Deviation from social norms - When a person deviates from what society sees as normal, if a person is believed to be showing undesirable behaviour which deviates from societys norms, then they are seen as abnormal. E.g. wearing no clothes in public.
Failure to function adequately - When a person is unable to cope with everyday tasks such as go to work, as there are problems preventing them from being able to cope with their day to day living e.g. a phobia of grass may prevent a person from leaving their home, this prevents them from being able to function adequately. Deviation from ideal mental health - Jahoda identified six characteristics of ideal mental health:
- Self attitudes (having high self esteem and a strong sense of identity)
- Intergration (such as being able to cope with stessful situations)
- Accurate perception of reality
- Autonomy (being independent and self regulating)
- Master of the environment (including the ability to love, function at work and in interpersonal relations, adjust to new situations and solve problems)
- Personal growth and self actualisation (the extent to which an individual develops their full capabilities)
Limitations of definitions
Ideal mental health - Amatter of degree; few people experience all thes positive criteria therefore would be considered 'abnormal'. Mental illness do not always have physical causes, so are not the same as physical illness. Cultural Relativism; Jahoda's criteria reflect individualist cultural ideas, e.g. autonomy.
Deviation from social norms - The main difficulty with the concept of deviation from social norms, is that it vaires as time changes. What is socially acceptable now may not have been socially acceptable 50 years ago. Today homosexuality is acceptable but in the past it was included under sexual and gender disorders. Also what one society or culture see as normal another culture or society may believe it is not normal, different cultures have different norms (Culture relativism). Deviance is related to context and degree; e.g. a person on a beach wearing next to nothing is seen as normal whereas a person wearing a bikini to school would be regarded as abnormal, there is no clear line between abnormality and what is simply more harmless eccentricity (individual differences).
Failure to function adequately - Who judges? Patients may feel quite content even when their behaviour is clearly dysfunctional. Apparently dysfunctional behaviour may sometimes be adaptive e.g. depression elicits help from others. Cultural relativism; what is considered 'adequate' differs from culture to culture, so may result in different diagnosis when applied across cultures.
Approaches to Abnormality/Psychopathology - The Bi
Abnormality is caused by physical factors, such changes in the body or illness may be caused by one of four possible factors; genes, biochemistry, neuroanatomy and viral infection.
Genetic Inheritance - abnormalities in brain anatomy or chemistry are sometimes the result of genetic inheritance and so are passed from parent to child. One way of investigating this is by studying twins as they have identical genes.
Genes - tell the body how to function. They determine the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain (biochemistry). A low level of the hormone serotonin has been linked to people with depression, and research has also shown that schizophrenics have enlarged ventricals in their brains, indicating shrinkage of brain tissue around these spaces which could have led to the person becoming schizophrenic.
Viral infection - Torrey (2001) found that the mothers of many people with schizophrenia had contracted a particular strain of influenza during pregnancy. The virus may enter the unborn child's brain, where it remains dorment until puberty, when other hormones may activate it, producing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Limitations of the Biological approach
Humane or inhumane - The emergence of the medical model in the eighteenth century led to more humane treatment for mental patients. Until them mental illness was blamed on demons or on evil in the individual. The medical model offered a different source of blame - the illness, which was potentially treatable. However, more recent critics have claimed that the medical model is inhumane. Thomas Szasz (1972) argued that mental illness did not have a physical basis, therefore should not be thought of in the same way. He suggested that the concept of mental illness was 'invented' as a form of social control.
Cause and effect - The available evidence does not support a simple cause and effect link between mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and altered brain chemistry.
Inconclusive evidence - There is no evidence that mental disorders are purely caused by genetic inheritance. Gottesman and Shields (1976) reviewed the results of five studies of twins looking for concordance rates for schizophrenia. They found that in genetically identical twins there was a concordance of around 50%. If schizophrenia was entirely the product of genetic inheritance, we might expect this figure to be 100%.
