Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 206
Psychological stress/psychological theories/ElovainioKivimäki: The research evidence of the relationships between social, psychological and physiological reactions is hard to understand without the concept of stress. One of the fundamental steps towards exploring the black box between personality and health was taken when the concept of stress was introduced as a biological phenomenon (Selye 1956)(1). The term stress was applied to psychology from engineering, where it originally meant pressure in physical structures resulting from outer loads and forces. In psychology and physiology, there remained the idea of stress as an external load or demand on a biological, physiological or psychological system. Cf. Selye 1973(2). >Psychological Stress/Selye.
Generally, the term stress refers to experiencing events that are perceived as endangering one’s physical or psychological wellbeing. Stress reactions typically demonstrate stimulus-response specificity and it is apparent that there is no objective way to predict psychological stress level without taking into account individual capacity (Lazarus 1993)(3). >Psychological Stress/Lazarus.
Corr I 207
Paradox of stress: The paradox of stress lies in the simultaneity of its adaptive nature and its possible role in disease etiology. The effective, orchestrated bodily responses to everyday stressors or daily hassles are crucial for our adaptation and survival, and moderate levels of stress strengthen our resources to cope with similar situations in the future. McEwen (1998(4); McEwen and Stellar 1993(5)) has described the prevailing conditions where the adaptive functioning may be impaired and the possible health debilitating effects of stress start to emerge. >Allostasis/McEwen.
Corr I 208
Coping constitutes an important aspect of stress. Coping is directed at minimizing, deflecting or managing distress and sometimes defined as generalized responses to threat or demand and is thought to be selected by individuals because it is well-suited to the stressor or situation (Lazarus and Folkman 1984)(6). Application of particular kinds of coping is also affected by the resources one brings to the situation and by personality variables that influence one’s choices or predispositions to act (e.g., Scheier, Carver and Bridges 1994)(7).


1. Selye, H. 1956. What is stress?, Metabolism 5: 525
2. Selye, H. 1973. The evaluation of the stress concept, American Scientist 61: 692–9
3. Lazarus, R. S. 1993. From psychological stress to the emotions: a history of changing outlooks, Annual Review of Psychology 44: 1–21
4. McEwen, B. S. 1998. Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators, mediators, New England Journal of Medicine 338: 171–9
5. McEwen, B. S. and Stellar, E. 1993. Stress and the individual: mechanisms leading to disease, Archives of Internal Medicine 153: 2093–101
6. Lazarus, R. S. and Folkman, S. 1984. Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer
7. Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S. and Bridges, M. W. 1994. Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): a reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test, Journal of Personal Social Psychology 67: 1063–78


Marko Elovainio and Mika Kivimäki, “Models of personality and health”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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