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Discuss the influence of personality on stress related illnesses (12 marks)

Stress exists when the perceived demands on you outweigh your perceived ability to cope. If you are a confident person you will experience stress in fewer situations than if you are a worrier.
Friedman and Rosenman identified two personality types - Type A and Type B. People with Type A personalities are often highly competitive, hostile, a perfectionist and always in need of validation. In contrast, people with Type B personalities are often self-confident, steadily ambitious and relaxed. Friedman and Rosenman developed a study to investigate the impacts of personality factors on stress related coronary heart disease. They studied 3200 healthy American men, aged 39-59 over the course of 8 years. The men were given a multiple choice self-assessment test and a structured interview to determine their personality type and how they deal with stress. They found that Type A men were twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) as Type B and that this was true even risk factors such as smoking and family history were considered. This suggest that personality is a risk factor for developing CHD and it how we perceive stressors and react to them that can cause problems for health.

A strength of the study is that it was longitudinal. This is a strength as it shows the long term effect of personality factors on stress related illnesses rather than just the short term. It has strong ecological validity as the findings can be related to the real word and it is also a natural experiment. A weakness of it being a natural experiment it that it means the variables are uncontrolled which means a casual connection cannot be made. Furthermore, the study lacks population validity as the study was androcentric. All the participants were men and aged between 39-59, so the findings cannot…...

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