The Psychodynamic approach
Mental disorder results from psychological rather than physical causes; Freud believed that the orgins of mental disorder lie in the unresolved conflicts of childhood which are unconscious. Medical illnesses are not the outcome of physical disorder but of these psychological conflicts.
Unresolved conflicts cause mental disorder; Conflicts between the id, ego and superego create anxiety. The ego protects itself with ego defences. These defences can be the cause of disturbed behaviour if they are overused. e.g. a boy who cannot deal with what he percieves as maternal rejection when a new baby brother is born may regress to an earlier developmental stage, soiling his clothes and becoming more helpless (regression).
Early experiences cause mental disorder; in childhood the ego is not developed enough to deal with traumas and therefore they are repressed. e.g. a child may experience the death of a parent early in life and repress associated feelings. Later in life, other losses may cause the individual to re-experience the earlier loss and can lead to depression. Previously unexpressed anger about the loss is directed inwards towards the self, causing depression.
Unconscious motivations cause mental disorder; Ego defences, such as repression and regression, exert pressure through unconsciously motivated behaviour. Freud proposed that the unconscious consists of memories and other information that are either very hard or almost impossible to bring into conscious awareness.
Limitations of the Psychodynamic approach
Abstract concepts - abstract concepts such as the id, ego and superego are difficult to define and research because actions motivated by them operate primarily at an unconscious level, there is no way to know for certain that they are occuring. As a result, psychodynamic explanations have recieved limited empirical support, and psychodynamic theorists have had to rely largely on evidence from unique case studies.
Sexism - Freud's theory was undoubtedly sexually unbalanced, and he himself accepted that his theory was less well developed for women (Freud 1953). Perhaps this is not suprising given the cultural bias of Victorian society and the simple fact that Freud was male (women were not seen as equals in Victorian times). However changes in modern psychoanalysis have made this explanation perfectly applicable to women.
Lack of research evidence - Although a number of researchers have attempted to test Freud's predictions experimentally, the theory is difficult to prove or disaprove in this way. If an individual behaves in the manner predicted by Freud, this is considered to be supportive of the theory. However, if they do not the theory is not rejected as it could instead indicate that the person is behaving in this way as a consequence of their defence mechanisms e.g. talking loudly when nervous.
The Behavioural approach
Only behaviour is important - The behavioural model concentrates only on behaviours. Behaviours might be external (e.g. displaying compulsive behaviours such as cpnstant hand washing) or internal (e.g. experiencing a particular feeling). Because the former are more observable, behaviourists tend to focus their attention on the role of external events and behaviours.
Abnormal behaviours are learned through conditioning or social learning - All behaviour is determined by external events. Abnormal behaviour is no different from normal behaviour in terms of how it is learned. We can use the principles of the learning theory to explain many disorders for which the major characteristics are behavioural (e.g. the avoidance behaviour that is characteristic of specific phobias). For example arachnophobia (spider phobia) involved avoidance (external behaviour) and feelings of anxiety when in the presence of a spider (internal behaviour)
Learning Environments - Learning environments may reinforce problematic behaviours, for example avoidance behaviour lowers anxiety, depressive behaviours may elicit help from others. Society also provides deviant maladaptive models that children identify with and imitate e.g. a child may engage in drug taking if they judge that by engaging in such behaviour they will be rewarded (social approval) from peers. Similarly, people may develop a fear of flying as a result of watching air crashes on tv.
Limitations of the Behavioural approach
Limited view of factors that cause mental disorder - cognitive behavioural therapies include the role of thought.
Explanation flawed - Not everyone with a phobia can identify a time when this was experienced and learned.
Some phobias more likely to develop than others - biological preparedness a key factor rather than just learning.
Symptom substitution - suggests that although symptoms of a disorder may be behavioural, causes may not be.
The Cognitive approach
The mind is like a computer in the way it processes information. Problems arise in the way an individual thinks about the world.
