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Personality factors and stress Stress Biological Psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "Personality factors and stress Stress Biological Psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Personality factors and stress Stress Biological Psychology

2 Personality factors and stress Research has suggested that personality can play a role in determining how well individuals cope with stress and how likely they are to suffer from stress-related illness.

3 Personality  A set of characteristics, behaviours, and attitudes that remain relatively stable over time and distinguish one individual from another.  It is that fundamental ‘thing’ that makes us who we are and makes us different to everybody else – ‘unique.’  However there are some ‘personality traits’ that we share with those around us.

4 Research  More vulnerable to stress  More resistant to stress Type A & Type B personality The ‘Hardy’ personality

5 Type A and Type B personality Type A behaviour – characterised by constant time pressure, competitiveness in work and social situations, and anger  Type B behaviour – characterised by an easy- going, relaxed and patient approach to life

6 The Type A personalityThe Type B personality Very competitiveLess competitive Highly motivated to achieve Equally ambitious but not dominated by ambition Restless and hyper-alertRelaxed Constantly feels under time pressureMakes time for socialising AngryNot easily angered Impatient, hostile and cynicalEasy-going, forgiving and understanding.

7 Friedman and Rosenman (1959) Type A individuals possess 3 major characteristics. 1.Competitiveness and achievement striving 2.Impatience and time urgency 3.Hostility and aggressiveness

8 Friedman and Rosenman  These 3 characteristics lead to increased BP and raised levels of stress hormones (e.g. cortisol).  Activation of stress pathways in body.  Linked to illness, particularly CVDs like CHD.  CHD – narrowing of the coronary arteries.  An increase in HR may wear away the lining of the blood vessels.  Stress also leads to increased glucose levels, leading to clumps blocking the blood vessels.

9 Competitive Time urgent Impatient Hostile and aggressive Relaxed One thing at a time Patient Easy-going Type A Type B

10 Independent task 1.Read the key study by Friedman and Rosenman (1974) and identify the APFCC of the study. 2.Identify at least three A02 evaluation points for this study. You have 12 minutes.

11 Strengths Longitudinal study – can observe LT effects in the same PTs over a long period of time. Structured interview – can be easily repeated as questions are standardised, requires less interviewing skills. Large sample size – generalisability of findings. Influential study in triggering further research into link between stress and illness.

12 Weaknesses   Sample – male/age – gender/age bias – generalisability.  Western individualist culture - America – men socialised to display Type A behaviour – ‘social norm’  Correlational evidence; difficult to establish cause and effect. Could be personality combined with social/environmental/genetic factors.

13 Weaknesses   Division of participants into Type A/B – likely to be differences in the extent to which a person meets the criteria for being assigned to a particular personality type e.g. someone might meet one criteria for Type A and another might meet all criteria for Type A – is that fair?  Which particular elements of Type A personality are associated with vulnerability to CHD? Is it hostility? Is it competitiveness? Or is it all traits combined?

14 Research evidence SUPPORT: Myrtek (2001) - meta-analysis of 35 studies, found an association between hostility and CHD (hostility is a trait associated with Type A personality). Could be that hostility component of Type A is risk factor for CHD, not Type A personality as a whole. AGAINST: Ragland and Brand (1988) - found little evidence of a relationship between Type A personality and risk of developing CHD.

15 The Hardy personality Kobasa and Maddi (1977) Some people are more psychologically ‘hardy’ than others. The hardy personality includes a range of characteristics which provide defences against the negative effects of stress.

16 Hardiness Control – Hardy people see themselves as being in control of their lives, not controlled by external factors beyond their control i.e. fate. Commitment- Hardy people are involved with the world around them and have a strong sense of purpose and direction. Challenge- Hardy people see life challenges as problems to be overcome rather than as threats or stressors. They enjoy change as an opportunity for development.

17 Independent task 1.Read the key study on ‘Hardy Personality’ by Kobasa (1979) in your booklet. 2.Answer the 5 questions about the study. 3.Draw a visual representation of this key study. 4.Identify 2 evaluation points.

18 Evaluation  Correlational evidence.  Questionnaires (SRRS and Hardy Personality) – social desirability bias.  Sample – all male, all middle-class individuals – generalisability issues.

19 Evaluation of Hardy Personality  Some argue that the characteristics of the hardy personality can be more simply explained in terms of negative affectivity (a negative view of self/world).  High NA individuals report more distress and are more likely to dwell on their failings.  Hardiness and NA correlate suggesting that hardy individuals are those that are low on NA!

20 Research evidence Maddi et al (1987)  Studied employees of a US company that was, over a year, dramatically reducing the size of its workforce.  2/3 employees suffered stress-related health problems over this period, but the remaining 1/3 thrived.  This ‘thriving’ group showed more evidence of hardiness attributes (the 3 C’s). Supporting evidence or against? Why?

21 Research evidence Lifton et al (2006)  Measured hardiness in students at 5 US universities to see if hardiness was related to the likelihood of them completing their degree.  Low score in hardiness was correlated with a higher drop-out rate.  High score in hardiness was correlated with completing a degree. Supporting evidence or against? Why?

22 Problems with measurement Alot of the research has relied upon data from self- report techniques. 1.Social desirability bias – lie to look ‘good.’ 2.Failure to understand question adequately. 3.Memory not 100% accurate – retrospective data.

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