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Stress 2008-10-21

A phenomena in which some factor (or factors) in the environment

cause a person to feel threatened or challenged in some way.

Stress Response – The reaction to some kind of stressor

General Adaption Syndrome

• Hans Selye

○ Medical student – noticed similar symptoms in patients

○ Concluded it was stress by doing bad things to rats

○ Developed 3 stages of stress (see below)

The Three Stages of Stress

• Alarm – sympathetic nervous system increases. Stress hormones

are secreted. Increased heart rate, and sweaty palms.

• Resistance – Sympathetic nervous system goes down, but is still

• Exhaustion – body is out of resources to deal with stress. Immune

system goes down. Sickness and general unhealthiness increases

Types of Stressful Choices

• Approach/Approach – Choose between good options (Cake or Pie)

• Avoidance/Avoidance – Choose between bad options (Clean vs


• Approach/Avoidance – Choose between good w/ a bad side options

(Study vs go out with friends)

The Immune System and Stress 2008-10-21

Immune System

• Consists of

○ Lymphocytes – specialized white blood cells.

○ Natural Killer Cells – Cells which target disease (NK Cells)

• Measuring Immune Function

○ Count the number of white blood cells in samples

○ Add cancer cells to blood sample and see how quickly NK cells


○ Challenge it with disease and record the response

Illness and the Immune System

• Bathrop et al.

○ Studied widowers and found that grief impairs immune


• Stone et al.

○ Asked college students to keep a diary

Stress 2008-10-21

○ Gave protein pill to challenge immune system

○ Found that daily antibody levels are dependent on how good

of a day it was

• Visintainer et al.

○ Studdied rats. Higher levels of stress caused an increased

speed at which cancer spread through them.

How Stress Exerts its Effects

• People who are stressed engage in behaviors that compromise

immune function – sleep less, don’t eat as well, etc.

• Stress hormones physically suppress immune function

Personalities and Stress2008-10-21


• Some people seem to naturally be more immune to stress

• Characterized by…

○ A sense of commitment – friends, duty, etc

○ A sense of control instead of powerless

○ Problems are seen as challenges instead of threats

Personality Factors

• Type A Personality

○ Demonstrates competitive on look on achievement.

Experiences an urgency with time and a strong tendency to

feel hostility and Anger.

• Type B Personality

○ Low levels of competition, less urgent. Laid Back

• Phony Type B’s

○ Appear to be like B’s, in reality are hidden type A’s

The Immune System and Stress 2008-10-21

• Phony B’s (most likely) and Type A’s are more susceptible to heart


• Not all studies found type A to be more likely to develop heart


• Redford Williams – theorized that anger and hostility is what has a

negative effect, not the personality type.

Managing Stress 2008-10-21


• Brady – wrong

○ Thought people with control were more susceptible to stress

○ Monkeys had to press a button to avoid a shock

 Executive – had to press the button

 Yoke Control – got the same response as the exec

○ Wrong because Brady didn’t use random assignment. Instead

he used monkey’s that learned to press the button first.

• Weirss – right

○ Did same stud w/ rats and used random assignment

○ Yoke Control – got more stressed

• Langer and Rodin

○ Used nursing home residents.

○ Some given a plant to care for, others given a plant which the

staff took care of.

○ Same group that took care of own plant also got to vote on

which night of the week movie night was.

Personalities and Stress2008-10-21

○ People with control were happier, and lived longer

Social Support (Commitment, friends, etc)

• Heart attack victims have slower recoveries if spouse isn’t


• Longitudal study of social connections and mortality

○ Lower social connections found 50% more likely to die

• Kraut et al.

○ Study on internet usage

○ Found that as internet usage went up, so did the level of


○ Internet usage positively correlated to feelings of depression

as well.
Coping 2008-10-21

Cognitive Appraisal

• Primary Appraisal – is this important to me

• Secondary Appraisal – what is the strategies to maximize positive

outcomes and minimize negative ones.

Coping Strategies

• Problem-Focused Coping – Come up with solutions to the problem

• Emotion-Focused Coping – when we have no control, we can only

change our feelings. Relax, nothing will change it.

Gender Differences in Coping Strategies

• None really

• Thought so in the past because men had control and could used

both strategies, whereas women didn’t have control.

Managing Stress 2008-10-21

Coping Techniques

• Thought-suppression – doesn’t work

○ Study used cold pressor task (bucket of ice water.)

 Researches told some subjects to suppress pain, others

to express it.

 Those who suppressed it made the stress effects of the

cold pressor last longer

• Relaxation – Calm down

• Aerobic exercise – releases endorphins. 3-4 times a week, 20-30


• Thinking Positively & Optimistically

○ Rooted in our explanatory styles

 Failure seen as global, stable, internal

 Success seen as external, temporary, specific

Managing Stress 2008-10-21