- Cognitive distortions include: structures, content, processes and products.
- Ellis - ABC model (activating event, belief, consequence).
- Rational beliefs - healthy consequences
- Irrational beliefs - unhealthy emotions
- The individual is in control of their thoughts, therefore abnormality is the result of faulty thinking.
Limitations of the Cognitive approach
- Blames individual rather than situational factors, so real causes may be overlooked.
- Way of thinking may be an effect rather than a cause, e.g. depressed thinking may occur because of depression.
- Faulty thinking may not be a cause but a vulnerability factor.
- Irrational beliefs may be realistic, Alloy and Abrahamson found that depressives were more realistic thinkers.
TREATING ABNORMALITY- Biological therapies - Chemo
- Conventional antipsychotics used to combat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. They work by blocking the action of dopemine in the brain.
- Anti-depressants increase availability of serotonin e.g. blocking its re-absorption (SSRIs).
- Anti-anxiety drugs e.g. BZ's increase effect of GABA.
- Effective e.g. better than placebos in treatment of schizophrenia (WHO).
- Relatively easy to use
- Best used in conjunction with psychotherapy
- Some studies show placebo just as effective (Kirsch et al.)
- Tackles symptoms not problem, so not a cure.
- Side effects, e.g. SSRIs linked to anxiety or increased aggression.
TREATING ABNORMALITY- Biological therapies - ECT
- Used for severe depression.
- Unconscious, relaxed patient given 0.6 amps for 1/2 sec - seizure.
- 3- 15 treatments
- Unilateral or bilateral
- Not clear why it works, may alter action of neurotransmitters.
- Can prevent suicide
- Effective - 60 - 70% patients improve (Comer), though Sackheim claims 84% relapse within 6 months.
- Some patients recover even with 'sham' ECT suggesting extra attention is important.
- Side effects, e.g. memory loss.
TREATING ABNORMALITY- Psychoanalysis
Seeks to recover repressed memories or unresolved conflicts.
- Free association
- Therapist interpretation
- Working through
- Bergin analysed 10,000 records, 80% success.
- Longer treatments have better outcome (Tschuschke et al)
- Based on psychoanalytic theory, but theory is flawed.
- Fails to acknowledge individual differences, imposing same theory on all.
- Repressed memories likely to be false (Loftus)
TREATING ABNORMALITY - Systematic Desensitisation
- Gradual exposure to feared stimulus
- Based on counterconditioning
Steps - Learn relaxation, Contruct desensitisation heirachy, Visualise each event while relaxing, Work through heirachy, Eventually master fear.
- Quick and requires relatively little effort
- Useful for people with learning difficulties
- 75% recovery for phobics when treated with SD (Capafons et al)
- Deals with symptoms not cause- may lead to symptom substitution.
- May be less effective for 'ancient fears' such as fear of the dark.
TREATING ABNORMALITY- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
- Irrational beliefs are experienced as self-defeating thoughts.
- Challenge thinking using logical, empirical and/or pragmatic disputing.
- patient moves from catastrophising to more rational thinking.
- More effective than drugs alone
- Useful for clinical and non-clinical groups.
- Doesnt address influence of external environment.
- Not suitable for all - e.g. some may reject its direct challenges.
SOCIAL INFLUENCE - Conformity
Types of conformity -
(Majority) Compliance: going along with others to gain approval.
(Minority) Internalisation: going along with others because you have accepted their point of view.
Explanations of conformity -
Informational influence: People conform because they are uncertain about what to do in a particular situation, so they look to others for guidance. This explanation tends to lead to internalisation. (Sherif; Light movement) (Moscovici; colours)
Normative influence: This refers to instances where someone conforms in order to fit in and gain approval or avoid dissaproval from other group members. Tends to lead to compliance. (Asch;lines)
Why people obey?
- Gradual commitment (Milgram; electric shock)
- Agentic state (007)
- Legitimate authority figure
Why people resist obedience?
