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Textbook Site for:
Social Psychology , Sixth Edition
Sharon S. Brehm - Indiana University
Saul Kassin - Williams College
Steven Fein - Williams College
Chapter Outlines - Health

I. Stress and Health
A. Stress: An unpleasant state of arousal in which people perceive the demands of an event as taxing or exceeding their ability to satisfy or alter those demands
B. Appraisal: The process by which people make judgments about the demands of potential stressful events and their ability to meet those demands
C. Coping: Efforts to reduce stress
II. What Causes Stress?
A. Crises and Catastrophes
1. Environmental disaster can have profound psychological effects
2. War and other highly stressful experiences
3. These major events can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, a condition in which a person experiences enduring physical and psychological symptoms after an extremely stressful event
B. Major Life Events
1. Change itself is probably not inherently stressful
2. Negative life events are associated with physical illness and psychological distress
C. Microstressors: The Hassles of Everyday Life
1. Crowded prisons and dorms can lead to stress
2. Work stress which can cause burnout is another important microstressor
3. Economic pressure
III. How Does Stress Affect the Body?
A. The General Adaptation Syndrome: Three phases in response to stress
1. Alarm: mobilization of the fight or flight response
2. Resistance: body remains aroused and on the alert
3. Exhaustion: overuse causes our body to break down
B. What Stress Does to the Heart
1. Type A behavior pattern: competitive drive, a sense of time urgency, anger, cynicism, and hostility
a) is associated with heart disease
b) is measured more accurately by the interview method
c) the main toxic ingredient is hostility
2. Type B behavior pattern: a more laid-back style in contrast to Type A pattern
C. What Stress Does to the Immune System
1. Psychoneuroimmunology:the study of the effects of stress on the immune system
2. Stress weakens the immune system
a) behaviors people engage in under stress decrease immune cell activity
b) stress triggers release of adrenaline which decreases immune cell activity
D. The Links Between Stress and Illness: People get sick easier when under stress
IV. Processes of Appraisal
A. Attributional and Explanatory Styles
1. Learned helplessness
a) original model: uncontrollable events create passive behavior
b) reformulated model: stable, global, internal attributions for uncontrollable negative events lead to learned helplessness
2. Depressive explanatory style: attribution consistent with the reformulated model of learned helplessness
B. Perceptions of Control
1. Hardiness
a) control: the belief that one’s outcomes are controlled by one’s actions
b) challenge: the perception that change is a normal part of life
c) commitment: having a sense of meaning and mastery in one’s life
2. Self-efficacy: the belief that one can perform a specific behavior, usually associated with positive coping with a stressor
C. Optimism and Hope
1. Optimism is associated with better health outcomes
2. Placebo effect: the tendency for an inactive drug or treatment to improve a patient’s condition because he or she believes in its effectiveness
D. Pollyanna’s Health: Positive thinking is associated with positive health outcomes
1. Positive thinking is associated with good health
2. Still unclear whether positive thinking causes good health
V. Ways of Coping with Stress
A. Problem-Focused Coping: Cognitive and Behavioral Efforts to Alter a Stressful Situation
1. Control: the need for flexibility
a) actual control of a situation can be stressful
b) the trick is to know when one can exercise control and when one can’t
2. Blame: where to place it?
a) blaming others is associated with poor adjustment
b) behavioral self-blame, which is unstable, is associated with positive adjustment but may not help one cope with extremely traumatic events
c) characteriological self-blame, which is stable, is associated with negative adjustment
B. Emotion-Focused Coping: Cognitive and Behavioral Efforts to Reduce Distress Brought on by a Stressful Situation
1. Shutting down: suppressing unwanted thoughts
a) distraction can be an effective coping strategy
b) suppressing unwanted thoughts can lead to increased awareness of these thoughts
2. Opening up: confronting one’s demons
a) opening up and discussing one’s problems seems to promote health
b) increased health probably occurs because of the insight that one obtains in opening up
3. Self-focus: getting trapped versus getting out
a) the self-focus model of depression suggests that self-focus can lead to a vicious circle of negative thoughts that can intensify depression
b) passive ruminative thinking about one’s problems maintains depression
c) active thinking aimed at understanding is associated with reduced depression
C. Proactive Coping: Up Front Efforts to Ward Off or Modify the Onset of a Stressful Event
1. Social support: support from others increases one’s ability to cope with stress
a) number of social contacts model: it may be the number of social contacts that is important in social support
b) intimacy model: it may be that having a close relationship is important in social support
c) perceived availability model: it may be that perceiving that others will help is important in social support
2. The religious connection
VI. Treatment and Prevention
A. Treatment: The Social Ingredients
1. Social support
2. Hope
3. Choice
B. Prevention: Getting the Message Across
1. To be willing to engage in a healthy behavior, people must be convinced that there is a health risk if they do not engage in the healthy behavior
2. Healthy behaviors are promoted by positive models
3. Healthy behaviors are promoted by positive subjective norms
4. A sense of self-efficacy may be necessary for the adoption of positive life changes
VII The Pursuit of Happiness
A. Measuring Subjective Well-being
B. Predictors of Happiness
1. Social relationships
2. Employment status
3. Physical health
C. Why Money Can't Buy Happiness?
1. Social comparison theory
2. Adaptation-level theory
3. The baseline level of happiness


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