Psychology: Unit 2 - Biological Psychology

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Stress and the Immune System: Outline

Key Study: Kiecolt-Glaser (1984)

How - Natural experiment with medical students. The researchers assessed immune system functioning one month before an exam and then during the examination period itself.

Showed - Immune system activity was was significantly reduced from a blood sample taken during the examination period compared to one taken one month before. This suggests that short-term stressors reduce the effinciency of immune system functioning. 

Kiecolt-Glaser: Studied the effects of unhappy relationships on immune system functioning Found: Blister wounds on the arms of couples who showed high levels of hostility healed at 60% of the rate of those couples who showed low levels of hostility.

Malarkey: Found that marital conflict produced significant changes in adrenaline and noradrenaline levels. This could lead to poorer immune system functioning. 

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Stress and the Immune System: Evaluate

Research Support: Segerstrom and Miller
Conducted a meta-analysis of 293 studies and found that short-term acute stressors could actualy boost the immune system, promting to prepare itself for infections or injurys. Long term chronic stressors lead to the suppression of the immune system. 

Stress Can Enhance the Immune System:
Short-term stress can increase levels of slgA which helps protect against infection.

Not a Simple Relationship 

1. Health is affected by many different factors (genetics/lifestyle) - little variance left to be accounted for by stress. 

2. Health is fairly stable and slow to change, therefore it is diffucult to demonstrate that exposure to particular stressors has caused a change in health. 

3. Researchers focus on short-term stress effects as they are easier to conduct studies for.

Individual Differences: Women show more adverse immunolofical changes in the way they react to chronic stressors. As the body ages stress has a greater effect on the immune system. 

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Life Changes and Stressors: Outline

Social Readjustment Rating Scale: Homes and Rahe
Based on 43 life events taken from an analysis of over 5000 patient records. Marriage is given readjustment LCU (Life Changing Unit) of 50. Events were then rated around the score of marriage.

Key Study: Rahe (1970)
How: Using the SRE questionnaire given to 2664 men aboard 3 navy ships. This measured the life events experienced over the previous 6 months. During their 6 month tour of duty a record of their illness was kept. 
Found: Found a small but significant positive corrolation between the mes LCU over the previous 6 months and their illness over the same period. As there were positive and negetive changes in the SRRS it suggests that it is not whether the change is positive or negetive that is important but the amount of psychic energy required in order to deal with event. 

Michael and Ben-Zur
How: Conducted a natural experiment. They studied 130 men and women who had been recently divorced and widowed. Divorced Found: Divorced showed higher satisfaction after unlike the widowed who had higher levels before.
Divorced were able to turn the positive into a negetive which is harder for  the widowed group.  

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Life Changes and Stressors: Evaluation

A Spurious Relationship 
Most studies have yielded only correlational data failing to demonstrate a causal relationship between life events and stress-related illness. Brown suggests that anxiety was a third variable - those with it are more likely to report negetive events and are prone to illness.

Positive and Negetive Events 
People react to changes differently, for example divorce can effect an individual in a positive (relief) or negetive (heartbreak) way. Critics suggest that changes which are 'Unscheduled, Uncontrolled and Undesired' are the most harmful.

Life Changes and Daily Hassels 
Life changes are rare compaired to daily hassles suggesting that daily hassles are a more significant source of stress. 

Individual Differences 
The impact of events is hard to predict as the circumstance comes into play for example the death of a loved spouse will effect you differently to the dealth of your dying mother with a mental disease. 

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Daily Hassles: Outline

Daily Hassles: Fustrating, irritating everyday experiences that occur regularly in our work, home and personal life. 
Daily Uplifts: Minor positive experiences of everyday life often counter the negative effects of daily hassles. 

Key Study: Bouteyre

How: Correlational Analysis of the relationship between daily hassles and mental health in students undergoing the initial transition from school to university. Students completed a hassles and Becks depression inventory.

Found: 41% experienced depressive symptoms and there was a positive corrolation between scores on the hassles scale and depressive symptoms. 

Gervais Asked nurses to keep diaries for a month, recording all the daily hassles and uplifts while at work. After a month it was clear hassles increased job strain and decreased peformance. Daily uplifts appeared to counteract the stressfull impact of these hassles and improved peformance.

Flett Found that major life events differ from daily hassles in extent that individuals seek and recieve social support. Negative effects of daily hassles may, in part, be due to a reduced level of social support from others. 

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Daily Hassles: Evaluate

Memory Problems: Most research conducted on daily hassles asked participants to recall events over a time. The accuracy of these memories varies according to the time interval involved. Researchers overcome this by using the diary method. 