- Proximity of the victim
- Autonomous state (free thinking)
- Disobedient models (Rosa Parks)
Locus of control:
- External control; Percieve their behaviour as being caused more by external influences or luck, therefore take less responsibility for their behaviour, are less able to resist coercion from others.
- Internal control; Percieve themselves as having a great deal of personal control over their behaviour, so take more responsibility for it. Are better able to resist coercion from others.
Examples of social change -
- Rosa Parks
- Ghandi salt tax
Explanations/Research support for social change -
- Minority influence - internalisation over time/ consistency
- Obedience - Wide spread motivation to obey, Gradual commitment, Disobedient models.
STRESS - The body's response
Stress - A state of psychological & physiological arousel produced when there is a mismatch between the percieved demands of the situation and the individuals percieved ability to cope.
Stressor - An event that triggers the stress response because it throws the body out of balance and forces it to respond e.g. life changes, daily hassles, workplace stressors etc.
Automatic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS has two branches:
- Sympathetic branch (SMP) - Arousal. ACUTE STRESS: The bodies response to an immediate threat. The sympathetic branch of the ANS is activated giving the body immediate energy for the fight or flight response. This gives the body Adrenaline and immediate energy.
- Para Sympathetic branch (PAS) - Homeostasis. CHRONIC STRESS: This is long term stress which activates the PAS axis. An end product of long term stress is the steady release of cortisol which suppresses the immune system making us more susceptible to infection, disease and illness.
Physiological changes in the body when stressed
ACUTE - Sympathetic branch (SMP) - Arousal:
- Increases heart rate
- Inhibits saliva production
- Pupils become dilated
- Accelerates breathing
- Glucose is released
- Expends energy
- Fight or flight response
CHRONIC - Parasympathetic branch (PAS) - Homeostasis
- Decreases heart rate
- Increase saliva production
- Pupils become contracted
- Bronchi of lungs constrict
- Glucose is stored
- Conserve (save) energy
- Acts as a housekeeper
Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): Selye conducted research on rats. Exposed rats to unpleasant stimuli. A typical syndrome appeared in response to all the stimuli. Proposed that animals react in the same way i.e there is a universal response to a stressor.
- ALARM - Fight or flight reaction; body mobilises resources to combat threat; activates the SMP.
- RESISTANCE - Enhances ability to fight stressor via moderate physiological arousal; ability to withstand additional stressors is reduced
- EXHAUSTION - Depletion of resources brings on diseases and disorders.
- First to establish a link between stress and illness
- Lots of subsequent research have since found the link
- Ignores cognitive factors (perception of the stressor and individual differences)
- Difficult to extrapolate findings to humans.
- Ethics of animal research.
STRESS AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Short term stress; Kiecolt-Glaser et al: Natural Study of immunosuppression in medical students.
Procedure - 75 Volunteer medical students. Blood samples taken 1 month before their exams (low stress condition) and again at the end of the first day of their final exams (high stress condition) Blood samples were analysed for the number of T cells they contained. Pps also completed a questionnaire that assessed loneliness, mental difficulties (eg. depression) and life events.
Findings - Higher levels of T cells were found in the low stress condition than the high stress condition. Levels of T cells were lower for those experiencing stressful life events. Lowest levels were found for participants who reported feeling most lonely.
Conclusions - Hormones produced as a part of the acute stress reaction reduce the number of T cells produced by the body, thus reducing immune functioning. This study supports the claim that prolonged exposure to stress weakens the immune system.
Kiecolt-Glaser et al - Long term stress
Investigation into whether long-term stress affects the immune system.
Participants - 34 people caring for relatives in the advances stages of Alzheimer's Disease, compared to a control group that had no such stress in their lives.
Procedure - The number of leucocytes in the bloodstream was measured
Findings - Carers had significantly lower numbers of leucocytes compared to non carers.
