Written emotional disclosure (WED) has beneficial effects on health outcomes. However, its effectiveness is influenced by a number of variables. This exploratory study tested whether trait rumination, which comprises brooding, a maladaptive component, and reflection, an adaptive component, moderated the effects of WED on ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) in female participants.
Fifty-two participants were randomized to write about their most stressful/traumatic life experience(s) or non-emotive topics, for 20 minutes, on 3 consecutive days. Two weeks and 14 weeks later, ABP was recorded over a single day.
Using hierarchical linear modelling, an effect of condition was found at 2 weeks but not at 14 weeks indicating that higher levels of ABP were observed following WED. There was also a significant condition by brooding interaction at two weeks such that higher ABP was observed in low brooders in the WED condition compared with low brooders in the control condition. However, within the WED condition, the lowest ABP was exhibited by participants high in brooding.
The findings indicated that WED led to short-lived increases in ABP which disappeared in the medium term. Researchers ought to build upon this exploratory study and investigate further the potential moderating role of brooding within WED. Individual differences in brooding may account for (some of) the mixed and inconsistent findings in past WED research.
stress; personality; coping
It is well documented that people would remunerate fair behaviours and penalize unfair behaviours. It is argued that individuals’ reactions following the receipt of a gift depend on the perceived intentions of the donors. Fair intentions should prompt positive affect, like gratitude, triggering cooperative behaviours; while intended unfairness should trigger negative affect, like anger, fostering anti-social actions. It is, however, contended that when people lack information to infer others’ intention they may use ‘normative’ beliefs about fairness - what a typical fair individual ‘should’ do in these circumstances – to guide their behaviour. In this experiment we examined this assertion. We had 122 participants play a one-shot, double-anonymous game with half playing as potential helpers (P1s) and half as recipients (P2s). Whether a participant was a P1 or P2 was chance-determined and all participants knew this. P1s decided whether to help P2s and whether to make their help unconditional (no repayment needed) or conditional (full or ‘taxed’ repayment). P2s decided whether to accept the offer and whatever conditions attached but were blind to the list of helping options available to P1s. We anticipated that recipients would refer to the ‘injunctive norm’ that ‘fair people should help “for free” when it is only by chance that they are in a position to help’. Therefore, without knowing P1s’ different helping options, unconditional offers should be rated by recipients as fairer than conditional offers, and this should be linked to greater gratitude with greater gratitude linked to greater reciprocation. Path analyses confirmed this serial mediation. The results showed that recipients of unconditional offers, compared to conditional ones, interpreted the helpers’ motives as more helpful, experienced greater gratitude and were more eager to reciprocate. The behavioural data further revealed that, when given a latter option to default, 38% of recipients of conditional offers did so.
To enhance the non-technical skills (NTS) assessment literature by developing a reliable and valid peer and self-assessment tool for NTS in a simulated ward setting to include emotional reactions: the Temporal Rating of Emergency Non-Technical skills (TRENT) Index. The paper aims to document (1) the psychometric properties of the TRENT index (e.g., reliability, idiosyncrasy biases) and (2) its validity in terms of performance-emotional associations in the high fidelity simulated ward environment.
Two samples of doctors (Ns =150 & 90) taking part in emergency simulations provided both self and peer-assessment of NTS, with the second sample also providing self-assessments of mood. The psychometric properties of the TRENT were explored for self- and peer-assessment, and pre- and post-simulation environment mood was used to assess validity.
A psychometrically reliable and valid 5-factor assessment of NTS was developed. While there was evidence for both intra-rater and inter-rater reliability, inter-rater idiosyncrasy was also observed. Self-rated, but not peer-rated, negative performance was positively associated with post simulation negative mood.
