- Axon – The part of a neuron that transmits information to other neurons, muscles or glands
- Behavior – Observable actions of human beings and nonhuman animals
- Behavioral Neuroscience – An approach to psychology that links psychological processes to activities in the nervous system and other bodily processes
- Behaviorism – An approach that advocates that psychologists restrict themselves to the scientific study of objectively observable behavior
- Case Method – A method of gathering scientific knowledge by studying a single individual
- Cell Body – The part of neuron that coordinates information-processing tasks and keeps the cell alive
- Cognitive Neuroscience – A field that attempts to understand the links between cognitive processes and brain activity
- Cognitive Psychology – A field of psychology that attempts to understand the links between cognitive processes and brain activity; Remembering, attending, thinking, believing, evaluating, feeling and assessing; Perception, thought, memory and reasoning
- Consciousness – A person’s subjective experiences of the world and the mind
- Control Group – One of the two groups of participants created by the manipulation of an independent variable in an experiment that is not exposed to the stimulus being studied
- Correlation – The “co-relationship” or pattern of covariation between two variables, each of which has been measured several times
- Debriefing – A verbal description of the true nature and purpose of a study that psychologists provide to people after they have participated in a study
- Demand Characteristics – Those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think an observer wants or expects them to behave
- Dendrites – The part of a neuron that receives information from other neurons and relays it to the cell body
- Dependent Variable – The variable that is measured in a study
- Double Blind Observation – An observation whose true purpose is hidden from the researcher as well as from the participant
- Evolutionary Psychology – A psychological approach that explains mind and behavior in terms of the adaptive value of abilities that are preserved over time by natural selection
- Cultural Psychology – The study of how cultures reflect and shape the psychological processes of their members
- Electromyograph (EMG) – A device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin
- Empiricism – Originally a Greek school of medicine that stressed the importance of observation, and is now generally used to describe any attempt to acquire knowledge by observing objects or events
- Experiment – A technique for establishing the causal relationship between variables
- Experiment Group – One of the two groups of participants created by the manipulation of an independent variable in an experiment; the experimental group is exposed to the stimulus and the control group is not
- External Validity – A characteristic of an experiment in which the independent and dependent variables are operationally defined in a normal, typical or realistic way
- Functionalism – The study of the purpose mental processes serve in enabling people to adapt to their environment
- Gestalt Psychology – A psychological approach that emphasizes that we often perceive the whole rather than the sum of the parts
- Glial Cells – Support cells found in the nervous system
- Humanistic Psychology – An approach to understanding human nature that emphasizes the positive potential of human beings
- Hypothesis – A specific and testable prediction that is usually derived from a theory
- Hysteria – A temporary loss of cognitive or motor functions, usually as a result of emotionally upsetting experiences
- Independent Variable – The variable that is manipulated in an experiment
- Informed Consent – A written agreement to participate in a study made by a person who has been informed of all the risks that participation may entail.
- Internal Validity – The characteristic of an experiment that allows one to draw accurate inferences about the causal relationship between an independent and dependent variable.
- Interneurons – Neurons that connect sensory neurons, motor neurons and other interneurons.
- Introspection – The subjective observation of one’s own experiences.
- Measure – A device that can detect the measurable events to which an operational definition refers.
- Method – A set of rules and techniques for observation that allow researchers to avoid the illusions, mistakes and erroneous conclusions that simple observation can produce.
- Mind – Our private inner experience of perceptions, thoughts, memories and feelings.
- Motor Neurons – Neurons that carry signals from the spinal cord to the muscles to produce movement.
- Myelin Sheath – An insulating layer of fatty material in the brain that surrounds the axons of neurons.
- Nativism – The philosophical view that certain kinds of knowledge are innate or inborn (nature); stemmed from Plato.
- Natural Selection – Charles Darwin’s theory that the features of an organism that help it survive and reproduce are more likely than other features to be passed to subsequent generations.
- Naturalistic Observation – A method of gathering scientific knowledge by unobtrusively observing people in their natural environment.
- Neurons – Cells in the nervous system that communicate with one another to perform information-processing tasks.
- Operational Definition – A description of an abstract property in terms of a concrete condition that can be measured.
- Philosophical Empiricism – The philosophical view that all knowledge is acquired (nurture); stemmed from Aristotle
- Physiology – The study of biological processes, especially in the human body.
- Phrenology – A now defunct theory that specific mental abilities and characteristics ranging from memory to the capacity for happiness are localized in specific regions of the brain.
- Population – The complete collection of participants who might possibly be studied.
- Power – The tendency for a measure to produce different results when it is used to measure different things.
- Psychoanalysis – A therapeutic approach that focuses on bringing unconscious material into conscious awareness to better understand psychological disorders.
- Psychoanalytic Theory – Sigmund Freud’s approach to understanding human behavior that emphasizes the importance of unconscious mental processes in shaping feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
- Psychology – The scientific study of the mind and behavior; from Greek psyche (mind) and logos (behavior).