Conclusion - Prolonged periods of stress can lead to increased vulnerability to illness.
However......Lazarus rightly points out that health is affected by many other factors than just stress eg. lifestyle & genetic inheritance are major factors in whether an individual becomes ill and stress can therefore be seen as only one factor contributing to lower immune system and ill health.
STRESS AND PERSONALITY TYPE
Does our personality influence and determine how we react to potentially stressful events and other people? Is our personality STRESS-PRONE or STRESS-RESISTANT?
Type A personality -
- Has a sense of time urgency
- Hard workers
Type B personality -
- Not competetive
- Low risk of CHD
- Low risk of heart attack
STRESS AND HEART DISEASE - Freidman & Rosenman
Aim - To investigate the hypothesis that individuals with particular behaviour patterns are more likely to suffer from (CD). Type A behaviour was identified which was claimed to make people more vulnerable to (CHD)
Procedure - 3524 Californian men were given Q'aires & interviews and identified as type A or type B personality. They were all free from CHD at the start, Studied over an 8 1/2 year period.
Findings - 7% of the sample (257) had developed signs of CHD. Of this group 70% were Type A. Type A individuals had higher blood cholesterol levels and higher levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline than type B. The difference in the incidence of CHD between the two groups was independent of other variables such as smoking and obesity, that are known to increase heart disease.
Conclusions - Type A's behaviour pattern increases vulnerability to heart disease. Harmful effects of stressors can be mediated through psychological factors such as personality.
- Gender bias (3524 men)
- Culture bias (Californian men)
THE HARDY PERSONALITY
Kobassa and Maddi suggested that some people are more psychologically hardy than others. They proposed The Hardy Personality.
The Hardy personality includes a range of characteristics which, if present, provide defences against the negative effects of stress. These are:
Control - Are in control of their lives. Believe they influence what happens in their lives. Make things happen.
Commitment - Are involved with the world around them, inclusing people as well as having a strong sense of purpose. Resist giving up in times of stress.
Challenge - See life challenges as problems to be overcome. They enjoy change as an opportunity for development.
Kobasa - Studied approximately 800 American business executives, assessing stress using the SRRS. About 150 of the pps were classified as high stress according to their SRRS scores. Of these, some had low illness records whereas others had high illness records.The individuals 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.
Conclusion - Those with high hardiness are less likely to become ill, whereas those with low hardiness have more chance of becoming ill.
Weaknesses - Culture bias as the pps were all american. Occupational bias as the pps were all business executives.
Strengths - Natural experiment; low demand characteristics & high ecological validity.
Further Support - Lifton et al; Found that American university students who scored low in hardiness were more likely to drop out in comparison to those with a high hardiness score, who were more likely to complete their degree.
Physiological approaches (Emotion focused) - The use of drugs to target directly the bodies response to stress.
Psychological approaches (Problem focused) - Namely cognitive and behavioural training to help people control specific stressors in their lives.
Physiological Methods - Drug Therapy
Drugs target different parts of the stress response in order to reduce its effects. Specifically drugs lessen the arousal of the sympathetic branch of the ANS.
Benzodiazephines (BZ's) - Are drugs that are used to treat anxiety that is a consequence of stress. They do this by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is the body's natural form of anxiety relief. BZ's enhance the action of GABA, making neurones in the brain even more resistant to excitation and making the person feel much calmer.
Beta-Blockers (BB's) - Are drugs that reduce the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline which are part of the SMP response to stress. BB's therefore can prevent some of the cardiovascular problems associated with chronic levels of stress. BB's reduce the activity of adrenaline & noradrenaline by binding to receptors on the cells of the heart and other parts of the body that are usually stimulated -
- during arousal. By blocking these receptors, it is harder to stimulate these cells, so the heart beats slower and with less force, blood pressure falls, and so on. As a result the person feels calmer and less anxious.
