Thursday, March 3, 2022

Dutch Marine recruits: Unexpectedly, cadets with higher levels of grit were not more likely to complete training; it seems grit is not as important as we thought

Grit was not associated to dropout in Dutch Marine recruits. Iris Dijksma, Cees Lucas & Martijn Stuiver. Military Psychology, Mar 2 2022.

Abstract: Approximately half of all recruits drop out of Marine recruit training. Identifying associated and predisposing factors for dropout would be helpful to understand dropout patterns and induce preventive strategies. Grit has been suggested to be a predictor of who is likely to succeed and who is not. We aimed to investigate the association between baseline grit scores and dropout of Marine recruit training in the Netherlands Armed Forces. We performed an exploratory study using data of three platoons Marine recruit training of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. Individual grit levels were measured using the NL-Grit scale, including two subscales. The primary outcome of this study was successful completion or dropout of Marine recruit training. Data were available from 270 recruits, of whom 119 (44%) dropped out of training. The odds ratio for dropout were 1.01 (95% CI 0.84–1.21, p = .917) and 1.07 (95% CI 0.89–1.29, p = .481) per standard deviation increase of consistency of interests and perseverance of effort, respectively. Our study did not confirm the proposed association between baseline grit levels and dropout of Marine recruit training in Dutch Marine recruits using the NL-Grit scale.

Keywords: Gritmilitary trainingretentiondropout


Our study aimed to explore the association between baseline grit scores and dropout of Marine recruit training. The results of this study did not confirm the proposed association between baseline grit levels and dropout of Marine recruit training in Dutch Marine recruits using the NL-Grit scale. This finding holds both in recruits who were discharged upon individual request and those who dropout due to musculoskeletal injuries. Explained variance in dropout by baseline grit levels was somewhat higher in the former subgroup than in the latter but lower in both.

Our results do not align with the initial findings by Duckworth and colleagues, who found that grit scores were related to successful completion of military courses (Duckworth et al., 2019; Eskreis-Winkler et al., 2014). Several phenomena may explain why our findings do not suggest an association between grit levels and dropout. First, presumably due to rigorous pre-selection procedures, the data of baseline grit levels per subscale showed a limited range, and they lacked variance (i.e., information). Because of the lack of normative data, we were unable to directly compare subscale sum scores and ranges of our sample to previously study military populations; however, we do assume that cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point would show similarly limited ranges (Crede et al., 2017; Duckworth et al., 2019). The lack of variance is apparent in both subscales, but even more so in the perseverance of effort subscale, which has previously been suggested to be strongly associated with (or even predictive for) performance than consistency of interests (Crede et al., 2017). As a consequence, the possibility to differentiate (i.e., discriminate) recruits based on their grit score is limited. On the other hand, it is possible that within this restricted range, there truly is no association between baseline grit levels and dropout. After all, it is easily conceivable that, as a result of pre-selection, recruits who are fit and brave enough to arrive at the pre-attendance all must possess – and must have addressed – a relatively high level of grit. Possibly, at that point, their grit level contributes less to performance than other traits such as hardiness and resilience (Maddi et al., 20172012). Second, we cannot exclude the possibility of social desirability bias in answering the NL-Grit scale (Grimm, 2010) and the possibility that (young) Marine recruits entertain a less than realistic view of their own grit levels (i.e., measurement bias because of reporting inflated grit levels) (Credé, 2018; Krumpal, 2013).

Although grit as a predictor of military success holds much intuitive appeal, the relation remains uncertain. The measurement of grit levels, and thus the possibility to differentiate, may be improved by adding items to the scale in the higher end of the spectrum. Also, the survey may be taken at an earlier stage in the selection procedure. It is likely that, at that point, the range of grit levels is wider, and the influence of social desirability bias may be less strong.

Limitations and implications

Several limitations of this explorative study are worth highlighting. First, other unmeasured variables may have obscured the association between baseline grit levels and the chance of dropout. Given the explorative nature of this study and the fact that causal paths are far from certain – for example, baseline physical fitness could be considered either a confounder or mediator (Pearl, 2010) – we chose to refrain from controlling for other variables. However, we should also note that the objective of exploring the association of grit with dropout risk was to assess its possible value as a predictor. In prediction research, the causal path and hence considerations about confounding and mediation are irrelevant as long as a variable is a consistent predictor of the outcome. Second, as per common, we measured grit through a self-reported measurement scale. Although it is stated that the act of answering survey questions can increase awareness, which opens the door to development, it also has disadvantages when such self-reported measures are used to detect and quantify associations or even predictive abilities between baseline levels and success outcomes (Oh et al., 2010). Perhaps, observer ratings of personality constructs such as grit levels – or even conscientiousness as an overarching construct – next to self-report methods may yield more valid estimates than the self-report method alone (Oh et al., 2010). Third, the NL-Grit was queried as the last survey, following other surveys. We cannot exclude the possibility that recruits rushed the last survey in order to finish it off. Finally, we wish to emphasize that our study findings are not necessarily generalizable to female military service members (since all participants were male) or other recruit training programs. Future research on both self-reported methods and observer-rated methods, also in other military courses, would add to the understanding of the relation between personality traits and dropout of military training.