- Random Sampling – A technique for choosing participants that ensures that every member of a population has an equal chance of being included in a sample.
- Reaction Time – The amount of time taken to respond to a specific stimulus.
- Reliability – The tendency for a measure to produce the same result whenever it is used to to measure the same thing.
- Resting Potential – The difference in electric charge between the inside and outside of a neuron’s cell membrane.
- Sample – The partial collection of people who actually were measured in a study.
- Sensory Neurons – Neurons that receive information from the external world and convey this information to the brain via the spinal cord.
- Social Psychology – A subfield of psychology that studies the causes and consequences of interpersonal behavior.
- Stimulus – Sensory input from the environment.
- Structuralism – The analysis of basic elements that constitute the mind; involves breaking down consciousness into elemental sensations and feelings.
- Synapse – The junction or region between the axon of one neuron and the dendrites or cell body of another.
- Theory – A hypothetical account of how and why a phenomenon occurs, usually in the form of a statement about the causal relationship between two or more properties; lead to hypotheses.
- Validity – The characteristic of an observation that allows one to draw accurate inferences from it.
- Variable – A property whose value can vary of change.
- Unconscious – The part of the mind that operates outside of conscious awareness but influences conscious thoughts, feelings and actions.
What is resilience?
Psychological resilience is characterized by your ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences, as well as your ability to adapt to stressful situations.
Coping is defined as the thoughts and behaviors that we use to manage the internal and external demands of stressful situations. Coping styles develop from a mix of our biological makeup (genetics) and personal experience.
- Coping is a dynamic process – not a one time event – comprised of a series of responses over time, and which is influenced by our environment.
- Coping encompasses a wide variety of actions and reactions, like anger and depression.
Things that promote effective coping include:
- Sense of coherence about your life
- Sense of purpose or meaning
- Sense of humor
- Trust in others
- Sense that life is worth living
- Religious beliefs
Most people use a combination of coping styles, but it depends on the person… and the problem. Coping is process, not a one-time event. The vast majority of things that stress us out are chronic.
- Problem Focused Coping – Doing something constructive about the situation; usually developed in childhood. We often see this style of coping in work environments. When there is a solution, problem focused coping is the best option.
- Emotional Focused Coping– Regulating the emotional experiences associated with a stressful situation; tend to develop in early adolescence. We typically see this style of coping when someone is not yet ready to solve the problem, and needs to deal with their emotions first. Or, when there is no solution to the problem. For example, people with a chronic or terminal illness often use an emotional focused copying style. There are 2 styles of emotional focused coping:
- Rumination – Negative recurrent thoughts which can be detrimental to your health
- Emotional approach coping – Clarifying, focusing on and working through emotional experiences; this has beneficial health affects for people experience chronic pain, or medical conditions like pregnancy and breast cancer.
Other coping styles:
- Approach – Uses problem-focused strategies to confront the issues.
- Avoidance – Ignoring or burying stress; There is a difference between avoidance and minimizing.
Whether you use avoidance or approach focuse mode makes a difference to your long-term health.
Things to consider when it comes to coping with stress
- Are there coping styles or personality traits that make you better at coping with stress than someone else?
- Are there strategies that are useful in different situations?
Immune system activation affects our brain, and alters our behavior. It can cause:
- Loss of appetite
- Anhedonia (reduced interest in things we found pleasurable)
- Reduced social behavior
- Hyperalgesia (sensitivity to pain)
- Poor memory/concentration
These non-specific symptoms that accompany immune response are called “sickness behavior.” It occurs because the cytokines (IL-1 and IL-6) produced by macrophages when our non-specific immune system is activated communicate the brain, “I am sick.”
According to Hart (1988), these behavior changes are adaptive, and designed to help promote recovery. They are not a sign of weakness. Rather they are just the body doing what it is supposed to do in order to fight off disease. For example:
- The cortisol and catekolines produce energy (needed to produce fever), which slows down bacteria replication.
- Reduced activity conserves energy, which is needed to fight disease.
People who are depressed look like they are stressed. In fact, depression is very similar to sickness behavior according to Maes’ macrophage theory of depression (1993/1995) . Major depression activates immune system cells and cytokines in the blood. Cases of depression that are resistant to treatment have been shown to have higher cytokines. When people are administered cytokines to boost their immune system, they get depressed.
Fight or Flight (Walter Cannon 1932)
When a threat is perceived, the body is rapidly aroused and motivated via the sympathetic nervous and endocrine systems. Fight (attack) is an aggressive response to stress; Flight (flee) is withdrawal. Fight or flight is adaptive and allows you to quickly respond to threats. However, disruption lays groundwork for health problems.
