Psychology P2

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  • Created on: 27-04-15 16:56

Discuss short-term stressors on examination stress

Kiecolt-glaser et al (1984) carried out a natural experiment investigation whether the stress of short-term, stressors - in this case important exams- had an effect on the immune system functioning of medical students

 Blood samples were taken one month before (low stress) and during the exam period itself (high stress). Immune system functioning was assessed by measuring NK cell activity in the blood sample. PPTs also completed a questionnaire to measure other life stressors they were experiencing

Results: NK cell activity was significantly lower in the second blood sample, suggesting that short-term, predictable stressors do in fact reduce immune system functioning, increasing vulnerability to illness

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Outline Marucha's study into the impact of stress

Marucha et al (1998) inflicted a 'punch biopsy' in the mouth of students either during the summer holidays or three days before an exam. The wounds given before the exam took 40% longer to heal than those inflicted during the summer holidays

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Discuss how relationship stress affects the immune

Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2006): tested the impact of interpersonal conflict on wound healing. She found that blister wounds on the arms of married couple’s health significantly slower following conflicting discussions rather than supportive ones

Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1987) also compared women separated from their partners with matched married controls, and found poorer immune system functioning in women who had separated during the last year

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Discuss Malarkey's research into relationship stre

Malarkey et al (1994) studied 90 newly-wed couples over a 24 hour period in a laboratory. The couples were asked to discuss and resolve marital issues which were likely to produce conflicting views (finances, for instance)

 Marital conflict produced significant changes in adrenaline and noradrenaline, which could lead to a poorer immune system function. The researchers believe that mental conflict would be more negative and last longer at home, therefore making these adverse effects even greater

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Discuss the findings of Segerstrom and Miller's me

A meta-analysis of 293 studies conducted over the past 30 years found:

  • short-term, acute stressors can actually boost immune system functioning, prompting it to ready itself for infections or other challenges to the integrity of the body
  • whilst long-term, chronic stressors led to suppressions of the immune system - with the most chronic stressors being associated with the most global suppression of immunity
  • the longer the stress, the more the immune system shifted from potentially adaptive to potentially detrimental
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What did Holmes and Rahe develop in order to measu

In order to test that idea that life changes are related to physical illness, it was necessary to have some means of measuring life changes.

 Holmes and Rahe (1967) therefore developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) based on 43 life events taken from there analysis of over 5000 records

 In order to distinguish the stressfulness of each event, 400 participants were asked to numerically rate each event, using marriage as an arbitrary baseline value of 50. If an event would take longer to readjust to than marriage, then they were told to give the event a larger score

 Scores for all ppts were totalled and averaged to produce life change units (LCUs)

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Oultine Rahe et al's study into how life stressors

Rahe et al (1970) used the SRRS scale to test the hypothesis of whether the number of life events a person experiences would be positively correlated with illness

 Rahe aimed to study a 'normal' population as studies from this area normally involved those who were already ill in hospital

 A military version of the SRRS was given to 2700 men aboard three US Navy ships. The men filled the questionnaire in just before a tour of duty, noting all life events experienced over the previous three months. An illness score was then calculated on the basis of the number, type and severity of all the illnesses recorded during the tour of duty (roughly seven months)

 Results: Rahe et al found a positive correlation between LCU score and illness scores. Those men who scored low in terms of their SRRS score also had low levels of sickness during their deployment. This with high scores, however, experienced correspondingly high levels of illness. This clearly indicates a link between life events and illness

 IDA: gender bias, study’s findings cannot be generalised to the female population (beta-bias) focus entirely on men (androcentric)

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Outline Michael and Ben-Zur's 2007 study into wido

Michael and Ben-Zur (2007) studied 130 men and women, half of whom had been recently divorced and half who had been recently widowed

 They studied levels of life satisfaction. In the widowed group this was found to be higher before their bereavement than after their loss. This isn't particularly surprising, yet divorced individuals showed the opposite pattern following separation. They had higher levels of life satisfaction - and lower levels of stress - after separating from their partner

One explanation for this would be that they were now dating a new partner, which would explain their greater life satisfaction. Another explanation is that they had turned the life change into a positive, rather than a negative experience

