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Chapter 13: Stress and
Health Psychology
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chapter 13
Emotion
A state of arousal involving facial and
bodily changes, brain activation,
cognitive appraisals, subjective feelings,
and tendencies toward action, all shaped
by cultural rules
chapter 13
The body
Primary emotions
Emotions considered to be universal and
biologically based, usually thought to include
fear, anger, sadness, joy, surprise, disgust,
and contempt
Secondary emotion
Emotions that develop with cognitive maturity
and vary across individuals and cultures
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The brain and emotion
The amygdala
Responsible for
assessing threat
Damage to the
amygdala results in
abnormality in
processing fear.
Understanding Stress
What is Stress?
– A nonspecific response of
the body to any demand
made on it;
– the arousal, both physical
and mental, to situations or
events that we perceive as
threatening or challenging.
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Understanding Stress:
Sources of Stress
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Understanding Stress:
Sources of Stress (Continued)
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Understanding Stress:
Sources of Stress (Continued)
 Three Types of Conflict
• Approach-Approach: forced choice
between two or more desirable alternatives
•
Avoidance-Avoidance: forced choice
between two or more undesirable alternatives
•
Approach-Avoidance: forced choice
between two or more alternatives both having
desirable and undesirable results
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Understanding Stress:
Sources of Stress (Continued)
 If this man is
interested in one of
the three women on
the couch, is he
experiencing an
approach-approach,
approach-avoidance,
or avoidanceavoidance conflict?
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Stress and Illness
Walter Cannon observed that, in
response to stress, the sympathetic
nervous system activates the secretion
of stress hormones, triggers increased
heart rate and respiration, diverts blood
to skeletal muscles, and releases sugar
and fat from the body’s stores, all to
prepare the body for either “fight or
flight.”
Figure 14.2 Stress appraisal
Myers: Psychology, Eighth Edition
Copyright © 2007 by Worth Publishers
chapter 13
The autonomic nervous
system
Stress and Illness
In addition to this first (and faster)
track (fight or flight), the cerebral
cortex operates on a slower track
by stimulating the hypothalamus
and the pituitary gland to trigger
the release of glucocorticoid
stress hormones, such as
cortisol, from the outer part of the
adrenals.
Understanding Stress: Effects of Stress
Sympathetic
Nervous
System
HPA Axis
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Understanding Stress: Effects of Stress
(Continued)
Stress and the HPA Axis:
Prolonged elevation of cortisol is related to:
 increased depression, memory problems,
etc.
 impaired immune system, which leaves the
body vulnerable to disease.
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Understanding Stress:
Effects of Stress (Continued)
Stress and the
Immune System
Psychoneuroimmunology:
interdisciplinary field that
studies the effect of
psychological factors on the
immune system
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Understanding Stress:
Effects of Stress (Continued)
 Selye’s
General
Adaptation
Syndrome
1. Alarm
2. Resistance
3. Exhaustion
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Stress and Illness
In addition to this first (and faster)
track (fight or flight), the cerebral
cortex operates on a slower track
by stimulating the hypothalamus
and the pituitary gland to trigger
the release of glucocorticoid
stress hormones, such as
cortisol, from the outer part of the
adrenals.
Stress
In Hans Selye’s general
adaptation syndrome (GAS), the
body’s adaptive response to stress
is composed of three stages.
In Phase 1, we experience an
alarm reaction due to the sudden
activation of our sympathetic
nervous system. Heart rate
increases and blood is diverted to
the skeletal muscles.
Figure 14.4 Selye’s general adaptation syndrome
Myers: Psychology, Eighth Edition
Copyright © 2007 by Worth Publishers
Stress
 With our resources mobilized, we then
fight the challenge during Phase 2,
resistance.
 Temperature, blood pressure, and
respiration remain high, and there is a
sudden outpouring of stress hormones. If
the stress is persistent, it may eventually
deplete our body’s reserves during Phase
3, exhaustion.