These are the first results that pertain to inter-, intra-rater reliability as well as idiosyncratic biases in NTS assessment and the first to show that simulator performance can influence mood after assessment. Potential clinical carry-over effects of mood are discussed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-014-0240-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Self-assessment; Peer-assessment; Performance; Stress; Emotions; Reliability; Inter-rater
Different people choose undergraduate degrees to study at university for different reasons. To date, there have been limited attempts to identify individual differences in motivation that drive undergraduate degree choice. We identified that people choose university degrees for four reasons: career concerns (Career), intrinsic interest in the subject (Interest), an opportunity to help others (Helping) and because they are looking for an easy option to get into higher education (Loafing). We investigated whether these motivations apply to the choice of undergraduate degree in two samples: (1) undergraduate (N = 989) and (2) prospective (N = 896) students. We developed the Motivations Influencing Course Choice (MICC) questionnaire to measure these motivations. Scales of Helping, Career, Loafing, and Interest showed good psychometric properties, showed validity with respect to general life goals and personality traits, and predicted actual and prospective degree choices. We demonstrated that medical degrees were chosen due to a mixture of Helping and Career, while engineering degrees were associated with Career and low Interest in the degree. The choice of arts and humanities degrees was driven by Interest and low concern about future career, accompanied with high Loafing. We also demonstrated gender differences: females were high in Helping (both samples) and Interest (only in the undergraduate sample) motivation, while males scored higher in Career (only in the undergraduate sample) and Loafing (both samples). The findings can feed into both theoretical accounts of proximal motivation as well as provide help to improve degree programmes at universities and support better career advice.
motivation; choice of undergraduate degree; real life choices; undergraduate degree choice motivation; proximal motivation; prosocial motivation; intrinsic motivation
Policy decisions about opt-in and opt-out consent for organ donation are based on limited evidence. To fill this gap we investigated the difference between deceased and living organ donation rates in opt-in and opt-out consent systems across a 13 year period. We controlled for extensive covariates and estimated the causal effect of consent with instrumental variables analysis.
This panel study used secondary data analysis to compare organ donor and transplant rates in 48 countries that had either opt-in or opt-out consent. Organ donation data were obtained over a 13-year period between 2000 and 2012. The main outcome measures were the number of donors, number of transplants per organ and total number (deceased plus living) of kidneys and livers transplanted. The role of consent on donor and transplant rates was assessed using multilevel modeling and the causal effect estimated with instrumental variables analysis.
Deceased donor rates (per-million population) were higher in opt-out (M = 14.24) than opt-in consent countries (M = 9.98; Β = −4.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) = −8.08, −0.45, P = .029). However, the number of living donors was higher in opt-in (M = 9.36) than opt-out countries (M = 5.49; B = 3.86, 95% CI = 1.16, 6.56, P = .006). Importantly, the total number of kidneys transplanted (deceased plus living) was higher in opt-out (M = 28.32) than opt-in countries (M = 22.43; B = −5.89, 95% CI = −11.60, −0.17, P = .044). Similarly, the total number of livers transplanted was higher in opt-out (M = 11.26) than opt-in countries (M = 7.53; B = −3.73, 95% CI = −7.47, 0.01, P = .051). Instrumental variables analysis suggested that the effect of opt-in versus opt-out consent on the difference between deceased and living donor rates is causal.
While the number of deceased donors is higher than the number of living donors, opt-out consent leads to a relative increase in the total number of livers and kidneys transplanted.
Opt-in consent; Opt-out consent; Deceased organ donation; Living organ donation
Evolutionary accounts have difficulty explaining why people cooperate with anonymous strangers they will never meet. Recently models, focusing on emotional processing, have been proposed as a potential explanation, with attention focusing on a dual systems approach based on system 1 (fast, intuitive, automatic, effortless, and emotional) and system 2 (slow, reflective, effortful, proactive and unemotional). Evidence shows that when cooperation is salient, people are fast (system 1) to cooperate, but with longer delays (system 2) they show greed. This is interpreted within the framework of the social heuristic hypothesis (SHH), whereby people overgeneralize potentially advantageous intuitively learnt and internalization social norms to ‘atypical’ situations. We extend this to explore intuitive reactions to unfairness by integrating the SHH with the ‘fast to forgive, slow to anger’ (FFSA) heuristic. This suggests that it is advantageous to be prosocial when facing uncertainty. We propose that whether or not someone intuitively shows prosociality (cooperation) or retaliation is moderated by the degree (certainty) of unfairness. People should intuitively cooperate when facing mild levels of unfairness (fast to forgive) but when given longer to decide about another's mild level of unfairness should retaliate (slow to anger). However, when facing severe levels of unfairness, the intuitive response is always retaliation. We test this using a series of one-shot ultimatum games and manipulate level of offer unfairness (50:50 60:40, 70:30, 80:20, 90:10) and enforced time delays prior to responding (1s, 2s, 8s, 15s). We also measure decision times to make responses after the time delays. The results show that when facing mildly unfair offers (60:40) people are fast (intuitive) to cooperate but with longer delays reject these mildly unfair offers: ‘fast to forgive, and slow to retaliate’. However, for severely unfair offers (90:10) the intuitive and fast response is to always reject.
