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1. PSYCHOLOGY PROJECTTOPIC: STRESSDATE: 21.12.11 BY: NYAMBURA E. KARIUKI 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction:…
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  • 1. PSYCHOLOGY PROJECTTOPIC: STRESSDATE: 21.12.11 BY: NYAMBURA E. KARIUKI
  • 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction: …………………………………………………………………………..…..2 Definitions………………………………………………………………………….2 Separating the Stressed from the Problem-Free...…….………………………...2Physiology of Stress………………………………………………………………………..3Effects of Stress on Health………………………………………………………………...4The Gas Model……………………………………………………………………………..5Causes of Stress: …………………………………………………………………………..7 Lack of Control…………………………………………………………………….7 Work………………………………………………………………………………..9 Life Events…………………………………………………………………….........11 Personality………………………………………………………..………………...14 Daily Hassles………………………………………………………………...…...…15Measures of Stress: ………………………………………………………………………...17 Physiological measures……………………………………………………………..17 Self-report Questionnaires…………………………………………………………18Management of Stress: ………………………………………………………………….….20 Medical Techniques…………………………………………………………………20 Psychological Techniques…………………………………………………………..21 Imagery……………………………………………………………………………...22 Preventing Stress……………………………………………………………………23Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………...25
  • 3. INTRODUCTION As I type this, there are exactly 3 days, 8 hours and 45 minutes left before Christmas!!As usual, I haven‟t bought anything for anyone yet, and this basically means I‟ll be up to myusual last-minute, rushed shopping! (Granted, there are still quality goods out there thathaven‟t been snatched up)…Not to mention, I still have loads of Psychology homework tocomplete! Talk about STRESS!! Yes, Stress. An experience everyone goes through at one point in their lives, scratchthat; at several points in their lives. But what exactly is it? Stress is defined as a conditionthat results when a person or environment transaction, lead the individual to perceive adiscrepancy-whether real or not-between demands of a situation and the person‟s biological,psychological and social system. That‟s according to Sarafino. It‟s also looked at as anexperience made up of two major components: Stressors and Stress Response; whereStressors are stimuli that require a person to make some adaptation or adjustment. Thirdly it‟ssimply defined as a person‟s physical and emotional response to change.SEPARATING THE STRESSED FROM THE PROBLEM-FREE Once someone is faced with a stressor, they react towards it (Stress Response) andtherefore undergo an experience, and thus we can say they are stressed.However, the relationship between Stressors and Stress Responses we have is not distinct.While one could chase the snow to go skiing and have fun, others might find being in afreezing atmosphere quite stressful. We must also acknowledge how there are individualdifferences in response to stressors. Also taking into account that Stress Responses are quitecomplex, and consist of numerous cognitive, affective and behavioural components, we can‟tsimply look at a person, supporting their head by holding their forehead and immediatelydeclare that they are stressed. 2
  • 4. PHYSIOLOGY OF STRESSAROUSAL Arousal is concerned with Sympathetic Division of the Autonomic Nervous System(ANS) and how they affect our bodies and our experience.The Sympathetic Division stimulates the body into action, by activating physiologicalprocesses. For instance: releasing stored sugar into bloodstream to fuel muscle activity,increasing the heart rate so blood reaches muscles more quickly and stimulates the hormoneadrenaline, which goes onto trigger several more responses. The state of Arousal is accompanied by highly emotional and highly active states.Feelings and arousal interact; where feelings enhance arousal and arousal enhances feelings.Additionally, it‟s associated with less active emotions such as anxiety and worry. Levels of arousal affects our performance of various tasks; case in point, being toorelaxed (under-aroused) leads to low productivity and being too anxious (over-aroused)results in low quality productions as attention is scattered. Therefore, for our behaviour to besuccessful we have an optimum level of arousal, beyond the optimum, performance willdecline. Evidently, the optimum level varies for different tasks.THE FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE Physiologically, in a stressful situation, we would feel the blood drain from the face,our stomachs turn over and our muscles tense. All this is to prepare for defending ourselvesby fighting or fleeing (flight). The situation develops quickly, but takes a while to subside. Sowhat am I getting at? The heightened state of arousal and anxiety remain after initialevent. For example, after a burglary, one could be anxious nights after its occurrence.Since they remain, they have long-term consequences. 3
