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Life Stressors and Appraisals

What are some examples of life stressors? In what ways do individuals differ in their appraisal and ability to cope with life stressors? Are there certain personality traits that serve to buffer individuals against stressors and stress? Why or why not?

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1. What are some examples of life stressors?

Psychological stress is usually associated with negative life stressors related to changes, such as losing a job or loved one. However, because all changes require some sort of adaptation, even positive changes, such as getting married, having a child or a promotion to a higher position in the company, can be a life stressor and stressful. Other examples of life stressors that require coping may be acute, such as a change in residence or onset of marital problems. Life stressors also occur that are of longer duration, such as chronic pain, chronic illness, or enduring financial problems. (1)

In fact, the effect of many acute stressors that occur within a relatively brief period of time may be cumulative and profound. Thus, the individual who experiences a marital separation, the death of an aging parent, and a change in his or her job within a brief period of time may find himself or herself struggling to adjust to maintain his or her physical and emotional health. (1)
Thus, life stressors include either positive or negative life events (e.g., death, divorce, new job, new house, new baby, new job promotion or demotion) that require a person to adapt to these changes in her or his life. Stress results when pressures, challenges, or demands in life exceed a person's coping abilities. Stress can manifest itself in physical, emotional, or behavioral symptoms.

2. In what ways do individuals differ in their appraisal and ability to cope with life stressors?

Coping involves adjusting to unusual demands, or stressors, and thus requires the mobilization of greater effort and the use of greater energy than is required by the daily routines of life.

The way individual appraise the situation impacts her or his ability to cope with life stressors and change. Changes are stressful because changes require us to adjust and to adapt. Appraisals can be either positive or negative, depending on the person. People who are optimistic worldview often have more positive appraisals of life stressor (e.g., this too will pass, what can I learn from this? and so on) that increases her or his ability to use effective coping strategies to avoid high levels of stress. In contrast, an individual with a pessimistic attitude uses negative appraisals of the situation or life event (e.g., nothing ever goes right, this will never get better, and so on), which impacts the person's ability to cope with the life stressor.

For example, experiencing too many changes within a brief time period often creates a perception that "we are not in control of important events" and a negative appraisal ("I can never do anything right", "I cannot handle this"). This perception contributes to low self-esteem and may even contribute to the development of ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides examples of life stressors. It discusses how individuals differ in their appraisal and ability to cope with life stressors and if there are certain personality traits that serve to buffer individuals against stressors and stress, including why or why not.

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