Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 16, Iss. 4, October, 2012, pp. 429-456
@2012 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Nonlinear Bifurcations of Psychological Stress Negotiation: New Properties of a Formal Dynamical Model

Lawrence R. Levy, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
Weiguang Yao, Eastern Health - Cancer Care Program, St. Johnís, Newfoundland, Canada
George McGuire, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Dan N. Vollick, University of British Columbia, Okanogan, BC, Canada
Jennifer Jette, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, AL, Canada
Matthew J. Shanahan, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
James M. Hay, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
Richard W. J. Neufeld, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

Abstract: Dynamical systems analysis is applied to a nonlinear model of stress and coping (Neufeld, 1999). The model is composed of 6 order parameters and 11 control parameters, and integrates core constructs of the topic domain, including variants of cognitive appraisal, differential stress susceptibility, stress activation, and coping propensity. In part owing to recent advances in Competitive Modes Theory (Yao, Yu & Essex, 2002), previously intractable but substantively significant dynamical properties of the 6-dimensional model are identified. They include stable and unstable fixed-point equilibria (higher-dimensional saddle-node bifurcation), oscillatory patterns attending fixed-point de-stabilization, and chaotic behaviors. Examination of the nature of system fixed-point de-stabilization, in relation to its control parameters, unveils mechanisms of re-stabilization, and dynamic stability control. All identified dynamics emerge naturally from a system whose construction guideposts are lodged in the addressed content domain. Dynamical complexities therefore may be intrinsic to the present content domain, possibly no less so than in other disciplines where the presence of such attributes has been established.

Keywords: stress, coping, dynamical systems, decisional control