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© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Applied Module 1 Social Psychology and Health.

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Presentation on theme: "© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Applied Module 1 Social Psychology and Health."— Presentation transcript:

1 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Applied Module 1 Social Psychology and Health

2 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Chapter Outline I. Stress and Human Health

3 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health A great deal of anecdotal evidence indicates that stress can affect the body in dramatic ways. Negative life events are one source of stress.

4 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Effects of Negative Life Events Selye (1956, 1976) defined stress as the body’s physiological response to threatening events, regardless of the source of the threat. Holmes and Rahe (1967) suggest that stress is the degree to which people have to change and readjust their lives in response to an external event.

5 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Effects of Negative Life Events Several studies have found that the more life changes people report, the more anxiety they feel and the more likely it is they are to have been sick. Studies confirm the idea that it is the life experiences that we perceive as negative that are bad for our health (see Lefrancois et al, 2000 study of elderly in Quebec). They found that negative life changes were associated with the greatest psychological distress.

6 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Perceived Stress and Health Stress caused by negative interpretations of events can directly affect our immune systems, making us more susceptible to disease (see Cohen et al, 1991 cold study; Fig. SPA1.1). Since this is a correlational study, we cannot draw causal conclusions. Other studies, however, in which immune responses were measured before and after mildly stressful tasks in the lab, have shown that even mild stressors can lead to a suppression of the immune system (Cacioppo, 1998).

7 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control What exactly is it that makes people perceive a situation as stressful? One important variable is the amount of control they believe they have over the event. Perceived control is the belief that we can influence our environment in ways that determine whether we experience positive or negative outcomes.

8 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control The less control people feel they have the more likely it is that the event will cause physical and psychological problems. -e.g., the loss of control experienced by many older people in nursing homes can have negative effects on their health and mortality (see Rodin and Langer,1977 nursing home study; Fig. SPA1.2).

9 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control In a similar study by Schultz and Hanusa (1978) the intervention was temporary. What impact does this have? As shown in figure SPA 1.2, being given control and then having it taken away had negative effects on mortality rates. Thus, such programs might be beneficial in the short run, but do more harm than good after they end.

10 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control The effects of lack of perceived control are not limited to physical health. -eg, A study conducted with clients at sexual assault centres in southern Ontario found that rape victims who believed that they generally had control over outcomes in their lives experienced less depression and showed fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress 6 months or more after the event.

11 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control A word of caution. i) The perceived control findings are culturally specific. -ie, the relationship between perceived control and psychological distress is much higher in Western cultures (where individualism is stressed) than in Asian cultures (where collectivism is stressed).

12 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control ii) There is danger in exaggerating the relation between perceived control and physical health. -ie, when society is plagued by a deadly, but poorly understood disease, such as AIDS, the illness is often blamed on some kind of human frailty, such as lack of faith, or moral weakness. As a result, people sometimes blame themselves for their illness, even to the point where they do not seek effective treatment. This just adds to the tragedy for people with a serious, but unavoidable disease.

13 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health The Importance of Perceived Control Even when the illness is terminal, there is a way people can maintain a sense of control, -ie, although they cannot control the disease, people can exercise control over the consequences of the disease (eg, their emotional reactions). Research shows that these perceptions of control are highly related to people’s psychological adjustment__the more control, the better the adjustment.

14 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Knowing You Can Do It: Self-Efficacy Having control is a good thing, but it is also important for people to have high self-efficacy for postive results to emerge. Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to carry out specific actions that produce desired outcomes.

15 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Knowing You Can Do It: Self-Efficacy People’s level of self-efficacy has been found to predict a number of important health behaviours, such as likelihood that they will quit smoking lose weight lower their cholesterol exercise regularly (see Blittner et al, 1978 smoking cessation study; Fig. SPA1.3).

16 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Knowing You Can Do It: Self-Efficacy Self-efficacy increases the likelihood that people will engage in healthier behaviour in 2 ways: i)It influences people’s persistence and effort at a task; ii)It influences the way our bodies react while we are working towards our goals (eg, people with high self-efficacy experience less anxiety and their immune system functions more optimally0.

17 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Knowing You Can Do It: Self-Efficacy How can self-efficacy be increased? Through the use of self-efficacy instructions (see Blittner et al, 1978 smoking study)

18 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness What happens when we experience a setback? We don’t reach our goal (eg,fail a grade). How do we explain this to ourselves? Through the use of positive, optimistic attributions rather than stable, internal, global attributions (which lead to learned helplessness behaviour).

19 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness According to attribution theory, we can make i) stable, ii) internal, or iii) global attributions. A stable attribution is the belief that the cause of an event is due to factors that will not change over time (e.g., intelligence), as opposed to unstable factors that will change (amount of effort expended).

20 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness An internal attribution is the belief that the cause of an event has to do with you (e.g., ability), as opposed to factors that are external to you (e.g., difficulty of the test). A global attribution is the belief that the event is caused by factors that apply in a large number of situations (e.g., your intelligence, which will influence your performance in many areas), as opposed to the belief that the cause is specific and applies in only a limited number of situations (e.g., your math ability, affecting only the math area).

21 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness According the learned helpless theory, making stable, internal, and global attributions for negative events leads to hopelessness, depression, reduced effort, and difficulty in learning (see Fig. SPA1.4).

22 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

23 Stress and Human Health Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness Learned helplessness can be counteracted with the provision of information relevant to the stressful situation, eg, ‘the causes of poor performance are often temporary.’ (see Wilson and Linville, 1982 academic performance study; Fig. SPA1.5).

