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Stress and Coping Week 1 Notes

by: Freddi Marsillo

Stress and Coping Week 1 Notes PSYC 3199

Marketplace > George Washington University > Psychology > PSYC 3199 > Stress and Coping Week 1 Notes
Freddi Marsillo
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About this Document

These notes cover the lecture and what we discussed in class during the first week.
Psychology of Stress and Coping
Class Notes




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Freddi Marsillo on Thursday September 1, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 3199 at George Washington University taught by Howe in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see Psychology of Stress and Coping in Psychology at George Washington University.


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Date Created: 09/01/16
Stress and Coping Week 1 Notes 9/1/16 3:01 PM What is a stressor? Stress and our environments Stressors: • Things that happen to us that trigger some kind of “stress response” The big picture Stressful environments --▯ Health – physical, mental • Thought, action, brain, emotion, body Research on environmental factors How do we measure exposure to stressors? • What aspects do we focus on? • What methods work best? Is it just a big life change? Early formulations: Adolf Meyer’s Life Chart (1919) • A way of tracking “fundamentally important environmental incidents” over the course of life Stressful Events Holmes and Rahe (1967) • Reviewing life charts from over 5000 patients • Identified 43 events most likely to cluster in this way • Social Readjustment Scale – items include: o Death of a spouse o Marriage o Change in financial state o Change in work Question of “how much exposure”? How to determine magnitude of stressors? • Early approach in life charts: count up number of events in a period • Holmes and Rahe: believed events themselves differ in “magnitude” o Defined “social readjustment”: amount and duration of change in one’s accustomed pattern of life from various life events o Asked people to rate each event “as to relative degree of necessary adjustment” o Marriage given value of 50 as reference point Problem of individual variability • Dohrenwend: problem of “intra-category variability”: one person’s divorce is another person’s liberation • Why not just ask people how bad it was? • Research on retrospective recall of events suggests three problems: o Memory of whether event occurred can be biased by current mood o Perceived severity can also be biased by current mood o Evaluation of “how bad it was” is an appraisal that can change with time, be affected by current mood, and vary across personality style More detailed interviews can reduce bias • Called contextual assessment • Brown & Harris: Developed Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS) o Conducted comprehensive interviews, asking people to describe exactly what went on during each potentially important event in 11 life domains o Collected information about the context of the event o Created detailed written descriptions of each situation, eliminating subjective content o Trained teams to rate these events in terms of the magnitude of “threat” for the average person in this particular life situation (i.e. having the set of goals common to someone in this same situation and general social context) Contextual assessment: aspects of stressful situations covered Is it immediately aversive? Event involves: • Physical pain • Social pain o Loss of someone close to you o Shunning: being cut off from others o Personal attacks: being criticized, humiliated • Is it threatening? • Does it point to future pain? o Continuation of immediate pain o Emergence of new aversive circumstances • Does it imply that important goals will be blocked? o Loss of important others o Failure to achieve important goals What contributes to severity of threat? Important of goals that are threatened • Life-threatening situations are rated as very high threat Novelty • First-time events are rated as more threatening Significant change in circumstance • Example: parents separate, and one parent moves far away reducing opportunity for ongoing contact Lack of resources for resolving situation and eliminating threat • Example: loss of job when company leaves a community, eliminating opportunities for local employment Duration: how long does it last? Example: Virginia Twin Study • 7322 adults interviewed with LEDS about the previous 12 months • Life events predict onset of depression (MD) or anxiety (GAS) only in the first month after the event • Loss and humiliation were most predictive of depressive disorder onset Difficulties or Adversities Brown & Harris (1978): Ongoing situations that continue for at least one month, and usually much longer Examples: • Having a chronic and disabling illness • Ongoing financial hardship • Frequent repeated episodes of family conflict • Frequent repeated episodes of being bullied in school • Living in a neighborhood with repeated and highly visible criminal activity Environmental Stressors: Summary • Often there is common sense agreement on whether something is a stressor • “Magnitude,” “intensity,” or “strength” of stressor is clearly related to how it affects goals • Individual variation because each person can have unique set of goals and social circumstances • Severe stressful events have been linked to onset and recurrence of emotional or affective disorders • Long-term adversity is also associated with emotional and health problems • The meaning of the event or situation has a lot to say about individual responses 9/1/16 3:01 PM 9/1/16 3:01 PM


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