Stress and the stress process
Quick revise

Stress is defined as: a substantial imbalance between demand (physical or psychological) and response capability, under conditions where failure to meet the demand has important consequences. (McGrath 1970)

Stage 1

A physical or psychological demand is placed on the individual.

Stage 2

The individual makes a perception about the demand based on what they think their ability to meet the demand is.

If the person perceives an imbalance between what is being asked and what they can do, the stress process continues.

Trait anxious people tend to view more situations as threatening which has an influence at this stage.

Stage 3

This is the individual’s physical and psychological response to the perception of the situation.

If an imbalance between demands and response capability is perceived, there will be increased state anxiety, increased worries, heightened physiological activation, possible changes in concentration and increased muscle tension.

Stage 4

This is the actual behaviour of the individual.

Performance may decline due to the problems of state anxiety or improve because of increased intensity.

This stage feeds back into the first stage. E.g. a pupil demonstrates in front of a class but fails, the others laugh and this then becomes another demand on the pupil, so the cycle continues.


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