Monday, May 25, 2009

Arousal, Behavior, Stress, and Affect Worksheet (PSY355)

University of Phoenix Material
Arousal, Behavior, Stress, and Affect Worksheet
Using the text for this course, the University Library, the Internet, and/or other resources answer the following questions. Your response to each question should be at least 250 words in length.
1. What are the differences between physiological and psychological needs? Provide examples of each in your response.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs postulates that the needs of a person are organized into an ascending structure, going from the lower physiological needs to the needs of safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization (Deckers, 2005). Maslow hypothesized that the lower needs have to be addressed before the higher needs can be attended to. Physiological needs include the homeostatic balance of food intake (blood glucose levels), water consumption (intercellular and extracellular fluid levels), sleep (Circadian Rhythms), activity, and sexual needs. The internal motives created by these physiological needs manifest themselves as psychological drives, or an, “…internal push, urge, or force that moves a person into action” (Deckers, 2005, p. 194). On the other hand, the concurrent physiological counterpart of psychological needs is much more speculative. Atkinson seemed to believe that psychological needs could be described as incentive categories, but Deckers cautions that the idea of internal psychological needs acting to select external incentives is not always clear-cut, or obvious. The rest of Maslow’s hierarchy would constitute a good example of psychological needs: safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. Other drive-linked psychological needs could include the need to satisfy curiosity and the need to avoid boredom. In light of Atkinson’s explanation of psychological needs as incentive categories, incentives that lead to the satisfaction of the psychological need to avoid boredom would be chosen over other possible incentives, thereby equating internal needs to external incentives. Furthermore, the psychological need to achieve is moderated by the sum total of the tendency to avoid failure (Taf) and the tendency to succeed (Ts). Additionally, one good example of the physiological counterpart to psychological need is the hypothesized hypothalamic control of the sensations of hunger and satiety (Wickens, 2005). According to research entailing lesions in rats, the hypothalamus controls the sensations of hunger and satiety through exercising control of adipose tissue deposits in the body, thereby offering a physiological explanation to a psychological need.
2. What is the relationship between arousal and behavior? Does this relationship impact performance and affect?
Arousal is best described as the energy produced by the interaction between internal and external stimuli on the one hand, and physiological and psychological needs on the other hand. This energy is a byproduct of the drive to satisfy both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which manifests itself through both physiological and psychological arousal. Physiological arousal entails sweaty palms, increased muscle tension; and increased breathing and heart rate. On the other hand, psychological arousal includes anxiety, fearfulness, and tension. As to behavior, arousal seems to moderate the energy behind behavior and mobilize behavior to execute a particular action. Arousal affects performance within an inverted-U relationship. Arousal enhances performance up to a point, then performance levels off, and as arousal increases further performance begins to suffer. The Yerkes-Dodson Law of arousal states that low arousal produces maximum performance on difficult tasks and high arousal produces maximal performance on easy tasks; collectively, arousal affects performance as dependent on the difficulty of the task. Furthermore, Hull’s drive theory theorizes that arousal is predicated on the complexity of a task and correct and incorrect responses. In complex tasks the dominant response is most likely the incorrect response; whereas, on simple tasks the correct response is more dominant. A cognitive explanation for arousal is the cue utilization hypothesis. This theory states that as arousal increases the use of irrelevant or peripheral cues decreases; and vice versa, as arousal decreases utilization of peripheral cues increases. Consequently, arousal increases focus and exclusivity of attention and therefore energizes behavior. Lastly, the cusp catastrophe model explains that cognitive arousal enhances performance when moderate physiological arousal is apparent, but causes a decline in performance at high arousal levels.
3. What are the long-term and short-term effects of stress on the body, brain, and behavior?
Stress encompasses a dichotomous paradigm of distress and eustress. Distress entails that cross-section of stress where arousal is either too high or too low, manifesting itself as negative feelings, diseases, and maladaptive behaviors. On the other hand, eustress entails that part of stress which includes arousal that is not too high or too low, but is just right. Internal and external stimuli can become stressors when they are not moderated or coped with properly. A short-term reaction to extremely traumatic events, such as 9/11 or the Oklahoma City bombing, would be acute stress disorder (ASD); whereas, a longer-term reaction would be posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hans Selye theorized that the body arousal of stress operates within a structure of the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). GAS entails an alarm reaction phase, sympathetic nervous system arousal, stress hormones are released, and the immune system is repressed; a resistance stage, stress reaction become localized, hormone levels drop back to normal, and the stressor is successfully moderated using adaptation energy; an exhaustion stage, adaptation energy is exhausted, stress hormones rise in the bloodstream, and the stress becomes a source of stress itself. Behaviors that help moderate stress would include primary and secondary appraisal, or the subjective evaluation of the ability for life events to be either positive or negative, and coping, which involves dealing with life change demands and any associated distress. Moreover, psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches and hypertension can result from unmanaged stress, thereby affecting the subjective quality of life. The immune system is also affected by stress by way of reduced t-cell and natural killer cell production.
Deckers, L. (2005). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental, Second
Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:
Pearson Hall.

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