 With exhaustion, we are more vulnerable
to illness or even, in extreme cases,
collapse and death.
Extreme Stress
Catastrophic floods, hurricanes,
and fires are followed by increased
rates of psychological disorders
such as depression and anxiety.
Those who experience significant
life changes, such as the death of a
spouse, divorce, or loss of a job,
are vulnerable to disease.
Experiencing a cluster of such
crises puts one even more at risk.
Extreme Stress
Daily hassles, such as rush-hour
traffic, long lines at the bank or
store, and aggravating
housemates, may be the most
significant source of stress.
Over time, these little stressors
take a toll on our health and wellbeing.
Extreme Stress
 Stress can increase the risk of coronary
heart disease, the leading cause of death
in many developed countries.
 It has been linked with the competitive,
hard-driving, and impatient Type A
personality.
 The toxic core of Type A is negative
emotions, especially the anger associated
with an aggressively reactive
temperament.
Extreme Stress
 Under stress, the body of the Type A
person secretes more of the hormones
that accelerate the buildup of plaques on
the heart’s artery walls (epinephrin,
norepinephrin, cortisol)
 The noncompetitive, relaxed, easy-going
Type B personality is less physiologically
reactive when harassed or given a difficult
challenge and less susceptible to coronary
heart disease.
 Pessimism and depression also can have
a toxic effect on a person’s health.
Psychophysiological Illness and
Hypochondriasis
Psychophysiological illness
refers to any stress-related physical
illnesses such as hypertension and
some headaches.
These real illnesses differ from
hypochondriasis, in which people
may misinterpret normal physical
sensations as symptoms of a
disease
Stress & the Immune System
 The secretion of stress hormones
suppresses the immune system’s white
blood cells, called lymphocytes.
 B lymphocytes are important in fighting
bacterial infections, and T lymphocytes
fight cancer cells, viruses, and foreign
substances.
 Another agent of the immune system is
the macrophage.
Stress & the Immune System
When animals are physically
restrained, given unavoidable
electric shocks, or subjected to
noise, crowding, cold water, social
defeat, or maternal separation, they
become more susceptible to
disease.
Studies suggest that stress
similarly depresses the human
immune system, making us more
vulnerable to illness.
Figure 14.10 Stress can have a variety of health-related consequences
Myers: Psychology, Eighth Edition
Copyright © 2007 by Worth Publishers
Stress and Illness
Cancer:
related to hereditary
disposition and
environmental factors
Cardiovascular
Disorders:
contributing factors
include stress
hormones, certain
personality types,
and certain behaviors
Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD):
anxiety disorder
following exposure to
extraordinary stress
Gastric Ulcers:
caused by bacteria or
stress?
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Stress and Illness (Continued)
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Health Psychology in Action
 Health Psychology: studies how biological,
psychological, and social factors affect
health and illness
 Major Health Risks:
1.
Tobacco
2.
Alcohol and Binge Drinking
3.
Chronic Pain (lasting over 6 months)
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Health Psychology in Action
(Continued)
Does this graph surprise you?
Smokers often overestimate
their risk of dying from
homicide and traffic accidents,
and greatly underestimate the
risk from smoking.
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Health and Stress Management
 Two major approaches to coping
with stress:
1.
2.
emotion-focused (changing one's
perception of stressful situations)
problem-focused (using problemsolving strategies to decrease or
eliminate the source of stress)
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Health and Stress Management
(Continued)
Our emotional
reaction to stress
largely depends
on how we
interpret it.
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chapter 13
The sense of control
Locus of control
A general expectation about whether the results of your actions
are under your own control (internal locus) or beyond your
control (external locus)
Feelings of control can reduce or even
eliminate the relationship between
stressors and health.
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Your turn
Suppose you have several difficult exams
coming up soon. If your thought is
“There’s no way I can study enough to
get an A in psychology,” then what is
your locus of control?