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Evaluation for: Life changes

Lazarus (1990) suggests that as major life changes are relatively rare in the lives of most people, it is the minor daily stressors of like that are the more significant source of stress for most people 

For example, DeLongis et al (1988) studied stress between 75 married couples. They gave the ppts a life events questionnaire and a Hassles and Uplift scale. They found no relationship between life events and health, but did find a significant positive correlation of +0.59 between daily hassles and next-day health problems (sore throats, headaches and backaches) 

Individual differences: the SRRS also ignores the fact that life changes will inevitably have different significance for each person

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What is the purpose of the Hassles and Uplifts sca

The Hassles and Uplift Scale (HSUP), proposed by Delongis et al, 1982, measures respondent’s attitudes toward daily situations; instead of focusing on the more highly stressful life events, the HSUP provides a way of evaluating both the positive and negative events that occur in each person’s daily life 

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Outline Bouteyre et al's (2007) research into dail

Bouteyre et al (2007) investigated the relationship between daily hassles and the mental health of students during the initial transition period from school to university

First year psychology students at the French university completed the hassles part of the HSUP and the Beck Depression Inventory to measure for any depressive symptoms which may attribute to the hassles of the transition

Results: 41% of the students studied suffered from depressive symptoms; there was also a positive correlation between these and the scores on the HSUP 

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Outline Gervais (2005) research into daily uplifts

Gervais (2005) asked nurses to keep diaries for a month, recording all their daily hassles and uplifts while at work. At the end of the month, it was clear that daily hassles were found to increase job strain and decrease job performance. Whilst, the nurses felt that some of the uplifts they experienced – such as compliment from a patient or praise from a superior – counteracted the negative effects of their daily hassles. As well as overcoming the stress associated with their daily hassles, these daily uplifts also improved their overall performance 

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Discuss individual difference in daily hassles

There are gender differences in what constitutes as a ‘hassle’, particularly when it comes to pets

Miller et al (1992) found that pets appear to serve different roles for female and male pet owners. For females, pets were commonly associated with uplifts (leisure and companionship), but for males pets were more likely to be associated with hassles (time and money)

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Outline Marmot's research into workplace stressors

Marmot et al (1997) investigated the job-strain model of workplace stress. The model proposes that the workplace creates stress and illness in two ways: high workload (creating greater job demands) and low job control (over deadlines, procedures, etc.)

Marmot suggested that in the civil service, higher-grade employees would experience greater work-load, whilst low-grade civil servants would experience low job control. Both grades were therefore likely to experience stress but for different reasons

7372 civil-servants working in London answered a questionnaire on workload, job control and amount of social support. The workers were also checked for cardiovascular disease. Five years later participants were reassessed

Results: found no link between high workload and stress-related illnesses, and therefore concluded that job demand was not a significant factor in stress

Five years after the initial assessment, Marmot et al found the ppts who had initially reported low levels of job control were more likely to have developed heart disease than those who had reported high levels of job control (supports the job-strain model) Other factors such as workload and the degree of support did not appear to be associated with the risk of heart disease 

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What research goes against Marmot's findings that

HOWEVER, other studies have examined different aspects of ‘demand’ or ‘workload’. For example, Johansson et al (1978) studied the effects of performing repetitive jobs that require continuous attention. The sawyers in a Swedish sawmill (high risk group) have a stressful job – repetitive task, with an unrelenting pace and a high sense of responsibility.  This high-risk group were found to have higher illness rates and also higher levels of adrenaline in their urine than low-risk groups (maintenance workers who had less monotonous jobs and more flexibility). The original group also had higher levels of stress hormones on work days than rest days

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Outline the evaluative research into the harmful e

Kivimaki et al (2006): carried out a meta-analysis of 14 studies, including Marmot’s study into workload and stress, focusing on the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in association with work stress. The analysis, which involved over 83,000 employees across Europe, the US and Japan, found that employees with high levels of job strain were 50% more likely to develop CHD 

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Outline the factor of individual differences in re

