Psychology Unit 2

  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 14-05-14 15:29


SAM PATHWAY > Adrenal Medulla > Adrenalin > Fight or Flight

HPA AXIS > Hypothalamus > CRF > Pituitary Gland > ACTH > Adrenal cortex > Cortisol 

Acute time - limited stressors e.g. public speaking. 

Brief naturalistic - limited duration e.g. stressors

Chronic - long term e.g. caring for ill relative. 

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Stress and Immunity

Cohen et al 

  • tested effects of stress on immunity using the cold virus.
  • 394 pts completed questionnaire about stressful life events in previous year, rated degree of stress and negative emotions - giving a 'stress index'
  • after being exposed to cold virus, 82% became infected - cold correlated with stress index. 

Klecolt-Glaser et al 

  • tested effects of naturalistic stressors on immunity. 
  • 75 med students has NK cell activity measured before and during exams, and completed questionnaire on negative life events and social isolation.
  • NK cell activity decreased in high stress, especially with social isolation.


  • weak but significant correlations
  • compared to other factors, stress is insignificant impact on immunity. 
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Measuring Stress


  • hospital patients (CHD) reported significant life events the previous year.
  • they compared life events with marriage in terms of adjustment needed.
  • 'life change unit' = amount of stress

Daily hassles and uplifts

  • looks at every day annoyances and uplifts
  • studies suggest hassles are more stressful than life events 


  • individual differences e.g. coping mechanisms, social support
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Stress and Personality

Friedman and Rosenman 

  • tested link between personality and CHD. 
  • middled aged US men were classed type A or B via interview using behavioural signs and then followed up for 8.5 years.
  • of the 257 heart attacks, 69% were type A. 


  • longitudinal study 
  • androcentric and ethnocentric
  • no control of extranuous variables 
  • is CHD an indicator of stress? genetic factors..
  • correlational 
  • early findings failed to be replicated
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Workplace Stress

Marmot et al 

  • investigated relationship between workplace stress and health
  • analysed data from 7000 london civil servants and followed up for 5 years
  • lower paid workers had twice the illness of higher paid workers and had 1.5x more heart problems
  • most significant risk factor was degree of decision making


  • accounted for other factors 
  • civil servants only - generalisation problems
  • relationship - no cause and effect
  • difficult to test cause and effect due to ethics
  • self report questionnaires could be bias
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Coping with Stress

Tennon et al 

  • studied coping styles in pts with chronic pain - they filled out coping style questionnaire and level of pain daily
  • EFC used 4.4x more when PFC was also used.
  • pts assess and respond to success/failure of strategies - we tried preferred method first and may alter the approach

Factors affecting type of coping response: 

  • stressor e.g. work or relationships
  • control
  • gender
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Stress Management (Psychological)


  • identify sources of stress (conceptualisation), learn coping skills or relaxation techniques, apply to real life and follow up. 


  • reduces mismatch between demands and resources, effective in range of settings, time consuming, expensive, need motivation. 

Hardiness Training

  • focus on physiological symptoms so they can recognise stress, analyse stressful situations, increasing self-efficacy. 


  • targets appraisal of stress source, reduce gap between demands and resources, needs time and motivation.
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Stress Management (Biological)


  • anxiety-related stress, increases action of calming neurotransmitter (GABA) and decreases noradrenaline and serotonin. 


  • safe in overdose, may have side effects, risk of dependency, only treats symptoms, effective in combination with psychological methods.


  • acts on circulatory system and sympathetic pathway, reduces heart rate and blood pressure. 


  • acts rapidly, no severe side effects, interaction with other drugs, only treats symptoms. 
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Stress Management (Alternative)


  • recording physiological systems e.g. heart rate, then using methods to reduce feedback e.g. muscle relaxation. 


  • works for some people, time consuming, effective in treating tension headaches in children, no side effects, cause of stress not targeted. 

Social Support

  • isolation shown to cause depression in women with young children (link) 
  • support can protect against damaging effects of stress. 
  • emotional, practical, informational and general network 


  • file drawer problem, animal testing (monkeys), studies show support for this method. 
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Informational - the need to be right

Normative - the need to be liked.


  • 1) Beam of light - asked how far it moved. 
  • 2) Asked in groups - found consensus. 
  • 3) Asked individually - stuck with the norm answer. 
  • Is this conformity? Asch says not. 


  • 1pt and 5conf, asked to match line X with either 1, 2, or 3. 
  • 82% conformed when conf gave same wrong answer, 74% conformed atleast once and 26% never conformed. 
  • Strong pressure to conform with unanimous majority in ambiguous situations.
  • Set in 1951, USA, study was a 'child of its time.' 
  • non unanimous (5% dec), size of majority (13% dec) 
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Minority Influence


  • 172pts in groups of 6 (4pts, 2conf) estimated colour of 36 blue slides. 
  • When conf consistently said green, pts said green 8.4% of the time, when not consistent 1.3%
  • Hard to control extraneous variables e.g. eye sight. 


  • 12 angry men study, tested whether minorities can exert influence through persuasive info and change in behavoiur. 
  • minority only influenced when they provided counter arguments - 'ceiling of influence' at 4. 
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  • role play study - pts were prison guards or prisoners 
  • mock prison had to be shut down after 6 days as prison guards were getting too aggressive and prisoners became psychological harmed.
  • prison guards said that when they put on the uniform they became consumed by the role. 
  • psychological harm
  • no real deception 
  • male, USA, university students. 
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  • 40 male pts set in Yale University in a science lab. Pt acted as a teacher to learner (conf).
  • Teacher had to increase voltage or shock when learner gave wrong answer. 
  • ALL went up to 300V, while 65% went to the end. 
  • Deception
  • Pressure to continue 
  • Protection of pts 
  • No fully informed consent 
  • Debriefing and counselling 
  • Androcentric 
  • Lab based 

People obey because: legit authority, gradual commitment, buffers, agentic shift. 

