Discuss research into the relationship between personality and stress.
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Discuss research into the relationship between personality and stress. It has been suggested that personality differences affect levels of stress. Friedman and Rosenman (1974) believe that personality types can be divided into two groups- Type A and type B. Type A personalities tend to have the following traits: very active, impatient and impulsive, whereas type B would be laid back, easy going and relaxed. Friedman and Rosenman also suggested a third type of personality - Type C. Type C personalities are described as: nice, industrious, conventional and sociable but tend to be repressed and react to stress with a sense of helplessness. Friedman and Rosenman proposed that those with a Type A personality are more susceptible to Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Morris et al (1981) conducted a study of 50 women awaiting treatment for a breast lump. Morris found that those women who were subsequently found to have a malignant lump had reported that they both expressed far less anger than those women diagnosed with a tumour. Morris noticed a link between cancer and suppression of anger, increased anger and lowered immune system. Another link between stress and personality has been suggested by Kobasa's concept of the hardy personality. Kobasa (1979) argued that people differ considerably in their ability to cope with stressors. Some people cope very well with stressful situations whilst others break down under very little pressure.
The research has also be criticised because it has relied on white, middle-class males as the main participants in this study. A further criticism is that this was a correlational study - by using a correlational study with are automatically saying that each factor has an effect on the other. We must not assume that hardiness is the casual factor in health because people who are ill find it hard to be psychologically hardy. On the positive side, the concept of hardiness has been used as a means of coping with stress. Most studies would suggest that stress is generally detrimental to health, however some people find stress stimulating and energising. Some people work better under stress and use stressful energy in a positive way. This should be considered when conducting research into stress and personality.
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