The study by Marmot et al suggested that lack of control was a source of stress in the workplace. However, there may be individual differences related to this

Schaubroeck et al (2001) found that some workers respond differently to lack of control – they are less stressed by having no control or responsibility. In this study, they took salvia samples as this is directly linked to immune system functioning

Results: those who have lower-control over their situation had better performing immune systems. Some people view negative work outcomes as being their faults, for these employees control can actually exacerbate the unhealthy effects of stress

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List the characteristics of a Type A personality

Friedman and Rosenman (1959)

·         competiveness and achievement striving

·         impatient and time urgency

·         hostility and aggressiveness 

These characteristics would, they believe, lead to raised blood pressure and raised levels of stress hormones, both of which are linked to ill-health, particularly in the development if coronary heart disease (CHD) 

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Characteristics of a Type B personality

Reversal of the traits from Type A:

  • ·         Patient
  • ·         Relaxed
  • ·         Easy-going

These behaviours are believed to decrease an individual’s risk of stress-related illness

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Research into Type A behaviour

In order to assess the hypothesis that Type A personality traits were associated with CHD, Friedman and Rosenman set up the Western Collaborative Group Study in 1960

Procedure: Approximately 3000 men aged 39-59, living in California, were examined for signs of CHD (to exclude any individuals who were already ill) and then had their personalities assessed through interviews

The interview consisted questions regarding how they would react to everyday pressures. The interview was conducted in a provocative manner to try to elicit Type A behaviour. The interviewer might, for example, speak slowly and hesitantly so that a Type A person would want to interrupt

Results: after 8.5 years, twice as many of the Type A ppts had died of cardiovascular problems. 12% had experienced a heart attack compared to just 6% of Type Bs. Type As also had higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They were also more likely to smoke and have a family history of CHD, both of which would increase their risk

Ragland and Brand (1968) carried out a follow-up study of the Western Collaborative Group ppts in 1982 (22 years after the start of the study). They found that 214 (15%) of the men had died from CHD.

However, Myrek (2001) carried out a meta-analysis of 35 studies on this topic, and found an association between CHD and a component of Type A personality – hostility.  Other than this, there was no evidence of an association between Type A personalities and CHD 

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Research into hardy personalities

Kobasa and Maddi (1997) suggested that some people are more psychologically ‘hardy’ than others

  • ·         Control: hardy people see themselves as being in control of their lives
  • ·         Commitment: hardy people are involved with the world around them, and have a strong sense of purpose
  • ·         Challenge: hardy people see life challenges as problems to be overcome rather than as threats or stressors. They enjoy change as an opportunity for development

Kobasa (1979) studied 800 American business executives, assessing stress using Holmes and Rahe’s SRRS. Approximately 150 of the ppts were classified as having high stress levels according to their SRRS scores. Of these some had low illness records whereas others had high illness records. This suggests that something else was modifying the effects of stress because individuals experiencing the same stress levels had different levels of illness. Kobasa proposed that a hardy personality type encourages resilience. The ppts in the high stress/low illness group scored high on all three characteristics of the hardy personality, whereas the high stress/high-illness group scored lower on these variables

Maddi et al (1987) studied employees of a US company that was, over a year, dramatically reducing the size of its workforce. Two thirds of employees suffered stress related problems which the remained third thrived. This ‘thriving’ group showed more evidence of hardiness attributes   

Most of the data obtained through self-report questionnaires IDA 

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Discuss Stress Inoculation Therapy

Meichenbaum  (1985): proposed that although we cannot usually changed the causes of stress in our life, we change the way we think about the stressors

Stress inoculation therapy (SIT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy developed specifically to deal with stress. Meichenbaum proposed three main phases to this process:

Conceptualisation phase: the therapist and client establish a relationship, and the client is then educated on the nature and impact of stress. This enables the client to think differently about their problems

Skills acquisition phase (and rehearsal): coping skills are taught and primarily practised in the clinic and then gradually rehearsed in real life. A variety of skills are taught and tailored to the individuals own specific problems: positive thinking, relaxation, social skills, methods of attention diversion, using social support systems and time management. Clients may be taught to use coping self-statements: “relax, you’re in control”. The skills taught are both cognitive and behavioural

