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Chapter 13

CHAPTER 13 - Stress

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Eileen Wood

CHAPTER 13: Stress Biopsychosocial model: holds that physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors - historically: contagious disease  chronic disease - Health psychology- concerned with how psychosexual factors relate to the promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention and the treatment of illness Stress: any circumstances that threatens or is perceived to threaten one’s well-being and that thereby tax one’s coping abilities - an individual response to a stressor is a function of a number of factors - peoples appraisals of stressful events are highly subjective The four principles of stress… 1. Frustration: occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some goal is thwarted (not satisfied) o You experience frustration when you want something and you cant have it o Frustration  anger and aggression (brief and insignificant) 2. Conflict: occurs when tow or more incompatible motivations or behavioural impulses compete for expression - Three basic types of conflict… o Approach-approach conflict ( + / + ): choice must be made between two attractive goals o Avoidance-avoidance conflict ( - / - ): choice must be made between two unattractive goals o Approach-avoidance conflict ( + / - ): choice must be made about whether to pursue a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects 3. Change: life changes are any noticeable alterations in one’s living circumstances that require readjustment o Positive events  stress (because they produce change) 4. Pressure: involves expectations or demands that one behave in a certain way o Pressure to perform – execute tasks and responsibilities quickly, efficiently and successfully o Pressure to conform – to the expectations of others Responding to Stress: a person’s reactions to stress are analyzed at three levels… - Emotional responses: there is no simple one-to-one connection between a certain stressful event and particular emotions o Emotions serve important purposes o Inverted-U hypothesis- predicts that a task performance should improve with increased emotional arousal – up to a point, after which further increases in arousal become disruptive and performance deteriorates  as a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal (for peak performance) tends to decrease - Physiological Responses: the “fight-or-flight” response is a physiological reaction to threat in which the ANS mobilizes the organism for attacking (fight) or fleeing (flight) o Stress reactions are nonspecific  do not vary according to the specific type of stress encountered o Selye came up with the first definition of stress o General adaptation syndrome- a model of the body’s stress response, consisting of three stages: • Alarm reaction: occurs when an organism first recognizes the existence of a threat • Resistance stage: physiological changes stabilize as coping efforts get under way • Exhaustion stage: resources for fighting are limited  reduced resistance - Behavioural Responses: most of these involve coping o Coping- refers to active efforts to master, reduce or tolerate the demands created by stress o Various coping strategies include… • Learned helplessness- passive behaviour produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive events  believe that events are beyond their control (blaming oneself) • Aggression- any behaviour that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally • Excessive consumption- people may compensate by pursuing substitute forms of satisfaction • Defense mechanisms- largely unconscious reactions that protect a person from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt  Shield individual from emotional discomfort  Distorts reality so that it doesn’t appear so threatening  Avoidance strategy • Constructive coping- refers to relatively healthful efforts that people make to deal with stressful events  supposed to create
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