• Created by: Sona
  • Created on: 29-04-15 17:42

Two Bodily Stressors

S.A.M. Pathway

- Acute (immediate stress) - uses electrical signals

CORTEX detect & percieve a stressor triggering HYPOTHAMALUS which activates the SYMPATHETIC BRANCH of the ANS stimulating the ADERNAL MEDULLA producing two hormones, NON ADRENALINE & ADRENALINE which causes 'FIGHT OR FLIGHT' response = bodily changes (e.g. pupils dilate, heart rate increases, lungs expand) - evolved for survival 

H.P.A. Pathway

Chronic (slow, long-term) response to stress

CORTEX detect & percieve a stressor triggering HYPOTHAMALUS which releases the hormone CRF which activates the PITUITARY GLAND in the brain releasing the hormone A.C.T.H. which activates the ADERNAL CORTEX - releases CORTISOL that causes the liver to release GLYCOGEN (fats & sugar) - in the long-term, cortisol can supress the immune system 

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Research Into Stress & Illness

KIECOLT & GLASER (medical-student study)

A) To see whether stress affects functioning of the immune system

P) Natural experiment, volunteer sampling (75 first year students), repeated measures - Blood sample taken one month BEFORE (low stress) and FIRST DAY of their exam (high stress)

F) Negative correlation between exam stress and immune functioning

C) There's a link between stress and the immune system

:( Sample size = not representative, cannot generalise, weakening external validity

:) Carried research using Alzheimer carers and married couples - similar results - reliable 

:) Natural experiment - students experienced real stress - can be extrapolated to real life stress = high ecological validity - situation real = low DC 

:( No account in individual differences - some people react to stress differenly to others

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Research Into Stress & Illness

MARUCHA ET AL (Dental students & biopsy study)

P) Tested on 11 dental volunteer students - underwent a small biopsy in the mouth. One at the beginning of summer holidays and one six weeks before their exam - healing of the wounds recorded

F) Students = 40% longer to recover six weeks before their exam

C) Stress can affect how long it takes to heal a wound - stress affects immune system

:( Sample of 11 dental students - cannot be extrapolated to rest of population - lacks population validity

:) Natural experiment (underwent genuine stress) - high ecological validity - HOWEVER - lacks reliaiblity

:( Other factors to consider such as genetics, personality type etc.

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Life Changes

DR HOLMES & DR RAHE - Social Readjustment Scale

- Designed to measure life changes as to how stressful they are 

- Events include (death of spouse, divorce, marriage etc.)

:( Individual differences = not taken into account at all - cannot be applied to everyone 

:( Scale - very vague, unclear whether they are positive/negative (e.g. marriage)

:( Outdated, androcentric, enthocentric - life events do not apply to modern society (e.g. large mortgage) - lacks historical validity


P) investigate the link between life changes scores on SSRS scale and illness - opportunity sample of 2,664 American naval personnell who spent 6 months away from home - SSRS scale completed before they let - medical records kept 

F) illness score correlated with life changes score

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Daily Hassles

DAILY HASSLES - minor, everyday events such as losing your keys, getting stuck in traffic, weight problems.


P) students going through transaction from school to university - gave them a depression inventory and a hassles questionnaire 

F) Positive correlation between depression and number of hassles

:( Questionnaires - socially desireable answers

:( Might be other factors that caused stress - family problems etc. 

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Daily Hassles


P) asked nurses to keep a track of the number of daily uplifts and daily hassles and job performance

F) Daily hassles weakened job performance - daily uplifts = improved job performance

:( Nurses asked to keep track whilst contiuing with stressful job - altered their recollection of their daily hassles & uplifts


F) Showed accumilation effect as he found that people who were stressed at work also experienced a stressful journey home

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Workplace Stressors

WORKLOAD - giving staff too much = high stress - low control - high workload = high stress, high control - low workload = low stress


P) civil cervants - questionnaire on job control and workload 

F) People with low control and high stress are more likely to suffer from CVD than those with high control - found no link between workload and CVD


F) link between workload and risk of geting CVD when he examined ps in a sawmill 

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Consequences of Stress Response

CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS - if blood & heartrate is always high - wear of - likely to get a heartattack 

IMMUNOSUPPRESSION - 'fight or flight'' activated - adrenaline released = high oxygen & glucose in muscles & brain - low in areas that do not deal with acute sress (e.g. immune system) = more likely to become ill

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Stress-Related Problems - Cardiovascular Problems


P) anger questionnaire - asses how much anger the participants go through in that time and a few years later 

F) the ps who had suffered from CVD and found a correlatio between anger & likelihood of getting CVD


P) used doctors that had different levels of stress (e.g. doctors in pathology (low stress) and doctors in GP (high stress)

F) Doctors who undergo high levels of stress = more likely to suffer from CVD

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Personality Factors - Type A Personality

Type A -  high levels of competitiveness, time urgency and anger or hostility. 


P) conducted a structured interview to assess whether or not they were Type A

F) those with Type A = x2 more to suffer from CVD than those who weren't

:( Structured interview = ps cannot express themselves 


P) carried out a meta-analysis

F) only attribute that the Type A personality that can cause CVD is hostility

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Personality Factors - Hardiness Personality

HARDINESS - 3 charac- control over stressful situations, see them as challenges, 100% commited 


P) Hardy test & life changes test

F) people who scored high on hardiness did better at coping with stress - less likely to be ill than those who scored low - a high score on both hardiness test and SSRS counter-acted each othe

:( Kobasa did not state whether all three factors (control, challenge, commitment) were equally important, and further research has concluded that control is probably the most important factor.

:( Much of Kobasa's research into the link between hardiness and stress related illness used a white male middle class sample, so it is difficult to say whether her results are generalisable to other populations.

:( Research has only shown a correlation between hardiness and stress related illness, so we cannot establish a cause and effect relationship.

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Hardiness Training - Psychological Therapy

KOBASA & MADDI - hardiness trainging which is used to train people to handle stress effectively

1) focus - taught to recognise the biological signs of stress (heart rate) - find source of stress

2) reliving stressful situation - analyse & respond - current coping strategies more effective than they thought

3) self-improve - insights gained - move forward - learn new techniques with dealing with stress - see stress as a challenge rather than a problem 

:) worked on failing students & olympic swimmers

:) deals with the underlyiing causes of a person's stress rather than dealing with symptoms (drugs)

:) long-term effect

:( large amount of effort & money - drugs are cheap and quick 

:( predominantly successful for white, middle class businessmen

:( impossible to change basic aspects of one's personality

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Drug Treatment - Biological Treatment

Bz  - (lithuim & valium) - slow down the activity of the Central Nervous System (e.g. brain & spinal cord) and enhance the activity of GABA causing relaxation

:) Quick in reaction to some other therapies (Hardiness training)

:) Supported by Kahn investigated 250 patients over 8 weeks and found Bzs were more effective at reducing stress than placebos

:) cheap, quick and effecive - less effort required

:( serious side effects (memory loss) - not used as a long-term solution

:( causes addiction

:( cure symptoms - not the stress itself


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Drug Treatment - Biological Treatment

BETA-BLOCKERS - slow down activity in the sympatheic branch of the ANS by reducing levels of adrenaline & nonadrenaline - this decreases blood pressure, heart rate etc. 

:) many instances of real life applications = effective - LOWOOD - investigated 2,000 musicians (27% took BBs) and recieved better reviews from critics

:) act rapidly - quick, effective, cheap, less effort

:) better than Bzs - no serious side effects

:( HOWEVER linked with diabetes - best used with therapies

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