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In addition, the stress response has also been used to characterize physiological changes, such as increases in blood pressure and heart rate, and cognitive appraisals of the various at­ tributes of the stressful experience, such as whether the event threatens self-esteem and the person’s beliefs in their own capacity to cope effec­ tively with the stress. I discuss many of these stress responses later in this chapter. Now many in the field may stop here, claiming that we have gone as far as we can in identifying what constitutes stress.

First, if the defining feature of the stress expe­ rience is subjective, we are left without any firm boundaries around the construct making it impossible to differentiate stress from such other phe­ nomena as tension, nervousness, and anxiety. 1 These scales are brief, highly reliable, and consistently correlated with measures of depres­ sion, anxiety, and symptoms of ill health that are thought to be conse­ quences of stressful situations. Indeed, many researchers adopted this easy approach to assessing stress and continue to do so to this day.

If you guess wrong, you lose a dollar. You buy in with a stake of 20 dollars and hope for the best. You know that your odds of guessing right are 50/50 each time you guess, provided that you do not think you are clairvoyant and that the dealer does not employ some sleight of hand such as drawing cards from the bottom of the deck. Anyone who has gambled knows that even with less than 50/50 odds, you can go on winning streaks in which your guesses pay off several times in a row. This is a time of no mild positive emotion.

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