Psychology Unit 2 Stress

All of Stress for AQA psychology

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  • Created on: 10-05-14 10:16

Sympathetic Adrenal Medullary System (SAM)

  • Used for short term stress, as an immediate response.
  • Hypothalamus activates sympathetic branch of Automatic Nervous System (ANS)
  • This stimulates the adrenal medulla to release adrenaline and noradrenaline.
  • Prepares body for fight or flight response.
  • Increase in heart and breathing rates, reduced stomach activity, dry mouth, glucose released into bloodstream to provide more energy.
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Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA)

  • Used as a long term response to stress, ongoing stress e.g. over exams.
  • message sent to pituitary gland to produce ACTH.
  • This stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce cortisol (stress hormone)
  • This causes the liver to release stored glucose to maintain a steady supply of fuel.
  • This will also suppres the immune system- blood has excess glucose and some hormones so wound healing is slowed and the immune system is lesse effective at fighting disease.
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Evaluation of HPA and SAM

  • There is support- Seyle (GAS), suggests the idea of a physiological response to stress has wider academic credibility.
  • Another supporting study was conducted by Baxter- people with no adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol and need to be given more if stressed in order to survive.
  • It is an objective measure- levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline can be measured easily in the blood stream so quantative methods can be used reliably.
  • It ignores individual differences- Mason found different hormone levels in people exposed to the same stressors meaning people deal with stress in different ways- cannot generalise.
  • It is reductionist- persons response depends on a number of factors, including type of stressor involved, the way a threat is interpreted etc, could be an oversimplification.
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General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)

  • WHAT IT IS- model that shows how body responds to stressors, short term stress is adaptive means we can cope with demands long term stress is damaging.
  • Seyle studied hospital patients and noticed similar stages of response to stress.
  • STAGE 1 ALARM- stressor recieved and pituitary gland and sympathomedullary pathway (controls glands, heart and circulatory system) activated.
  • Levels of srtress related hormones increase, heart rate/blood pressure increase, energy reserves are mobilised.
  • STAGE 2 RESISTANCE- body try to adapt using parasympathetic system (inhibits sympathetic system, slows heart etc.), physiological systems star to fail.
  • Outwardly person seems normal, still increase heart/blood as body still coping with stress.
  • STAGE 3 EXHAUSTION- body no longer function normally as stress is long term.
  • Physiological systems depleated, initial symptoms appear, immune system may be damaged.
  • EVALUATION- It has been an influential theory and provided a base for other research.
  • Original study done on rats so cannot generalise to humans.
  • Stages emphasise physiological responses rather than psychological and individual differences.
  •  Research suggests physiological systems have infinite resources so cannot be depleted.
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Stress and the immune system

  • NATURAL IMMUNITY- cells in bloodstream (white blood cells) non-specifically attack and ingest/absorb invading pathogens, natural immunity cells include phagocytes.
  • Studies show stress suppresses activity of natural killer cells making it difficult to attack pathogens efficiently.
  • SPECIFIC IMMUNITY- lymphocytes based, more sophisticated, cells have ability recognise pathogens, produce specific antibodies to destroy them.
  • CELLULAR IMMUNITY- no. different types cells called T lymphocytes, grow in thymus gland include killer T cells, memory T cells, helper T cells, combination attack intracellular within cell pathogans e.g. viruses.
  • When body stressed, Thymus gland more at risk of shrinking, leads inability for T cells to mature to full extent, so cannot destroy pathogens.
  • HUMOURAL IMMUNITY- coordinated another subset lymphocytes B cells, grow/mature in bone marrow, end product is antibodies that seek out invading pathogens and destroy them.
  • Some research suggests production corticosteriods affects creation antibodies, and B cells last 2 days, and stress slows down their production, so less defence against invading pathogens.
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  • AIM- see stress important exams has an effect on functioning of the immune system
  • PROCEDURE- researchers took blood samples 75 1st yr medical students, blood taken:
  • one month before final exam, and during exams.
  • Effectiveness of immune system measured by T cell activity, also assessed with behavioural measures, given questionnaires assess psychiatric symptoms, loneliness, life events.
  • FINDINGS- blood sample before exams contain onre T cells than one during exams.
  • immune responses especially week to those who reported feeling most lonely, as well as those experiencing other stressful life events and psychiatric symptoms e.g. depression/anxiety
  • CONCLUSIONS- stress does have an effect on the immune system, as it lower T cell activity
  • EVALUATION- Questionnaires allowed elimination of extraneous variables causing stress
  • Natural experiment-advantage of naturally occuring variable, high ecological validity.
  • Focus on long term stress unlike many other studies.
  • No account of individual differences- some find exams unstressful, participants have varying immune systems.
  • Volunteer sample used- could be biased and therefore cannot generalise results.
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Cohen et al.