24 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Stress and Human Health Explaining Negative Events: Learned Helplessness Further studies have shown that those who explain bad events in optimistic ways are less depressed, in better health, do better in school and in their careers, and in their close relationships.

25 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Chapter Outline II. Coping with Stress

26 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Coping Styles How do people cope with stress? What kind of coping styles do they use? How successful are they? Coping styles are the ways in which people react to stressful events.

27 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style Some people are optimistic, generally expecting the best out of life, whereas others are sourpusses who always see the dark underside of life. Research shows that optimistic people react better to stress and are healthier than their pessimistic counterparts (Armor and Taylor, 1998). And, most people are optimistic, even unrealistically optimistic, although they are able to retain a healthy balance of optimism and reality-monitoring, which is necessary when dealing with real threat.

28 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style Personality type is another personality variable related to coping. Type A versus B is a personality typology based on how people typically confront challenges in their lives. Type A person: typically competitive, impatient, hostile, and control oriented Type B person: typically more patient, relaxed, and noncompetitive

29 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style Numerous studies show that Type A people are in some ways more successful in life, but also more prone to coronary heart disease. Studies show that the part of the Type A personality that is most related to heart disease is hostility— people who are chronically hostile are more at risk for coronary disease (Salovey et al, 1998).

30 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style What determines whether people have Type A or Type B personalities? A number of factors have been found to be related to Type A: i)If you are male ii)If your parents are Type A iii)If you live in an urban area iv)If you live in a Western society, which tends to stress independence and competitiveness

31 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style Dion and colleagues (2002) recently examined the personality variable of hardiness in relation to a particular kind of stress, namely the stress of being a victim of prejudice and discrimination. Hardiness is a personality trait defined as a combination of self-esteem and a sense of control. Hardiness helps people deal with stress in a positive, effective manner.

32 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style Dion and colleagues (2002) found that discrimination was correlated with psychological stress, but only for those who were low in hardiness. People with hardy personalities reported just as much discrimination, but much less stress.

33 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Personality and Coping Style Why do hardy persons experience less stress in the face of discrimination? Because, hardy persons, unlike their less hardy counterparts, treated the discrimination they experience as an isolated event -ie, they make different attributions than those who are less hardy__ they attribute discrimination to specific, unstable factors rather than to global, stable factors.

34 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress “Opening Up”: Confiding in Others Several studies show that opening up, which involves writing or talking about one’s problems, has long-term health benefits. Why? Pennebaker (1990) argues that actively trying inhibit or not think about a traumatic event takes mental and physical energy, which is itself stressful.

35 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress “Opening Up”: Confiding in Others Moreover, suppressing negative thoughts can lead to an obsession with those thoughts such that people think about them more and more, thereby creating more and more stress. Finally, talking about an event can lead to a better understanding of the event, which can lessen the associated stress.

36 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Social Support: Getting Help From Others A number of studies have found that social support is an important aid in dealing with stress. Social support is the perception that others are responsive and receptive to one’s needs.

37 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Social Support: Getting Help From Others According to the buffering hypothesis, social support is especially helpful in times of stress. i)It makes us less likely to interpret an event as stressful. ii)It helps us cope with the stressful event.

38 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Coping with Stress Social Support: Getting Help From Others Buffering hypothesis: the hypothesis that we need social support only when we are under stress, because it protects us against the detrimental effects of this stress. There is truth to the saying, ‘In times of stress, find a friend to lean on.’

39 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Chapter Outline III. Prevention: Improving our Health Habits

40 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits People are at risk for developing serious drinking problems, and for getting cancer through smoking, or AIDS, and/or other venereal diseases because of non- use of condoms. How can we persuade people to change their health habits to promote overall better health?

41 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits Message Framing: Stressing Gains vs. Losses One strategy is to present people with persuasive communications urging them to adopt better health habits. To be successful these messages must be framed in the appropriate way.

42 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits Message Framing: Stressing Gains vs. Losses To get people to perform detection behaviours, such as examining their skin for cancer, it is best to use messages framed in terms of losses (i.e., the negative consequences of failure to act). To get people to perform preventative behaviours, such as using sunscreen, it is best to use messages framed in terms of gains (i.e., positive consequences) (see Rothman et al, 1993; Fig. SPA1.6).

43 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits Message Framing: Stressing Gains vs. Losses Why does the way in which the message is framed make a difference? Rothman and Salovey (1997) suggest that it changes the way in which people think about their health. -ie, A loss frame focuses people’s attention on the possibility that they might have a problem that can be dealt with by performing detection behaviour (eg, performing self-breast exams),

44 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits Message Framing: Stressing Gains vs. Losses Why does the way in which the message is framed make a difference? -ie A gain frame focuses people’s attention on the fact that they are in a good state of health and that to stay that way it is best to perform preventative behaviour (eg, using condoms when having sex).

45 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits Changing Health-Relevant Behaviours Using Dissonance Theory Unfortunately, when it comes to changing some intractable, ingrained health habits, public service ads may be of limited success. Sometimes the best way to change people’s behaviour is to change their interpretation of themselves and the social situation (create dissonance and the need for dissonance reduction).

46 © 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc. Improving our Health Habits Changing Health-Relevant Behaviours Using Dissonance Theory Aronson and colleagues (1991) did this in their hypocrisy-condom study. They found that students in the hypocrisy condition showed the greatest willingness to use condoms in the future, and when given the opportunity, purchased significantly more condoms for their own use than did students in the non-hypocrisy conditions. The End


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