  • 5. EFFECTS OF STRESS ON HEALTH Stress is known to be the most common factor behind non-communicable diseases orconditions, such as:High Blood Pressure (when it‟s not inherited)Coronary Heart DiseaseFrequent Migraines or HeadachesWeight loss or Weight Gain (depending on the type of person experiencing the Stress)InsomniaLethargyHeart PalpitationsStomach UlcersHeart BurnWeakened Immune System (resulting in colds and flu‟s)There‟s good news, however. Suffer not as; you can treat with the help of medication and thealleviation of the cause of stress in order to reduce the stress levels, not leaving out good ol‟exercise and good diet. (An apple a day keeps the doctor away…Clearly, I digress…) 4
  • 6. THE GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME (GAS) To begin with, Hans Selye, suggested we have the same bodily reactions to arange of stressful circumstances. He observed that when someone suffers from severe loss ofblood or an infectious disease or from cancer, then they can lose their appetite musclestrength, and their ambition to do anything. They are also likely to lose weight and “look ill”. Originally, in 1973, he thought of this as a „Syndrome of just being Sick‟, but later, inhis research he developed the concept of the GAS. The Syndrome suggests that there are 3 stages that describe the response to long-termstress: 1) The Alarm Reaction: It mobilises the body‟s resources. First, the arousal drops below normal, then arousal rises above normal Body cannot sustain the alarm reaction for long If it continues for long, unabated, organism dies within days/hours 2) The Resistance Stage: Body adapts to stressor Physiological arousal declines (but still above normal) Organism shows few outward signs of stress Ability to resist new stressors impaired and organism becomes vulnerable to diseases of adaptation such as ulcers and HBP. Experiences of fatigue and general weakness Long-term psychological effects that have been identified include increased irritability and a tendency towards a pessimistic outlook. 3) The Exhaustion Stage: Body‟s energy reserves become depleted The ability to resist, declines If stress continues, then disease, damage and death can follow. 5
  • 7. So, after our strong initial reaction to a threatening event, we are capable of adjusting tohigher levels of arousal (to resist threat). As usual, there‟s always a flip side to these coins. Inthis case, the flip side consists of limits to arousal‟s maintenance. So our body will becomeexhausted. This is all supported by some observations of biological changes that occur understress.WEAKNESS OF THE GAS MODEL The idea of the GAS is that it doesn‟t take any psychological or behavioural variablesinto account. Yet, these (psychological and behavioural) are very important in our experienceof stress. 6
  • 8. CAUSES OF STRESS To kick off the turn events leading to stress, is the Stressor. Let‟s say it‟s an event,like prom. The event could be regarded as positive; an atmosphere of excitement surroundsthe topic of prom and its date is highly anticipated. Prom could also be seen in a neutral light,where it‟s considered to be no big deal and there‟s not much fuss held towards it. Thenthere‟s the negative label attached to the same topic, applied by others, who go completelymental (notice the pun) at the sound of the word „Prom‟. They get high blood pressure at thethought of buying an outfit, shoes, or buying the ticket. Basically, they get really stressed. The researchers said we then judge our abilities, state of mind and current health, afterseeing how much harm has occurred, the threat of further harm and what sort of challenge theevent offers. These actions could occur in either order.LACK OF CONTROL Control refers to the belief that a person can influence events in their life. Someexperience themselves as being equipped with an external locus of control, which means theydo not feel in control of events. They perceive their lives as being controlled by outsideforces; things happen to them. Control could be enforced cognitively, or Behaviourally. There are a number of dimensions of a stressful event that are thought to have aninfluence on how we appraise it, including whether it is negative, controllable or predictable,and whether it is ambiguous. Negative events are more likely to be experienced as stressful.Ambiguous events are more stressful than clear-cut occurrences. Surely, if you‟re cluelessabout things, aren‟t you more likely to be stressed to the core?Evidence:GEER AND MAISEL (1972)The Effect of Control in Reducing Stress ReactionsAim: To see if perceived control or actual control can reduce stress reactions.Design: Laboratory Experiment 7
