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Introduction to Stress
Stress: A state of psychological and physical tension produced when there is a mismatch
between the perceived demands of the situation (stressors) and the individual's ability to

Stressor: Any factor that can trigger a stress response:

Different people will respond differently to different stressors
Stressors may…

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The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is further divided into two more sub sections:

Type of Response Branch Response
Immediate Response Sympathetic Branch Activates internal
Arousal organs in situations
needing energy and
arousal (e.g. fight or
Leads to increased
heart rate, reduced
activity in the stomach,
pupil dilation
Countershock Response…

Page 3

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Countershock Response ­ Key Points:
Cerebral Cortex ­> Evaluation

Hypothalamus -> Activates Response

Hypothalamus -> Triggers CRF Hormone release

CRF Stimulates -> Pituitary Gland

Pituitary Gland release -> Hormone ACTH

ACTH stimulates -> Adrenal Cortex

Adrenal Cortex releases -> Corticosteroids -> Give use energy (break down fat reserves &

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Stress in Everyday Life
Life Changes:
When normal routines are disrupted we have to think about how to do things that we would
normally do on `auto-pilot' ­ We have to use much more energy

Holmes & Rahe called this energy `Psychic Energy' ­ Constantly having to think and use…

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Shows how stress involved in changes that life events bring have a link to an increased
risk of illness
Results not representative of the entire population ­ Can only me generalised to
American Navy Seamen
Only correlation ­ cant assume a casual relationship between the variables ­ correlation
may be…

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Stress in the workplace:
5 Key `Source' Areas:

Relationships ­ with bosses, colleagues, customers may be stressful ­ we may feel
undervalued and feel that we lack support
Work Pressures ­ Having too much work, maybe with strict deadlines
Physical Environment ­ Too noisy, overcrowded, too hot, too cold, health…

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Individual Differences
Hardiness = A cluster of traits possessed by those people best able to cope with stress

Kobasa 1979:

Identified hardiness as an individual difference
People are either `hardy' or `non hardy'

Hardy People:

High levels of commitment to jobs and other activities
View change as positive

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Personality Types
Type A People:
Aggressive, ambitious, time conscious, business like, controlling, workaholics, multitask, hate

Type B People:
Relaxed, easy going, no sense of time schedule, lacking urgency and sensitive to other people's

Friedman and Rosenman (1974) ­ Type A personalities & illness

3000, 39-59 year old American…

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Culture & Stress:
Culture = A group of people categorised by their beliefs, behaviour, morals or customs they

It influences how people live ad how others react to them
Variables such as low socio-economic status can lead to poor living conditions and
experience of prejudice which could lead to…

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Gender - Stress
Biological Explanation:

Through evolution men in their role of the `hunter-gatherer' may have developed a stronger
`fight or flight' response than women who has the role of looking after the children

Taylor et al. (2000) ­ Women produce a calmer response due to a hormone called Oxytocin.…


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