Application phase (and follow through): clients are given the opportunity to apply the newly learned coping skills in different situations which become increasingly stressful. Various techniques may be used such as imagery, imagining how to deal with stressful situations and modelling, watching someone else cope with stressors and then imitating this behaviour. Booster sessions may be offered later on 

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Strength/Limitations of SIT

Strengths of SIT:

Effectiveness:  Sheehy and Horan (2004): examined the effects of SIT on the anxiety, stress and academic performance of first-year law students. PPts received four weekly sessions of SIT, each lasting 90 minutes. Results showed that all ppts who received SIT displayed lower levels of anxiety and stress over time. The academic ranks of ppts predicted to finish in the bottom 20% of their class also showed significant improvements following SIT

Preparation for future stressors: a major advantage of this method of stress management is that it doesn’t just deal with current stressors, but also gives the client the skills and confidence to cope with future problems. PPts is therefore less adversely affected by stressors in the future

Limitation of SIT:

Time-consuming and requires high motivation: SIT requires a lot of time, effort and motivation

Unnecessarily complex: it may be that the effectiveness of SIT is due to certain elements of the training rather than all of it. This means the skills learnt could be reduced without losing much of the effectiveness. For example, it might be equally effective just to talk more positively and relax more 

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Benzodiazepines (BZs)

The group of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety and stress are benzodiazepines (ie diazepam), which slow down the activity of the central nervous system

·         GABA is a neurotransmitter that is the body’s natural form of anxiety relief

·         BZs enhance the action of GABA by binding to special sites on the GABA receptor and boosting the actions of GABA. As a result, the brains output of excitatory neurotransmitters is reduced, thus slowing down the brains activity, making the person feel more relaxed and calmer

·         BZs and serotonin: serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has an arousing effect on the brain. BZs therefore reduce any increased serotonin activity, which then reduced anxiety  

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Beta-blockers (BBs)

Sympathetic arousal:  stress leads to arousal of the sympathetic nervous system which creates raised blood pressure, increased heart rate and elevated levels of cortisol. These symptoms can lead to cardiovascular disorders whilst also reducing the effectiveness of the immune system

  • ·         Beta-blockers work by reducing the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline which are part of the sympathomedullary response to stress. Beta-blockers bind to beta-receptors on the cells of the heart and other parts of the body that are usually stimulated during arousal
  • ·         By blocking these receptors, beta-blockers cause the reverse effects of stress hormones, causing the heart to beat slower with less force. The action of beta-blockers also means that blood vessels do not contract so easily, this results in a fall in blood pressure and therefore less stress on the heart. As a result, the person feels calmer and less anxious 
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AO2: biological methods of stress management


Effectiveness:  use of placebos. Kahn et al (1986) followed nearly 250 patients over eight weeks and found that BZs were significantly superior to a placebo. A meta-analysis of studies focusing on the treatment of social anxiety (Hildalgo et al, 2001) found that BZs were more effective at reducing anxiety levels than other drugs such as antidepressants

Real world application: Beta-blockers have been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety that can hinder some musicians playing. Lockwood (1989) studied over 2000 musicians in major US orchestras and found that 27% reported taking beta-blockers. The musicians said they felt better about their performance after taking the drug, with music critics consistently judging their performances to be better    

Ease of use: drug therapies are much easier to take, and take less motivation to continue treatment than many psychological treatments such as SIT


Treating the symptoms rather the problem: drugs may be very effective at treating symptoms but the effect only lasts while a person takes the drugs, as soon as they stop taking the drugs the effectiveness ceases. This means that it may be more effective to seek a treatment that addresses the problem itself (i.e. a psychological method) rather than one that deals only with the symptoms 

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What are the 2 types of conformity?

