Psychology Unit 2 - Stress

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  1. What are the bodily symptoms to stress?
    If a threat/stressor is detected the hypothalamus is alerted.
  2. Describe what happens in the SAM (sympathomedullary) pathway.
    • Responsible for the body's fast response to stress.
    • When the hypothalamus is alerted, electrical signals are sent down the autonomic branch (ANS) of the peripheral nervous system.
    • Activity in the sympathetic branch of the ANS causes various things:
    • - Fight or flight mode: Increased heart rate, dry mouth.
    • - Stimulates the medulla of the adrenal glands ⇒
    • Adrenaline and noradrenaline released which prolong stress response.
  3. Describe what happens in the pituitary adrenal system.
    • Slower than SAM pathway.
    • When hypothalamus is alerted hormones are released ⇒ corticotrophin releasing hormone (CTR).

    • CTR causes the release of ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone) from pituitary gland.
    • Release of ACTH stimulates adrenal cortex.
    • Adrenal cortex releases corticosteroids (cortisol).
    • Cortisol causes increased pain tolerance and hydrolysis of glycogen for energy.
    • Prolonged cortisol release causes chronic stress, CVD, suppressed immune system.
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  4. How does the body return to normal?
    The parasympathetic nervous branch shuts down the production of adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline.
  5. How is stress related to the immune system?
    • Immune system consists of phagocytes and lymphocytes
    • Lymphocytes include NK (natural killer) cells, T cells.
    • Corticosteroids reduce size of thymus gland ⇒ produces T cells.
    • ACTH inhibits immune cell function.
    • How is the link investigated?
    • Correlational studies
    • Natural experiments
    • Lab/field experiments
  6. Describe Kiecolt and Glaser's study.
    • A: To determine the impact of real life stressors on immune function.
    • P: Natural experiment
    • Participants were 75 1st year medical students.
    • Blood samples taken 1 month before exams and right after 1st exam.
    • Participants given questionnaires to asses life events, loneliness and psychiatric symptoms.
    • F: NK cell activity declined between two samples. 
    • Immune system most weak in students who felt lonely.
    • C: Stress is associated with lowered immune response.
    • There are different sources of stress factors.
  7. Evaluate Kiecolt and Glaser's study.
    • ☑Natural experiment ⇒
    • ☑Less ethical issues
    • ☒Not a true experiment
    • ☒Can only assume that there exists a negative correlation.
    • ☒NK cells only one aspect of immune system
    • ☒Only medical students used: unrepresentative
    • ☑Directly measured immune function.
    • ☑Supported by Kiecolt-Glaser's wound-healing study.
  8. Describe Cohen et al's study.
    • A: To investigate the effect of general life stress on vulnerability to the common cold virus.
    • P: 400 participants completed questionnaires on stressful life events in past year.
    • They rated the degree of stress and their levels of anxiety /depression.
    • Were then exposed to common cold virus.
    • 82% became infected. Tested again 7 days later to see if symptoms developed.
    • F: Positive correlation between about of stress and developing cold.
    • C: Life stress reduces effect of immune system.
  9. Evaluate Cohen et al.
    • ☒Did not directly measure immune function. Assumed from symptoms.
    • No direct manipulation of IV - only a correlation.
    • Ethical problems with exposing people to viruses even if they have given informed consent.
  10. What are life events? And how are they measured?
    • Life events are major events that dramatically change your life.
    • A scale was created by Holmes and Rahe.
    • It is the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS).
    • The scores are measured in Life Changing Units (LCU).
    • SRRS scale was created by making a list of 43 events that caused patients illness.
    • Scale was given to participants to rate stressfulness of each in LCU's.
  11. Outline Rahe et al's study.
    • A: To investigate whether scores on the Holmes and Rahe SRRS were correlated with illness.
    • P: 2500 male US navy personnel given SRRS scale to measure life events in past 6 months.
    • Medical records in last 6 months also accessed.
    • Two covariables are LCU's and illness score.
    • F: Weak but significant positive correlation between high LCU and illness.
    • C: Experiencing stressful events leads to weak immune system.
  12. Evaluate Rahe at al's study.
    • ☑Large sample = reliable
    • ☒Naval personnel is unrepresentative of general population. Only males = bias.
    • ☒Finding is only correlational not causational.Weak relationship shows that other factors are involved. 
    • ☒SRRS is self report = Unreliable. Exaggeration, some events may not have been on scale.
  13. What is a daily hassle and how are they measured?
    • Daily hassles are small stressors encountered in daily life which cause irritation and stress.
    • They are measured using Delongis' Hassles and Uplifts scale.
    • This scale is a self-report method. 
    • Can lead to unreliable answers due to different perceptions of daily hassles.
  14. Outline Delongis' study.
    • A: To see if life changes or daily hassles are more strongly correlated with health problems.
    • P: 100 middle aged participants given 4 questionnaires throughout a months.
    • Daily hassles and uplifts scale, life events and health questionnaire.
    • F: Daily hassles show significant correlation with  health score. Negative correlation.
    • Life changes had no dramatic impact on health, unless they occurred in 2.5 years before the study.
    • C: Daily hassles more strongly related to stress symptoms.
  15. Evaluate Delongis' study.
    • ☑Supported by other evidence e.g. Assessment of Daily Experience scale.
    • ☒Sample is not representative. Does not have population validity.
    • ☒Rating scale didn't take into account chronic stressors.
  16. What are the sources of stress in the workplace?
    • Control
    • Demands
    • Physical stressors
    • Role conflict
    • Psychosocial stressors
  17. Outline Johansson et al's study.
    • A: To investigate weather machine-paced work, repetitiveness and responsibility increases stress.
    • P: Research done on Swedish sawmill workers.
    • Analysed 14 'finishers' whose job has high risk of stress.
    • Compared them to low risk job - cleaners.
    • Combined physiological (stress hormones) and behavioural responses (illness and absenteeism).
    • F: Finishers secreted higher levels of adrenaline/noradrenaline and experienced more stress related illnesses compared to cleaners.
    • C: Work stressors can lead to chronic stress.
  18. Evaluate Johansson's study.
    • ☑Includes many different measures of stress; objective, physiological (hormones) = reliable.
    • ☒Not clear what stressor is most important. Many differences between jobs.
    • ☒Type A personalities might do finisher job, whereas type B might do cleaner = confounding variable.
    • ☑Has useful applications and implications for the real world. Finishers offered less pressured work.
  19. Outline Marmot et al's study.
    • A: Investigate relationship between job control and stress-related illness.
    • P: 7500 male and female civil servants answered questionnaires and asked for signs of CVD.
    • Longitudinal study. 5 years.
    • Signs of CVD, presence of CHD risk factors, employment grade, job control, social support all measured.
    • F: Low job control = 4x more likely to die from heart attack.
    • Higher grades of job = less CVD problems.
    • Lower grade workers more likely to smoke due to stress. Risk factors increase chance of CVD.
    • C: Low control = risk of CVD, stress and illness.
    • High job demand not linked to stress. and illness.
  20. Evaluate Marmot et al's study.
    • ☑Huge sample with men and women.
    • ☒Only civil servants - unrepresentative.
    • ☒Socio-economic status was a confounding variable. More pay = less stress.
  21. What is the difference between Type A and Type B personality?
    • Type A ☞ 
    • Ambitious
    • Impatient
    • Aggressive
    • Irritable
    • High stress levels