Methodological Problems: Even when memories are reliable the data they produce are only corrlational. This means that we can't draw causal relationships between daily hassles and our psychological well-being. However corrolations do suggest hassles have the potentional to have adverse effects on our well-being. 

Explaining Daily Hassles 
Accumulation Effect: A build up/overload of daily hassles can cause more chronic stress/depression/anxiety. 
Amplification Effect: Chronic stress caused by negative life events may make a person more vulnerable to daily hassles. 

Individual Differences: Miller found that pets were seen as an uplift to women but a Hassle to men. 

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Workplace Stress: Outline

Physical Stressors: Noise, legth of day. Psychological Stressors: Relationships w/ collegues, role responsibility.

Key Study: Marmot (1997)

How: Longitudinal Study. Over 7000 civil servants were asked to complete a questionnaire on worklod, job control and the amount of social support they recieved from others. The researchers also checked for signs of cardiovascular disocrder. Five years leater, the participants were reassessed to see if their health stauts had changed. 

Showed: 

Workload: Marmot - found no link between high workload and stress-relatede illness, suggesting job demand was not a significant factor in the development of stress-related illness. However Johansson found that peforming repetitive jobs that require high levels of attention and responsibility were related to stress-related illness. 

Control: Civil servents who initially reported low levels of job control were more likely to have developed heart disease than those who reported high levels of job control. This association was independent of emplyment grade or other risk factors such as smoking or physical activity. The critical risk factor for the development of heart disease was the level of control. 

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Workplace Stress: Evaluate

Individual Differences: Schaubroeck
Found that workers respond differently to lack of control. Some people are less stressed by having no control or responsibility and show better immune responses in a such situations. 

Work Underload
Can be as stressful as overload. Shultz in a study across 15 Europian countries found that although employees reporting work overload were the most stressed those reporting work underload also reported significant levels of stress. 

Workplace Stress and Mental Health 
Workplace stress does not have a direct effect on illness however when combined with other problems such as personal problems it can make depression more likely to occur. 

The Evolution of Work and Work Stressors 
The nature of the working enviroment is constantly changing with the advent of new technology and new working practices including blurring of the work and home enviroment - working from home. This means our knowledge is becoming rapidly out of date. 

Validity 
Many of the studies have been conducted via questionnaires - people can lie, restricts answers. 

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Workplace Stress: Evaluate

Individual Differences: Schaubroeck
Found that workers respond differently to lack of control. Some people are less stressed by having no control or responsibility and show better immune responses in a such situations. 

Work Underload
Can be as stressful as overload. Shultz in a study across 15 Europian countries found that although employees reporting work overload were the most stressed those reporting work underload also reported significant levels of stress. 

Workplace Stress and Mental Health 
Workplace stress does not have a direct effect on illness however when combined with other problems such as personal problems it can make depression more likely to occur. 

The Evolution of Work and Work Stressors 
The nature of the working enviroment is constantly changing with the advent of new technology and new working practices including blurring of the work and home enviroment - working from home. This means our knowledge is becoming rapidly out of date. 

Validity 
Many of the studies have been conducted via questionnaires - people can lie, restricts answers. 

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Type A and B Personality: Outline

Type A 
Three major characteristics: Competitivness and achievment striving. Impatience and time urgency. Hostility and aggressivnes. These characteristics believed to lead to raised blood pressure and an increase in levels of stress hormones - both can develop CHD.

Type B 
Behaviours contrast Type A. Relaxed, easy-going, decrease risk of heart disease. 

Key Study: Friedman and Rosenman (1960).

How: A natural experiment and structured interview. Used to assess the personality of 3000 men between the ages of 39-59. The questions also assessed the way the men reponded to everday pressures. Participants were classes as type A or B.

Showed: 8 years later 12.8 type A personalities had died of CHD which was twice as many of Type B. The type A men had higher blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol. 

Heart Attacks: A-12.8/B-6.0
Recurring Heart Attacks: A-2.6/0.8
Fatal Heart Attacks: A-2.7/B-1.1

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Type A and B Personality: Evaluate

The Importance of Hostility: Myrtek 
Carried out a meta-analysis of 35 studies and found an association between CHD and only one componant of the Type A personality - hostility. No evidence for anyother componants which challenged the F&R.

Research Support: Ragland and Brown
Carried out a follow-up study of F&R's participants 22 years after. They found 15% of the men had died of heart disease but found no relationship between Type A and CHD, also challenging the claim.

An Outdated Concept
Reflection of traditional masculinity in th 50s and 60s. As type A men became more aware of the health risks hardiness became more popular. 

