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Chapter 12
Stress, and
by Jim Foley
В© 2013 Worth Publishers
Schachter-Singer “Two-factor” Theory:
Emotion = Body Plus a Cognitive Label
The Schachter-Singer
“two-factor” theory
suggests that emotions
do not exist until we add
a label to whatever body
sensations we are
 I face a stranger, and my
heart is pounding. Is it
fear? Excitement?
Anger? Lust? Or did I
have too much caffeine?
The label completes the
In a study by Stanley
Schachter and Jerome
Singer in 1962, subjects
experienced a spillover
effect when arousal was
caused by injections of
what turned out to be
The subjects interpreted
their agitation to
whatever emotion the
others in the room
appeared to be feeling;
the emotional label
“spilled over” from
Robert Zajonc, Joseph LeDoux,
and Richard Lazarus:
Emotions without Awareness/Cognition
Theory: some emotional reactions, especially
fears, likes, and dislikes, develop in a “low road”
through the brain, skipping conscious thought.
In one study, people
showed an amygdala
response to certain
images (above, left)
without being aware
of the image or their
When Appraisal Affects Emotion
Stanley Schachter and Jerome
Singer highlighted the role of
appraisal in labeling consciously
experienced emotions: “this
agitation is fear.”
Richard Lazarus noted
that even in emotional
responses that operate
without conscious
thought, “top-down”
cognitive functions such
as appraisal of stimuli (is
that a threat or something
I would enjoy?) can be
involved .
Detecting Emotion in Others
 People read a great deal of
emotional content in the
eyes (“the window to the
soul”) and the faces.
 Introverts are better at
detecting emotions;
extroverts have emotions
that are easier to read.
 We are primed to quickly
detect negative emotions,
and even negative emotion
 Those who have been
abused are biased toward
seeing fearful faces as
angry, as in the test below.
These faces morph from fear to anger.
Raise your hand when you first see anger under the red box.
Detecting Lies and Fakes
 Polygraphs (detecting
physiological arousal) fail
sometimes at correctly identifying
when people are lying.
 Visible signs of lying: eye blinks
decrease, and other facial
movements change.
Brain signs of lying:
In which image is Paul
Ekman “lying” with a
fake smile?
пѓ A real smile uses
involuntary muscles
around the eyes.
Culture and Emotional Expression:
Are There Universally Recognized Emotions?
 There seem to be some
universally understood
facial expressions.
 People of various cultures
agree on the emotional
labels for the expressions
on the faces on the right.
 People in other studies
did have more accuracy
judging emotions from
their own culture.
Emotion Detection and Context Cues
 What emotions do you see below?
How can you tell what emotions he is feeling?
 Because the faces are exactly the same, our detection of
emotion must be based on context: the situation,
gestures, and the tears.
Is Experienced Emotion as
Universal as Expressed Emotion?
Carroll Izzard
suggested that
there are ten
basic emotions:
those evident at
birth (seen here)
plus contempt,
shame, and
Closer Look at a Particular Emotion: Anger
 The catharsis myth
 A flash of anger gives us energy
refers to the idea that
and initiative to fight or otherwise
we can reduce anger by
take action when necessary.
“releasing” it, and we
 Persistent anger can cause more
do this by acting
harm than whatever we’re angry
aggressively (yelling,
punching a pillow).
 Some ways to keep anger from
persisting: distraction, constructive  In most cases,
expressing anger
action, problem-solving, exercise,
worsens it, and any
verbal expression, and allowing
“release” reinforces the
others to be wrong.
aggression, making it a
conditioned habit.
 Sometimes, releasing
anger causes harm, and
results in guilt.
 Instead, try calming
down and moving on.
Closer Look at a Particular Emotion: Happiness
There are behaviors that seem to go with happiness.
Researchers have found that happy people
tend to:
However, happiness seems not much
related to other factors, such as:
 Have high self-esteem (in individualistic
 Be optimistic, outgoing, and agreeable
 Have close friendships or a satisfying
 Have work and leisure that engage their
 Have an active religious faith
 Sleep well and exercise
 Age (example: the woman at the
laptop in the picture)
 Gender (women are more often
depressed, but also more often
 Parenthood (having children or
 Physical attractiveness
There also may be a genetic basis for a predisposition to happiness.
Whether because of genes, culture, or personal history, we each
seem to develop a mood “set point,” a level of happiness to which we
keep returning.
Stress: A Focus of Health Psychology
 Many people report being affected by “stress.”