Theory suggests that personality traits evolved to have costs and benefits, with the effectiveness of a trait dependent on how these costs and benefits relate to the present circumstances. This suggests that traits that are generally viewed as positive can have a ‘dark side’ and those generally viewed as negative can have a ‘bright side’ depending on changes in context. We test this in a sample of 220 UK medical students with respect to associations between the Big 5 personality traits and learning outcomes across the 5 years of a medical degree. The medical degree offers a changing learning context from pre-clinical years (where a more methodical approach to learning is needed) to the clinical years (where more flexible learning is needed, in a more stressful context). We argue that while trait conscientiousness should enhance pre-clinical learning, it has a ‘dark side’ reducing the acquisition of knowledge in the clinical years. We also suggest that anxiety has a ‘bright side’ enhancing the acquisition of skills in the clinical years. We also explore if intelligence enhances learning across the medical degree. Using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling we show that medical skills and knowledge assessed in the pre-clinical and clinical years are psychometrically distinguishable, forming a learning ‘backbone’, whereby subsequent learning outcomes are predicted by previous ones. Consistent with our predictions conscientiousness enhanced preclinical knowledge acquisition but reduced the acquisition of clinical knowledge and anxiety enhanced the acquisition of clinical skills. We also identified a curvilinear U shaped association between Surgency (extraversion) and pre-clinical knowledge acquisition. Intelligence predicted initial clinical knowledge, and had a positive total indirect effect on clinical knowledge and clinical skill acquisition. For medical selection, this suggests that selecting students high on conscientiousness may be problematic, as it may be excluding those with some degree of moderate anxiety.
Objective: Although suicidal behavior is a major public health concern, understanding of individually sensitive suicide risk mechanisms is limited. In this study, the authors investigated, for the first time, the utility of defeat and entrapment in predicting repeat suicidal behavior in a sample of suicide attempters. Method: Seventy patients hospitalized after a suicide attempt completed a range of clinical and psychological measures (depression, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, defeat, and entrapment) while in hospital. Four years later, a nationally linked database was used to determine who had been hospitalized again after a suicide attempt. Results: Over 4 years, 24.6% of linked participants were readmitted to hospital after a suicidal attempt. In univariate logistic regression analyses, defeat and entrapment as well as depression, hopelessness, past suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation all predicted suicidal behavior over this interval. However, in the multivariate analysis, entrapment and past frequency of suicide attempts were the only significant predictors of suicidal behavior. Conclusions: This longitudinal study supports the utility of a new theoretical model in the prediction of suicidal behavior. Individually sensitive suicide risk processes like entrapment could usefully be targeted in treatment interventions to reduce the risk of repeat suicidal behavior in those who have been previously hospitalized after a suicide attempt.
suicidal; longitudinal; cognition; defeat; entrapment
Research into individuals’ intended behavior and performance has traditionally adopted explicitly measured, self-report constructs, and outcomes. More recently, research has shown that completing explicit self-report measures of constructs may effect subsequent behavior, termed the “mere measurement” effect. The aim of the present experiment was to investigate whether implicit measures of motivation showed a similar mere measurement effect on subsequent behavior. It may be the case that measuring the implicit systems affects subsequent implicit interventions (e.g., priming), observable on subsequent behavior. Priming manipulations were also given to participants in order to investigate the interaction between measurement and priming of motivation. Initially, a 2 [implicit association test (IAT: present vs. absent) ×2 (Prime: autonomous vs. absent) and a 2 (IAT: present vs. absent) × 2 (Prime: controlled vs. absent)] between participants designs were conducted, these were them combined into a 2 (IAT: present vs. absent) ×3 (Prime: autonomous vs. controlled vs. absent) between participants design, with attempts at a novel task taken as the outcome measure. Implicit measure completion significantly decreased behavioral engagement. Priming autonomous motivation significantly facilitated, and controlled motivation significantly inhibited performance. Finally, there was a significant implicit measurement × priming interaction, such that priming autonomous motivation only improved performance in the absence of the implicit measure. Overall, this research provides an insight into the effects of implicit measurement and priming of motivation and the combined effect of completing both tasks on behavior.
