Outline and evaluate
(i) Selye’s (1956) General Adaption Syndrome of stress.
The General Adaption Syndrome (GAS) is Selye’s belief that that the body has physiological ways in which to deal with long term and short term stress and its and that prolonged exposure to stress can result in illness. He started this in the 1930’s and based this on researching hormones of rats and found that the rats had stress response to his research. He believed that regardless of the type of stressor, the reaction of the stressor was always the same. (Rice et al 2010p100)
Selye’s model has three stages:
Alarm stage – This is where the environmental stimuli is viewed as a stressor and the ‘fight or flight’ instinct is aroused and the first reactions are aroused. This is where the automatic nervous system (ANS) is activated and the sympathetic branch of the nervous system to release adrenaline and noradrenaline, which in turn raises the heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration and digestion, slows.
This stage is usually disappears quickly through the parasympathetic branch which returns everything to normal. If it continues we then move to the next stage
Resistance stage – This is where the environmental stressors are still there, and the body physiologically starts to adapt and adjust. Arousal is still high and the high level of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is still in the body. ACTH will try to resist stress by conserving glucose.
The body will quickly return to normal if the stressors leave, if the stressors continue the body it can interfere with the immune system and will be less likely to fight infection or disease. If the stressor continues, we then move to the exhaustion stage.
Exhaustion stage – This is where the body’s resources and energy starts to deplete and is usually after prolonged exposure. The body’s blood sugar levels fall dramatically and our levels of adrenaline become depleted.
This is where you can get long term effect of the stress such as high blood pressure and heart disease, psychosomatic illness that Selye called ‘diseases of adaption’.
One of the main strengths of the GAS was the basis of a lot of research, both by Selye and then lots of later research into the effects of stress on health and helps to account for the physiology of stress. He was the first person to study this.
Another advantage is using this model they can diagnose stress related illness, for example if a patient went to the doctor with stress, they can check to see any they have symptoms of stress related illness such as heart problems, and vice versa, a patient goes to a doctors with heart problems and can get diagnosed with stress.
Selye only focused on the biological aspects of the study and did not take in to account a person’s individual differences, gender, personality and other factors. This may due to the fact that the research was done on rats and not humans.
Selye also believed that people responded passively to stress, similar to the rats, however in later years Mason (1971) argued that the body is different and does not react in the same way. He believed that it was the emotional reaction to stressors, rather than the physiological effect. Marks et al (2005p258)
(ii) Folkman & Lazarus’ (1984) Cognitive appraisal theory of stress.
Richard Lazarus (1974) was later joined by Susan Folkman (1984) researched a model through cognitive appraisal of stress and is defined as a person’s appraisal of their environment and stressor and how they think they will cope with stressors. They believed that only a person’s perceptions of a stressor, how the persons sees it and how they deal with it, is consistent to whether the person gets stressed.
Primary Appraisal- this is usually the first reaction a person has to a