    • Type B 
    • Low stress levels
    • Creative/reflective
    • Not competitive
    • Laid back
    • Poor sense of time schedule
  22. Outline Friedman & Rosenman's study.
    • A: To test if Type A are more likely to develop CHD than type B.
    • P: 3200 healthy men, aged 39 to 59.
    • Categorised as type A(1/2) or type B based on responses in structured interviews.
    • F: After 8.5 years, 257 developed CHD.
    • 70% of CHD developers were Type A (twice as many as Type B).
    • Effect still held if there were other risk factors.
    • C: Type A = more chance of CHD.
  23. Evaluate Friedman & Rosenman's study.
    • ☒Only consists of men = unrepresentative.
    • ☑Findings supported by other research e.g. Framingham heart study.
    • ☒Type A personality often drink, smoke = risk factors.
    • ☑People who took part in behaviour modification had fewer second heart attacks.
  24. What is hardiness? And how is it measured?
    • Hardiness is a type of personality which is very resilient to stress.
    • It is measured with a questionnaire which measures:
    • Control
    • Commitment
    • Challenge
    • Hardy personalities score high.
  25. Outline Kobasas' study.
    • A: Examine effects of protective factors on resistance to stress-related illness.
    • P: A prospective study.
    • Participants rated on presence or absence of; hardiness, social support, regular exercise.
    • Followed participants for several years (longitudinal).
    • Monitored presence of psychological and physical illness.
    • F: Pp's with no protective factors = worse health outcomes. 
    • 2+ factors = less illness.
    • Hardiness had best effect.
    • C: Hardiness has greatest effect against prevention of stress related illness.
  26. Evaluate Kobasas' study.
    • ☒Only used males - unrepresentative of females.
    • ☒Concepts of control not well defined. Control could be part of commitment or challenge.
    • ☒Other factors could have affected health e.g. smoking.
  27. How does stress inoculation therapy work?
    • Conceptualisation:
    • Analyse stressful elements in a stressful situation. Understand how person copes. Individually or in groups.
    • Skills training and practice:
    • Relaxation techniques, specific training e.g. exam technique, public speaking.
    • Application with support:
    • Patient applies learnt knowledge in 'role-play' with therapist. Then in real world. This is continued in next sessions.
  28. Evaluate stress inoculation therapy.
    • ☑Targets both symptoms and causes of stress.
    • ☑Clients learn new skills to help deal with stress in long term.
    • Few studies of effectiveness.
    • Expensive and requires time and commitment from patient.
  29. What are Benzodiazapenes and how do they work?
    • Lower brain arousal associated with anxiety.
    • Enhance action of brain chemical GABA.
    • Blocks action by other neurotransmitters e.g serotonin ,which causes high arousal.
  30. What are beta blockers and how do they work?
    • Act directly on bodily symptoms of stress.
    • Reduce SAM pathway activity.
    • Reduce activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline by blocking receptor sites in circulatory system.
    • Lower heart rate and blood pressure.
    • Have no effect on brain.
  31. Evaluate the use of drug treatments for stress management.
    • Large range, readily available, cheap.
    • Fast and effective, reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. Beta blockers can reduce formation of atherosclerosis.
    • ☑BZP's more effective than antidepressants in most types of stress.
    • ☒BZP's can cause dependency and addiction.
    • ☑Beta blockers dont cause addiction.
    • ☒Side effects of BZP's can include drowsiness, cognitive impairment. Beta blockers can affect circulatory system and cause breathing problems.
    • ☒Does not treat the cause of the symptom. Only short relief, not long term.
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Psychology Unit 2 - Stress
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