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Chapter 13

Chapter 13 Notes.docx

Course Code
PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

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Chapter 13 Stress, Coping and Health
- Biopsychosocial model: physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological,
psychological and sociocultural factors
- Health psychology concerned with the causes, treatment and prevention of illness
- Stress: any circumstances that threaten or are perceived to threaten one’s well-being and
that thereby tax one’s coping abilities
o Is cumulative
o Some people are more prone to stress than others
Major Types of Stress
- Stressful events can be divided into:
o Acute stressors threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a
clear endpoint
o Chronic stressors threatening events that have a relatively long duration and nor
readily apparent time limit
- Four major types of stress:
o Frustration occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some goal is thwarted
Include failures and losing things/opportunities
o Conflict occurs when 2 or more incompatible motivations or behavioural
impulses compete for expression
Ex: approach-approach conflict = a choice must be made between two
attractive goals; are the least stressful
Ex: avoidance-avoidance conflict = a choice must be made between two
unattractive goals; highly stressful
Ex: approach-avoidance conflict = a choice must be made about whether
to pursue a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects;
produce vacillation (going back and forth with indecision)
o Life changes noticeable alterations in one’s living circumstances that require
Even nice changes can produce stress
Is there a relationship between stress and subsequent illness?
Holmes and Rahe: “yes” – Social Readjustment Rating Scale
o Helps identify people who are at high risk for stress-related
problems and it contains a list of life events that require
change or readjustment
o Pressure expectations or demands that one behave in a certain way
Is often self-imposed (as is stress in general)
- Daily hassles frequent and minor hassles are better predictors of immediate day-to-day
emotional and physical health than major life events, but major life events produce
changes in health one or two years after the event
Responding to Stress
Emotional Responses
- People under stress often react emotionally
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o Ex: annoyance, anger, anxiety, fear, dejection, grief
o Some emotional response are positive ones (ex: gratitude for the good things)
Help people bounce back after stressful times and are associated with
lower levels of stress hormones and increased immune activity
- High emotional arousal can affect people’s ability to cope with stress
o Inverted U hypothesis task performance should improve with increased
emotional arousal, up to a point, after which further increases in arousal become
disruptive and performance deteriorates
The optimal level of arousal on a task depends on the complexity of the
task (more complex = peaks earlier)
Physiological Responses
- Fight or flight response: a physiological reaction to threat in which the autonomic
nervous system mobilizes the organism for attacking or fleeing an enemy
- General adaptation syndrome (Selye): a model of the bodys stress response consisting of
three stages: alarm, resistance, exhaustion
o Alarm reaction: organism first realizes the existence of a threat, reaction is
basically that of the fight-or-flight reaction
o Stage of resistance: after being exposed to prolonged stress, physiological
changes stabilize as coping efforts get underway
o Stage of exhaustion: the body’s resources for fighting stress are limited and may
be depleted, affecting a variety of organ system
- There are two major pathways along which the brain sends signals to the endocrine
system in response to stress:
o Hypothalamus autonomic nervous system (sympathetic) adrenal medulla
secretion of catecholamines
Increases heart rate, breathing, perspiration, blood flow to active muscles,
muscle strength, mental activity
o Hypothalamus pituitary gland adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) adrenal
cortex secretion of corticosteroids
Increases protein and fat mobilization, access to energy storage and
decreases inflammation
Behavioural Responses
- Coping: active efforts to master, reduce or tolerate the demands created by stress
o May be adaptive or maladaptive
o A key aspect of personality
- Learned helplessness: passive behaviour produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive
o Accepting setbacks that might be dealt with effectively
o Associated with increased stress
- Aggression: any behaviour that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally
o People under stress commonly strike out against others aggressively
o Caused by frustration
o A proposed example of catharsis (the release of emotional tension)
o Can lead to increased stress
- Stress can lead to self-indulgence
o Ex: overeating, smoking, gambling
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