced with the greatest psychological distress • stress can affect oneʼs immune system • effect of stress can also be coupled with other factors such as age, weight, time of the year, sex, race, etc • Feeling in Charge: The Importance of Perceived Control • perceived control: the belief that we can influence our environment in ways that determine whether we experience positive or negative outcomes •associated with good mental and physical health • Helgeson and Fritz - interviewed patients who had undergone a coronary angioplasty - people who had a high sense of control over their futures were less likely to experience subsequent heart problems than those with low sense of control • those victims of rape also were interviewed and those who had control over the outcome of their lives experienced less depression and fewer symptoms of PTSD. • study conducted by Glass and Singer - people were given problems to solve and were placed in either one of the 3 conditions •one condition had the bursts of noise occur at unpredictable lengths at unpredictable intervals over the course of the session •one condition had the same sequences of noise but were given a sense of control in which they could stop the noise at any time by pressing a button •people who had perceived control were much less distracted with the task • Increasing Perceived Control in Nursing Homes •Langer and Rodin believed that it would be beneficial for residents of a nursing home if their feelings of control were increased •feelings of control would be conveyed by showing a movie containing a speech •the director of the movie also gave a speech in comparison in which all the references in making decisions and residents being responsible for themselves were deleted •residents in the induced control group became more happier and more active than the comparison group • Disease, Control, and Well-Being •the link between perceived control and well-being is stronger in Western cultures than Asian cultures •in Western cultures, where individualism and personal achievement are prized, people are more likely to feel distressed when they cannot control their destinies •SOMETIMES, exaggerating that perceived control is a strong predictor of illness may have its disadvantages • illness is often blamed on personal control, and people often blame themselves for failing to recover • Knowing You Can Do It: Self-Efficacy • self-efficacy: the belief in oneʼs ability to carry out specific actions that produce desired outcomes (Bandura) • 1990s: National Institute of Mental Health sponsored an intervention to get people to engage in safer sex that targeted peopleʼs self-efficacy in the domain of condom use - their beliefs that they could bring up the topic in a conversation with a potential sexual partner and convince that partner that they should use condoms •control group only received education about AIDS; experimental group received education about AIDS and lecture on how to use condoms (increase in competence and motivation) •increase in condom use (self-efficacy) within the experimental condition • a person might have high self-efficacy in one domain but not in another • self-efficacy influences the way our bodies react while working towards our goal •people with high self-efficacy experience less anxiety while working on a difficult tasks and their immune system functions more optimally • believing that we can do something is a powerful determinant of where we actually succeed • Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness • learned helplessness: the state of pessimism that results from explaining a negative event as stemming from stable, internal, and global factors • if we think that a negative event has a stable cause, weʼve made a stable attribution - we believe that the event was caused by things that will not change over time as opposed to factors that can change over time • internal attribution: we believe that something about us caused the event as opposed to factors that are external to us • global attribution: belief that the event is caused by factors that apply in a large number of situations
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