“Unmasking” uncertainty, embracing it, and openly communicating about it could help alleviate anxiety and feelings of emotional exhaustion, detachment, and personal inadequacy

Understanding and Communicating Uncertainty in Achieving Diagnostic Excellence. Maria R. Dahm, Carmel Crock. JAMA, March 3, 2022. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.2141

Uncertainty pervades the diagnostic process. In health care, taxonomies of uncertainty have been developed to describe aspects such as personal (eg, individual knowledge gaps), scientific (eg, limits of biomedical knowledge), and probabilistic (eg, imprecise estimates of risk or prognosis) dimensions of uncertainty.1

When clinicians encounter diagnostic uncertainty, they often find themselves in an unfamiliar situation, without a clear method to proceed confidently, comfortably, and safely. Being unable to explain to patients what causes their symptoms may be perceived as a failure for all involved. When clinicians and patients dwell in diagnostic uncertainty, it can trigger feelings of concern and anxiety, may lead patients to mistrust clinicians’ competence, and could contribute to clinician burnout (feeling exhausted, disconnected, and personally inadequate), especially for early-career clinicians.2,3

Excellent diagnosticians should understand how uncertainty manifests. They should acknowledge and embrace uncertainty, and openly discuss it with other clinicians and patients to normalize its ubiquitous and inevitable part in the diagnostic process.4 Such a reimagining, focused on the inevitable and beneficial aspects of diagnostic uncertainty, relies on identifying how uncertainty is understood, managed, and communicated.

What Is Diagnostic Uncertainty, and for Whom?

Diagnosis is a complex and collaborative process that involves gathering, integrating, and interpreting information across the entire diagnostic team: clinicians (physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals), patients, and patients’ families and caregivers.5 All team members encounter different types of diagnostic uncertainty at different stages in the diagnostic process.3

From the clinicians’ perspective, diagnostic uncertainty has been defined as the “subjective perception of an inability to provide an accurate explanation of the patient’s health problem.”6 These subjective feelings are entangled in a multitude of factors and tensions surrounding the qualities deemed essential in clinicians, such as competence and confidence. The decisiveness with which clinicians make a diagnosis may be perceived as reflecting diagnostic expertise and clinical competence. Yet diagnostic excellence in the setting of uncertainty requires recognition and tolerance of uncertainty, cognitive flexibility, and willingness to engage with evolving information. It includes the ability to share clinical reasoning and communicate uncertainty to patients.3,4

Patients may experience uncertainty at any point along the diagnostic process and beyond. For patients, diagnostic uncertainty often begins before they present for health care, such as doubt about whether a persistent minor pain or occasional numbness warrants a clinical visit. Patients may have doubts about how long it will take to get answers, what their role is in the diagnostic process, whether a treatment is available, and whether they want a diagnosis if they already fear having a serious illness. They may have doubts about what a diagnosis means for their personal and professional life, their functional status, and quality of life.

Patients also encounter doubt when they perceive their valid symptoms are being dismissed. This is a common experience reported by patients, particularly those who experience other health disparities related to age, sex, race and ethnicity, or language background. For example, some women with myocardial ischemia may present with symptoms (such as back or abdominal pain or vomiting) that are not considered typical cardiac presentations, and may believe their symptoms are being dismissed. Some people might have doubts when a diagnosis does not match what they think is affecting them, or when family members, such as children and older adults who are unable to advocate for themselves, experience disease progression or adverse outcomes despite having been assigned a diagnostic label and associated treatments.

Managing Uncertainty Positively

“Unmasking”4 uncertainty, embracing it, and openly communicating about it could help alleviate anxiety and feelings of emotional exhaustion, detachment, and personal inadequacy associated with burnout and help clinicians “enjoy rather than dread the diagnostic process.”7 However, tolerating uncertainty rather than trying to reduce it to absolute certainty requires a major shift in the clinician’s mindset. Current medical education inadequately prepares early-career clinicians for feelings of failure associated with diagnostic uncertainty. Instead of upholding the illusion of certainty, medical education and professional development should provide a judgment-free opportunity for clinicians to openly and safely reflect, as well as be guided by and learn to live with the stress associated with diagnostic uncertainty.8

All clinicians across hierarchies and levels of experience need to openly acknowledge the realities of diagnostic uncertainty. The uncertainty surrounding diagnosis does need not be perceived as a threat to medical “authority,” expertise, or professionalism. On the contrary, clinicians who openly encourage and engage in discussions of uncertainty without blame or penalty model excellent diagnostic processes. Normalizing and promoting acceptance of uncertainty as integral to the diagnostic process thus should become routine within clinical care and medical education.8

The effects of explicitly acknowledging and managing uncertainty in the diagnostic process could be profound; doing so may help foster a safety culture in which all diagnostic team members can openly discuss, challenge, and collaborate to refine clinical reasoning. Diagnostic possibilities could be explored in self-reflection, and in interactions with colleagues and with patients.