implicit measurement; mere measurement effect; self-determination theory; implicit association test; priming
In this article we reply to the issues raised by the three commentaries on
Ferguson's (2012) article. Watson argues that the four traits identified
by Ferguson (2012) – health
anxiety, alexithymia, empathy and Type D – do not lie outside the Five
Factor Model (FFM). We present factor analytic data showing that health anxiety
forms a separate factor from positive and negative affectivity, alexithymia
forms a factor outside the FFM and while emotional empathy loads with
agreeableness, cognitive empathy forms a separate factor outside the FFM. Across
these analyses there was no evidence for a general factor of personality. We
also show that health anxiety, empathic facets and alexithymia show incremental
validity over FFM traits. However, the evidence that Type D lies outside the FFM
is less clear. Matthews (2012) argues
that traits have a more distributed influence on cognitions and that attention
is not part of Ferguson's framework. We agree; but Ferguson's
original statement concerned where traits have their maximal effect. Finally,
Haslam et al. suggest that traits should be viewed from a dynamic interactionist
perspective. This is in fact what Ferguson
(2012) suggested and we go on to highlight that traits can also
influence group processes.
personality; health; factor analysis; determinism; empathy
Students who fail to thrive on the Nottingham undergraduate medical course frequently suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. These difficulties may be the cause, or the result of, academic struggling. Early detection of vulnerable students might direct pastoral care and remedial support to where it is needed. We investigated the use of the short-form General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) as a possible screening tool.
Two consecutive cohorts (2006 and 2007) were invited to complete the GHQ-12. The questionnaire was administered online, during the second semester (after semester 1 exams) for the 2006 cohort and during the first semester for the 2007 cohort. All data were held securely and confidentially. At the end of the course, GHQ scores were examined in relation to course progress.
251 students entered the course in 2006 and 254 in 2007; 164 (65%) and 160 (63%), respectively, completed the GHQ-12. In both cohorts, the study and non-study groups were very similar in terms of pre-admission socio-demographic characteristics and overall course marks. In the 2006 study group, the GHQ Likert score obtained part-way through the first year was negatively correlated with exam marks during Years 1 and 2, but the average exam mark in semester 1 was the sole independent predictor of marks in semester 2 and Year 2. No correlations were found for the 2007 study group but the GHQ score was a weak positive predictor of marks in semester 2, with semester 1 average exam mark again being the strongest predictor. A post-hoc moderated-mediation analysis suggested that significant negative associations of GHQ scores with semester 1 and 2 exams applied only to those who completed the GHQ after their semester 1 exams. Students who were identified as GHQ ‘cases’ in the 2006 group were statistically less likely to complete the course on time (OR = 4.74, p 0.002). There was a non-significant trend in the same direction in the 2007 group.
Results from two cohorts provide insufficient evidence to recommend the routine use of the GHQ-12 as a screening tool. The timing of administration could have a critical influence on the results, and the theoretical and practical implications of this finding are discussed. Low marks in semester 1 examinations seem be the best single indicator of students at risk for subsequent poor performance.
The literature on social dilemmas and punishment focuses on the behaviour of the punisher. However, to fully explain the effect of punishment on cooperation, it is important to understand the psychological mechanisms influencing the behaviour of those who expect to be punished. This paper examines whether the expectation of punishment, rather than the implementation of punishment is sufficient to prevent individuals from free riding. Individual differences in the punishment sensitivity have been linked to both threat responses (flight, fight, fear system, or the FFFS) and to the response to the uncertainty of punishment (BIS-anxiety).The paper, therefore, examines if individual differences in BIS-anxiety and FFFS can explain some of the variability in free riding in the face of implemented and non-implemented punishment.
