UQx PSYC1030.3x 5-2-2 Types of stress: Conflict

UQx PSYC1030.3x 5-2-2 Types of stress: Conflict


So people might experience stress through
frustration, by losing something or failing to achieve a goal. Another way they can experience stress is
through conflict. Conflict occurs when two or more incompatible
motivations compete for expression. A lot of work has being done on work-life
balance and how that can produce stress and conflict. There are demands of family life, and the
demands of our working lives compete with that. Sometimes, both family and work need attention
at the same time, so it becomes very difficult for people to try to satisfy both sets of
demands. Oftentimes, they can’t. There are actually three different types of
conflict: The approach-approach, the avoidance-avoidance, and the approach-avoidance. We’ll go through some examples to illustrate
them. The first type is what we call approach-approach
type conflict. Now all of these conflict types are not equally
stressful. The approach-approach type conflict is where
you have to choose between two positive alternatives. You’ve got two competing goals. I know all of you are not necessarily going
to go into Psychology as a career, but for the sake of this example, imagine that your
goal is to become a Psychologist. When you finish your study, you start applying
for jobs and you get a letter of offer from one place which just so happens to be a ski
resort. They’ve been looking for a psychologist. If you accept that job, what you’ll be doing
is talking to people, giving them some motivational encouragement about their skiing on the slope,
to try more difficult runs and things like that, and helping them deal with the disappointment
of falling over when they ski. That won’t take much of your time, so you
can have a lot of time to sit in front of the fireplace and drink hot chocolates and
go skiing yourself as well, and they’ll pay you lots of money to do that. There are no jobs like this in psychology,
but imagine if there is one. You’re pretty excited by the possibility
of a career on the snow. But, you receive another letter of offer the
next day. It is from a very exclusive island resort
and they want you to run some mindfulness sessions for the clients who are paying a
lot of money. You only really have to do a couple of those
sessions a day, so you’ve got a lot of time to sit on the beach, drink daiquiris, and
chill out. They’ll give you lots of money as well. You’ve got to choose between these two jobs. Which one do you choose? Is that a hard choice? Yes, it is, so it could produce stress. Why is that stressful? You know they are likely to both have VERY
positive outcomes. By choosing one, you lose the positive aspects
of the other one. Also, you don’t know which option would
be better. One of them might be slightly more positive
than the other, but it’s really hard to tell. This is stressful because you’re giving
up the positive aspects of the one you didn’t choose. And this is what causes the stress. What if the conflict is slightly different? The second type is what we call avoidance-avoidance
type conflict, where we have to choose between two really unattractive possibilities. Imagine this time you got a very strong phobia
of going to the dentist, but at the same time you’ve noticed over the last week or two
that you’ve got a really bad toothache. You can either choose to put up with the toothache
and not have to confront going to the dentist—that means lots of pain, or you can choose to face
your fears and go to the dentist. Both of these are pretty unattractive goals
or unattractive outcomes. The reason why this is stressful is because
no matter which one you choose, it’s likely that you won’t enjoy the experience at all. This is the most stressful type of conflict. Now there’s a third possibility, the approach-avoidance
type, and this is NOT about a choice between two different behaviours. This is about a choice about whether or not
to pursue a goal or a behaviour that has positive AND negative aspects to it. For this example, imagine you’re at a really
cool party, and you meet somebody for the first time, and your id instantly opens its
eyes and says, “This person is super hot.” So your id is really excited about this person,
and it’s telling you, you should date this person. You’ve got to get to know them because you
want to date them because they’re so hot. Now the problem is: even though they’re
really hot, you noticed they’ve got some negative attributes. They really love Celine Dion! You have to decide whether to pursue a relationship
with them. A relationship with this person means you
get to spend lots of time with somebody who’s really hot, but also you’d be listening
to Celine Dion. Or if you decide not to pursue your relationship
with them, you don’t have to listen to Celine Dion, but you miss out on spending time with
somebody you think is hot. You are to accept something positive and also
something negative, or you’re choosing to avoid something negative but then lose something
positive. The positive and negative aspects make it
difficult to choose, and it can produce vacillation where we decide to pursue the goal and then
decide not to pursue the goal at the same time.


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