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Chapter 15

Chapter 15.docx

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Course Code
Psychology 1000
Derek Quinlan

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CHAPTER 15: STRESS, COPING, & HEALTH THE NATURE OF STRESS Psychologists have viewed stress in 3 different ways: o 1 as a stimulus Stressors: eliciting stimuli or events that place strong demands on us o 2 as a response Stress has cognitive, physiological, and behavioural components o 3 as an organism-environment interaction Stress: a pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses, and behavioural tendencies that occurs in response to a perceived imbalance between situational demands and the resources needed to cope with them Stressors Whether stressors are physical or psychological, they place demands on us that endanger well-being, requiring us to adapt in some manner Micro-Stressors daily hassles and everyday annoyances Catastrophic Events often occur unexpectedly and typically affect large numbers of people Major Negative Events such as being the victim of a major crime or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, an academic or career failure, or a major illness Events which occur suddenly and unpredictably, and which affect a person over a long period of time seem to take the greatest toll on physical and psychological well-being Measuring Stressful Life Events Life Event Scales: devised by researchers to quantify the amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of time Asks people to indicate whether a particular event occurred, their appraisal of whether the event was positive or negative, and whether it was a major event or a day-to-day event Additional information can be obtained Life event scales have been used widely in life stress research Most modern researchers now define stress in terms of negative life changes only Positive life events sometimes counter or even cancel out the impact of negative events The Stress Response 4 aspects of the appraisal process are of particular significance: o 1) Appraisal of the demands of the situation [Primary Appraisal] o 2) Appraisal of the resources available to cope with it [Secondary Appraisal] o 3) Judgments of what the consequences of the situation might be o 4) Appraisals of the personal meaningwhat the outcome might imply about us Primary Appraisal: initial appraisal of a situation as benign, irrelevant, or threatening; a perception of the severity of demands Secondary Appraisal: ones judgment of the adequacy of personal resources needed to cope with a stressor You will also take into account the potential consequences of failing to cope successfully with the situation The psychological meaning of the consequences may be related to your basic beliefs about yourself or the world Distortions and mistaken appraisals can occur at any of the 4 points in the appraisal process, causing inappropriate stress responses As soon as we make appraisals, the body responds to them Appraisals and physiological responses mutually affect one another Chronic Stress & The GAS Selye (1976) described a physiological response pattern to strong and prolonged stressors that he called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) Consists of 3 phases: o 1) Alarm Reaction o 2) Resistance o 3) Exhaustion Alarm Reaction in response to a physical or physiological stressor, animals exhibit a rapid increase in physiological arousal o Occurs because of the sudden activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones by the endocrine system o Helps the body deal with the source of stress o Increase in heart rate and respiration, dilation of the pupils, and slowing of digestion o Also an endocrine (hormonal) stress response o Adrenal glands produce cortisoltriggers an increase in blood sugars; suppresses the immune system; has anti-inflammatory effects o Sympathetic nervous system activation and the hormonal response help you deal with the stressor o Alarm Reaction stage cannot last indefinitelythe bodys natural tendency to maintain homeostasis results in parasympathetic nervous system activity (which functions to reduce arousal) o With continued exposure to stress, the body enters the second stage, resistance Resistance the bodys resources continue to be mobilized so that the person can function despite the presence of the stressor o Can last for a relatively long time, but the bodys resources are being depleted o How long the stage of resistance can last depends on the severity of the stress, the individuals general health, available support, etc. o Eventually, remaining bodily resources are no longer sufficient and the stage of resistance comes to an end Exhaustion occurs if the stressor is intense and persists too longthe bodys resources are dangerously depleted o Increased vulnerability to disease o The more severe the stress, the sooner the body will reach the stage of exhaustion o Whichever system of the body is the weakest will be first affected by exhaustion STRESS & HEALTH Stress & Psychological Well-Being Effects of stress on psychological well-being are clearest and most dramatic among people who have experience catastrophic life events Some stressors are so traumatic that they can have a strong, long-lasting psychological impact o Ex: Holocaust, soldiers, rape Rape Trauma Syndrome: for months or even years after the rape, victims may feel nervous and fear another attack by the rapist, decreased enjoyment of sexual activity long after the rape Majority of stressors people experience are not as severe as concentration camp confinement, combat, or rape Stress causes distress Peoples levels of distress may influence their reporting of negative life events
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