Participants took part in a series of one-shot Public Goods Games (PGGs) facing two punishment conditions (implemented and non-implemented) and two standard non-punishment PGGs. The punishment was implemented as a centralized authority punishment (i.e., if one participant contributed less than their group members, they were automatically fined). Individual contribution levels and presence/absence of zero contributions indexed free riding. Individual differences in behavioural inhibition were assessed.
Individuals contributed more under the threat of punishment (both implemented and non-implemented). However, individuals contributed less when the punishment was not implemented compared to when it was. Those scoring high in BIS-anxiety contributed more when the punishment expectations were not implemented. This effect was not observed for FFFS.
Supporting previous research, punishment had a powerful effect in increasing contribution levels in the PGGs. However, when expected punishment was not implemented, individual differences in punishment sensitivity, specifically in BIS-anxiety, were related to fewer contributions (increased free riding) as compared to the situation when punishment was not implemented. This has implications for our understanding of why some people cannot resist the temptation to free ride, even when facing possible punishment for their actions. Our findings suggest that the diminished functioning of mechanisms, associated with trait behavioural inhibition, can partly explain such behaviours.
Cooperation; Free riding; Punishment risk; Behavioural inhibition; Individual differences
Throughout the world there is an insufficient supply of donor organs to meet the demand for organ transplantations. This paper presents a protocol for a randomised controlled trial, testing whether a simple, theory-based anticipated regret manipulation leads to a significant increase in posthumous organ donor registrations.
We will use a between-groups, prospective randomised controlled design. A random sample of 14,520 members of the adult Scottish general public will be contacted via post. These participants will be randomly allocated into 1 of the 4 conditions. The no questionnaire control (NQC) group will simply receive a letter and donor registration form. The questionnaire control (QC) arm will receive a questionnaire measuring their emotions and non-cognitive affective attitudes towards organ donation. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) group will complete the emotions and affective attitudes questionnaire plus additional items assessing their cognitive attitudes towards organ donation, perceived control over registration and how they think significant others view this action. Finally, the anticipated regret (AR) group will complete the same indices as the TPB group, plus two additional anticipated regret items. These items will assess the extent to which the participant anticipates regret for not registering as an organ donor in the near future. The outcome variable will be NHS Blood and Transplant verified registrations as an organ donor within 6 months of receiving our postal intervention.
This study will assess whether simply asking people to reflect on the extent to which they may anticipate regret for not registering as an organ donor increases organ donor registration 6 months later. If successful, this simple and easy to administer theory-based intervention has the potential to save lives and money for the NHS by reducing the number of people receiving treatments such as dialysis. This intervention may also be incorporated into future organ donor campaigns.
Trial registration number
At Nottingham University more than 95% of entrants to the traditional 5-year medical course are school leavers. Since 2003 we have admitted graduate entrants (GEM) to a shortened (4-year) course to 'widen access to students from more disadvantaged backgrounds'. We have recently shown that the GEM course widens academic and socio-demographic diversity of the medical student population. This study explored whether GEM students also bring psychological diversity and whether this could be beneficial.
We studied: a) 217 and 96 applicants to the Nottingham 5- and 4-year courses respectively, applying in the 2002-3 UCAS cycle, and, b) 246 school leavers starting the 5-year course and 39 graduate entrants to the 4-year course in October 2003. The psychological profiles of the two groups of applicants and two groups of entrants were compared using their performance in the Goldberg 'Big 5' Personality test, the Personal Qualities Assessment (PQA; measuring interpersonal traits and interpersonal values), and the Lovibond and Lovibond measure of depression, anxiety and stress. For the comparison of the Entrants we excluded the 33 school leavers and seven graduates who took the tests as Applicants.
Statistical analyses were undertaken using SPSS software (version 16.0).
Graduate applicants compared to school leaver applicants were significantly more conscientious, more confident, more self controlled, more communitarian in moral orientation and less anxious. Only one of these differences was preserved in the entrants with graduates being less anxious. However, the graduate entrants were significantly less empathetic and conscientious than the school leavers.
