AQA AS Psychology A Unit 2- Stress notes

AS level psychology notes on stress- for AQA psychology A

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  • Created on: 16-05-14 16:09
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Stress as a bodily response
The pituitary adrenal system
Under control of the
hypothalamus and pituitary
When the higher brain centres
find a situation to be
stressful.... Instruct the
hypothalamus to release CRF,
travels to the pituitary
Pituitary releases ACTH
travels to the adrenal cortex
and stimulates the release of
corticosteroids into the blood
The sympathomedullary
Control of adrenal medulla
Autonomic nervous system (ANS) network of nerve
pathways running from centres in the lower parts of the
brain, out to the organs of the body (e.g. heart) and various
The ANS centres in the brain are controlled by higher brain
structures... hypothalamus
Role of the ANS = maintain normal functioning of bodily
systems in response to demands
The ANS has 2 sub- divisions:
Sympathetic= pattern of bodily arousal heart rate and bp
increase, digestion slows, fats and carbs are mobilized
Parasympathetic= opposite heart rate and bp return to
normal and digestion speeds up

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The adrenal medulla is controlled by the ANS... activation of the
sympathetic branch stimulates the release of:
... Into the blood
Adrenaline = arousal hormone... and noradrenaline is similar
together they reinforce the pattern of sympathetic activation
In stressful situations, the hypothalamus activates both systems
(PAS and sympathomedullary pathway)
! Remember HPAC and HANSAM!
Activating the body's stress response
Selye identified the activation of the 2 pathways as the body's
main response to stressors.…read more

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Arousal of the sympathetic ANS would lead to the secretion
of adrenaline and noradrenaline... form the adrenal
.... All would return to normal when the `emergency' was over.
Cannon (1914) called this pattern of bodily reactions the `fight or
flight' response.
Selye's studies showed that it was also central to the stress
response observed in rats.... So he proposed any physical or
psychological stressor activated the 2 pathways.…read more

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Stress related illness and the immune
Last stage of the GAS is exhaustion. Hormones are believed to be
responsible for the negative effects of stressful situations.
Hormones are rarely exhausted
We know far more about the widespread effects of these
As well as activating some body systems, the stress is
responsible for shutting down some systems.
The stress response also inhibits the immune system
The immune system is the body's main defence against infection
by foreign agents.…read more

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Short-term suppression of the immune system isn't dangerous,
but long-term suppression leaves the body vulnerable to
infection and disease.
Some effect of stress on the immune system:
Infection and diseases
Indirect effects- hormones produces can inhibit ell
Psoriasis and eczema
Kiecolt- Glaser (2005) psychological stress can adversely affect
many aspects of immune function
Keicolt- Glaser et al. (1984) study of the effects of important
exams on functioning of the immune system.…read more

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Death of a spouse Gerra (2003) found lower natural killer
cells and lymphocyte activity even up to 6 months after an
unexpected death of a spouse.
Care giving Kiecolt- Galser etal. (2000) Compared to
matched controls, spousal caregivers tend to show poorer
immune function, including lower levels of natural killer
cell activity and poorer resistance to viral infection.
Cohen et al.…read more

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Age differences
Segerstrom and Miller age may make people more vulnerable
to stress- related decreased in immune function because age
makes it harder for the body to regulate itself
Life Changes
...One off, major stressors
The social readjustment rating scale (SRRS).
The SSRS measures the relationship between life changes and
wellbeing.…read more

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Married couples completed daily checklists of events over 3
Number of undesirable events they experienced increased
3-4 days prior to the onset of illness
Desirable events decreased during the same period
A sequence of undesirable events preceded the onset of
illness.... This suggests they might have been responsible
for stress related illness
Supported by the fact desirable events decreased at the
same time
Evaluation of the life changes approach
Individual differences
Positive life events
Self- report
Dated and androcentric
Daily Hassles
....…read more

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Lazarus et al. devised the Hassles scale
Kanner et al. (1981)
Scores on the hassles scale correlate with levels of
depression, anxiety and health problems
DeLongis et al.…read more

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Physical environment- space, temperature, lighting and
office arrangement.
Halpern (1995) increased temperature can lead to stress
and aggravation
Evans et al. (1998) exposure to intense noise can lead to
stress and aggression
Work overload- overload is frequently reported as one of
the most stressful aspects in the workplace Dewe 1992
Lack of control- other people often determine your
workload and work patterns. Marmot et al.…read more


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