chapter  3
23 Pages

Biological Foundations

This chapter focuses on three topics in which personality characteristics play a role: illness and accidents, mental disorders, and crime. Research evidence shows that, by suppressing the response of the immune system, stress increases one's susceptibility to a wide range of disorders. Depression and other negative emotions, in particular, act as sources of stress that suppress the immune system and increase the likelihood of life-threatening illness. Among the stress-related conditions that have received particular attention by psychologists are burnout, bereavement, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of psychosomatic disorder are also found in some recently retired workers and in bereavement. The particular strategies that are employed in dealing with stressors also vary with the temperament, self-concept, and other personality characteristics of the individual. A person's cognitive and personality styles are fashioned fairly early in life. A related cognitive model of coping is the distinction made by Folkman and Lazarus between problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies.