Stress Related Illness: Immune System

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RESEARCH INTO STRESS AND IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTIONING

Key Study- Kiecolt-Glaser (1984) Acute Stress:

Aim: To investigate if short term stress has an effect on the immune system.

Procedure: Natural experiment. 75 medical students volunteered (49 male and 26 female). Blood samples were taken 1 month before the study and during the exam period and NK cell activity was measured. Participants also filled in a questionnaire to mesure other life stressors.

Findings: NK cell activity significantly dropped in the second sample compared to the first.

Conclusion: This suggests that short term stress reduces immune system functioning and therefore increases vulnerability to illness.

Evaluation: 

  • Strengths High validity as it is impossible to influence your NK cell activity. High external validity and realism as it was a natural

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