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PSYC 2301 INTRO TO PSYC. Chapter 13—Stress, Health, and Coping. What is Stress. Stress-a negative emotional state occurring in response to events that are perceived as taxing or exceeding a person’s resources or ability to cope Stressor-events or situations that produce stress.

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Psyc 2301 intro to psyc


Chapter 13—Stress, Health, and Coping

What is stress
What is Stress

  • Stress-a negative emotional state occurring in response to events that are perceived as taxing or exceeding a person’s resources or ability to cope

  • Stressor-events or situations that produce stress

Health psychology
Health Psychology

  • Focus on stress and how psychological factors influence health, illness, and treatment

  • Biopsychosocial model-health and illness are determined by the complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors

Sources of stress
Sources of Stress

  • Life events and change

    • Holmes and Rahe-Social Readjustment Rating Scale

    • People who had more than 150 life change units within a year had an increased rate of physical or psychological illness

Life events approach
Life Events Approach

  • Problems

    • Scores are not very good predictors

    • Not take into account a person’s subjective appraisal of an event, response to that event, or ability to cope with the event

    • Assumes that change in itself, whether good or bad, produces stress

Daily hassles
Daily Hassles

  • Ordinary irritations in daily life

  • Cumulative


  • Feeling pulled between two opposing desires, motive, or goals

  • 3 basic types of conflicts

    • approach-approach

    • avoidance-avoidance

    • approach-avoidance

Social and cultural factors
Social and Cultural Factors

  • When people live in an environment that is inherently stressful, they often experience ongoing, or chronic, stress. People in the lowest social economic levels of society tend to have highest levels of psychological distress, illness, and death

  • Stress can also result when people encounter different cultural values

Physical effects on stress
Physical Effects on Stress

  • Stress can indirectly affect a person’s health by prompting behaviors that jeopardize physical well-being

  • Stress can directly affect physical health by altering body functions, leading to symptoms, illness, or disease

Stress and the endocrine system

Acute Stress

Prolonged Stress



Sympathetic nervous System


ACTH release

Adrenal medulla

Secretion of corticosteroids:

Increases release of stored energy

Reduces inflammation

Reduces immune system response

  • Secretion of catecholamines

  • Increases respiration

  • Increases heart rate

  • Increases blood pressure

  • Increases blood flow to the muscles

  • Digestion is inhibited

  • Pupils dilate

Stress and the Endocrine System

General adaptation syndrome
General Adaptation Syndrome

  • Alarm stage-intense arousal occurs as the body mobilizes internal physical resources to meet the demands of the stress-producing event.

  • Resistance stage-the body actively tries to resist or adjust to the continuing stressful situation

  • Exhaustion stage-symptoms of the alarm stage reappear, only now irreversibly.

Stress and the immune system
Stress and the Immune System

  • Stress can diminish the effectiveness of the immune system. The most important elements of the immune system are lymphocytes--the specialized white blood cells that fight bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders.

Ader and cohen
Ader and Cohen

  • Conditioning the immune system

    • Challenged the prevailing scientific view that the immune system operated independently of the brain and psychological processes

    • Triggered interest in other possible influences on the immune system, including the effects of stress and emotional states


  • The scientific study of the interconnections among psychological processes, the nervous and endocrine systems, and the immune system.

    • The central nervous system and the immune system are directly linked

    • The surfaces of lymphocytes contain receptor sites for neurotransmitters and hormones, including catecholamines and cortisol

    • Lymphocytes themselves produce neurotransmitters and hormones

Stressors that can influence the immune system
Stressors That Can Influence the Immune System

  • Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and husband, immunologist Ronald Glaser, found that even commonplace events can adversely affect the immune system

Factors that influence the response to stress
Factors That Influence the Response to Stress

  • Psychological factors

    • Personal Control

    • Explanatory Style: Optimism vs. Pessimism

    • Chronic Negative Emotions

    • Type A Behavior and Hostility

Factors that influence the response to stress1
Factors That Influence the Response to Stress

  • Social Factors

    • Social support benefits health

    • Relationships with others also can be a significant source of stress

    • Gender differences in the effects of social support


  • The ways we try to change circumstances, or interpretations of circumstances, to make them less threatening.

    • Problem-Focused

    • Emotion-Focused

Coping how people deal with stress
Coping: How People Deal with Stress

  • Problem-Focused

    • Confrontive Coping

    • Planful problem solving

Coping how people deal with stress1
Coping: How People Deal with Stress

  • Emotion-Focused

    • Escape-avoidance

    • Seeking social support

    • Distancing

    • Denial

    • Positive reappraisal

Culture and coping strategies
Culture and Coping Strategies

  • Individualistic

    • Emphasize personal autonomy and personal responsibility in dealing with problems; favor problem-focused strategies

  • Collectivistic

    • Emphasis is placed on controlling personal reactions to a stressful situation; favor emotion-focused strategies