Revision cards for 'Biological Psychology - Stress' in Unit 2 of the AQA specification.

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The Body's Response To Stress - ANS, acute and chr

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) - The ANS is central to homeostasis, which is the system that regulates our vital functions, such as temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.

The ANS has two branches, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Sympathetic dominance leads to a pattern of bodily arousal, with increases in heart rate and blood pressure. Parasympathetic dominance leads to physiological calm.

The Pituitary-Adrenal System - The hypothalamus stimulates the release of ACTH from the pituitary gland into the bloodstream. ACTH travels to the cortex of the adrenal gland, which triggers the release of corticosteroids. (Acute stressors)

The Sympathomedullary Pathway - The hypothalamus stimulates the adrenal medulla to release adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream. (Chronic stressors)

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The Body's Response To Stress - The transactional

Cox an Mackay (1978) - The transactional model of stress focuses on the primary and secondary appraisals.

The primary appraisal is the way that the person assesses the stressor.

The secondary appraisal is the way that the person assess their ability to cope with the stressor.

ADVANTAGES - It accounts for individual differences.

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The Body's Response To Stress - Selye's general ad

Selye (1930) - Repeatedly injected rats with drugs to see the effects. The results were that the rats developed stress - related illnesses - stomach ulcers. He developed a three stage model of how the body responds to stressors:

ALARM: A stressor is perceived and the pituitary- adrenal system and the sympathomedullary pathway are activated. Stress related hormones surge, heart rate and blood pressure increase, energy reserves are mobilised.

RESISTANCE: If the stressor persists the body's response systems maintain their activation, with hormones and bodily arousal remaining high.

EXHAUSTION: Chronic stress eventually exhausts the body's defence system. This is the stage where stress - related illness may develop.

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The Body's Response To Stress - Evaluation of Sely


  • It has been extremely influential in developing research into stress.
  • It isn't applicable to humans as the study was carried out on rats.
  • It doesn't account for individual differences.
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