Discuss how individual differences affects a persons experience of stress

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Discuss how individual differences affect a person's experience of stress. (10marks)
People all react differently to stress and stressors, these differences can be explained by many
factors including social conditioning and how a person is taught to handle stress or by innate
temperamental differences, another factor that affects a person's experience of stress is their
gender. Oxytocin is a stress hormone that decreases anxiety and the other effects of stress on the
body. Taylor et al found that the female sex hormone oestrogen works better with Oxytocin than the
male hormone testosterone. This suggests that woman cope better with stress as the effects on the
body such as anxiety are reduced more than men. Stone et al found that blood pressure increases
less in women than in men, this also suggests that the Sans response is more active in men resulting
in more adrenaline and noradrenalin being released increase blood pressure more often and
weakening the heart.
A second factor that may influence a person's experience of stress is their culture. Culture is the
views, morals and social practices of a group of people, such as faith. Different cultures experience
stress in different ways that may make them better at coping with stress. Findings made by Weg
supported this, as he found that Abkhazians of Georgia lived longer than compared to in the UK. He
found lower stress levels and a high level of social support were some of the key factors to coping
better with stress found in the Abkhazian culture.
A final reason why people my react differently to stress is personality. Friedman and Roseman
suggest that type A personalities are associated with high stress levels. They carried out an
experiment into type A personalities and CHD and found that 70% of the 257 men died where type
A personality type. Participants had high levels of blood cholesterol, adrenaline and noradrenalin.
Suggesting the men with type A personality coped worse with stress as their Sans response was
triggered more often shown by the high levels of noradrenalin and adrenaline found. Because of the
high levels of Noradrenalin and adrenaline the participants would have had high blood pressure and
the high cholesterol found would be linked to CHD. The finding of Friedman and Roseman support
that type As are more susceptible to stress, this is because of their characteristics, such as being
highly competitive and aggressive they tend to see most things as a stressor and therefore cope
worse. However Friedman and Rosemans findings cannot be generalised as the sample used were
male executives in highly stressful jobs.


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