Moved to bridgeport (47.5%), no buffers (40%), supported by 2 teachers (10%)

People resist because: individual differences, feeling responsible, disobedient models. 

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Independent Behaviour


  • to see if pts would rebel against unjust authority when encouraged.
  • in the USA, newspaper advert was paying people to take part in discussion on standards of behaviour in the community
  • put in groups of 9
  • pts met a consultant who said they were taking legal action against a petrol station manager due to an offensive lifestyle
  • the manager argued he was sacked for speaking publicly of high petrol prices
  • consultant wanted them to argue in favour, it was filmed and shown in court. 
  • 32 out of 33 rebelled in some way, 25 refused to sign the consent form

Why did people disobey?

  • strong group identity, they agreed demands of authority were unreasonable
  • rebelled against attempts to control behaviour (reactance) 
  • pts had sufficient time to think about their actions
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Defining Abnormality

Deviation from the social norm

  • cultural norms can vary (AO2) so the measuring tool is inconsistent and unreliable. 

Failure to function adequately

  • focuses on every day behaviour of individuals, it is a sign of a general problem 
  • does failure to function have to be every day? how do we measure this? (AO2)

Deviation from ideal mental health 

  • Jahoda lists: empathy, coping with stress, high self esteem, sense of identity, personal growth etc.
  • how far does someone need to deviate from ideal mental health? (AO2) 
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Explaining Abnormality (Behavioural)

  • Classical conditioning - association, pairing of two stimuli to bring about a response e.g. little Albert. 
  • Operant conditioning - reinforcement, behaviour shaped by consequences. 
  • Social Learning Theory - imitation and role models. 


  • Evidence such as Little Albert and his phobia. 
  • Behaviour-based treatments are effective. 
  • Deterministic - no free will. 
  • Reductionist - biological factors? 
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Explaining Abnormality (Cognitive)

  • Processing information, schemas, perception, memory. 
  • Beck's negative triad: Self, world and future.
  • Ellis' ABC model: Activating event, beliefs, consequences. 


  • Includes individual differences of perception 
  • Effective treatment (CBT) 
  • Deterministic - no free will. 
  • Reductionist - acknowledges biology can affect processing. 
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Explaining Abnormality (Biological)

Genetic - tested using blood sample, looking at family background.

AO2: problem identifying genes, limited samples, look at concordance rates.

Viral - test using blood test

AO2: evidence in Sz patients but this is a limited sample. 

Hormones - tested using blood test.

AO2: need evidence over time, problems with causality. 

Brain structure - use scans

AO2: difficult to know when to test.

  • Reductionist 
  • Some evidence
  • Deterministic
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Explaining Abnormality (Psychodynamic)

Freud - unconscious mind. 

Personality: ID (pleasure), Ego (rational), Super Ego (moral) 

Psychosexual stages - oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital. 

Defence mechanisms e.g. repression, regression. 


  • Difficult to test 
  • Psychoanalysis based on this
  • Largely theoretical, little evidence
  • Reductionist
  • Deterministic - no free will. 
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Biological Treatments


  • antipsychotic e.g. chlorpromazine - blocks dopamine neurotransmitter to stop hallucinations in Sz sufferers.
  • antidepressants e.g. SSRIs - block transporter mechanisms so transmission of serotonin is easier.
  • anti-anxiety e.g. BZs - slow down activity of CNS and enhance GABA to quieten down other neurotransmitters and reduce serotonin to become more relaxed.


  • 0.6amps lasting 0.5secs to produce a seizure, 3x a week. Given short acting barbituate, nerve blocking agent and oxygen.
  • 60-70% improve after, 84% relapse within 6 months.
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Psychological Treatments


  • aim to release problems in unconscious mind so issues can be dealt with.
  • FREE ASSOCIATION - expressing thoughts as and when they come to mind, revealing areas of conflict.
  • THERAPIST INTERPRETATION - drawing conclusions about possible causes; this may be discussed and disgarded in attempt to avoid painful discussion. 'Transference' may occur.
  • WORKING THROUGH - meet 4/5 times a week to gain a greater clarity about the causes of behaviour.


  • 80% of 10000 pts benefitted from psychotherapy.
  • the longer the treatment, the better the outcome.
  • Based on Freud's theory of personality.
  • possibility of 'false memories'
  • forced termination could be distressing.
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Behavioural Treatments

Systematic Desensitisation

  • hierarchy of least to most feared. Most successful for treating phobias.


  • overloading of the stimuli. Can be stressful.

Aversion Therapy

  • Pairing two stimuli to treat addictions.

Token Economy

  • Used often in institutions, reinforcement to modify behaviour.
  • Need to alter schedules to take focus away from rewards and more on good behaviour.
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Cognitive Therapy


  • Aims to challenge irrational thinking, testing reality and making goals.

Rational Emotive

  • based on ABC model
  • client and therapist identify situations and the reactions they producse
  • rationalisation - offering a more realistic perspective
  • challenge patient's beliefs
  • aims to correct dysfunctional thoughts


  • gets to cause
  • effective for depression and anxiety
  • benefits last longer than drugs
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