AQA PSYA2 - Complete Notes

These are the notes I've created for the PSYA2 exam for the AQA A exam board - I managed 100UMS in the exam using these notes so I thought I'd share them with you :) enjoy

Take a look at my PSYA1 notes where I also got 100UMS using my notes

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  • Created on: 16-03-14 17:25
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Stress is where a person's perceived physical, social and environmental demands exceed their
perceived ability to cope. Especially when these demands are seen as endangering the person's
wellbeing in some way.
Bodies response to acute stress
Sympathomedullary pathway: An acute stressor activates the autonomic nervous system. First the
sympathetic branch stimulates the adrenal medulla to release the hormones adrenaline and
noradrenalin, which cause the fight or flight response. This causes increased pupil size, increase heart
rate, sweating and the dilation of bronchial tubes. The Parasympathetic branch then returns the
animal to a state of normal.
Bodies response to chronic stress
Pituitary-Adrenal System: The hypothalamus in the brain first detects a chronic stressor. In response
to this, it releases the CFR hormone, which travels to the pituitary gland. This stimulated the ACTH
hormones to be released, which then travels to the adrenal cortex. This then releases cortisol, which
decreases sensitivity to pain, lowers blood pressure, impairs cognitive performance and weakens
the immune system.
Research into the relationship between stress-related illness and the immune system has focused on
both acute and chronic stressors. Research into acute stressors includes that done by Keicolt-Glaser
et al (1984). They studied blood samples of 75 medical students at a university before and during
their summer exam period, looking at the activity of NK cells. It was found that levels of NK cells in the
blood during the exam period was significantly lower than before the exam period, suggesting that
short term stressors can reduce immune system functioning, increasing vulnerability to illness.
Research into chronic stressors includes that done by Kiecolt-Glaiser et al (2005). They inflicted blister
wounds on married couples, and then asked them to have either a supporting or conflicting
discussion with each other. The wounds on the couples who had conflicting discussions took longer to
heal than the wounds on those who had supporting discussions, suggesting that chronic stressors
also reduce immune system functioning. Further research into the relationship between chronic
stressors and the immune system was conducted by Keicolt-Glaiser (1987). They compared immune
system functioning in women who were separated (and therefore likely to suffer from chronic
stress) and women who were still married. It was found that the immune systems in separated
women were weaker than those in women who were still married, suggesting that chronic stressors
reduce immune system functioning.
However, some other research has found that acute stressors can actually boost immune system
functioning. Evans et al (1994) studied the activity of the antibody SIgA on students. They arranged
for students to give talks to elict acute stress, and found that this caused an increase in sIgA levels in
the blood. This goes against Keicolt-Glaser's findings, suggesting that acute stressors can actually
enhance immune system functioning. Also, similar results were found by Segerstrom & Miller (2004).
They conducted a metal analysis of 293 studies over the course of 30 years, and found that acute
stressors generally improve immune system functioning, and chronic stressors suppress immune
system functioning. These findings go against research into acute stressors, suggesting that infact
they can improve immune system functioning. Also, the relationship between stress and illness is
difficult to establish. Lazarus (1992) said that health is affected by a number of different factors, and
therefore any changes cannot be put down to stress alone. There may be other extraneous variables
involved such as genetic factors. Also, health is generally stable and slow to change, which makes is
difficult to demonstrate that exposure to particular stressors causes health to change. This challenges
the validity of Keicolt-Glaser's findings, suggesting that it may not have been the relationship
between stress and illness which was measured in these studies.

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A discrete, one off event which can cause chronic stress
Measuring Life Changes
Holmes and Rahe (1967) are medical doctors who noticed that illness is common after major life
changes. They developed a way of measuring these life changes, called the Social Readjustment
Rating Scale (SRRS), which consists of 43 life changes taken from 5000 patient records.…read more

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At the end of the month, it was found that hassles increased strain and decreased
performance, but some uplifts counteracted the negative effects of daily hassles.
Research into the HSUP was also done by Flett et al (1995). 320 students (160 girls and 160 boys)
read a scenario describing a male and female who had experienced either a life event or daily
hassles.…read more

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Personality Types
There are two main personality types, type A and type B. Type A individuals are competitive,
achievement striving, impatient, urgent, aggressive and hostile, and Type B individuals are easy
going, patient and relaxed.…read more

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Also, much of the research to support the link between hardiness and health had relied upon data
from self report questionnaires. This means such of this research has low validity as people may
misunderstand questions, or lie due to social desirability bias.
Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT)
A type of CBT designed by Meichenbaum (1983) which aims to promote resilience to future
The first stage is conceptualisation, where the therapist and client establish a relationship.…read more

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The Cl- make the neurone less responsive to other neurotransmitter, which
makes the individual feel calmer.
Beta-Blockers: Beta-Blockers reduce the activity of adrenalin and noradrenalin by binding to
receptors on the cells of organs stimulated by the flight or fight response (e.g. the heart). This causes
the reverse effect of stress hormones as the stress hormones cannot bind to the receptors. In this
case it will cause the heart to beat slower, making the person more relaxed.…read more

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When we adjust our behaviour or opinion to match more closely the behaviour or opinions of others,
normally to fit in with a group of people. There are 2 types of conformity, compliance and
internalisation. Compliance is where we change our views publically but hold different views
privately, and internalisation is where we change our opinions both publically and privately, these
become part of our value system.…read more

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Research into conformity was conducted by Asch in 1956. 123 American male college students from
4 Universities were selected on a voluntary basis to take part in what they thought was a visual
judgement task. Each student was paid $3 to participate. They were tested in groups of 7-9, where
apart from one real participant all the others were confederates of Asch. The real participant always
went second from last.…read more

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This is where a person is protected from the consequences of their own actions, making it easier to
carry out as the person will be unaware of what effect they are having. This is the case with Milgram's
study where the teacher and learner were separated by a wall, making it easier for the teacher to
administer the shocks.
Gradual Commitment
Once a person has completed one harmless request, they find it harder to refuse further tasks.…read more

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They may
realise that the learner was really not receiving any shocks, so they may feel more able to continue
with the experiment, accounting for the high obedience rates. This is a problem for Milgram's
research as it suggests it wasn't really obedience that was being measured.
Also, Milgram's research has been seen as ethically questionable.…read more


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