Key studies: Stress and the Immune System

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: alexandra
  • Created on: 31-05-13 17:21
View mindmap
  • KEY STUDIES: Stress related illness: The immune system
    • Kiecolt-Glaser et al. (1995)
      • Method
        • In a study with independent measures design, a punch biopsy was used to create a small wound on the arms of 13 women who cared for relatives with Alzheimer's disease. A control group of 13 people also took part.
          • Results & Conclusion
            • Wound healing took an average of 9 days longer for the carers compared with the control group and so we can deduce that long term stress impairs the effectiveness of the immune system to heal wounds.
              • Evaluation
                • Sweeny (1995) also found that people caring for relatives with dementia took longer than a control group to heal.   However, for both studies the two groups may have varied in other ways apart from the stress of being a carer.
                  • The effects on the carers could be due to other factors such as lack of sleep, poor diet etc. The study also contained a small number of participants - for more reliable results it should be repeated with a larger number of participants.
    • Kiecolt-Glaser er all (1984)
      • Method
        • Natural experiment to investigate whether the stress of short term stressors had an effect on the immune system.
          • Blood samples were taken one month (low stress) and during the exam period itself (high stress). Immune system functioning was assessed by measuring NK cell activity.
      • Findings
        • NK cell activity was reduced in the second blood sample compared to the sample taken one month before.
          • This suggests that short-term, predictable stressors reduce immune system functioning, making it more vulnerable to illness.
    • Untitled
    • Malarkey et al. (1994)
      • Studied 90 newly-wed couples over a 24 hour period in a laboratory.
      • Chronic stress (long term)
      • The couples were asked to discuss and resolve marital issues that were most likely to produce conflict (e.g finances)
      • The marital conflict produced changes in levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline which is believed to lead to poor functioning of the immune system.
      • It is also believed that mental conflict would be more negative and would last longer at home, therefore the affects on the immune system would be worse.
    • Individual differences
      • Women show more adverse hormonal and immunological changes in the way they react to marital conflict (Kiecolt-Glaser et al.)
        • As people age, stress has a greater effect on the immune system making it harder to regulate itself (Segerstorm and Miller, 2004)


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Stress resources »