Stress in the 21st Century Essay

Words: 2388
Pages: 10

“Stress is an epidemic in the 21st century and impacts on people’s behaviour in many ways. Discuss in light of the literature.”

Stress is a term that is frequently used in everyday conversation. The conventional meaning of the word stress – too much to do, too much to worry about – was not part of the vocabulary some fifty years ago. In the 1930s the Hungarian scientist Hans Selye, the godfather of stress research, took an engineering concept and applied it to humans 1. Stress in general refers to force exerted on a system. In human terms however it would more correctly refer to circumstances that either threaten or are perceived to be threatening to a person’s wellbeing and consequently be taxing on their ability to cope with
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2. Conflict
Conflict is probably the most common stressor. Conflict can be internal such as guilt or blame for not living up to standards. Conflict can also be external in which case it is the experience of incompatible goals or demands. Two people are in conflict when they seek the same limited resource: if one acquires it, the other will not.

Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin described conflict as involving two kinds of forces between persons and goals: approach and avoidance. Approach is the attraction toward a desired goal, while avoidance is the aversion felt toward an undesirable state or event. Given that conflict involves two or more incompatible goals, approach and avoidance combine to form various forms of conflict 9.
A. Approach-Approach Conflict
In approach-approach conflict, one must choose between two mutually exclusive attractive goals, for example deciding between having two types of meals that are favourites: Indian or Thai cuisine. This is the least stressful of conflicts.
B. Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict
An unpleasant experience is avoidance-avoidance conflict, where one must choose which of two threatening or unpleasant possibilities can be escaped. Coping with such conflict usually involves choosing the 'lesser of two evils', e.g. going to the dentist or