Psychology A unit 2

Stress, Abnormality and Social Influence.

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  • Created by: Leah
  • Created on: 09-06-10 19:12

Stress In everyday life

The common definition of stress is rooted in our perception of demands made on us.


* demands we make on ourselves - e.g. am I rich enough? do I look ok? am I happy enough? will I reach this deadline? etc.

*demands other people make on us - e.g.get this job done, make me happier, earn more money etc.

* demands made by the environment we live in - e.g. getting stuck in traffic, having your phone stolen etc.

* demands made by friends and relations - e.g. when they have accidents, become ill or when they die.

whether we find these situations stressful depends on our individual coping abilities.

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Life changes and daily hassles.

Life changes and daily hassles.

Stressors can be classified into two broad categories: discrete (i.e one off) or continuous (Wheaton 1996). Most of the research on discrete stressors has focused on the issue of major life events such as divorce or job loss, these require a lot of adjustment on the part of the individual. Continuous stressors such as ongoing problems with life and living also permeate daily reality.

Life changes-The social readjustment rating scale (SRRS)

The SRRS is a major way of measuring the relationship between life changes and well being. The scale was developed by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe in 1967. Along with some later models, the SRRS scale is the most widely used of all stress assessing methods.

There are 43 life events on the list, some more major than others (e.g. moving house or death of a close friend)

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Research into sources of stress.

Research into sources of stress.

A study of life changes as a source of stress (Rahe et al. 1970)

Aim - To find out if scores on the SRRS correlated with the subsequent onset of illness.

2500 male american sailors were given the SRRS to see how many life events they'd experienced in the past 6 months. over the next 6 months detailed accounts were kept of their health. The recorded life scores were then correlated with their health.

There was a positive correlation between life changes scores and ill health.


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Daily hassles.

Daily hassles.'Any idiot can handle a crisis - It's this day-to-day living that wears you out'

Daily hassles are relatively minor events that arise in the course of a normal day. They include, for example, everyday concerns, about work, such as disagreements with colleagues, or problems with your daily commute to college such as the bus being late. Some of these may be fairly routine, others may be unexpected (like a computer breaking half way through an essay the day before the deadline.)

* Why are daily hassles so stressful?

Minor Daily stressors affect wellbeing by accumulating over a series of days to create persistant irritations which result in more serious stress reactions.

An alternative explanation is that daily hassles arise from pre-existing chronic stressors and so amplify the effects of that existing stressor. Take, for example a husband who's wife has recently died, A relatively minor problem like a malfunctioning washing machine may seem 100x more stressful,

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Workplace stress,

Though it's effects on psychological and physical health, stress can effect performance at work, whatever your job. All jobs involve a certain amount of stress, but there is a growing interest in work conditions that increase stress.

Companies have an interest in maintaining productivity and performance, both of which are affected by stress-related illness.

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Sources of stress in the workplace

Sources of stress in the workplace.

*Physical Environment - Space, temperature, lighting and arrangement of an office etc.

*Work overload -Overload is frequently reported as one of the most stressful aspects of work. A huge aspect of this is the effect it has on family life. (the work-home interface)

*Lack of controll -A percieved lack of control over a situation increases the stress response and contributes to depression and illness.

*Role of ambiguity - This occurs when the requirements for a particular work role are unclear or poorly defined and is a major factor contributing to work related stress. This sometimes results from having no clear guidelines separating one role from another.

Research on workplace stress- Marmot et al. carried out a three year longitudinal study of over 3000 Whitehall civil servants measuring job control and stress-related illness.

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Extranuous variables- Despite the apparent link between lack of job control and stress related ilness found in many studies, it is possible that important variables such as personality were not controlled for.

Individual differences- Research has shown that as other cultures take on the working practises of the west, a similar relationship between lack of control and stress related illness is becoming more evident.

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Type A behaviour

A particular behaviour pattern associated with increased vulnerability to CHD. This type A behaviour pattern is characterized by constant time pressure, competitiveness inn work and social situations and anger. e.g. being easily frustrated by the efforts of others.

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Hardy Personality

Hardiness includes a range of personality characteristics that provide defences against negative effects of stress. These factors are; belief that you have control over what happens in your life, commitment and challenge.

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Problem focused coping- strategies that attempt to do something active to alleviate or eliminate the stressful situation. These include taking control, evaluating the pros and cons of different options and suppressing competing activities (like sitting on msn when you should be revising)

Emotion focused coping- strategies that attempt to regulate the emotional distress associated with stressful or potentially stressful events. Emotion focused coping involves denial and seeking social support. Emotion focused coping is viewed as being more passive, that is, an internal process that merely involves changing thoughts or feelings about a stressful event as opposed to taking direct behavioural action to remedy it.

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Stress management methods-DRUGS

*Benzodiazepines (BZ's)

* Beta Blockers


*drugs work quickly, rapidly reducing dangerous symptoms

*they are widely available,


*dependancy or addicition

* side effects

*only target symptoms

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