Psychology Research Collection

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  • Publication
    Premorbid cognitive functioning influences differences between self-reported cognitive difficulties and cognitive assessment in multiple sclerosis
    Cognitive difficulties are reported in up to 60% of people with MS (pwMS). There is often a discrepancy between self-reported cognitive difficulties and performance on cognitive assessments. Some of this discrepancy can be explained by depression and fatigue. Pre-MS cognitive abilities may be another important variable in explaining differences between self-reported and assessed cognitive abilities. PwMS with high estimated premorbid cognitive functioning (ePCF) may notice cognitive difficulties in daily life whilst performing within the average range on cognitive assessments. We hypothesised that, taking into account depression and fatigue, ePCF would predict (1) differences between self-reported and assessed cognitive abilities and (2) performance on cognitive assessments. We explored whether ePCF predicted (3) self-reported cognitive difficulties. Eighty-seven pwMS completed the Test of Premorbid Functioning (TOPF), the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS (BICAMS), self-report measures of cognitive difficulty (MS Neuropsychological Questionnaire; MSNQ), fatigue (MS Fatigue Impact Scale; MFIS) and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; HADS). Results revealed that, taking into account covariates, ePCF predicted (1) differences between self-reported and assessed cognitive abilities, p < .001 (model explained 29.35% of variance), and (2) performance on cognitive assessments, p < .001 (model explained 46.00% of variance), but not (3) self-reported cognitive difficulties, p = .545 (model explained 35.10% of variance). These results provide new and unique insights into predictors of the frequently observed discrepancy between self-reported and assessed cognitive abilities for pwMS. These findings have important implications for clinical practice, including the importance of exploring premorbid factors in self-reported experience of cognitive difficulties.
  • Publication
    Systematic review of cognitive reserve in multiple sclerosis: Accounting for physical disability, fatigue, depression, and anxiety
    Background: Cognitive reserve (CR) describes an individual's ability to adapt cognitive processes in response to brain atrophy, and has been reported to explain some of the discrepancy between brain atrophy and cognitive functioning outcomes in multiple sclerosis (MS). CR in MS is typically investigated by assessing an individual's pre- and/or post-diagnosis enrichment, which includes premorbid intellectual abilities, educational level, occupational attainment, and engagement in cognitively enriching leisure activities. Common MS symptoms (e.g., physical disability, fatigue, depression, anxiety) may impact an individual's ability to engage in various CR-enhancing activities post-diagnosis. It is unknown to what extent these MS symptoms have been taken into account in MS research on CR. As such, we identified whether studies assessed CR using measures of premorbid or continuous (including post-diagnosis) enrichment. For studies investigating continuous enrichment, we identified whether studies accounted for MS-impact, which MS symptoms were accounted for, and how, and whether studies acknowledged MS symptoms as potential CR-confounds. Methods: Three electronic databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus) were searched. Eligible studies investigated CR proxies (e.g., estimated premorbid intellectual abilities, vocabulary knowledge, educational level, occupational attainment, cognitively enriching leisure activities, or a combination thereof) in relation to cognitive, brain atrophy or connectivity, or daily functioning outcomes in adult participants with MS. We extracted data on methods and measures used, including any MS symptoms taken into account. Objectives were addressed using frequency analyses and narrative synthesis. Results: 115 studies were included in this review. 47.8% of all studies investigated continuous enrichment. Approximately half of the studies investigating continuous enrichment accounted for potential MS-impact in their analyses, with only 31.0% clearly identifying that they treated MS symptoms as potential confounds for CR-enhancement. A narrative synthesis of studies which investigated CR with and without controlling statistically for MS-impact indicated that accounting for MS symptoms may impact findings concerning the protective nature of CR. Conclusion: Fewer than half of the studies investigating CR proxies in MS involved continuous enrichment. Just over half of these studies accounted for potential MS-impact in their analyses. To achieve a more complete and accurate understanding of CR in MS, future research should investigate both pre-MS and continuous enrichment. In doing so, MS symptoms and their potential impact should be considered. Establishing greater consistency and rigour across CR research in MS will be crucial to produce an evidence base for the development of interventions aimed at improving quality of care and life for pwMS.
  • Publication
    Children’s outgroup giving in settings of intergroup conflict: The developmental role of ingroup symbol preference
    Understanding when children develop a sense of group boundaries has implications for conflict and its resolution. Integrating Social Identity Development Theory and the Developmental Peacebuilding Model, we investigate whether preferences for ethno-religious ingroup symbols mediate the link from child age to outgroup prosocial giving among 5- to 11-year-old children from both majority and minority backgrounds in three settings of protracted intergroup conflict (N=713, M=7.97, SD=1.52, 52.6% female). Participants represented the conflict rival ethno-religious groups in each setting (Northern Ireland (n=299): 48.5% Protestant, 51.5% Catholic; Kosovo (n=220): 54.1% Albanian, 45.9% Serbian; Republic of North Macedonia (RNM) (n=194): 45.9% Macedonian, 54.1% Albanian) and were largely from lower to middle class families; 4% of participants from other ethnic backgrounds were excluded from the current analyses. Multiple group, bias-corrected bootstrapped mediation found that ingroup symbol preference mediated the link from child age to outgroup prosocial giving; that is, older children expressed higher ingroup symbol preference which was linked with lower outgroup giving. Across Northern Ireland, Kosovo, and the RNM, there was some significant variation in the strength of specific paths; however, there was a significant indirect effect in all three settings. The findings advance cross-cultural understanding of how age relates to ingroup symbol preferences and outgroup prosocial giving across the elementary school years, with implications for children’s long-term peacebuilding contributions in three conflict-affected societies.
    Scopus© Citations 11  33
  • Publication
    Adolescent outgroup helping, collective action, and political activism in a setting of protracted conflict
    This article examines the role of empathy for outgroup helping, collective action and political activism among youth in Northern Ireland, a setting of protracted conflict. Integrating the Empathy-Attitudes-Action model with the Developmental Peacebuilding Model, a two-wave study was conducted to assess youth’s behavioural intentions and actual behaviours toward refugees. Across two waves (N = 383, 52% male, 48% female; 14-16 years old), empathy at Time 1 predicted more positive attitudes toward ethnic minorities at Time 2, which in turn was positively related to four outcomes aiming to foster prosocial change for refugees: helping behaviour and realistic helping at the interpersonal level, collective action intentions at the structural level, and signing a petition aiming for cultural change. That is, outgroup attitudes mediated the link from empathy to three types of prosocial action toward refugees. The findings suggest that youth not only volunteer to help an individual outgroup member, but also support broader structural and cultural change that will benefit those they may never meet. Implications for recognising and supporting the constructive agency of youth toward disadvantaged groups in conflict settings are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 11  33
  • Publication
    Outgroup prosocial behaviour among children and adolescents in conflict settings
    (Elsevier, 2022-04) ;
    Over 420 million children live amid political conflict. In such settings, understanding the development of prosocial behaviours, specifically directed at outgroups, can provide opportunities for peacebuilding. Informed by research on intergroup competition and structural inequality, we focus on outgroup prosocial behaviour targeting conflict rivals. Already from a young age, children are politically socialised and show intergroup biases that dampen helping behaviours toward conflict rivals, which continues into adulthood. We review factors that shape youth’s interpersonal helping, as well as broader forms of prosociality, such as civic engagement, across group lines. We conceptualise outgroup prosocial behaviour along a continuum, ranging from interpersonal acts to broader structural and cultural constructive change. We conclude with directions for future research.
    Scopus© Citations 13  34