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What is health psychology?

Contribution of psychology to:

- Promotion and maintenance of health

- Prevention and treatment of illness

- Identification of pychological factors affecting illness

- Analysis and improvement of healthcare and health policy




What is the biomedical model of health?

Illness is understood only in terms of biological and physiological processes

Treatment involves physical intervention (surgery, drugs)



What is the biopychosocial model of health?

3 major factors contributing to health:

- Cognition
- Emotion
- Behaviour

- Physiology
- Genetics
- Pathogens

- Class
- Employment
- Support


Contrast how the biomedical model and the biopsychosocial model of health might view responsibility for the patients health and treatment


- Patient is not responsible for health, disease is out of their control

- Illness should be treated with drug therapy or surgery

- Medical professionals have sole responsibility for treatment


- Patient is not a passive victim of disease but has a responsibility for their own health

- Treatment should be a mix of traditional physical treatment, social and pychological support

- Treatment is in the hands of MDTs, patient and social support groups


Compare the views of the biomedical and the biopsychosocial models on the role of psychology in health and illness


- Physiology and pychologigy are separate and do not influence each other (only a small relationship between illness and depression)


- Psychological factors can be the sole cause of illness or integrate with illness to exacerbate or otherwise affect


Why is the biopsychosocial model of health necessary for modern medicine?

Sees patients as real people

Recognition of influence of thought, feelings, motivations and behaviours of patients can help us treat them more effectively (E.g. Diagnosis and reactions to diagnoses, treatment adherence)

Shows that doctors have a changing role in health (E.g. smoking cessation)

Doctors see people with mental problems

Health promotions focus can be placed on reduction of biopsychosocial risk factors, not just avoidance of pathogens


What is a stereotype?

Generalisations we make about specific social groups and members of those groups

'rule of thumb'

Often erroneous / Overlook diversity

Prone to emphasis of negative traits

Resistant to change


How do humans store knowledge, relate this to function

Knowledge is stored as mental representations organised into schemata, groups of interrelated information

Members of the same group share characteristics

E.g. Fruit schema

Schema function:

- Save processing power

- Allows us to anticipate things/makes things more predictable

- Avoids information overload


How does the concept of schema explain human's tendency to stereotype?

Member of social groups can be percieved to share some characterisitics (grouped into one schema).


Describe the concept of in-group/out-group

We identify with groups and a way to gain self identity and self esteem (our in-group E.g. Medical students)

Comparisons to others in our group builds self esteem

More likely to focus on positives of our group

More likely to focus on negatives of out groups (Sterotyping)



Describe how sterotyping can lead to negative behaviours

We have cognitive stereotypes that may in turn cause:

Prejudice (Evaluative and affective):

- Negative attitudes towards other groups

- Pre-judgement of others based on negative sterotypes

Discrimination (Behavioural):

- Behaving differently with people of different groups based on their group membership


Give an example of how sterotypes lead on to discrimination

Assumption made on someone based on age

Prejudice leads to us prejudging them based on our Stereotype

Action on this assumption is Discrimination


When are we most likely to rely on sterotypes?

When stresed, time pressured, fatigued or suffering information overload


How can we challenge our own stereotypes?

Getting to know members of other groups

Reflection on our actions and thoughts


Give an example of stress/time influencing our reliance on stereotypes

The policeman's dilemma:

More black than white unnarmed people shot in a simulation showing officers both armed and unarmed people of various races in rapid sucession

Shows that under time constraints the officers relied on their stereotype of black people as more of a threat/more violent to make a quick decision on who to shoot


Give some ageist stereotypes directed at the older population

Intellectual deterioration is normal

Unable to innovate and adapt to change

Period of personal stagnation

Old people are rigid, cantakerous and introverted


Discuss the intellectual changes that occur in elderly life according to cross sectional research

Linear decline in fluid intelligence (IQ/processing power) throughout adult life which accelerates after 70

Crystalline intelligence (Reflective of experience and long term memory) may compensate and is relatively stable over old age



Critisise cross sectional research into aging and intelligence

Methodological issues:

Difference between ages (comparing differnt groups of people)

Changes over time with individuals

Cohort effects (Numeracy/arithmetic skill varies)

Validity of measure


How do longitudinal studes into aging and intelligence compare to cross sectional research in terms of findings?

Shaie and Williams - Seattle

35+ yr follow ups

5 skill areas:
- Verbal meaning
- Verbal fluency
- Inductive reasoning
- Numeracy
- Spatial orientation

Decline does not occur in all areas at same rate


How does disease affect decline of intelligence?

Dementia/Alzheimer's and Mild cognitive impairment all contribute to increased decline in congnitive function and become more prevalent with age

E.g. Alzheimer's prevalence 1% at 65 and 25% at 90


What are Erikson's life stages?

3 Life stages associated with a conflict

Young adult life:

Intimacy vs Isolation

Mid adult life:

Generation vs Stagnation

Old age:

Integrity vs Despair

Happiness depends on how well you deal with these conflicts


How is the trait model of personality involved in aging?

Trait theory:

Personality is described as a series of traits


Cross sectional studies suggest different distribution of traits at different ages

Longitudinal studies emphasise the stability of traits over time


What are the two models of successful social adjustment during ageing?

Disengagement model:

Disengagement from social involvement as an adaptive mechanism

Best suited to introverted people

Activity model:

Successful ageing requires maximal engagement in all areas of life

Best suited to extroverts


Describe how our family relationships can be affected by ageing

Major family role adjustments:

- 'Empty nest' phenomenon

- Transition to grandparenthood

Family contact changes pattern, can become less frequent

Importance of friendships stressed, helps maintain social contact


Describe how work and retirement might affect ageing

Loss of manifest (material) and latent (self identity/esteem) rewards of paid work

Loss of self identity can lead to depression (particularly in career focused individuals, typically men)

Retirement is considered socially acceptably and is voluntary

Therefore retirement is adjusted to by most successfully


What are the influences of death and bereavement on ageing?

Reluctance to accept mortality in western culture makes death a difficult subject to face and can result in social exclusion of older people

Bereavement (death of a spouse commonly) is the same process as when younger, just intensified and often exacerbated by social isolation/lack of family support