Self-Efficacy and the Physiological Stress Response
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in attention to the construct of stress. Whereas a few decades ago the term was hardly used, in the modern age most of us probably hear the term daily (Lazarus & Folk-man, 1984). One reason for this increased attention has been our growing understanding of the effects of stress and other emotional processes on important health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and infectious illness (Contrada, Leventhal, & O’Leary, 1990). Stress can influence health through two pathways. The first involves its effects on the adoption of health-impairing behaviors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol, or other recreational drugs—or avoiding medical care or treatment—whereas the second concerns its direct effects on tissues and organs. This second pathway is mediated by activity in the major stress-responsive body systems, whose neuroendocrine products (to be reviewed) mediate the process.
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