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What is stress?

Refers to the subjective experience of a lack of fit between a person and their enviroment

Perceived demands are greater than their perceived ability to cope

Must take into accound; Internal factors (physiological change)

                                       External factors (situation itself)

                                       Cognitive factors (Perception of situation)

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Why do we get stressed?

Fight or Flight! (acute)

Response; adaptive response to promote survial

               reacts quickly to danger

             increases physiological arousal and increases motivation and concentration


Continual exposure to stressful stimuli=prolonged stress=illness; Depression



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Body's Response to stressors

Stressor= an event that causes stress reaction in the body (chronic or acute)

Chronic= children, parents, being a carer, exams

Acute= fears, camera flash, near death experiences!

Two systems to biological stress response; The Pituitary-Adrenal System (chronic)

                                                                     The Sympathomedullar Pathway (acute)

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The Pituitary-Adrenal System

Chronic stress



Pituitary gland releases ACTH

Adrenal cortex release corticosteroids

  Liver releases glucose

Steady supply of energy

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The Sympathomedullary Pathway

Acute stress


Sympathetic branch activated

Adrenal medulla releases adrenaline

Fight or Flight response

Parasympathetic branch activated

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Evaulation of biological explainations

+ Adrenal glands play an important role in response to stress. Without corticosteroids response would not take place (Tyrell and Baxter, cant produce corticosteroids=given additional ones to survive, suggets physiological explanations are accurate.)

- Ignores individual differences (Mason, compared reactions of stressors, different patterns of adrenaline and noradrenaline secretion in differnet people. People react differently.)

-Gender differences (Taylor et al, women respond with 'tend and befriend' as they produce more oxytocin)

-Most research is on men therefore it is androcentric

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