  • AIM- investigate the roll of general life stress on the immune system, looking at effects of stess on participants exposed to a common cold virus.
  • PROCEDURE- 394 participants completed a questionnaire on number stressful life events which had occured in the last year, also rated degree of stress and level of negative emotion
  • The 3 scores were combined to make a stress index, then exposed to common cold virus which 82% were infected, and after 7 days number whose infection developed to cold virus recorded.
  • FINDINGS- chance develop cold-unable to fight infection- significant correlation with stress index scores, life stress/negative emotion reduce effectiveness of immune system.
  • CONCLUSION- participanst were more vulnerable to viral infections if they had higher stress index scores.
  • Vital participants give informed consent and debriefed after.
  • Lots of clinical supporting evidence e.g Kiecolt-Glaser
  • self-report technique as indicator of stress unreliable- social desirability seeked.
  • Participants exposed to a common cold virus- unethical
  • Results were correlational, so it does not mean one causes the other.
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  • WHAT IT IS- combine physiological and psychological technique, individual wire to machine feedback on physiological processes e.g. heart rate, blood pressure etc.
  • Person helped develop techniques to reduce physiological arousal.
  • Aim develop own technique, and biofeedback tell when successful.
  • After training, apply to real life.
  • effective control heart rate/headaches caused by muscle tension.
  • effective breathing in people with panic disorders.
  • effective in children with headaches.
  • good long term solution, no side effects/harmless.
  • require motivation/commitment/time.
  • use relaxation, may be no better than relaxation techniques on own.
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  • WHAT IT IS- directly reduce activity in pathways of symathetic nervous system around body.
  • Sympathetic arousal key feature stressful state, can be effective against raised heart/blood.
  • They work by reducing activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
  • fast-acting, no severe side effects, not affect brain.
  • Can have life saving functions- hyper tension.
  • only target symptoms not the problems that cause them.
  • Inappropriate in long term use.
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  • WHAT IT IS- Benzodiazepines e.g. valium are most prescribed drug for psychological disorders can be very effective against states of stress/anxiety.
  • Appear to act by reducing central brain arousal, BZs enhance actions natural brain chemical, GABA that tells neurons that it contacts to slow down or stop firing.
  • Means there is general quietening influence on brain and person feels calmer.
  • relatively safe in overdose, combine with psychological methods help take care of stress.
  • Speedy and effective, easy to access/quick.
  • better than antidepressants for anti-social disorders.
  • side effects- tiredeness, sedation, impaired motor function, memory impairment in long term.
  • state physical/psychological dependence- withdrawal symptoms.
  • not target source of stress/help make coping strategies.
  • not suitable in long term.
  • unethical- not give informed consent with bad anxiety or depression.
  • easy to access- dependency more likely
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Stress in everyday life

  • early definition of stress emphasize physiological response, others certain events by nature are stressful, ignore individual differences- a vital factor.
  • Stress unavoidable everyday life, can be relatively minor-acute/short.
  • stress is not always negative, can be motivating.
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Transactional Model

  • stress dependent on persons perception of themselves and the world around them, emphasizes individual differences and role of individual's cognitive processes.
  • PRIMARY APPRAISAL- person assess situation to identify personal threats/demands.
  • SECONARY APPRAISAL- person assesses ability to cope with threatening situation.
  • STRESS- occurs when there is an imbalance between percieved demands and percieved coping response.
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Holmes and Rahe

