Discuss the Psychological Evidence Concerning the Relationship Between Personality, Stress and Disease.

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3) Discuss the psychological evidence concerning the relationship between personality, stress and disease.

Many psychologists believe that stress is a common cause of many illnesses, both physically and psychologically. So how does a person’s personality contribute to their levels of stress and thus make them a target for stress related illnesses such as coronary heart disease? This essay aims to look at definitions for stress and personality and see how the relationship between these can produce disease in the human body. The essay will also look at evidence for stress and its affect on health and personality types and how stress is associated with them.
Stress can be defined as ‘a physical, mental, or emotional reaction resulting
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Combined with stronger cognitive and emotional threat while feeling the need to be in control and striving for success, leads to increased damage to the inner lining of arterial vessels and development of coronary plaques resulting in narrowed arteries. The hyperactivity also causes cardiac arrhythmias, which can directly cause cardiac death (Contrada & Krantz, 1988; Houston, 1983). Work by Dembroski & Costa (1987) and Williams, Barefoot & Shekelle (1985) also found that the hyperactivity found in Type A personalities is the direct cause of the hostility commonly found in this personality type and can be described as a ‘toxic’ element for causing CHD.
The problem with this model though, is that it presumes that hyperactivity is exclusively connected to CHD. The evidence from Kiecolt-Glaser shows that SNS can be linked to the depression of the immune system. This would put Type A personalities at risk from nonvascular illnesses as well, increasing their overall risk of infections and diseases. Also Holmes (1983) tested the difference in blood pressure between Type A and Type B personalities, finding little difference between the two. Putting Type Bs at just as much risk as Type As.
Another model of personality and stress is the “Personality as Precipitator of Dangerous behaviours” model. This model proposes that certain personality traits confer greater illness risk depending upon the risk involved in the circumstance. This model presents the fact that Type As

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