- Stage 1, Alarm - When the threat or stressor is recognized as stress.
- Stage 2, Resistance – The body adpats to stressor but becomes more susceptible to damage from the stress responses.
- Stage 3, Exhaustion – The body’s systems can no longer maintain normal functioning, possibly resulting in damage to immune system or stress related illness.
There is increasing evidence that stress can cause illness by interfering with the immune system. The immune system protects the body from harmful viruses. When the stress response is activated, the activity of the immune system is slowed down. One of the earliest studies into the effects of stress on the immune system was conducted by Riley 1981 using mice. He placed the mice on a rotating turntable to cause stress. Riley measured the mice's lymphocyte count over a five-hour period and found they decreased, indicating suppression of the immune system. Another study was done by Kiecolt-Glaser et al 1995, she looked at humans and compared the healing rates of wounds in 'high stress' women who were caring for relatives with Alzheimer's and had a 'stress free' group that were similar. The 'high stress' group took 9 days to complete healing a wound, less with the ‘stress free’ group. This shows the study between stress and the body's ability to heal to infectious diseases has important consequences for people undergoing and recovering from major surgery. Friedman and Rosenman 1974 looked at 3200 California men between the ages of 39-59 years. They were dived into two group type A - ambitious, competitive, easily angered and perfectionists. Type B - relaxed, easy-going, not driven to achieve perfection and not easily angered. They found within 9 years of starting the study, 70% of the number who died were type A individuals. Therefore personality type and stress are closely related and together are related to the risk of CHD.
The criticisms of these studies are that in the Riley study it raised ethical issues about the use of animals in laboratory experiments. Also, we cannot generalize findings from an animal study to humans because our pressures are completely different to animals. In Kiecolt-Glaser study there are possibilities that the findings may be affected by individual differences and so there may be an indirect relationship between stress and illness e.g. individuals who are stressed may smoke or drink more this leads to an unhealthy individual. Finally, Friedman and Rosenman did not use a mixed sample gender, and were only taken from California, so again the results cannot be generalized because of differences between genders and cultural variations can occur.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
The Quality of Written Communication is flawless. The candidate takes great care in the written expression, and there are no causes for concern with regard to spelling, grammar or punctuation anywhere in the answer. The use of Psychology--related terminology is proficient and indicates a great level of intelligence and confidence to the examiner as well. All in all a brilliant essay.
Level of analysis
The Level of Analysis is very good. The candidate provides plenty of evidence suggesting their is a strong link between stress levels and physical illness and a balanced counter argument suggesting otherwise. The balance is required so that it shows examiner show a candidate can formed a fair evaluation of theoretical psychology with the use of empirical psychology to support the theories. There is a touch of personal awareness in the answer and, whilst not obligatory, does help the answer feels more personsalised and the candidate more invested in their answer. This is great for examiners who have to mark long essays with similar topics, and it really helps the answer stand out as a fresh, innovative style of writing, which can help the examiner become more engaged and will ultimately mark more accurately.
Response to question
This answer would achieve every one of the 18 marks available for it, because the candidate reads the question, understands the task they propose, and forms and answers clearly, intelligently, and precisely pertaining to what the question asks. They use a wide variety of psychological knowledge, showing the examiner they have learnt extensively about the nature of stress and physical illness, and have shown evidence of ability to use psychological empirical evidence to fortify their answer. This indicates to the examiner a candidate with an aptitude to write analytically whilst using facts as a basis - a very confident style of writing that works on many levels to satisfy mark schemes.