This study has shown that school leaver and graduate entrants to medical school differ in some psychological characteristics. However, if confirmed in other studies and if they were manifest in the extreme, not all the traits brought by graduates would be desirable for someone aiming for a medical career.
It has been suggested that studying non-science subjects at A-level should be compulsory for medical students. Our admissions criteria specify only Biology, Chemistry and one or more additional subjects. This study aimed to determine whether studying a non-science subject for A-level is an independent predictor of achievement on the undergraduate medical course.
The subjects of this retrospective cohort study were 164 students from one entry-year group (October 2000), who progressed normally on the 5-year undergraduate medical course at Nottingham. Pre-admission academic and socio-demographic data and undergraduate course marks were obtained. T-test and hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses were undertaken to identify independent predictors of five course outcomes at different stages throughout the course.
There was no evidence that the choice of science or non-science as the third or fourth A-level subject had any influence on course performance. Demographic variables (age group, sex, and fee status) had some predictive value but ethnicity did not. Pre-clinical course performance was the strongest predictor in the clinical phases (pre-clinical Themes A&B (knowledge) predicted Clinical Knowledge, p < 0.001, and pre-clinical Themes C&D (skills) predicted Clinical Skills, p = < 0.01).
This study of one year group at Nottingham Medical School provided no evidence that the admissions policy on A-level requirements should specify the choice of third or fourth subject.
An extension of A level grades is the most promising alternative to intellectual aptitude tests for selecting students for medical school
Objective To design and validate a new competency based selection system to recruit general practice registrars, comprising a competency based application form, referees' reports, and an assessment centre.
Design Longitudinal predictive validity study and a matched case comparison.
Setting South Yorkshire and East Midlands region, United Kingdom, comprising three deaneries.
Participants 46 of 167 doctors were followed up in training after three months in practice, and 20 general practice trainers were selected by using traditional recruitment methods.
Main outcome measures Trainer ratings of trainee performance in practice on targeted competencies.
Results Performance ratings of targeted competencies at the assessment centre predicted trainer ratings of performance in the job. Furthermore, those trainees recruited through the new competency based process performed significantly better in the job than those recruited through traditional recruitment processes.
Conclusion A new competency based selection process using assessment centres improves the validity of selection of general practice registrars compared with traditional selection techniques.
To compare the power of three traditional selection procedures (A levels, personal statements, and references) and one non-traditional selection procedure (personality) to predict performance over the five years of a medical degree.
Cohort study over five years.
Nottingham medical school.
Entrants in 1995.
Main outcome measures
A level grades, amounts of information contained in teacher's reference and the student's personal statement, and personality scores examined in relation to 18 different assessments.
Information in the teacher's reference did not consistently predict performance. Information in the personal statement was predictive of clinical aspects of training, whereas A level grades primarily predicted preclinical performance. The personality domain of conscientiousness was consistently the best predictor across the course. A structural model indicated that conscientiousness was positively related to A level grades and preclinical performance but was negatively related to clinical grades.
A teacher's reference is of no practical use in predicting clinical performance of medical students, in contrast to the amount of information contained in the personal statement. Therefore, simple quantification of the personal statement should aid selection. Personality factors, in particular conscientiousness, need to be considered and integrated into selection procedures.
This paper sets out the case that personality traits are central to health psychology. To achieve this, three aims need to be addressed. First, it is necessary to show that personality influences a broad range of health outcomes and mechanisms. Second, the simple descriptive account of Aim 1 is not sufficient, and a theoretical specification needs to be developed to explain the personality-health link and allow for future hypothesis generation. Third, once Aims 1 and 2 are met, it is necessary to demonstrate the clinical utility of personality. In this review I make the case that all three Aims are met. I develop a theoretical framework to understand the links between personality and health drawing on current theorising in the biology, evolution, and neuroscience of personality. I identify traits (i.e., alexithymia, Type D, hypochondriasis, and empathy) that are of particular concern to health psychology and set these within evolutionary cost-benefit analysis. The literature is reviewed within a three-level hierarchical model (individual, group, and organisational) and it is argued that health psychology needs to move from its traditional focus on the individual level to engage group and organisational levels.
personality; evolution; diagnosis