Stress Revision Notes-Psychology AS (AQA)

These notes are ones that I made for my exam, and really helped me revise and get the top grades.

They include everything that the exam board asks for in term of the specification,and are orgainised in a way that will make revision easier, including mind maps and tables, etc. And they're done in colour! Added bonus! whoop whoop!

I hope they help y'all, and good luck :D

P.s.These notes may contain some minor grammatical errors like spelling misakes, but all information is correct.

P.p.s. I sat the exam in June 2013 btw

Feel free to check out my other psychology notes, aswell as my sociology ones :D

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  • Created on: 20-02-14 22:58
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Psychology UNIT 2: Stress
Part 1: Stress as a Bodily Response
Defining stress
1.Stress as an interaction 3.Stress as a stimulus (stressor)
This is where the individual 2.Stress as a response This refers to the characteristics
becomes stressed because they This is how the body responds within a situation that may
believe they may not be able to physiologically to a stressor. This cause stress. Examples of
meet the demands of a refers to the HPA Axis and the stressors could be work, family,
situation. This differs between SAM Pathway. school, friends, marriage,
people and situations divorce, etc...
The Transactional Model of
Primary appraisal:At this stage the person assesses
the situationto identify potential thtreats or demands.
Appraisal is
Secondary appraisal: This is where the person the stressor
assesses their ability to cope with a threatening
SAM Hypothalamus
Axis Pathway
Part of the ANS
(Stress Hormone) SNS
Pituitary Gland
Adrenal Cortex Adrenal Medulla
Hormones enter into
Corticosteroids the bloodstream. Adrenaline &
E.g. Cortisol Noradrenaline
· Impacts the · `Fight or flight'
immune system. response.
· Slow hormonal · Effects organs.
response. · Increased heart
· High blood sugar rate.
levels and fat · Increased blood
reserves. pressure.
Leads to illness Slow Fast
Response Response…read more

Slide 2

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Psychology UNIT 2: Stress
HPA Axis SAM Pathway
Summary: Summary:
· When the stressor is spotted a signal goes · When the stressor is spotted a signal goes
to the hypothalamus which alerts the to the hypothalamus which activates the
pituitary gland. SNS.
· This then secretes ACTH. · The SNS, via the nerve pathways
· This stimulates the adrenal cortex of the stimulates the adrenal medulla to release
adrenal gland to release corticosteroids adrenaline and noradrenaline into the
into the bloodstream. bloodstream.
How these hormones effect the body:
· SNS has direct connections · When corticosteroids are
to the heart, so speeds up activated, they increase the · Activation of the HPA Axis
heart rate and blood release of energy reserves and SAM Pathway leads to
pressure. (glycogen in liver, fatty acids energy expenditure at
· These effects are increased in fatty tissue). times of stress.
by release of adrenaline · If this rise lasts long it · This can lead to illness
and noradrenaline supresses the immune (supported by Selye)
(increased arousal). system.
· HPA: travels via bloodstream
· Both happen together · SAM: travels via nerve pathways
Similarities · Bothe use the Differences · HPA: involves the adrenal cortex
between hypothalamus between · SAM: involves the adrenal medulla
the two · Both use the adrenal glands the two · HPA: impacts immune system
systems · Both release hormones into systems · SAM: Impacts bodily organs
the bloodstream
· HPA: slow response
· Both release hormones.
· SAM: fast response
Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)
· Hans Selye studies rats and found that the
`fight/flight' response was central to the stress Stress as a response:
· The rats were exposes to several stressful situations
" A non specific response of
and responded in the same way. the body to any demand
· He also noticed that those rats who made upon it that may
were given a repeated daily include characteristic facial
injection developed similar stress expressions, a loss of appetite
related symptoms such as gastric , weight, strength or
ambition" Selye
· Based on this he devised The
General Adaptation Syndrome
(GAS), which explained the short-
term effects accounted for the
development of tress related
illnesses.…read more

Slide 3

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Psychology UNIT 2: Stress
Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)
(2) Resistance
·A stressor is perceived and the Long periods of stress
HPA Axis and SAM Pathway are ·If the stressor (chronic stress) eventually
activated. persists the body's exhaust the bodies defence
·The levels of stress related responses remain systems. This is the stage
hormones increase, as well as activated, and stress
heart rate and blood pressure. where stress related
related hormones
The energy reserves are also and bodily arousal illnesses may develop.
activated. (1) Alarm remains high. (3) Exhaustion
Types of Chronic Stressors:
Long lasting stress like long
stressors: term illnesses/ unemployment.
Segerstorm & Miller
AO2 Brief Naturalistic
Acute Time-Limited Stressors:
Everyday stressors like
These include things like public speaking
students taking exams.
and mental arithmetic. Usually lasts
between 5-100 mins.
1. Research into Stress and the Immune System
Psychologist/ Study Conclusion Issues
Cohen (1993): · 394 participants completed · The chances of · Lab based-high
Life Stress- questionnaires on stressful developing a cold control.
Common life events they experienced positively · Lacks ecological
in the past year. correlated with the validity.
· They also rated their degree stress index scores. · Cause & effect
of stress & negative · This shows stress can't be
emotions (e.g. depression). and negative established.
· These scores were then emotions supress · Informed
combined into a stress the immune consent.
index. system, leaving · Debrief.
· The participants were then participants less · Psychological
exposed to the common able to fight viral harm.
cold. infections. · Monitored
during study.…read more