Stress as an Absence (Levine & Ursin)
This theory of stress is based on a lack of control or information. When clear, salient safety clues are provided, stress is reduced. When clues are absent, stress increases. For an example of this, you can look to Martin Seligman’s research on learned helplessness. Seligman’s theory suggests that when placed in an inescapable situation, people will eventually stop trying to escape. And that even when an escape route is provided, they will not attempt to escape. Once you introduce them to the escape, however, they will learn from the experience and respond appropriately. This model assumes stress is more reflexive in nature.
Selye’s General Adaption Syndrome (Hans Selye 1956, 1976)
Selye exposed rats to stressors (extreme cold and fatigue) and observed physiological responses. All of them responded in the same, predictable pattern. Based on this research, Selye theorized that regardless of the stress, people respond with the same physiological patterns and reactions. Overtime, this creates wear and tear on their bodies. Selye’s belief was that this repeated or prolonged exhaustion is what lays the groundwork for disease. Some of the physiological changes Selye noted in chronically stressed individuals include:
- Enlarged adrenal cortex
- Shrinking of thymus and lymph glands
- Ulceration of stomach and duodenum
3 Phases of the General Adaption Syndrome
- Alarm – You become mobilized, and ready to meet the threat.
- Resistance – You make an effort to cope with threat.
- Exhaustion – You may fails to overcome, depleting your physiological resources in the process.
Criticisms of Seyle’s General Adaption Syndrome
- Assigns limited role to psychological fators (appraisial of events is important to experiencing stress)
- Assumes all responses to stress are the same; not all stressors produced the same endocrine responses. How people respond to stress is dependent upon their personalities, emotions and biological construction.
- Researchers bow believe that it’s the chronic activation, not the exhaustion, that leads to damage
- Stress is considered an outcome; sometimes people experience effects of stress while or before a stressor
Tend & Befriend (S. E. Taylor, Klein, et al.)
In addition to fight or flight, humans respond to stress with social affiliation and nurtuting behavior toward off-srping. Mor true of women, but also can be observed in men. Oxytocin is released during stressful events, and increases affiliative behavior. Itneracts with estrogen. People with high levels are calmer, and more relaxed.
Appraisal Process ( Lazarus & Folkman 1984)
This psychological view of stress theorizes that people confronted with a new environment engage in a process of primary appraisal to determine the meaning of the event (positive negative or neutral),and their ability to cope with it. In other words, something is only stressful if you think it is! In this model, there is more room for personal empowerment and individual differences. A person’s ability to cope with stress depends on their cognitive ability in both situations.
Lazarus and Folkman developed a “Daily Hassles” self-reporting scale that measured the number of hassles and uplifts in a month. Although it is more accommodating to the daily stress that people undergo – helps us to explain why we feel the way we do RIGHT NOW – it is not as flexible as Cohen’s survey. It does, however, allow for individual perceptions by assigning points to events.
3 Stage Appraisal Process
- Primary appraisal – Events are assessed as irrelevant (no impact on well-being), benign positive (positive, pleasurable emotions) or negative/stressful. Negative events are further appraised for harm (already done), threat (assessment of possible future damage) challenge (potential to overcome or profit; typical when an individual has more confident expectations of ability to cope, but may still lead them to experience negative stress).
- Secondary appraisal – The stage is an assessment of your coping abilities and resources. Are they sufficient to meet the demand? Responses may be both voluntary and involuntary, but include outcome expectancy (Will my behavior lead to successful coping?), and efficacy expectancy (Can I seriously successfully execute the behavior that will lead to successful coping?).
- Reappraisal – Individuals may revise their previous appraisals based on new information. This does not always happen, it is an optimal step in the process. Defensive reappraisals may include an effort to reinterpret past events as more positive… People have a tendency to look back and believe things were better than they did at the actual time, which can be a good self-protective strategy.
Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen)
Cohen’s theory of stress is one based on perceptions, rather than events. Rather than focusing on life events, or the number of events, this theory accounts for individual differences by allowing us to rate our feelings.
This is the most commonly used survey in health psychology today. However, most researchers will combine surveys and/or include a physio-measure in order to get a well-rounded, accurate evaluation.
Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SSRS) (Holmes & Rahe)
These psychologists suggested that illness occurs around major life events, and looked at stress as something that requires you to adapt. They created a survey which weighted a list of both positive and negative life events based on severity (last 6 months). There are many criticisms of the SSRS, including:
- They only sampled white males
- Did not allow for individual differences in perceptions and coping ability. The event that you view as negative or stressful, someone else may view as a positive.
- At this point, the study is outdated, and not relevant to today’s lifestyles.
This week NeuroFocus (now owned by Nielsen) introduced it’s latest product called Mynd, the world’s first portable, wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) scanner. The product promises to tap deep into our unconscious minds to find the real triggers that engage our emotions, and motivate us to buy products and services.
This next wave of advertising research is more efficient, cost-effective and precise, making it a great innovation tool, and a marketing professional’s wildest dream.
What I wonder is… Will it become consumers’ worst nightmare?
Read more about Mynd at Fast Company.