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Chapter 7

Notes Chapters 7, 9, and 11

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PSYC 3170
Aviva Goldberg

Chapter 7 Stress moderators- modify how stress is experienced and the effects it has o May have an impact on stress itself, on the relation between stress and psychological responses, on the relation between stress and illness, or on the degree to which a stressful experience intrudes into other aspects of life The impact of any potentially stressful event is substantially influenced by how a person appraises it Coping- the thoughts and behaviours used to manage the internal and external demands of situations that are appraised as stressful o Not a one-time action that someone takes, rather, it is a set of responses, occurring over time, by which the environment and the person influence each other (relation between coping and a stressful event is a dynamic process) o This definition clearly encompasses a great many actions and reactions to stressful circumstances (its breadth) The personality that each person brings to a stressful event influences how they will cope with that event o Genes and environmental factors can result in this Negative affectivity- pervasive negative mood marked by anxiety, depression, and hostility o People who are high in negative affectivity (or neuroticism) express distress, discomfort, and dissatisfaction across a wide range of situations o They are more prone to drink heavily, be depressed, and engage in suicidal gestures or suicide o Neuroticism is related to poor health o Friedman and Booth-Kewley found weak but consistent evidence of a relationship between these disorders and negative emotions o Psychological distress involving depression, anger, hostility, and anxiety may constitute the basis of a disease-prone personality that predisposes people to these disorders o Negative affectivity can be associated with elevated cortisol secretion o Can also affect adjustment to treatment and has been directly linked to a higher risk for mortality in old age o Negativity can also create a false impression of poor health when none exists o People high in negative affectivity also appear more vulnerable to illness because they are more likely to use health services during stressful times than people low in negative affectivity Pessimism- relatively stable dispositional characteristic to expect negative outcomes in the future, whereas others view it as an explanatory style that can be learned o Pessimistic explanatory style- explain the negative events of their lives in terms of internal, stable, global qualities of themselves and may lay the groundwork for poor health o Graduates of Harvard University- pessimism in early adulthood seems to be a risk factor for poor health in middle and late adulthood o People marked by this personality characteristic may have reduced immunocompetence o Dispositional pessimism may also compromise coping efforts and the use of coping resources such as social support in response to threatening health events o Having a pessimist outlook may be linked to ones larger social and economic circumstances (people from a lower SES have a greater expectance that negative events will occur in the future compared to higher SES) Procrastination and health o Procrastination can be bad for your health o Chronic procrastinators may be especially at risk for not just increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, but also for poor health o Procrastination is consistently and significantly associated with negative affectivity, impulsiveness, and depression o Associations may be explained by their tendency to negatively evaluate themselves o Direct route of explanation- tendency to experience stress, which negatively impacts health through altering adrenocortical and endocrine activity o Indirect route of explanation- involves behavioural paths and the interaction of personality with the environment, which can result in the delay of health- protective and health-promoting behaviours and the practice of unhealthy behaviours, as well as creating stressful circumstances Dispositional optimism- general expectancy that good things, not bad, will happen in the future o Can lead people to cope more effectively with stress and thereby reduce their risk for illness o Optimists more likely to seek out social support and reinterpret positively the stressful circumstances they encountered o Positive emotional states are associated with better mental and physical health o Also promotes more active and persistent coping efforts, which may improve long-term prospects for psychological adjustment and health o Optimists and pessimists differ in their physiological functioning o Pessimistic and anxious adults feel more negative and also have higher blood pressures than more optimistic, less anxious people o Optimism may help people deal with stressful events by getting them to use their resources more effectively o Also appear to size up stressful situations more positively and make favourable appraisals that their resources will be sufficient to overcome the threat o However optimism may not always be beneficial- because they are more persistent in pursuing goals, optimists sometimes experience short-term physiological costs Psychological control- the belief that one can determine ones own behaviour, influence ones environment, and bring about desired outcomes o Closely related to self-efficacy, which is a more narrow perception that one has the ability to enact the necessary actions to obtain a specific outcome in a specific situation o Help people cope with a wide variety of stressful events o Perceptions of control in ones work life and in the general tasks of living may be especially protective against adopting a risky lifestyle that involves health- compromising behaviours o Control is important for most people going through stressful events or who live with ongoing stress from chronic health conditions o Have been used extensively in interventions to promote good health habits and to help people cope successfully with stressful events o Control-enhancing interventions with patients awaiting surgery are also used for other unpleasant medical procedures o Ludwick-Rosenthal and Neufeld said that information, relaxation, and cognitive- behavioural interventions are all successful in reducing anxiety, improving coping, and enabling people to overcome the adverse effects of medical procedures more quickly o However too much control may be stressful, exacerbating distress over the medical procedure o High self-esteem may moderate the stress-illness relationship o A cluster of personal qualities called ego strength (dependability, trust, and lack of impulsivity) appears to have health benefits o Self-confidence and having an easygoing disposition mute the likelihood that stressful events will lead to psychological distress, perhaps because they cope with stressful events more actively o Sense of coherence about ones life, sense of purpose or meaning in ones life, sense of humour, trust in others, and religion are internal resources that promote effective coping o Conscientiousness also helps; conscientious people live longer because they may be more successful in avoiding situations that could harm them or they may be more reliable in their practice of good health habits Coping style- general propensity to deal with stressful events in a particular way o Thought to be like personality traits in that they characterize an individuals way of behaving in a general fashion, but they are more specific than personality traits because they are thought to come into play primarily when events become stressful o Avoidant (minimizing) coping style- seem to cope effectively with short-term threats, one explanation is that people who cope using avoidance may not make enough cognitive and emotional efforts to anticipate and manage long-term problems o Approach (confrontative or vigilant) coping style- gathering information and taking action May engage in the cognitive and emotional efforts needed to deal with long-term threats but in short-term they may pay the price in anxiety and physiological activity o Problem-focused coping- involves attempts to do something constructive about the stressful conditions that are harming, threatening, or challenging an individual; emerges typically in childhood o Emotion-focused coping- involves efforts to regulate emotions experienced because of the stressful event; emerges in late childhood or early adolescence Ruminating (negative recurrent thoughts) is detrimental to health Emotional-approach coping- clarifying, focusing on, and working through the e
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