Slide 4

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Psychology UNIT 2: Stress
Psychologist/ Study Conclusion Issues
Kiecolt- · 75 medical students who · The NK cell activity · Lab based-high
Glaser et al. were preparing for an exam was reduced in high control.
(1984): were used. stress samples, the · Lacks ecological
· As an index for immune greatest reduction validity.
function they used natural being in those who · Cause & effect
Life stressors killer (NK), which is part of reported higher can't be
our natural immune system. levels of social established, yet
· Measures of NK cell activity isolation. a relationship
were recorded from blood · Therefore exam exists.
samples one month before stress reduces · Informed
exams and during exams. immune function, consent.
· Participants also did increasing · Debrief.
questionnaires on negative vulnerability to · Medical
life events & social isolation. illnesses. supervision.
AO2 Meta-Review of stress research-Segerstorm &
The effects of stress can be influenced by many factors such as type of stress, how long it
lasts, and the individuals personality characteristics (age, lifestyle).However only one study is
not enough to look at all these factors.
Therefore many studies which all focus on the same general area can be used- Meta review.
This provides with more reliable overall result than any single study. Segerstorm and Miller
preformed a meta-review on 293 studies that have looked at stress and the immune system.
They can also reduce methodological problems such as small sample size.
Conclusions: Type of stressors-
Impact on immune system
Acute time limited- Brief naturalistic stressors: Chronic stressors: showed that
stressors: showed showed no overall effects this type has the most
that this type led to of this type on the immune consistent effect on immune
an improvement in system, despite the system, therefore immune
natural immunity. findings of Keicolt-Glazer system may be supressed if it's
et al. chronic stress.
· They also analysed life events and found no significant changes to immunity.
· However, they found that for older participants , life events produced a reduction
in immune function.
Overall conclusions:
· Acute stressors-positive for natural immunity.
· Chronic stressors-negative for natural immunity.
· Acute stressors-stimulate `flight/fight' response.…read more

Slide 5

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Psychology UNIT 2: Stress
Part 2: Stress In Everyday Life (1)
Changes: Sources of stress
· Moving
house Personality Factors:
· Losing job Daily · Type A
Hassles: Workplace
· Hardiness
· Essay Stressors:
deadlines · Job demands
· Revision · Work overload
1. Life Changes & Daily
Psychologist/ Study Conclusion Issues
Holmes and Background: · Death of a spouse · Reliable
Rehe (1967): · They constructed the social was rated as the · Valid
Life changes readjustment Rating scale (SRRS). event that required · Varies
· They examined 5000 patients and most adjustment, as depending on
made a list of 43 life events that so most stressful. individuals
seemed to come before illnesses. · This was followed by adjustment
· Next they asked 400 participants divorce. scores.
to rate each item in terms of the · At the bottom was · Culturally
amount of stress it produced. holidays and specific- only
· They assigned an arbitrary scale of Christmas. done in US.
400 to marriage as a reference · A score of 150 equals
point, and asked the participants life crisis, and · Confidentiality.
to say whether each event is more increases the · Psychological
or less than the marriage scale. chances of stress harm.
· At the end they converted related illness by · Informed
everyone's results for a specific 30%. consent.
events into LCUs. · A score over 300 is a · Debrief.
· The LCU represents the degree of major life crisis and
stress caused by an event (the increases illness risk
higher the LCU, the more chances by 50%.
of illness.
· Next H&R used questionnaires AO2
with various subgroups to see if
the ratings were consistent. They
· Some studies were
found a strong agreement retrospective.
between all subgroups- high · This means the participants
validity. were asked to recall life
Study: events and stress from
· They worked in hospitals, and found previous months/years.
that those patients with heart · This questions the
disease reported significant life reliability.
events a year before.…read more

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Psychology UNIT 2: Stress
Psychologist Study Conclusion Issues
Rehe et al · 2500 male US Navy · There was a positive · Difficult to
(1970): Personnel completed correlation of 0.118 between generalise-
Assessing the SRRS for the LCU scores and illness. · Done in US
previous 6 months. · Hence, a relationship · Specific to certain
LCU units.
· They were then between life events and the occupation
followed up over the development of stress related · Doesn't establish
following 7 months, illnesses. cause and effect
and all stress related · Confidentiality.
illnesses were AO2 · Psychological
recorded. · A very low correlation (0.118) harm.
· These were rated in shows less relationship, and · Informed
terms of severity, that other factors may also be consent.
producing an overall involved in creating illness. · Debrief.
illness score.
Allows to identify a ·
Doesn't establish cause & effect.
Is it a valid scale?
correlation/relationship. · Other factors also impact. People could:
· Widely used. · Can't generalise.
· A valid measure. · Retrospective-views change Exaggerate
· Reliable. overtime. Lie
· Allows quantative feedback- · Varies between people. Bias
easy to compare/contrast. · Doesn't account emotional
AO2- Other life event scales
Sarason et al. (1978) - Life events scale
· Allowed people to rate 57 life events in terms of severity of impact (positive/
· Produced 3 scores- positive change, negative change and total change.
· This allowed for individual differences, and specialised section scan be added for
particular groups such as students.
Kanner et al. (1981) ­ The Hassles scale (constant stress)
· `Hassles' are regular sources of stress in life, arising from day-to-day living.
· These are seen as more significant for health than major events.
· The Hassles scale was devised to assess these sources of stress.
· It was argued that life also contained positive events such as `uplifts', that could
counteract the negative effects of daily hassles .
Scores of the hassle scale correlated with stress-related problems (depression and
anxiety). Uplifts were unrelated to health outcomes.…read more

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Kalpana Ghosh


Really Great!!!!

Kalpana Ghosh



Really good thank you! I noticed one error on Kiecolt-Glaser's 1984 study about low ecological validity due to it being a lab experiment when the study was a natural experiment and therefore had high ecological validity. Other than that, absolutely brilliant!

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