Individual Differences and Stress

Essay by florencenightingaleUniversity, Bachelor'sB, January 2004

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Individual Differences and Stress


In the early 19th century stress was merely known as an engineering term. But it has since been established that stress, is associated with illness and because of this, psychologists have been interested in measuring stress, and showing ways in which stress can affect people's lives. Research has also tried to identify any links that can be associated to mental and physical illness. One good example of stress would be that of the (Confederation of British Industry 1999) Stress is.... "That which arises when the pressures placed upon an individual exceeds the perceived capacity of that individual".

From a physical point of view, stress was found to produce an alarm reaction by the brain, which heightens our responses, a brief explanation is that adrenaline travels into the bloodstream making the body work harder. The heart rate speeds up, blood pressure raises, the person then breathes faster, the muscles tense and the stomach shall stop digesting food effectively.

It has been found that mentally, the body prepares for action, known as the "fight or flight" reaction. It should be clarified that stress is "normal", it is also positive, it alerts and can

protect you in times of danger, (such as when crossing the road and a vehicle is approaching it makes you aware of the danger), but stress can also have a negative effect.

There are many individual differences between people (for example age, gender, race, social class and culture). The individual difference that shall be the main topic of discussion in this paper is personality. This paper shall discuss how research has shown that some individuals with specific personalities can perceive and react to stress in different ways, which makes them more susceptible to negative stress. Within psychology the topic of personality itself, is subject...