- BZ's can have side effects
- BZ's can lead to physical dependence so clients may have withdrawel symptoms
- Some people lack the time, money or commitment to learn psychological methods or biofeedback, so drugs are their only possible source of relief
- Is someone who is completely stressed out able to give informed consent to taking drugs?
- Drugs treat the symptoms NOT the cause.
- Drugs act directly and successfully to reduce physiological symptoms of stress and anxiety
- Compared with barbiturates which were used, newer drugs are much safer
- BZ's are most effective if combined with other approaches - ie they provide a 'window' for other approaches taught. BB's directly work on life-threatening symptoms such as hypertension
STRESS MANAGEMENT - Psychological Methods
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - CBT is a treatment used for depression, anxiety (including stress) and OCD that involves identifying the thoughts or beliefs. It is based on cognitive theories that, some mental disorders may involve 'faulty' or irrational thinking or perception.
eg. Someone suffering from anorexia may not be able to see himself or herself as too thin, even when they are extremely underweight. A person suffering from depression may blame themselves unnecessarily for things that have gone wrong.
Cognitive therapy focuses on present thinking, behaviour and communication rather than on past experiences and is orientated toward problem solving. The focus is on how the person thinks rather than acting directly on their behaviour (as with behavioural therapies).
CBT can be done individually or with a group of people.
Meichenbaum's Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)
Cognitive preparation or conceptualisation -
- What is the stressor?
- Talk me through it
- Which parts are specifically stressful?
- How do you usually cope with this?
- Why do you think this has been unsuccessful in the past?
Skill Acquisition and rehearsal -
- Relaxation techniques
- Offer solutions and new ways to cope in the future
Application and Follow-through -
- Now go out and try the new techniques...
Evaluation of (SIT)
- More effective than other forms of therapy
- Sheehy and Horan found SIT decreased stress and improved grades for first-year law students
- Gives the clients skills to cope with future problems.
- SIT is time-consuming, expensive and requires a lot of effort and motivation
- SIT is too complex; it might be better to just talk more positively and relax more
- Individual differences; works better with some people than others.
Kobasa's Hardiness Training
Focusing - Client is taught how to recognise signs of stress in the body.
Relieving stress encounters - Client recognizes current ways of coping through analysing past stressful events
Self-improvement - To see stressors as challenges that you can take hold of.
- Studies (eg. Maddi) have shown that hardiness training results in improved health for working adults and students
- It trains the clients in the resources for dealing with future stressful situations, not just the problems that sent them to the therapist.
- Like all CBT, it requires time, commitment and money
- It requires the client to be able to reflect, not everyone can do this.
LIFE CHANGES AS STRESSORS
Holmes and Rahe 1967 - Stress is the degree to which people have to change and readjust their lives in response to an external event. Stressful situations include happy as well as unhappy events in an individuals life. Developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) to test the idea that life changes are related to physical illness. Based on 43 life events taken from analysis of patient records. To develop the scale participants scored events in terms of the amount of stress each produced (readjustment would be required by the average person).
SSRS Activity - 1. Calculating your 'life events' score based on the last year. 2. Revising SRRS making it more applicable to students and the modern day. Evidence from numerous studies shows that the people who have experienced events totalling more than 300 life changes over a period of 1 year are more at risk for a wide range of physical and mental illnesses e.g. heart attack, diabetes, TB, Asthma, anxiety depression.
Life Change and Stress
- Significant change in life circumstances
- ----->>> Need to adjust to new life circumstances
- ------>>> STRESS ----->>> ILLNESS
Rahe et al.
Aim - Test the hypothesis that there is a positive correlation between life events and physical illness. Life events were measured using the SRRS developed by Holmes and Rahe. The SRRS lists various life changes and awards each score on a scale from 1-100.
Procedure - 2,700 American male sailors were given the SRRS q'aire to complete just before they left for their tour of duty. The men reported which of the life events listed had happened to them in the previous 6 months and a total score was calculated for each pp. At sea health records were kept for each pp and an illness score was calculated (number, type, severity). A correlational analysis was carried out between SRRS scores and illness scores.
