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Discuss the Role of Individual Differences in Stress

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One of the criticisms of explanations or contributors of stress when looking at it broadly is that it can vary from person to person - an individual's personality or gender can have an effect not only on the likelihood that they may be stressed in particular situations, but also to what extent that may take place. It has been suggested that the differences between men and women can contribute to what both find stressful and consequently, how they cope in stressful situations. There are three main possible differences which could be used to explain the differences between males and females and their response to stress. The biological explanation suggests that males and females have evolved different physiological responses to stress due to their roles in the early evolution of humans. For example, Taylor et all suggested that when in stressful situations, men are more likely to respond with 'fight or flight' in keeping with their hunter role, whilst women 'tend and befriend' since they had the childcare role. ...read more.


Carroll found that women were more likely to respond to stress by seeking social comfort (again supported by Frankenhauser), which might help explain why women are less likely in general to develop cardiovascular disorders. However, this trend has been changing in recent years which could be explained by the fact that women are now more likely to drink or smoke. The final explanation of the differences between men and women with regard to stress is the cognitive explanation, which refers to how men and women interpret situations differently and how their thinking with regard to reaction may vary. Vogele et al claims that women are better able to control their anger and therefore more able to deal with stressful situations whilst men feel it is a suitable way to respond and feel stress if they are not able to express it. However, classifying this as a third explanation is a bit vague as it might be a combination of biological and social factors. ...read more.


The studies were also quite limited in their samples - mostly white, middle class, middle aged Americans. Rotter looked at the 'locus of control' with regard to responses to stress He felt that a person's response to stress could depend on how in control they felt, and that this was something that was learnt based on experiences. He found, through a questionnaire, that people who felt in control were in general less depressed. This is a bit too simplistic however - some people, particularly the religious, might be quite content with situations being out of their control if they believe that a God is in charge. On the other hand, believing that every single action you take might have great effect could in itself place massive stress on an individual. There is evidence to suggest that both personality and gender play an important role in how we deal with stress, but it is quite difficult to generalise and apply the findings to every single individual. Discuss The Role of Individual Differences In Stress Susannah M Kitchen 29/01/2008 19:16 29/01/2008 19:16 ...read more.

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The writer appears to have covered most aspects of stress, gender and personality types. The essay is basic, without too much detail, but is well structured. Also, the referencing needs to be improved so that it is clear which sources have been used.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 14/10/2013

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