Models of Psychological Function & Dysfunction (II)
3b Cognitive Theories: Lazarus & Folkman - Appraisal & Coping PSY 708: Cognitive Assessment & Psychotherapy Stress, Appraisal, & Coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) Chapters 2 & 6 Ch. 2: Cognitive Appraisal Process EVENT Cognitive Appraisal RESPONSE Cognitive appraisal is a mediator between the event and the response
Cognitive Appraisal Appraisal of the situation requires mental activity involving judgment, discrimination, and choice of activity, based largely on past experience Process of evaluating whether a particular encounter with the environment is relevant to well-being, and if so, in what ways Cognitive Appraisal Process Primary Appraisal Am I in trouble or being benefited, now or in the future, and in what way?
Irrelevant When an encounter with the environment carries no implication for a persons well-being Nothing is to be lost or gained in the transaction Benign-Positive The outcome of an encounter is construed as positive; it preserves or enhances well-being or promises to do so May still have some level of apprehension Cognitive Appraisal Process Primary Appraisal StressfulHarm/Loss Some damage to the person has already been
sustained The most damaging life events are those in which central and extensive commitments are lost Even when a harm/loss has occurred, it is always fused with threat StressfulThreat Harms or losses that have not yet taken place but are anticipated; characterized by unpleasant emotions (e.g., fear, anxiety, anger) The primary adaptation component of threat is that it permits anticipatory coping StressfulChallenge Focuses on the potential for gain or growth inherent in an encounter and is characterized by pleasant emotions (e.g., eagerness, excitement, exhilaration) Cognitive Appraisal Process
Primary Appraisal Although threat and challenge appraisals are distinguished from one another by their cognitive component (i.e., potential harm or loss vs. mastery or gain) and their affective components (negative emotions vs. positive emotions), they can occur simultaneously i.e., not mutually exclusive; not poles of a single continuum The relationship between threat and challenge appraisals can shift as an encounter unfolds People who are disposed or encouraged by their circumstances to feel challenged probably have advantages over easily threatened people in morale, quality of functioning, and Cognitive Appraisal Process
Secondary Appraisal What, if anything, can be done about it? An evaluation if anything can be done to overcome or prevent harm from the threat; and/or improve the prospects for benefit Takes into account which coping option will accomplish what it is supposed to, and the likelihood that one can apply a particular strategy or set of strategies effectively Outcome expectancy the persons evaluation that a given behavior will lead to certain outcomes
Efficacy expectancy the persons conviction that he or she can successfully execute the behavior required to produce the outcomes Secondary appraisals of coping options and primary appraisals of what is at stake interact with each other in shaping the degree of stress and the strength and quality (or content) of the emotional reaction Cognitive Appraisal Process Reappraisal A changed appraisal on the basis of new information from the environment, which may resist or nourish pressures from the person, and/or information from the persons own reactions A reappraisal is simply an appraisal that follows an earlier appraisal in the same encounter and modifies it i.e., appraisal and reappraisal do not differ
Ch. 6: The Coping Process Coping The persons constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the persons resources Three key features: Process oriented focuses on what is actually thought and done in the stressful encounter Contextual considers the appraisal of the demands during the stressor and available resources
Adaptive (changes) coping is a shifting process from one form of coping to another as the status of the personenvironment relationship changes Coping is a major factor in the relationship between stressful and adaptive/maladaptive outcomes (e.g., depression, somatic illness) Ch. 6: The Coping Process Emotion-focused coping regulating emotional response to the problem Typically used when the stressor/event is seen as unchangeable Lessing emotional distress e.g., avoidance, minimization, distancing, selective attention, positive comparisons, looking for the positive
Cognitive reappraisal changing the meaning of the situation Distracting e.g., engaging in physical exercise, meditating, drinking, venting anger, seeking emotional support Emotion-focused coping is used to maintain hope and optimism, to deny both fact and implication, to refuse to acknowledge the worst, to act as if what happened did not matter, and so on These processes lend themselves to an interpretation of selfdeception or reality distortion Ch. 6: The Coping Process Problem-focused coping managing or altering the troubled person-environment relation causing the distress Typically used when the stressor/event is seen as changeable
Problem-oriented strategies directed at the environment Problem-oriented strategies directed at the self Altering environmental pressures, barriers, resources, or procedures Motivational or cognitive strategies such as shifting the level of aspiration, reducing ego involvement, finding alternative channels of gratification, developing new standards of behavior, or learning new skills or procedures That the definition of problem-focused coping strategies is to a certain extent dependent on the types of problems being dealt with means that transsituational comparisons of problemfocused strategies are more difficult than transsituational comparisons of emotion-focused strategies Ch. 6: The Coping Process
Both forms can facilitate and impede (each other) in the coping process Although one form of coping (problem vs. emotional) is not necessarily better than the other, problem focused coping is often more effective in reducing stress in the long term Stated differently: The most effective strategy is problemsolving if the individual has a realistic chance of changing the stressor or the aspects that lead to the stressor Sometimes emotion-focused coping is needed first, before moving on to problem-focused coping *But there may be other times when problem-focused is needed first, followed by emotion-focused coping
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