Psychology Unit 2 Stress

Complete revision notes on stress and stress related illness

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  • Created on: 21-05-13 09:28
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Unit 2: Stress
The Nervous System
The cells making up the nervous system are called neurons.
The bio-chemical structure of neurons allows them to transmit pulses of electrical
activity known as action potentials. These represent coding of information in the
nervous system and control all human behaviour patterns.
The gap between two neurons is called a synapse. Transmission of nerve impulses
across the gap is chemical. The chemicals involved are called neurotransmitters.
These chemical substances include GABA, dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline.
Organisation of the Nervous System:

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Results- 82% of participants became infected with the virus. The chance of
developing a cold was found to be significantly positively correlated with stress index
Conclusion- Life stress and negative emotions reduce the effectiveness of our
immune system, leaving participants less able to resist viral infections.
The higher the score the more likely they were to be infected.
Correlational study so we cannot guarantee cause and effect.…read more

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Repeated measures design which means individual characteristics don't have
to be controlled as participants are compared with themselves
Don't know if the participants are healthy or if they have been previously ill
Easily repeated, reliable
Sample biased to a restricted age group so we cannot generalise
Study doesn't actually measure if any of the p's become ill during the high
stress period
Reduced ethical issues as p's are not exposed to stressful events other than
having a blood sample, and they will have given informed…read more

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Activation of natural immunity system is part of the body's rapid responses
to stressful situations
Chronic stressors activate all immune components beyond what is adaptive
(helpful) & eventually lead to global immunosuppression
This will make people vulnerable to stress-related illness and infection
Stress in Everyday Life
Life Events/Changes
These are events in a person's life that necessitate a significant adjustment in various
aspects of a person's life. Eg. Death/divorce/jail sentence
The adjustment or change requires psychic energy to be expended, ie it is stressful.…read more

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Correlation- cannot guarantee that stress is the cause of illness, as there
could be a third variable affecting the study
Gender biased to men- can't generalise
Culturally biased to America- can't generalise
The SRRS ignores individual differences- life changes will have different effects
on different people
Opportunity sample of specific group- findings cannot be generalised to
Is stress the link?
These are positive events that could counteract negative events, eg.…read more

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High Demand Low Demand
Low Control eg.public High strain job- vulnerable Passive job ­low stress
sector workers to stress
High Control Active job- not particularly Low strain job- not
stressful stressful
Marmot 1997
Whitehall 1 and Whitehall 2
Longitudinal studies monitoring London-based government civil servant
Whitehall 2 7000 participants followed over 5 years
All free from any signs of heart disease at outset
Also included individual and social risks eg.…read more

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Heating/lighting/physical arrangements/noise are all potential stressors
Many studies have shown that intense noise and increases in temperature can lead
to frustration, stress and even aggression. Need for personal space should be
accounted for.
The degree of control has been shown to directly affect stress levels.
Research into Workplace Stress
Johansson 1978
Findings- Sawyers in Swedish sawmill (high responsibility/demand) had more illness
and higher levels of adrenaline than low risk group (eg. Maintenance workers).
Highest on work days rather than rest days.…read more


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