Psychology 2990A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: You Can Do It, Condom, Learned Helplessness

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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
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
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
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likely to experience subsequent heart problems than those with low sense of
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
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
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