  • PROCEDURE- work in hospital, patients particularly heart disease report significant life events in preceding years- introduce concept of life events, change life circumstance require degree adjustment on part of individual.
  • 394 people compare 43 life events with marriage terms of adjustment necessary, marriage given value 500, final score divide by 10, to make Life Change Units, and the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS).
  • Add up th LCU of life events during preceeding year, score over 150 is life crisis, chance of stress related illness is 30%, over 300 major crisis, increase risk by 50%
  • not take into account children, different stressors than to adults.
  • Specific to certain cultures, time period- no technology.
  • tick off things happen, but not how much they affect you.
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  • AIM- investigate whether scores on SRRS correlated with subsequent onset of illness.
  • PROCEDURE- 2,500 male American sailors given SRRS assess life events had experienced in 6months, total score recorded, following 6months tour duty, detailed record health, recorded LCU then correlated with sailors illness score.
  • FINDINGS- positive correlation of +0.118, although small indicate meaningful relationship.
  • LCU increase, so did frequency of illness.
  • CONCLUSIONS- life events increase chance stress-related illness, not perfect correlation so not only factors affecting it.
  • not take into account individual differences.
  • Correlation does not mean causation, only a relationship.
  • Sample only male US Navy, cannot generalise results.
  • Problems with SRRS itself as well as study.
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Lazarus et al.

  • Suggested daily hassles have more impact on health than major life events- hassle scale created, original had 117 items all aspects daily life, modified for specific groups.
  • Includes positive events (uplifts) to counteract negativity, uplift scale of 135 items.
  • Complete questionnaire at end of the day.
  • Rated 0-3 (0-n/a, 1-somewhat, 2-white a bit, 3-great deal)
  • total daily hassle/uplift scores used indicator of stress.
  • Sources on hassles scale correlate with stress-related problems, especially depression/anxiety.
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Delongis et al.

  • AIM- to compare the life events and daily hassles scales- better prediction of health problems and consider uplifts also.
  • PROCEDURE- Asked participants complete 4 questionnaires once a month for a year:
  • hassles scale, uplifts scale, life events questionnaire, health status questionnaire.
  • 100 participants age 45-64 in San Francisco, mainly well educated, high income.
  • FINDINGS-  hassles more strongly associated with health status than life events, uplifts little effect (no relationship).
  • CONCLUSIONS- daily hassles are better at predicting health problems than life events, but uplifts have little effect on health.
  • avoided relevance of major life events.
  • Overlooked chronic/ongoing sources of stress, individual differences, hassle one person may uplift another.
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Workplace stress

  • CONTROL- amount of influence someone has over work e.g. control over type of work they do, amount of time given to do it, environment they work in, sometimes known as descision latitude.
  • Studies indicate degree of control someone has over workload directly affects level of stress.
  • High control is low stress, low control is high stress, workers lower in an organisation usually have less control and are more stressed.
  • WORKLOAD- amout of influence over the amount of work someone has to complete.
  • Less control over workload means more stress.
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Marmot et al.

  • AIM- test job-strain model, that work causes stress through high demand and low control.
  • PROCEDURE- 7372 civil service employees London volunteer answer a questionnaire, checked signs cardiovascular disease.
  • 5 years later they were reassessed for signs cardiovascular disease, prescence coronary risk factors (smoking etc), employment grade, job control, amount social support (last 3 questionnaire based)
  • FINDINGS- illness rate in lowest grades was 1.5x as much as highest grades, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure could account for some, but single most significant factor was descision latitude that participants had.
  • CONCLUSIONS- low control is linked to higher stress/cardiovascular disorders.
  • High job demand is not linked to stress/illness, so only supports low control element of job-strain model.
  • high ecological validity.
  • low grade at risk could be due to socioeconomic status (known more likely smoke etc.)
  • lack of population validity- civil servants in urban environment.
  • Caplan et al- competitive people more likely affected workplace stressors, not just low control
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Johnasson et al.

  • AIM- investigate if work stressors e.g. repetitiveness, machine regulated pace and responsibility increase chances of stress-related illness.
  • PROCEDURE- group 14 finishers in Swedish saw mill job was finish wood at last processing of timber, machine paced, isolated, repetitive, high skill, their productivity affect wage rates rest factory so under increased pressure.
  • Group 10 cleaners act as control group, work varied, largely self-paced, allowed more socialising with other workers, both monitored on days working and rest days.
  • Levels of stress related hormones in urine were measured and amount of days off.
  • FINDINGS- finishers more hormones on work days than rest days, overall amount hormones was higher than control group.
  • finishers higher levels stress related illness e.g. headaches had more days off also.
  • CONCLUSIONS- combination work stressors lead to chronic long term physiological arousal, leads to stress related illness and days off.
  • ecological validity as carried out in actual work place.
  • individual differences, other variables may have caused illness, does not identify which stressor is most stressful- need more controlled study to measure this.
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Personality Factors