  • 9. Participants: 60 Undergraduates from New York UniversityProcedure: The Students were split into 3 groups;Group 1~The Perceived-Control Group, were given control over how long they saw photos ofdead car crash victims (aversive stimuli) and were told that a tone would precede each photo.Group 2~The Predictability Group, saw photos for the same time as Group 1, but werewarned that photos would be 60 secs apart and for how long they would see the photos. Theywere told, a 10 sec warning would precede each photo. (They had no control, but they knewwhat would happen)Group 3~The Lack-of-Control group saw the photos for the same time as the other groups,but had no control and predictability. The participants were wired up to a Galvanic Skin Response machine and were ina sound-proof room, being given instructions via intercom. They also had Heart RateMonitors on them.Findings: The Heart Rate monitors were inaccurate so data was discarded.Group 2 showed more stress in response to the tone, as they knew it was coming, but theydidn‟t have control over the photograph. Group 1 showed less stress in response to the photo than group 2 and 3.Conclusion: The results suggest that at least, with respect to the physiological component ofbehaviour, perceived-control seems to be more effective in reducing stress than justpredictability. It is likely that having the control to terminate aversive stimuli reduces thestressful impact of those stimuli. 8
  • 10. WORK Stress at work is no longer being ignored because it affects productivity, causesabsenteeism and blame is put on the employers which ultimately leaves the employer stuck ina rut. The Stress is seen arising from work shifts, poor working conditions, unclear jobdescriptions, the level of risk, Stress due to Ambiguity, Role of Conflict, Relationships atWork and Career Development, Organisational structure and Climate, Burn-out and lastlyUnemployment.Evidence:JOHANSSON (1978)Aim: To measure the psychological and physiological stress response in 2 categories ofemployees.Participants: 24 workers at a Swedish Sawmill.Design: An independent design with participants already working in one of the 2 categories,so no manipulation of the independent variable.Procedure: A Quasi-experiment where workers were defined as being at high-risk (of stressor in a control group. The high-risk group was 14 workers who had to work at a set pace. Their job wascomplex and they were responsible for their own and their team‟s wages. The control group was 10 workers who were cleaners or maintenance men.Each participant was asked to give a daily urine sample after arrival at work and at 4 othertimes during the day. They gave self-reports of mood and alertness plus caffeine and nicotineconsumption. The baseline measurements were taken when employees at home, all at sametime. Catecholamine (adrenaline) levels were measured in the urine. Body temperature measured at the time of urine collection.Self-rating scales of words like „sleepiness‟ „well-being‟ „irritation‟ and „efficiency‟ weremade on scales from none to maximal (the highest level the 9
  • 11. person had ever experienced). Caffeine and nicotine consumption were noted.Findings: The high-risk group had adrenaline levels twice as high as their baseline and thesecontinued to increase throughout the day. The control group had a peak of 1 ½ times their baselines, in the morning and thisis then declined during the rest of their shift. In the self-report, the high-risk group felt more rushed and irritated than thecontrol group. They also rated their well-being lower than the control group.Conclusion: The repetitive, machine-paced work, which was demanding in attention todetail, and was highly mechanised, contributed to the higher stress levels in the high-riskgroup.What were the key factors in the high risk group that Johansson believed contributed tostress?Being responsible for own and team‟s wages.The job was complex.They had to work at a set pace (machine-pace).Evaluation: It‟s subjective, as the self-reports might have been leading (as seen in the listedwords). It‟s also objective, therefore useful, through the use of a scientific approach tomeasure levels of stress (by looking at adrenaline levels and seeing if other factors likecaffeine or nicotine contributed). The small group that made the sample, in only one random sawmill, cannot representthe stressed and non-stressed working population as a whole. 10
  • 12. LIFE EVENTS The study of the affect of life events on stress and illness generated a considerableamount of research, not least because the Social Readjustment Rating Scale developed,provides a relatively precise way of determining Stress. Normally people faced with different stressful life events don‟t clarify how stressedthey feel as part of the venting. These events occur both under our control (marriage) andoutside of it (natural disaster). Therefore they blindside us, inflicting high levels of Strain.Both environmental and biological factors induce Strain, as life events, like traffic andpregnancy respectively.Evidence:HOLMES AND RAHE (1967)Background: Dr. Holmes and Dr. Rahe, based the Social Readjustment Rating Scale ontheir well-known 1976 study into the effects of life events and the subsequent follow-upstudies; the 2 doctors came up with a chart that lists a total of 43 events that can cause stress.They developed the scale as a method of measurement. Their theory suggests that anystressful event could be linked with higher chances of illness developing.Aim: Creating a method that estimates the extent to which life events are stressors.Participants: 394 subjectsProcedure: There was a questionnaire designed to ascertain how much each life event wasconsidered a stressor. Each participant was asked to rate a series of 43 life events.Marriage was given an arbitrary rating of 500 and each event was to be judged as requiringmore/less readjustment. It could be based on personal experience and perceptions of other people.The final SRRS was completed based on mean scores. 11
