Psychology Notes for AS & A2
AQA Specification A
Physiological Psychology - Stress as a bodily Response
Human Function Curve
The Human Function Curve shows the effect of stress on our performance. As Stress and Performance show a strong positive correlation until about 80% stress, where performance drops fast, "crashing" back to zero.
Although stress may be beneficial in the short term, an accumulation of stress is harmful physiologically and psychologically. A little stress may be good but a lot is bad for us. Stress is a big problem in life today: it is the number one cause of illness and absence from work. Nine out of ten businesses suffer financially, due to loss of production, because of stress.
Cox developed three models of stress, or three ways to understand stress.
Definition of stress
Non-specific response of the body to any perceived threat. Illness, heat, cold, fear, injury are all perceived as threats to the body.
"Mr Stress", Sely has done more research on stress than everyone else put together. He has had 1500 articles published on the subject, and 32 books.
Seyle was Canadian, trained as a medical doctor. Noticed that all patients in his hospital were sick, regardless of reasons for admission (injury, surgery, illness). He persistently asked his senior doctor why this was so, and eventually got the reply "I don't know Hans, why don't you go and find out?".
Hans spent the next 40 years experimenting firstly with rats, then other animals. He exposed them to various things: disease, cancer, extremes of heat and cold, exhaustion, fear and even surgical injury. He then killed them and cut them open.
He found that all the animals, in addition to their various problems, had enlarged adrenal glands. Why would the body react in this same way to a variety of stimuli? Stress. Seyle was the first person to describe this syndrome.
General Adaption Syndrome (GAS)
Long and Short Term physiological problems caused by stress
It is estimated that 50 90% of hospital beds could be emptied if we eliminate stress. The 50% directly due to stress related illness, the 90 % due to secondary problems: e.g. a stressed driver injures a pedestrian who has to go to hospital.
Tests may be self-assessment or biological / physical:
SSRS (Social Readjustment Rating Scale
Changes cause stress the bigger the change, the more stress induced. Hospital patients were interviewed about events in their lives the previous year, the events were then given a score. If the score exceeds 300 for the last 12 months there was a significant increase in the likelihood of serious health problems.
But different people react in different ways to stress. Divorce may score 50 to one, and 80 to another, depending on circumstances.
Lazarus Hassles and Uplifts Scale
Each item is scored as a hassle (negative score) and an uplift (positive score). E.g. my dog may be scored as +5 for the love and companionship he gives, but also scored as 2 for the hassle of having to walk him when it is inconvenient to me. Then the scores are totalled: a negative score indicates a stressful day, and positive score indicates a relatively low stress day. Scores are done daily over a period of time so that persistent hassles can be identified and dealt with.
Biological / Physical Tests
These may take the form of blood test or saliva tests (the very act of taking blood may
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