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The Hardy Personality: Outline

Key Theorist: Kobasa and Maddi Claim that some people are more resistant to the harmful effects of stress because they have a hardy personality which consists of:

Control: Hardy people see themselves as being in control of their lives rather than being controlled by external factors. 
Commitment: Hardy people are involved with the world around them and have a strong sense of purpose. 
Challenge: Life challenges are seen as problems to be overcome rather than stressors. 

Key Study: Kobasa 
How: The stress scores of 800 buisness executives were determined using Holmes and Rahe's SRRS and hardiness was assessed using a hardiness test. 

Found: 150 of the executives were experiencing high levels of stress. However, these individuals differed in their illness record over the same period. Those with low levels of illness were more likely to have scored high on all 3 hardiness characteristics. 

Maddi: Measured hardiness in a company who were reducing staff. Two thirds suffered stress however one third didn't showing evidence of the hardy personality. 
Lifton: Found students scoring low on hardiness were disproportionately more likely to dop out of uni unlike high scorers were more likely to complete their degree. 

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The Hardy Personality: Evaluate

Negetive Affectivity (NA): Watson and Clark 
Individuals with high NA dwell more on their failures and on negative aspects of themselves and are more likely to report dissatisfaction and distress. This suggests that 'hardy' people are just people low on NA.

Problems of Measurement 
Much of the research for a link between hardiness and health has relied on data obtained through self-report questionaires. More recent research has used the 'Personal Views Survey' which has addressed many of the problems associated with earlier questionnaires. 

Real-World Application 
Hardiness concept been used to explain why some soliders remain healthy, even under the extreme stress of combat. Soldiers with higher levels of hardiness were better able to cope with combat stress without developing stress related illnesses such as PTSD or depression. Led to elite military units screening for hardiness as part of their slection procedures. 

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Psychological Methods of Stress Management: SIT

Stress Inoculation Training 
Meichenbaum believed that we can change the way we react and think about stressors to develop a more positive outcome. People can be trained to 'innoculate' themselves from stressors.
Conceptualisation: Clients are taught to think differently about stressors - problems to be solved.
Skills Acquisition: Coping skills are taught and rehearsed in real life. 
Application: Learned coping skills are applied in increasingly stressful situations. 

Strengths:
Effectivness:
Meichenbaum compared SIT with SD to deal with a snake phobia. Both were effective but SIT helped to reduce fear with an untreated phobia.
Reducing Academic Stress: Sheehy and Horan 
Found that sessions of SIT reduced anxiety and stress among students overtime aswell as improving their academic peformance. 
Preparation for future stressors:
SIT gives the client the necessary skills so they are less adversely affected by stressors in the future. 

Limitations: Time consuming and unnecessarily complex. 

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Stress Management: Hardiness Training

Kobasa and Maddi believed people could be trained into hardiness. 

Focusing: The client is taught to recognise the sources of stress and the psychological signs of stress. 
Reliving Stress Encounters: Client given an insight into current coping stratagies by reliving previous encounters and their response to them. 
Self-Improvement: These insights can be used to move forward and learn new techniques e.g seeing stressors and challenges they can take control of. 

Strengths
Successful: Been shown to be effective in many different populations. E.g shown to help at-risk students through university. 
Real-World Application: Been used to increase commitment in olympic swimmers. 

Limitations
Overcoming Bad Habbits: Traing must irradicate bad habbits of coping before they can proceed. 

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Psychological Stress Management: Drugs

Benzodiazepines (BZs) 
Enhance the action of GABA by binding to sites on GABA receptors and boosting its action. This allows - even more - chloride irons to enter the cell making it - even more - resistant to exitation. As a result the brain sends out less excitatory neurotransmitters making you calm.

Beta-Blockers (BBs)
Bind to receptors on the heart and other organs associated with arousal durin gthe acutre response to stress and reduce the activity or adreniline an dnoradreniline. This makes it harder to stimulate the cells so the heart beats slower an dbloods pressure falls leaving the individual calm and less anxious. 

Research Suppiort: Kahn conducted an experiment where a group of patients were given a drug and another aplacebo. They followed 250 patients for 8 weeks. BZs were significantly superior at reducing anxiety. 

Stengths: Effective, Hildalgo's meta-analysis found that BZs supirior to other drugs in reducing anxiety. Ease of use, drugs treatments require little effort from the patient and are cheaper. 
Limitations: Addiction - drugs have withdrawel syptoms and psychological dependence - BZs limited to 4 weeks. Side effects such as increased aggressivness and imparied memory. Treating the sympoms rather than the cause.  

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