Stress and Illness

Critical Thinking Questions

Discuss the concept of Type A behavior pattern, its history, and what we now know concerning its role in heart disease.


Type A was conceptualized as a behavioral style characterized by competitiveness, time urgency, impatience, and anger/hostility. It was later discovered, however, that anger/hostility seems to be the dimension that most clearly predicts heart disease.

Consider the study in which volunteers were given nasal drops containing the cold virus to examine the relationship between stress and immune function (Cohen et al., 1998). How might this finding explain how people seem to become sick during stressful times in their lives (e.g., final exam week)?


The results of the study showed that people exposed to the virus were more likely to develop a cold if they had high stress scores. The implication of this finding is that during stressful times, like final exam weeks, the immune system becomes compromised. Thus, it’s much easier to get sick during these periods because the immune system is not working at full capacity.