Psychological determinants of the stress response (including Lazarus & Folkman)

Psychological determinants of the stress response are part of the relationship between stress and wellbeing.

Lazarus & Folkman’s Transactional Model of Stress and Coping

According to Lazarus & Folkman’s model, stress is a transaction (hence the name) between one and one’s environment. In this sense, stress is very much psychological, and psychological determinants shape a) the bounds of the stress; and b) how the situations is dealt with. The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping encompasses two states of perception in order to work out what really is a stressful situation:

Primary appraisal

During the primary appraisal, potentially stressful situations or stimuli are recognised. We go through a process – considering the potential amount of harm or loss, the degree of threat, and the possibility of challenge – in order to form suitable emotions in response to the situation.

Secondary appraisal

During the secondary appraisal, there is less emphasis on working out whether or not the situation is stressful, and more on assessing how to cope with the situation. There is also a re-assessment of the situation, just to ensure that the primary appraisal was accurate.

Re-appraisal

Sometimes, a re-appraisal may occur, whereby available resources and potential threats are taken into account.

Strengths of the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping

  • Accounted for a psychological approach to stress
  • Accounted for one’s emotions during stressful situations

Limitations of the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping

  • Limited emphasis placed on physiological processes and influences during stressful situations
  • Does not account for individual differences in terms of stress response