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OUTLINE, DISCUSS AND EVALUATE DEFINITIONS AND THEORIES OF STRESS, INCLUDING INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES

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Introduction

OUTLINE, DISCUSS AND EVALUATE DEFINITIONS AND THEORIES OF STRESS, INCLUDING INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES. 1.1 Stress is a physiological and physical response of the body which presents itself whenever we must adapt to changing conditions. These conditions can be real or perceived, and positive or negative. Everybody has stress in their lives, but people respond to the stress differently. For some people stress severely affects them, whilst for others, stress doesn't phase them at all, remaining calm. There are two types of stress; Eustress (which is good stress), and Distress (which is bad stress). Stress in humans results from interactions between a person and their environment that is perceived as something which that individual has no control over. Stress is mainly about perception. If you perceive something as a danger, then you will feel at harm. The perceived stress is a stressor, which then makes the individual feel 'stressed' activating the changes in physiological responses, secreting more, or less, hormones depending on the stressor. Stress is defined as "an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures". In the 1950's when stress was first researched, the term 'stress' was used to denote both the causes and the experienced effects of pressures. In recent years the word 'stressor' has been used for the stimulus that provides a stress response. One constant disagreement among researchers is the definition of stress in humans. Some say it is an "external response which can be measured by changes in glandular secretions, skin reactions, and other physical functions." Risk factors in stress-related illnesses are a combination of personal, impersonal and social factors. ...read more.

Middle

2.1 Seyles (1956) study on rats led him to believe that there is a similar pattern of physiological response to stressors. He found out from his studies that stress reaction always goes in three stages. He called this 'The General Adaptation Syndrome' This 'syndrome' comes in three phases. The first phase is the 'Alarm' phase. This is also known as the fight or flight stage. When going through the alarm stage an individual experiences a rise in heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, it does this to supply muscles and brain with more oxygen. More blood is sent to the skeletal muscles and the brain, while less is sent to the kidneys, liver and skin. In some cases people react the opposite way with a lower blood pressure and a slower respiratory rate. Their muscles relax, which can cause fits. The brain produces neurotransmitters called 'Endorphins'. The endorphins block out any immediate feelings of pain. The body also produces additional blood platelets which help repair physical damage. The part of the brain that controls the automatic nervous system secretes neuro-hormones which stimulate the pituitary gland. This gland secretes adrenocorticotropic hormone which helps to secrete adrenaline. This alarm phase lasts merely seconds. The second phase of 'GAS' is called the 'Adaptation' phase. In the Adaptation Phase the pituitary stops the large secretion of hormones and the effects of the alarm phase lessen. The symptoms of the alarm phase continue after the stressor has gone. During adaptation the organism adapts to the stressor. ...read more.

Conclusion

People with Type A personalities are extremely competitive and are highly motivated to achieve. They are also restless and continuously feel they do not have enough time to fit everything into their day. People who have a Type A personality cannot wait their turn, have to do several things at once, and need to be admired by peers to sustain their self-esteem. They are hostile, cynical, angry, and speak vigorously. People with Type B personalities on the other hand may be equally ambitious, but this does not dominate their whole lives. They make time in their lives for family and friends, and their leisure pursuits tend to be less competitive than those with a Type A personality. It has been suggested that those with a Type A Personality are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease than people with Type B personality. Friedman and Rosenman tested the hypothesis that Type A individuals were more likely to develop coronary heart disease than Type. After their research, Friedman and Rosenman found that 70% of participants who were Type A personality had developed coronary heart disease. This was nearly double the amount of Type B people, when taking into account other known factors such as smoking, blood pressure and obesity. One criticism of this study is that it was carried out on middle aged males. To conclude, individual differences play a huge part in the management of stress. Whether the difference is your personality type (A or B), what the stressor is, or how harmful you perceive the stressor to be, it all plays a part in how you will cope with the stress. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This question asks the candidates to "Outline, Discuss and Evaluate" how different definitions, explanations and treatments of stress can be viewed and employed throughout a number of areas of study in Psychology. Obviously, there needs to be a successful demonstration ...

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Response to the question

This question asks the candidates to "Outline, Discuss and Evaluate" how different definitions, explanations and treatments of stress can be viewed and employed throughout a number of areas of study in Psychology. Obviously, there needs to be a successful demonstration of understanding how Psychology is constructed and the beliefs a variety of approaches and perspectives have about how to treat stress and anxiety disorders. Questions like these carry a huge number of marks, and at first the tasks is daunting, meaning lesser ability candidate may find it difficult to successfully convery all their points. This candidate however, shows an excellent control over their ability to structure an essay, addressing the Biological Approach, the Behaviourist Perspective, and the Cognitive Approach in Psychology; the three most popular areas of study for explaining and treating stress and anxiety disorders.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is extremely good for a GCSE candidate, and as such the candidate can expect to achieve anywhere between a A/B grade for this piece of work. It does, at times, feel as though a lot has been written without a propoer understanding: "People with anxiety disorders are often prescribed tranquilisers. People with anxiety disorders were previously prescribed barbiturates." - this sentence sound very prescribed and the lack of explanation suggests the candidate does not fully understand these terms.
There explanation of the Biological Approach and how it perceives stress could be more clearly worded. To say that Biological Psychologists believe stress a "something biologically wrong" effectively explains nothing and labels those stressed as abnormal by suggesting they are "wrong". A more sensitive use of psychological terminology such as "gene mutation" or "biological transmission"wopuld've been more appropriate. There is a very vague mention of the strengths and limitation of treating stress with Biological means, and these could perhaps be made more explicit to bump up the candidates marks. The same can be said for their explanation of the Behaviourist Perspective (wrongly considered an Approach by this candidate) and again for their explanation of how Cognitive Psychologists might explain and treate stress. However, the latter two areas of Psychology at least do draw upon two pieces of evidence (Erbeck, Rotter, Meichenbaum) in order to elaborate and contextualise the points the candidate is making. Candidates must source their knowledge from appropriate evidence and then make an explanation of why that research is relevant.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is excellent. Whilst the candidate rarely strays from the familiar ground of punctuation (full stops, commas, some parentheses) the answer is very well-presented. The grammar and spelling are also vero good.


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