Findings - A weak positive correlation of 0.118 between the SRRS score and the illness score (i.e. As SRRS score increased so did the frequency of illness).
Conclusions - Experiencing life changes/events increases the chances of illness. It can be explained by life changes resulting in stress and that stress is linked to an increase in illness.
A02 of Rahe et al
- SRRS - each life event effects people differently (i.e. individual differences)
- Recall of past events (Retrospective data)
- Correlational (no cause and effect can only establish a relationship)
- Sample bias (2,700 American male sailors)
- Culture bias (2,700 American male sailors)
Supporting Evidence -
- Rahe and Arthurs found an increase of various psychological illnesses, athletic injuries, physical illness and traffic accidents when stress levels were raised.
DAILY HASSLES AS STRESSORS
De Longis - Focused on the ongoing stresses and strains of daily living thinking these would provide a better measure of stress as major life events are very infrequent. These more than anything determine the extent to which a person feels stressed - we might therefore expect a stronger correlation.
Developed the Hassles and Uplifts scale - 53 items. Compared two measures - a life events scale and their own hassles scale to see which was a better predictor of later health problems. They also considered the effects of uplifts (feel good events) to see how these affect health. Pps completed four questionnaires once a month for a year.
100 pps ages between 45 - 64. Both frequency and intensity of hassles were significantly correlated with overall health status and bodily symptoms. Daily uplifts had little effect on health.
Found no relationship between life events and health during the study (Although there was a relationship for life events recorded for 2 1/2 years before the study).
A02 of De Longis
- Still overlooked chronic 'ongoing' sources of stress, such as poor housing, low incomes, strains of family life.
- Same hassles can be experienced in different ways by different people or by the same person on different occasions
- Hassle to one person may be uplifting to another e.g. traffic jam
The Accumulation and Amplification Effect
Lazarus - The Accumulation Effect
An accumulation of minor stressors creates persistant irritations, frustrations and overloads which then result in more serious stress reactions such as anxiety and depression.
The Amplification Effect
Chronic stress due to major life changes may make people more vulnerable to daily hassles. If a person is already in a state of distress (due to a life event) minor stressors may magnify the experience of stress. The presence of a major life change may also deplete a persons resources so that the are less able to cope with minor stressors than they would be under normal circumstances.
Marmot et al - Carried out a 3 year longitudinal study of over 3000 Whitehall civil servants, measuring job control and stress-related illness. The found that people with low job control (type and amount of work decided by others) were four times more likely to die of a heart attack than those with high job control (more independence in deciding the type and amoutn of work).
Johansson - To investigate the relationship between work stressors (job repetition, machine-regulated pace of work, high levels of responsibility) and stress related arousal and stress related illness.
Procedure - Two groups of workers from a swedish sawmill were compared. 14 finishers (high risk) whose work was machine paced (lack of control), repetitive and isolated. The wage rates for the entire factore were determined by the finishers productivity (high responsibility). 10 cleaners (low risk) whose work was varied, self paced and included socialising with other workers. Levels of stress related hormones (adrenaline & noradrenaline) in the urine were measured on workdays and on rest days. Records were kept of stress related illness and absenteeism.
Findings - The finishers (high risk) secreted higher levels of stress hormones on workdays than on rest days and higher levels than the cleaners. The finishers had higher rates of stress related illnesses and higher levels of absenteeism.
Conclusions - Workplace stressors such as repetition, machine pacing of work and high levels of responsibility lead to prolonged physiological arousal (secretion of stress hormones) and result in stress related illness and absenteeism.
- Strengths -
- This study indicates a link between stress and lack of control.
- It also shows links between stress and illness as the stressed workers suffered more illnesses.
- High ecological validity
- Weaknesses -
- Ignores individual differences
- Correlational study
- Sample bias