Chapter 13 – Stress, Coping and Health
Biopsychosocial model holds that physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of
biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Health Psychology is concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the promotion and
maintenance of health with the causation, prevention, and treatment of illness.
Major Types of Stress
Acute Stressors are threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear endpoint
i.e. dealing with a major exam, encountering a drunk, and etc.
Chronic Stressors are threatening events that have a relatively long duration and no readily
apparent time limit i.e. persistent financial strains such as debt.
Four major types of stress, Frustration, Conflict, Change and Pressure
Frustration occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some goal is thwarted
You experience frustration when you want something and cant have it, often eliciting
aggression and anger
Conflict occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or behavioral impulses compete for
Three types: approach-approach, avoidance-avoidance, and approach-avoidance
In an approach-approach conflict, a choice mist be made between two attractive goals,
the least stressful, i.e., free afternoon so should you play basketball or soccer?
In an avoidance-avoidance conflict, a choice must be made between two unattractive
goals, i.e., should I keep taking unemployment cheques or should I take a degrading job
at the car wash, both being avoidant.
In an approach-avoidance conflict, a choice must be made about whether or not to pursue
a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects, often produce vacillation;
back and forth, beset by decision. i.e., your offered a career promotion with increase in
pay, but you’re going to have to relocate to a city you are not fond of.
Life Changes are any noticeable alterations in one’s living circumstances that require
Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRSS) measures life change as a form of stress, the
scale assigns numerical values to 43 major life, reflecting the magnitude of readjustment
required by each change
Pressure involves expectations or demands that one behave in a certain way Responding to Stress
We can analyze an individuals stress at three levels; (1) emotional responses, (2)
physiological responses, (3) behavioural responses
Emotional Responses – when people are under stress they often react emotionally
Common emotional responses to stress include (a) annoyance, anger, and rage, (b)
apprehension, anxiety, and fear, (c) dejection, sadness, and grief.
Broaden and build theory of positive emotions (1) positive emotions alter peoples
mindsets, their creativity and flexibility in problem solving (2) positive emotions can
undo the lingering effects of negative emotions, and thus short circuit the physiological
responses to stress (3) positive emotions help promote rewarding social interactions that
help to build valuable social support, enhanced coping strategies, and other enduring
The inverted-U hypothesis predicts that task performance should improve with increased
emotional arousal – up to a point, after which further increases in arousal become
disruptive and performance deteriorates; reffered to inverted u hypothesis because when
plotted as a function of arousal, the resulting graph plots an upside-down U
The level of arousal at which performance peaks is known as optimal level of arousal
As a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal tends to decrease
The Fight or Flight Response is a physiological reaction to threat in which the autonomic
nervous system (ANS) mobilizes the organism for attacking or fleeing an enemy
The General Adaptation Syndrome is a model of the body’s stress response, consisting of
three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion
Alarm stage is the first stage when an organism first recognizes the threat, Resistance
stage organism getting accustomed to the threat, if stress continues organism may enter
stage of exhaustion
There are two major pathways along which the brain sends signals to the endocrine
system in response to stress
Coping refers to active efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands created by stress
Coping responses may be adaptive or maladaptive
Learned helplessness is passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive
events (i.e. giving up, behavioural disengagement)
Aggression is any behaviour intended to hurt someone, either physically or emotionally
Frustration-aggression hypothesis – aggression is caused by frustration Behaving aggressively could get pent-up emotion out of one’s system and thus be