  • TYPE A- competitive people who are hardworking, organised and easily angered and irritated by people. They feel a need for control over situations.
  • TYPE B- carefree people who are good communicators not pressured by time and are patient. They don't usually feel a sense of urgency.
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Friedman and Rosenman

  • AIM- test hypothesis Type A personality more likely develop heart disease than Type B.
  • PROCEDURE- Type A assessed by structured interview, using answers and behaviour to assess, also various self report techniques.
  • Classed as A1(type A), A2 (mostly type A), X (equal A and B), B (type B)
  • 3154 men age 39-59 living San Francisco assessed 1960, assessed again 8.5yrs later.
  • FINDINGS- 257 of original sample had Coronary heard disease (CHD)
  • 70% with CHD were Type A, 2x as many as Type B, remained so after other factors taken into account- smoking, obesity etc.
  • CONCLUSIONS- people with Type A personality are more likely to contract CHD than Type B.
  • high ecological validity, no psychological harm to participants.
  • gender bias, cultural bias, individual differenes, extraneous variables.
  • self report techniques not reliable, correlation not causation.
  • Not show the specific behaviour within Type A that links to CHD.
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Hardiness- Kobasa

  • Introduced by Kobasa, interested factors protect/buffer people against effect stress:
  • CONTROL- influence events in life including stressors.
  • COMMITMENT- sense involvement and purpose in life.
  • CHALLENGE- changes in life viewed as opportunity rather than source of stress.
  • Devise questionnaire, higher score fewer stress symptoms.
  • mainly male white collar workers, lack ecological validity.
  • supported by Kobasa et al- effects stress on university students.
  • Some obvious connections between TAB and Kobasa, high level of factors protect from stress.
  • Score high on TAB, competitive, achievement orientated, argue showing commitment, and life challenges to overcome, therefore also show hardiness.
  • Some charactersistics TAB, time pressure, hostility increase stress vulnerability.
  • Other characteristics increase resistance- control, commitment, challenge.
  • Miller et al.- hostility a risk factor, independent of TAB- most important.
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Stress Innoculation Therapy (SIT)

  • Type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)- theraputic approach to stress/psychological disorders aims alter irrational thoughts and cognitive biases that are assumed to be the cause of the problem.
  • CONCEPTUALISATION- client work with therapist identify sources of stress, visualise stressful encounters and key features, keep diary stressful situations, therapist may challenge clients appraisals of stressful situations.
  • SKILLS TRAINING AND REHEARSAL- taught specific/non-specific coping strategies, teach non-specific relaxation techniques for stress in general then specific training e.g. social anxiety- teach communication techniques etc.
  • APPLICATION IN REAL WORLD- practice skills in theraputic setting, apply to real world, continual monitor of progress, client learn if success or failure, may use further training.
  • Stress due to gap between percieved demand and resources- help give realistic appraisals.
  • Sheehy and Horan- 1st yr law students 90min sessions for 4weeks, found lower levels anxiety and stress, academic rank of bottom 20% class increase, more half improve in rank.
  • time consuming, high motivation, money needed, not all people have drive to do so.
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Kobasa's Hardiness Training

  • Increase control, commitment and challenge through training, similar to SIT.
  • FOCUSING- encourage client focus physiological symptoms associate with stress, help identify source, aquire new skills/strategies to cope with stress.
  • RECONSTRUCTING STRESSFUL SITUATIONS- think recent stress, how could have been better or worse, encourage realistic appraisal and how to cope, realise could be worse help feel more positive/optimistic.
  • SELF IMPROVEMENT- improve sense self efficacy, take on manageable sources of stress, involve training similar to SIT, experience of coping improve self efficacy, although stressors present, feel more optimistic.
  • Self efficacy- sense personal effectiveness and control over one's life.
  • reduces gap of demand and coping- a definition of stress.
  • Provide client with self efficacy- enable deal with future stressful situations effectively.
  • Fletcher- technique used by Olympic swimmers, ensure committed to challenge of increased performance levels, able control stress in daily lives that may intefere with training.
  • time, commitment, money required, not appropriate for everyone.
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