1. Internal
2. External
chapter 13
Your turn
Suppose you have several difficult exams
coming up soon. If your thought is
“There’s no way I can study enough to
get an A in psychology,” then what is
your locus of control?
1. Internal
2. External
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Benefits of control
When exposed to cold viruses, those who are out of
control are more likely to develop colds.
Low-income individuals with high levels of control
report similar quality of life to high-income
individuals.
Managers and executives have fewer illnesses.
African-Americans reporting more control have fewer
problems with hypertension.
Nursing home residents with greater control are
more alert, happier, and live longer.
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Limits of control
Primary control: an effort to modify reality by
changing other people, the situation, or events
A “fighting back” philosophy
Western cultures
Secondary control: an effort to accept reality by
changing your own attitudes, goals, or emotions
A “learn to live with it” philosophy
Eastern cultures
Style, Stress, & Health
In comparison to pessimists,
optimists report less fatigue, have
fewer aches and pains, and
respond to stress with smaller
increases in blood pressure.
Optimists also tend to outlive
pessimists. Laughter (but not
hostile sarcasm) may reduce
stress and strengthen the immune
Social Support & Stress
Feeling liked, affirmed, and
encouraged by intimate friends and
family promotes both happiness
and health.
People with supportive friends and
marriage partners eat better,
exercise more, sleep better, and
smoke less; thus they cope with
stress more effectively.
Social Support & Stress
Social support strengthens
immune functioning, calms the
cardiovascular system, and lowers
blood pressure.
Even companionable pets help
people cope with stressful events.
Aerobic Exercise & Stress
Aerobic exercise, sustained
exercise that increases heart and
lung fitness, can reduce stress,
depression, and anxiety.
It strengthens the heart, increases
blood flow, keeps blood vessels
open, and lowers both blood
pressure and the blood pressure
reaction to stress.
Aerobic Exercise & Stress
Research has linked aerobic
exercise to higher levels of
neurotransmitters that boost
moods, to enhanced cognitive
abilities, and to the growth of new
brain cells in mice.
One estimate suggests that
moderate exercise adds two years
to one’s expected life.
Figure 14.13 Aerobic exercise and depression
Myers: Psychology, Eighth Edition
Copyright © 2007 by Worth Publishers
Biofeedback and Relaxation
Training
 Alternative medicine may seem
especially effective with cyclical diseases
as people seek therapy during the
downturn and presume its
effectiveness during the ensuing
upturn.
 The placebo effect as well as the
spontaneous remission of many
diseases may also contribute to a
treatment’s perceived effectiveness.
 The actual effectiveness of alternative medicine
Religiosity and Longevity
 Research indicates that those who attend
religious services regularly live as many as
8 years longer than nonattenders.
 Investigators who attempt to explain the
relationship have isolated three
intervening variables.
 (1) Religiously active people have
healthier life-styles, for example, they
smoke and drink less.
Religiosity and Longevity
 (2) Faith communities provide social
support networks and often encourage
marriage which, when happy, is linked with
better health and a longer life span.
 (3) Religious attendance is often
accompanied by a coherent worldview,
sense of hope for the future, feelings of
acceptance, and a relaxed meditative
state.
 These may enhance feelings of positive
emotions and decrease feelings of stress
and anxiety.
Figure 14.18 Possible explanations for the correlation between religious involvement and health/longevity
Myers: Psychology, Eighth Edition
Copyright © 2007 by Worth Publishers
Biofeedback and Relaxation
Training
 Biofeedback, a system of recording,
amplifying, and feeding back information
about subtle physiological responses,
enables people to control specific
physiological responses.
 Research suggests that biofeedback
works best on tension headaches.
 Simpler methods of relaxation produce
many of the technique’s same benefits.
Health and Stress Management
(Continued)  Resources for Healthy Living
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Health and Exercise
Positive Beliefs
Social Skills
Social Support
Material Resources
Control (Internal locus of
control)
7. Relaxation
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