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Chapter 13

PSYC 1010 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Biopsychosocial Model, Health Psychology, Learned Helplessness

Course Code
PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

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Chapter 13- Stress, Coping, and Health3/24/2012 9:08:00 AM
Biopsychosocial model- physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of
biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Health psychology- concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the
promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention,
and treatment of illness.
Stress- any circumstances that threatens or is perceived to threaten one’s
well being and thereby taxes one’s coping abilities. A major stress event can
cause a cascade of minor stress events. Types of stress:
Acute stressors- threatening events that have a relatively short duration and
a clear endpoint. Ex: coping with major exam, or flood in the house.
Chronic stressors- threatening events that have a relatively long duration
and no readily apparent time limit. Ex: credit card debts, sick family member
Four major types of stress:
1. Frustration- occurs in any situation in which the pursuit of some goal is
thwarted. Most frustrations are brief and insignificant. Failure and losses are
two kinds of common frustration that are often highly stressful.
2. Conflict- occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or
behavioural impulses compete for expression. Three types of conflict:
Approach-approach conflict: a choice must be made between two attractive
goals. Least stressful of the three. Ex: Choose chocolate or vanilla ice-cream
Avoidance-avoidance conflict: a choice must be made between two
unattractive goals. Highly stressful. Ex: unemployed or work a bad job.
Approach-avoidance conflict: a choice must be made about whether to
pursue a single goal that has both attractive, and unattractive qualities.
They cause vacillation (going back and forth between a decision). Ex: You
are offered a very good job but it requires you to move to a new city.
3. Change- life changes are noticeable alterations in one’s living
circumstances that require readjustment. Positive events can cause stress,
since they bring change. Ex: moving to a new house, getting divorced.
4. Pressure- involves expectations or demands that one behave in a certain
Common emotional responses to stress include:
(a) Annoyance, anger, and rage
(b) Apprehension, anxiety, and fear
(c) Dejection, sadness, and grief
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People can experience positive emotions as well during stress. Positive
emotions alter people’s mindsets, broadening their scope of attention, and
increasing their creativity and flexibility in problem solving. It can undo the
lingering effects of negative emotions. It can promote rewarding social
interactions that help to build valuable social support; it can also reduce
stress hormones and mortality rates in some populations.
Strong emotional arousal can also interfere with efforts to cope with stress.
Inverted- U hypothesis: task performance should improve with increased
emotional arousal up to a point, after which further increase in arousal
become disruptive and performance deteriorates. As a task becomes more
complex, the optimal level of arousal tends to decrease.
Fight-or-flight response: a physiological response to threat in which the
autonomic nervous system mobilizes the organism for attacking (fight) or
fleeing (flight) an enemy.
General adaptation syndrome: a model of the body’s stress response,
consisting of three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
1. Alarm reaction- organism first recognizes the threat.
2. Stage of resistance- physiological changes stabilize, as coping efforts
get under way. It could level off as they become used to the threat.
3. Exhaustion- if the stress can’t be overcome, then the body’s resources
may be depleted. Organism experiences hormonal exhaustion.
Two main pathways in which response to stress occurs:
1.Autonomic nervous system; hypothalamus activates adrenal glands.
2.Direct communication with the brain and endocrine system.
Coping: refers to active efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands
created by stress. Ex: if you’re failing a class, you might try to study more,
go to a tutor, blame the professor, or just give up.
Learned helplessness: passive behaviour produced by exposure to
unavoidable aversive events. Occurs when individuals believe that the
events are beyond their control. Can contribute to depression.
Aggression: any behaviour that is intended to hurt someone; it is caused by
frustration. You might sometimes lash out at someone other than the source
Defense mechanisms: largely unconscious reactions that protect a person
from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and guilt. Protects emotional
discomfort caused by stress.
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