The way you think..

Distinguish the concepts of primary appraisal, secondary appraisal and reappraisal within the framework of Richard Lazarus’s theory of stress and coping. 10

6 thoughts on “The way you think..”

  1. Richard Lazarus gave theory of Cognitive appraisal of stress. He believed that stress is two way process: stress which comes from the environment and response to the stress. The response to stress is how a person interprets the situation. Whenever encountered with a stressful situation the person appraises the situation. It involves primary appraisal and secondary appraisal

    1. Primary appraisal: When faced with stressful situation actively evaluates the situation. A person might ask “what situation am i facing?” “how this situation will affect me?” for eg A person who is at a coffee shop waiting in a line to get coffee. A person in front of him/her is arguing with cafe manager. The person waiting in line is getting late for the office. He/she will evaluate the situation and will see how the situation is affecting him/her.
    After this the person will evaluate the situation as a threat, harm or challenge.

    2. Secondary appraisal: Secondary appraisal can happen simultaneously, before, or after primary appraisal. A person will evaluate how they will cope with the situation. Do they have or not enough resources to deal with the stressor. In the above eg a person who is getting late for office might adopt positive response and comes with the idea of telling the boss about being late in traffic since he/she is already late and not feel stressed. He/she adopts negative attitude that boss will be angry and might remove him/her from project, in such case stress proliferates. It is more about feeling, emotions about the situation.

    1. Can secondary appraisal occur before primary appraisal as you have written ? Think about it .. Moreover, you have not written about reappraisal.

  2. “The interpretation of stressful events is more important than the events themselves.”
    – Richard Lazarus
    i.e. the way an individual perceives a potentially stressful situation (as threatening or positive) and the way he evaluates his own coping resources matter for a stress response (uncomfortable physiological and emotional reactions) to occur.

    So several cognitive appraisal processes discussed below mediate between a stressor and its consequences.

    Primary Appraisal: Whenever a person faces a potential stressor, firstly he tries to evaluate (based on his beliefs and knowledge about himself, the world and others) whether the event is harmful, threatening or challenging to his important life goals or not. If perceived as threatening, the secondary appraisal process is activated. For e.g. some students may perceive ‘failure to achieve academic success’ as threatening to their careers, but some may see it as an opportunity to try their hands in other alternative creative fields.

    Secondary Appraisal: On perceiving a situation as threatening, the person then evaluates if he has sufficient coping resources (personal and social) available or not, and also makes an assessment of his ability to deploy them effectively to minimize the effect of stressor. On successful evaluation of resources available, the person adopts one of the two approaches (problem-focused or emotion-focused) as a coping mechanism to deal with the stressful situation.

    Reappraisal: This process is activated when after initial appraisal and the subsequent efforts made in order to cope with a stressful event, new situation emerges and also one’s own reactions to the event change which serve as feedback for reappraisal of the initially threatening stimulus. For e.g. after recovering from a serious illness (initially appraised as negatively), the person may reappraise the event positively and reinterpret it as an opportunity to make changes in his lifestyle (better diet and exercise).

    1. Good.. It is notable that someone else( like a counsellor) could motivate the person to reappraise the primary and secondary appraisal in a more realistic way. This helps in controlling anxiety and depressive reactions to stressors.

  3. Richard lazarus in his theory of stress and coping proposed that mere presence of stressor doesn’t cause stress. It depends on cognitive assessment that includes primary appraisal, secondary appraisal, coping and reappraisal. The difference between the three appraisals are :
    1. PRIMARY APPRAISAL deals with assessment of relevance of the stressor, whether it is positive, irrelevant or dangerous. If considered dangerous one chooses between challenge, threat, harm/loss. Eg: assessing exam as threat/challenge.
    2. SECONDARY APPRAISAL deals with assessment of coping options available, whether he/she has sufficient or insufficient resources to cope with the stressor. Eg of coping mechanisms: will power, confidence. Eg: I can clear the exam/I cannot clear the exam.
    3. REAPPRAISAL is an ongoing process that continue to assess both relevance and coping mechanisms from time to time.
    Thus, a mere appraisal of the stressor and the coping mechanism can cause/avoid stress. (confirmed by study of Tomaka).

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