• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss research into stress-related illness and the immune system

Extracts from this document...


Discuss research into stress-related illness and the immune system. The body's response to stress is said to have a relationship with the immune system, causing suppression. Riley conducted research to prove that stress had immunosuppressive effects on the body. He implanted cancer cells into mice, and divided them into two groups. The first group of mice were exposed to a high stress condition in which they were put on a rotating turntable for 10 minutes an hour for 3 days. The second group mice did not experience this high stress condition. Riley found that the cancer cells had developed into tumours in the 'stressed' mice and that their leucocyte levels were reduced, and that tumour growth had ceased in the 'non-stressed' group of mice. He concluded from the findings that stress was causing the immune system to function improperly and could therefore not control the tumour growth, and the reduced leucocyte levels also suggested a weakening of the immune system. In another study - Kiecolt-Glaser (1995) - further research and evidence was obtained to support the relationship between stress and suppressive effects on the immune system. ...read more.


However individual differences and psychological factors are not accounted for in the various studies which suggest stress causes immune suppression. Self-perception of what is stressful and what isn't could majorly change results, for example in Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1995) some of the participants could have perceived stress differently, therefore this would have had different effects on the immune system and the wounds could have healed at different rates. It is also important to take into account that the participants of the control group were only matched to the carers in age and family income, overlooking that, firstly, they may be exposed to stress conditions that deviate from this specific example, and secondly, that personality, self-perception and culture should have been monitored as well. As only females took part in this experiment, it is fair to suggest that it's conclusions are not necessarily representable to males. Another factor that can be evaluated in this study is how lifestyle could affect immune functioning. More of the carers were married and were non-smokers, both of these relating to lower stress, social support and non-smoking being related to better immune functioning. ...read more.


Robles et al (2005) even found in their study that chronic stress enhanced some aspects of immune functioning. These contrasting ideas reflect that the immune system is very complex, and that the assessments that have been made in research are often too simplistic to be able to say it is stress that has an affect on the immune system. For instance in Riley's study lymphocyte levels were used as a measure of immune damage, but this may be too simplistic of a measure, and thus it lacks reliability and validity. This study has further implications in that mice were used instead of human beings, so other factors such as personality, culture and self-perception would be either very difficult to measure, or simply do not exist within a species lacking in the social intelligence of humans, and is therefore not representative of human's response to stress and how it effects immune function. To summarise the research that links the body's response to stress and immune suppression is correlational: we can say that there is a relationship between the two variables, but not stress does not directly cause a suppression of the immune system. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Physiological Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is a great essay. It is not too long and doesn't try to pack in too many studies or too much procedural detail, but it is packed with analysis and evaluation of research and commentary on the conclusions that can and can't be drawn. One of its strengths is the way that studies have been counterposed to draw out points of comparison and contrast. Excellent

Marked by teacher Jo Wilcox 06/04/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Physiological Psychology essays

  1. Stress can be explained as the stimulus in the environment that triggers a stress ...

    A long-term stress response may have effect on this system: 1. Stored energy (glucose) which is released during a stressful event is re-absorbed by the body after the stressor has gone. If the stress is long-term it will remain in the blood stream, which may lead to blockage, producing heart attack/stroke.

  2. Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    In conjunction with the Behaviourists, the Cognitives agree that what ever is experienced along side the traumatic event, will bring back the full memory of it. These include sight, smell, feeling and sound. As with the Behaviourists, Cognitives believe that sufferers may feel that they are no longer in control

  1. Outline the social factors that may influence gender roles

    For example, there may be others cultures where parents do not reinforce gender appropriate behaviours. This would then mean that parents are not as influential when it comes to their children?s gender roles because it could be suggested that their children?s gender roles may have been influenced by other factors such as by education and class mates etc...

  2. Describe & discuss how each psychological perspective explains smoking using empirical evidence to support ...

    Monozygotic Twins Brought up Apart and brought up together. Oxford University press : London) on 42 sets of monozygotic twins (twins of the same genetic makeup) found that if one twin smoked then the other one was more likely to smoke too.

  1. Describe and Evaluate one Physiological and Psychological way to manage stress.

    taught how to view perceived threats as problems which can be solved and to break down universal stressors into exact components that can be managed. This encourages the individual to reconceptualise the problem. The second stage is skills acquisition and rehearsal, where coping skills are taught and practised within the therapeutic sessions and then gradually in real life situations.

  2. Unit 1 psychology revsion notes (memory, attachment, research methods)

    * Asked questions to what they had seen * 17% experimental group recalled a barn * Misleading information absorbed into their memory and they believed it * Reliable ? lab * Ecological validity * Demand characteristics Anxiety ? Christianson and Hubinette * Surveyed 110 people who between them had witnessed

  1. Discuss the Concepts of Nature and Nurture in Relation to Gender Development. Refer to ...

    been influence by factors which has caused her to choose this masculinity unlike most girls. This side of the debate also elaborates on if gender rules are it also explains why an individual?s gender may change over time, anything that is learnt can be unlearnt and replaced by new set of behaviours.

  2. Marked Essay - Discuss biological explanations of schizophrenia.

    // Also the dopamine distribution in Parkinson?s disease can help support the dopamine hypothesis for schizophrenia. In a patient with Parkinson?s, dopamine activity is considerably lower and is increased with the patient taking a drug called L-dopa.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work