AS Psychology: Stress(Partial)


AS Psychology Revision Mocks Revision

Stress- the body's reaction to the lack of balance between the percieved demands of a situation and percieved lack of ability to deal with such demands. 

Stressor- an internal or external stimuli which provokes a stress response in an individual. 


Bodily system responding to short-term accute stressors comprimised of the sympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic adrenal medulla. 

Immediate response- sympathetic nervous system(SNS): highly responsive to stimuli and through it's activation is reponsible for emotional states and heightened arousal. 

More durated responseParasympathetic nervous system(PSNS): responsible for maintaining equilibrium and calming the bodily processes. 

*It is primarily the sympathetic branch of the system that is activated by stressors. 

        Short term stress response

Sensory Organs

(eyes, ears, nose, mouth) sense the stressful stimuli, or stressor.


A region of the forebrain below the thalamus which coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary, controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic activity, also involved in sleep and emotional activity. 

Sympathetic Branch

Sends a nervous message to the adrenal cortex.

Adrenal Cortex

   Nervous message from the sympathetic branch stimulates a hormonal response from the adrenal cortex. This response is the release of adrenaline and nonadrenaline and other catecholamines, fight or flight hormones produced in a response to stress. These hormones are then distributed across the body as it enters fight or flight

Taylor et al(2000) found that there may be differences in gender as to how the sympathomedullary pathway responds to stess. Women produce more oxytocin, a chemical promoting relaxation and nurturing, meaning whilst men respond to stress through fight or flight, women respond through 'tend and befriend'. 

*This difference in activation of the SMP may occur due to the evolutionary differences in women and their role in caring for offspring. If women fought or fled during stressful situations, this would place the offspring in danger, reducing reproductive success, and thus women may be more prone to bonding with group members as opposed to fighting or fleeing. 

Horwatt et al(1988) found that when animals were faced with the same stressful situations over a period of time, adaptive changes occured in the SMP. There were increases in the production and storage of catecholamines in animals familiarised with the stressors, but when an animal was introduced to a novel stressful situation, they displayed an exaggerated response of the SMP in comparison to the familiarised animals. This suggests accute stress responses develop differently depending on previous experiences with stressful situations. 

Evaluative Points

Most research on the SMP, such as that of Taylor et al(2000), was carried out on men, and monthly periods of stress on women was not taken into account, and therefore results may therefore not be ecologically valid in terms of the population validity of the results. 

Most research on the SMP, such as that of…


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