CHAPTER 14, PERSONALITY, TEMPERAMENT ANE STRESS-RELATED CONSEQUENCES
I. Habits re. perceiving control or safety signals, cup: half full or half empty; seek social support
A. Gary: apparently successful, rising up the corporate ladder, but everything is a battle.
1. Distrustful, on edge, few friends, focused on fact that he’s still not No. 1.
2. Elevated basal glucocorticoid levels, high BP, unhealthy bad to good cholesterol ratio, atherosclerosis
B. Kenneth: same age, and No. 2 in corporation, team player; turned down promotion because it would require time away from family.
1. Physiologically, the opposite of Gary
C. Both Gary and Kenneth are baboons! Definite personalities among animals, as well as people.
II. Stress and the successful primate
A. Baboons in Serengeti: ideal environment: work 4 hrs/day; 8 hrs/day to be vile to their neighbors!
B. Social and psychological stressors are main concern.
C. Traits of those with low glucocorticoid levels:
1. Ability to tell the difference between threatening and nonthreatening situation.
2. In face of threat: take control, don’t just sit passively.
3. After a fight: can he tell whether he won or lost? (groom best friend or beat up someone smaller)
4. If he loses: sulk alone? groom someone? displaced aggression? It’s the aggression that à lower glucocorticoids.
5. These males remain high ranking longer.
D. Other traits of those with low glucocorticoid levels:
1. Groom females not in heat (i.e., purely social)
2. Are groomed by females.
3. Play with young.
4. These lead to successful old age.
D. Steve Suomi: monkeys:
1. 20% are high reactors: excessive fear
2. Stress response when confronting strangers or when separated from loved one.
3. Lifelong traits, beginning in infancy.
4. Genetic component: males are similar to fathers, even in another social group.
5. Enviromental: foster mother who is especially nurturing
III. The human realm: a cautionary note
A. “Psychogenic” abortions (repeated miscarriages that couldn’t be explained physiologically)
1. Not clear whether being emotionally withdrawn and dependent on husband is cause or effect
a. The studies were retrospective
2. Not clear how the personality traits à miscarriage, or even which traits are important.
IV. Psychiatric disorders and abnormal stress responses: discrepancy between stressor and coping response
A. Learned helplessness: in the face of stressful challenges, they don’t attempt to cope: depression
B. Anxiety-prone: constant vigilance
1. Panic attacks: paralyzing, hyperventialting sense of crisis
2. OCD: endless variety of reassuring rituals
3. Problem: sympathetic excess, not glucocorticoids
4. Catecholamines: trying desperately to cope; glucocorticoids: giving up on coping.
V. Type A and the role of upholster;y in cardiovascular physiology
A. “Sisyphus pattern”: joyless struggle of repetitive, meaningless tasks. At risk for sudden cardiac death
B. Defining the Type A personality
1. Meyer Friedman & Ray Rosenman (cardiologists): Type A: competitive, overachieving, time-pressured, impatient, hostile.
a. Prospective study: as much risk as smoking and high cholesterol.
2. Later studies: not predictive of CHD; associated with BETTER survival if you already had CHD.
3. Redford Williams: Hostility is the only predictive factor (also predictive of death from other ills)
4. Friedman: No, it’s sense of time pressure, which signals insecurity.
5. James Gross: Repressing expression of strong emotions à exaggerates intensity of response.
C. How hostility hurts your heart
1. “Life is full of menacing stressors that demand vigilant coping resonses of a … hostile nature.”
2. (Ethical implications: such people are just not nice.) Efforts to decrease Type A behavior
D. Interior decorating as scientific method: How was Type A discovered?
1. “If you want to know if the elephant has a stomach ache, don’t ask the veterinarian, ask the cage cleaner.”
2. “It was as if some very short beavers spent each night in the office craning their necks to savage the very fronts of the chairs.”
3. Only later did Friedman put 2 + 2 together.
E. Martha Stewart’s disease (5% of population)
1. “Repressive” personalities: describe themselves as pretty happy, not anxious, successful.
2. Personality tests agree; but they have chronically activated stress responses.
3. Structured, rule-bound lives, tight lid on emotions, are hard working.
4. Need for social conformity, discomfort with ambiguity
5. Lack of emotional expression; when they do report emotion, it’s always just one emotion, no secondary emotions.
6. Some, but not all, are self-deceivers.
7. Unusually enhanced activity in frontal cortex. (Remember Phineas Gage in the video you saw?)
a. Activity is decreased in violent sociopaths.
8. Enormously stressful to construct a world without stressors