Understanding Psychology

Chapter 15: Stress and Health

Chapter Overviews

Chapter 15 addresses stress, a normal part of life. People respond to stress in different ways and use a variety of coping techniques.

Section 1 defines stress as an anxious or threatening feeling resulting from our appraisal of a situation and our perception of demands placed on us. Conflict situations, which occur when a person must choose between alternatives, are major sources of stress. The level of stress one feels depends upon how the individual appraises the situation. Environmental factors, major life changes, and everyday hassles can all result in stress.

Section 2 discusses how people react differently to life's stressors. The general adaptation syndrome identifies three phases of the body's stress reaction: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. This section describes how reactions to stress can be psychological, behavioral, or physical, and how people's personality types, their perceptions of control over stressors, the social support they receive, and the amount of stress they have all determine their reactions to stress.

Section 3 explores the different mechanisms people use to cope with stress. Cognitive appraisal refers to the way one evaluates an event. We use defensive and active coping strategies to influence our cognitive appraisals. Common defense mechanisms are denial and intellectualization. Active coping strategies involve changing the environment or modifying a situation to remove stressors or reduce the level of stress.

Section 4 describes how college and work can produce stress. Attending college stimulates change in many students. Students may cope with stress by redoubling their efforts, detaching themselves from college, or using resynthesis. This section details the stresses people can experience with their first job and the factors that influence job satisfaction.

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