  • 13. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale: Life Event LCUDeath of spouse 100Divorce 73Marital Separation 65Prison Term 63Death of a close family member 63Personal injury or illness 53Marriage 50Being Fired from work 47Reconciliation with spouse 45Retirement 45Change in health of family member 44Pregnancy 40Sexual difficulties 39Addition of family member 39Major business readjustment 39Major changes in financial state 38Death of a close friend 37Changing to a different line of work 36Changes in frequency of arguments with spouse 35Mortgage or loan over £10,000 31Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan 30Major change in responsibilities at work 29Children leaving home 29Trouble with in-laws 29Outstanding personal achievement 28Spouse begins or stops work 26Starting or ending school 26Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, associations) 24Trouble with boss 23Change in work hours, conditions 20Change in residence 20Changes in school 20Changes in recreational activities 19Changes in church activities 19Changes in social activities 18Mortgage or loan under £10,000 17Changes in sleeping habits 16Changes in number of family gatherings 15Changes in eating habits 15Going on holiday 13Christmas 12Minor violation of the lawChanges in living conditions 25 12
  • 14. A Life Changing Unit that was less than 150 had a 35% chance of developing anillness within the next 2 years. A LCU between 150-300 has a 51% chance, while a LCUwith a score over 300 has an 80% chance of developing a very serious health risk.Findings: Correlations between groups were tested and found to be high in all but onegroup. Males and females agreed.Participants of different ages, religion and educational-level agreed. There was less correlation between white and black participants, despite theoverall high level of agreement.Conclusions: The degree of similarity between different groups is impressive, and showsagreement in general about what constitutes life events and how much they cause stress orreadjustment.Evaluation: While the approach is obviously a simplified version of a complex situation, theSRRS is straightforward and can provide you with a useful start in adjusting life changingevents. On the other hand, the major life events are rare and many will score near to 0.Some of the items in the scale are in society rather than others. There are large individual differences in our ability to cope with stressful events.Also, large cultural and sub-cultural differences in our experiences of events lead toineffective measurement. Lastly, value of events changes with time and changing social customs occurs. 13
  • 15. PERSONALITY Our personality qualities affect our appraisal of stress. Among personal qualities ishow hardy we are. Characteristics that make a person remain healthy under Stress, isHardiness. It consists of Control, Commitment and Challenge, where commitment is theperson‟s sense of purpose/involvement in their life, and challenge is the tendency to seeproblems as an opportunity for personal growth. On the flip side, relating personal qualities tostress potential has its setbacks. For instance, attempts to identify personality are hard due toits complexity and inconsistency. Plus, much labour‟s carried out on a narrow group ofpeople.Evidence:FRIEDMAN AND ROSENMAN (1974)Health Risks Due To Personality TypesBackground: A famous 9-year-long longitudinal study was carried out by the 2 authors.They had earlier identified 2 basic behaviour types.Type A Type BIntense desire to achieve goals A noticeable lack of:Tendency to compete DriveDesire for recognition and advancement AmbitionTendency to rush to finish assignments UrgencyMental and Physical alertness Desire to complete tasksAim: To research link between personality factors, Stress and Coronary Heart Disease(CHD)Participants: 3200 participants (all male) aged between 39-50 years.Procedure: The men were assessed using questionnaires, to determine their personalitytypes. This was followed up through-out the 9 year study. Men split into 2 equal groups, depending on whether they were Type A or non-Type A. Type A tended to be ambitious, competitive, time-conscious, a perfectionist. 14
  • 16. Non-Type A individuals were relaxed and easy going.Findings: 70% of 257 men, who died, were classified as Type A. These 257 haddeveloped CHD, 8 years later.Conclusions: People who are of Type A personality type are more susceptible to Stress,because of their behaviour traits and conseque
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