 Some terms psychologists use to talk about stress:
Stress refers to the
process of appraising
and responding to
events which we
 a stressor is an event or condition
consider threatening
which we view as threatening,
or challenging.
challenging, or overwhelming.
 Examples include poverty, an
explosion, a psychology test,
feeling cold, being in a plane,
and loud noises.
 appraisal refers to deciding whether
to view something as a stressor.
 stress reaction refers to any
emotional and physical responses to
the stressor such as rapid heartbeat,
elevated cortisol levels, and crying.
There may be a spectrum of
levels of intensity and
persistence of stressors.
We can also see stressors as
falling into one of three
Stressors refer to the events
and conditions that trigger
our stress response, because
they are perceived/ appraised
as overwhelmingly
challenging, threatening,
and/or harmful.
significant life changes.
chronic daily hassles.
The Body’s Stress Response System
When encountering a sudden trauma or other stressor, our
body acts to increase our resistance to threat and harm.
Phase 1: The “fight or flight”
sympathetic nervous system
responds, reducing pain and
increasing the heart rate.
The core of the adrenal glands
produces norepinephrine and
epinephrine (adrenaline).
This system, identified by
Walter Cannon (1871-1945),
gives us energy to act.
Phase 2: The brain sends
signals to the outer part of the
adrenal glands to produce
cortisol and other stress
hormones. These focus us on
planning adaptive coping
strategies and resisting defeat
by the stressor.
Hans Selye (1907-1982)
indentified this extended
“resistance” phase of the
stress response, followed by:
Phase 3: Exhaustion.
General Adaptation Syndrome [GAS]
(Identified by Hans Selye):
Our stress response system defends,
then fatigues.
Effects of Prolonged Stress
 The General Adaptation
Syndrome [GAS] works well for
single exposures to stress.
 Repeated and prolonged stress,
with too much Phase 3 time,
leads to various signs of physical
deterioration and premature
 the production of new
neurons declines
 neural circuits in the brain
break down
 DNA telomeres (chromosome
tips) shorten, пѓ cells lose
ability to divide, пѓ cells die,
пѓ tissue stops regenerating,
пѓ early aging and death
Health Consequences of Chronic Stress:
The Repeated Release of Stress Hormones
 The stress hormone cortisol
helps our bodies respond to
brief stress.
 Chronically high cortisol levels
damage the body.
Female and Male Stress Response
 In response to a stressor
such as the death of a loved
one, women may “tend and
befriend”: nurture
themselves and others, and
bond together.
 The bonding hormone
oxytocin may play a role in
this bonding.
 Women show behavioral
and neurological signs of
becoming more empathetic
under stress.
 Men under stress are more
likely to socially withdraw
and numb themselves with
 Men are also more likely to
become aggressive under
 In either case, men’s
behavior and brains show
LESS empathy and less
tuning in to others under
Type A Personalityпѓ Stressпѓ Heart Disease
 Some personality traits tend
to cluster into personality
 People with a type A
personality are impatient,
verbally aggressive, and
always pushing themselves
and others to achieve.
 People with a type B
personality are more relaxed
and go with the flow.
 In one study, heart attacks
ONLY struck people with Type
A traits.
Accomplishing goals is healthy, but a compulsion to always be
working, with little time spent “smelling the flowers,” is not. 19
Pessimism and Heart Disease
It can be helpful
to realistically
negative events
that may happen,
and to plan how
to prevent or
cope with them.
Pessimism refers to the
assumption that
negative outcomes will
happen, and often facing
them by complaining
and/or giving up.
Men who are generally
pessimistic are more
likely to develop heart
disease within ten years
than optimists.
Stress factor: Perceived Level of Control
Experiment: the left and middle rats below
received shocks. The rat on the left was able
to turn off the shocks for both rats. Which
rat had the worst stress and health
 Only the
rat had
 It is not the
level of
shock, but
the level of
control over
the shock,
Promoting Health: Social Support
 Having close relationships is
associated with improved health,
immune functioning, and longevity.
 Social support, including from pets,
provides a calming effect that
reduces blood pressure and stress
 Confiding in others helps manage
painful feelings.
 Laughter helps too.
“Well, I think you’re wonderful.”
Aerobic Exercise and Health
Aerobic exercise refers
to sustained activity that
raises heart rate and
oxygen consumption.
 Aerobic exercise triggers
certain genes to produce
proteins which guard
against more than 20
chronic diseases and
 Aerobic exercise reduces
the risk of heart disease,
cognitive decline and
dementia, and early
Aerobic exercise reduces depression
and anxiety, and improves stress
management, and is correlated with
high confidence, vitality, and energy,
and good mood.
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