Psychology 2990A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Perceived Control, Walter Bradford Cannon, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Psych 2990
May 21-25, 2018
Chapter 3: Psychology and Health
Stress and human health
- When people undergo a major upheaval in their lives, such as losing a spouse, declaring
bankruptcy or being forced to resettle in a new culture, their chance of dying increases
- A large scale study of university students across Canada found that psychological
distress is significantly higher among students than in Canadas general population
Effects of negative life events
- Hans Selye, defined stress as the bodies physiological response to threatening events
o Focused on how the human body adapts to threats from the environment,
regardless of the source of a threat
- Holmes and Rahe: hypothesized that stress is the degree to which people have to
change and readjust their lives in response to an external event
o Applies to happy events too
o Developed a measure called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale
Respondents get a list of life events and each which has been assigned a
certain number of points
- However, many of these studies use correlational designs rather than experimental
- Some researchers have argued that it is not life changes that cause health problems,
rather than the people with certain personality traits are more likely to experience life
difficulties and to have health problems
- Also aother prole ith sales suh as Holes ad Rahe’s is that it fouses o
stressors experiences by the middle class and under represents stressors experienced by
the poor and minorities
Perceived stress and health
- Scales also fail to take into account the different experiences and feelings each person
attaches to situations, it is not a one size fits all kind of thing
- Richard Lazarus: it is subjective, not objective stress that causes problems
o An event is stressful for people only if they interpret it as stressful
o Thus we can define stress as the negative feelings and beliefs that occur
whenever people feel unable to cope with demands from their environment
- Studies found that people who have high levels of interpersonal stress are more likely to
report health problems
o Low self esteem
- Stress caused by negative interpretation of events can even affect out immune systems,
making us more susceptible to disease
Feeling in change: the importance of perceived control
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