Tag Archives: stress

Mad Scientists: Can we ever revisit Milgram’s diabolical studies?

By Erica Zaiser

Every student of social psychology remembers studying Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment. His studies shaped future thinking about authority, extreme group behavior, and morality. Many of those same psychology students, captivated by the lure of such exciting and revealing studies, would have also learned that you can no longer actually do that kind of research anymore.

The BBC recently reenacted the Milgram experiment for TV and now, the French have added their own twist. The BBC recently reported on a French TV documentary, which showed that under the guise of a game show, contestants were willing to send an electrical shock to other contestants– sometimes at dangerous levels. These types of TV “experiments” are not subject to the same ethical considerations social psychologists are. Of course, this also means they are also not subject to the same expectation of scientific rigour.  It’s always somewhat exciting to see confirmation (even in a highly unscientific setting) that what was shown by Milgram in the 60s may  still hold true today. However, the potential harm to participants from that type of experiment justifies the ethical limitations preventing such research.

Is there a middle ground?

Some psychologists have found that they can still re-do old experiments but also reduce potential harm to their participants by moving the experiments from the physical world into a virtual world. Two researchers in France used virtual reality to re-examine Milgram’s ideas. Like Milgram, they found that participants showed more obedience when they couldn’t see the victim and they also found that participants felt less distress when the victim was from North Africa than when he was of their same ethnic background.  Virtual reality has opened up a way for psychologists to do research on extreme behaviour, but minimize harm to participants.  Perhaps both psychologists and participants can benefit from future use of virtual reality as a medium for experiments.

Read more: Reopening the study of extreme social behaviors: Obedience to authority within an immersive video environment

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Stress, the Self, and the Stock Market

Although stress is an inevitable part of life the recession has amplified the nature, magnitude, and impact of stress for many around the globe. The threat or reality of losing a job or one’s home, searching for work in an untenable job market, having to stretch an already thin budget even further, and many other concerns all cause fear, anxiety, worry, and frustration. Marc Skelton suggests that although what makes these types of stressors so problematic is our inability to control them, we do have control over how we respond. He suggests a number of strategies including using social support networks and reframing the situation. Coping comes in many forms and researchers have highlighted a new factor, self-compassion that may influence coping attempts. Those high in self-compassion (those who treat the self with kindness and concern in response to negative events) tend to avoid problems less and engage in cognitive restructuring more than those low in self-compassion whereas the two groups do not differ in problem solving or distraction (Allen & Leary, 2010). Treatment of the self during stressful events could also influence physiological and psychological adjustment as well as how one responds to others in need. Further work is needed to clarify how this and other characteristics might influence coping attempts.

Self-compassion, Stress, and Coping (Allen & Leary, 2010)

Relax to relive stress in 2010

add to del.icio.us add to blinkslist add to furl digg this add to ma.gnolia stumble it! add to simpy seed the vine add to reddit add to fark tailrank this post to facebook

The Consequences of Our Responses to Acute Stress

600px-Screaming_person

Understanding the most effective ways to respond to and cope with stress has important implications for our longevity and well-being.  Acute stressors are immediate and temporary while chronic stressors are more prolonged and involve ongoing threat and arousal. With regard to acute psychological stress, past research has indicated that those who exhibit large physiological reactions (i.e., cardiovascular responses) are more susceptible to negative health outcomes such as hypertension. New evidence, however, casts doubt on the assertion that large physiological reactions to stress are always bad for health.  Carroll, Lovallo, & Phillips (2009) have shown that low reactivity to acute psychological stress is associated with a diverse set of negative outcomes including depression, weight gain, and compromised immunity. These findings make it much more difficult to label stress responses and coping strategies as “good” versus “bad” given that each seems to have both positive and negative consequences for one’s physiological and psychological well-being.

 

square-eye

Stress 101

 

square-eye

Carroll, Lovallo, & Phillips (2009)

add to del.icio.us    add to blinkslist    add to furl    digg this    add to ma.gnolia    stumble it!    add to simpy    seed the vine    add to reddit    add to fark    tailrank this    post to facebook