Kelman (1958) proposed two types of conformity:

Compliance – going along with others to gain their approval or to avoid their disapproval

Internalisation – going along with others because you have accepted their point of view because it is consistent with your own 

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Define: Compliance

Compliance is where one will outwardly change their mind to match a group’s, (e.g. agreeing with some colleagues about anti-immigration policies) but they will retain their own view in their heads (e.g. but they disagree or are apathetic towards anti-immigration policies mentally)

"Public compliance will take place, but with little or no private attitude change"

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Define: Internalisation

Internalisation is where one will outwardly change their mind to match a group’s but whereas initially, in their head, they disagreed or were apathetic, over time their views are changed to match the group’s internally, so that they genuinely agree with them.

“This can lead to acceptance of the group’s point of view both publically and privately”

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differences between Compliance & Internalisation

Motivating factors: each of the types of conformity has a particular set of motivating conditions that lead to the conforming response. For example, if an individual’s prime motivation is to fit in with the rest of the group they may comply rather than internalise the group’s attitude on a particular issue. Alternatively, if the primary motivation is to find the best way of responding in a particular situation, then internalising the group position may be seen as the most credible way of achieving this

Future behaviour: the two types also differ in the way they determine future responses relating to the issue. If an individual has adopted a particular response through compliance, then they would only have this mind sight/view when around that particular group. However, if they had adopted their response through internalisation they are likely to express their new founded views in any discussion about that particular issue, regarding of whether the original group members are around

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Asch's 1956 study into conformity

Asch believed that conformity was a rational process and so wanted to assess if a minority would conform to a majority even if the majority was clearly wrong. Asch had participants carry out a line judgement task in which they had to indicate which of three comparison lines was closest to a standard line presented on two lines (this idea is known as the ‘Asch Paradigm’) 123 male student volunteers took part in the study. They were divided into groups, but unbeknown to these volunteers all but one of the ppts was really confederates of the experimenter. The real purpose of the experiment was to see whether this person would conform to the responses of these confederates.The real ppts always answered second to last, with the confederates being instructed to give the same incorrect answer on 12 of the 18 trials

Results: on the 12 critical trials, 36.8% of the responses made by the true ppts were incorrect meaning they effectively conformed to the incorrect response given by the unanimous decision of the other group members. One quarter of the ppts never conformed on any of the trials. To confirm this view of conformity, Asch conducted a control trial with no confederates giving the wrong answers. In this condition, mistakes were only made 1% of the time, but this could not explain the relatively high levels of conformity in the main study 

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Why did people conform? Asch

Asch interviewed some of the participants and found that the key reason for them conforming was:

Distortion of action: the majority of ppts who conformed continued to privately trust their own perceptions and judgements, but changed their public behaviour, giving incorrect answers to avoid disapproval from the other group members (i.e. they complied)

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Variations in the Asch study

Asch carried out many variations of his original study to find out which variables had significant effects on the amount of conformity

The difficulty of the task: in one variation, Asch made the differences between line lengths much smaller so that the ‘correct’ answer was much harder to identify. Under these circumstances, the levels of conformity increased. More recent research has developed upon this link. Lucas et al (2006) found that the influence of task difficulty on conformity is moderated by the self-efficacy of the individual. High self-efficacy ppts (ppts that were confident in their own abilities) remained more independent than low-self-efficacy ppts, even under conditions of high task difficulty. This shows that situational differences (task difficulty) and individual differences (self-efficacy) are both important in determining conformity

 The unanimity of the majority: when the real participant was given the support of either another real ppt or a confederate who had been instructed to give the right answer throughout, then conformity levels dropped significantly: from 32% to just 5.5%

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Gender differences in conformity

Eagly and Carli (1981 carried out a meta-analysis of 145 studies and found that women were generally more compliant than men. This may explained by differences in sex roles whereby women are more interpersonally-oriented than men and thus predisposed to conform to others 

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Evaluation for: Asch's study

Impact of culture/cultural differences: it is possible that these findings are unique to one culture – particular as the ppts were all American men, and the research was conducted in the 1950s, the era of McCarthyism (a period of strong anti-communist feeling throughout American where people were scared to be different). This was the claim made by Perrin and Spencer (1980) who tried to replicate Asch’s study in Britain during the 1970s using science and engineering students and only found one conforming response out of 369 trials  

Ethical concerns: deception and lack of informed consent

Validity: page 164

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