Communicating Uncertainty

Effective communication about uncertainty across the entire diagnostic team is essential to avoid diagnostic error and patient harm.9

Diagnostic error has been defined as a failure to find an accurate and timely explanation for a health problem or failure to communicate that explanation to the patient.5 This definition should be expanded to include failure to communicate uncertainty explicitly, given its pervasiveness, as a potent contributor to diagnostic error.3 When clinicians do not disclose their doubts, patients may leave the clinical encounter feeling reassured yet remain unaware of their clinician’s uncertainty. When medical notes in electronic medical records (EMRs) present diagnoses as certainties, the diagnostic team may miss other diagnostic possibilities. Instead, EMRs should embed differential diagnosis and language expressing uncertainty (such as “possible viral conjunctivitis”) into documentation.

Probabilistic reasoning is often used to articulate uncertainty. Probabilistic (or bayesian) reasoning is a useful method to reduce cognitive biases when information is assessed during the diagnostic process,5 yet it is underused or even misunderstood in routine medical practice. Applying bayesian reasoning principles could lead clinicians to adjust their thinking and revise disease probabilities as they gather more information, thereby potentially avoiding diagnostic errors (eg, considering the frequency of disease processes in the immediate population to avoid base-rate neglect: the tendency to overemphasize information specific to an individual).5 Most clinicians apply probabilistic reasoning unconsciously, but bringing these skills and related language to interactions could be one way to explicitly communicate uncertainty.

How people understand language commonly associated with uncertainty and probability (eg, “occasionally,” “rarely”), including in radiology or pathology reports (eg, “highly suspicious for,” “suggestive of”), could differ between speaker/sender and hearer/receiver and may lead to ambiguity regarding diagnostic certainty. Clinicians also communicate uncertainty via implicit communication strategies that patients may not identify as expressions of uncertainty. For the clinician, “I’d like to follow-up with you next week” may signal they are unsure of a diagnosis and are adopting a watchful, waiting approach. For the patient, it may seem like an ordinary follow-up appointment without any indication of uncertainty.

Key Points for Diagnostic Excellence

.  Diagnostic uncertainty should be shared explicitly with patients. Failure to communicate uncertainty contributes to diagnostic error.

.  Understanding diagnostic uncertainty can be enriched by incorporating perspectives from medicine, social sciences, and humanities.

.  Diagnostic uncertainty should be reimagined as positive and routinely embraced in clinical care and education.

.  Explicitly acknowledging, managing, and communicating uncertainty promotes a robust diagnostic safety culture.

Clinical practice would benefit from evidence-based recommendations on how to best communicate uncertainty in diagnostic encounters. For example, linguistic analysis of video-recorded diagnostic interactions can help identify the language structures clinicians use when expressing diagnostic uncertainty. Diagnostic excellence should be informed by broadening the current understanding of diagnostic uncertainty beyond medical realms to include linguistic, communication, humanistic, sociological, and patient-centered perspectives to better understand and describe the nuance of the diagnostic process and uncertainty.

Diagnosis as a Relational, Communicative Process

Diagnosis is “a relational process, with each party (lay and medical) confronting illness with different explanations, understandings, values, and beliefs.”10 Managing patient anxiety surrounding uncertainty in diagnosis requires open interpersonal communication to increase patients’ awareness of the nature of diagnosis as a process rather than an isolated event. Clinicians could build rapport and trust and manage expectations by listening to patients, clearly communicating steps along the diagnostic process, and sharing their own uncertainty.

Patients’ expectations change as they gain a more transparent understanding of the complex and often complicated pathway to diagnosis. Clinicians can build safety nets by alerting patients about their uncertainty, discussing red-flag symptoms, and codeveloping plans of when and where patients should seek additional or urgent help.3 Open communication between clinicians and patients could also provide avenues for feedback on diagnostic performance, essential to calibrate clinicians’ diagnostic abilities.5

To effectively manage the complexity and challenges of the diagnostic process, clinicians and patients need to find approaches to address uncertainty. Acknowledging, embracing, and communicating uncertainty opens diagnostic possibilities and a way toward achieving diagnostic excellence.

Choice Matters More with Others: Choosing to be with Other People is More Consequential to Well-Being than Choosing to be Alone

Choice Matters More with Others: Choosing to be with Other People is More Consequential to Well-Being than Choosing to be Alone. Liad Uziel & Tomer Schmidt-Barad. Journal of Happiness Studies, Mar 2 2022.

Abstract: Stable social relationships are conducive to well-being. However, similar effects are not reported consistently for daily social interactions in affecting episodic (experiential) subjective well-being (ESWB). The present investigation suggests that the choice of being in a social context plays an important moderating role, such that social interactions increase ESWB only if taken place by one's choice. Moreover, it is argued that choice matters more in a social context than in an alone context because experiences with others are amplified. These ideas were tested and supported in two studies: An experiment that manipulated social context and choice status, and a 10-day experience-sampling study, which explored these variables in real-life settings. Results showed that being with others by one’s choice had the strongest positive association with ESWB, sense of meaning, and control, whereas being with others not by one’s choice—the strongest negative association with ESWB. Effects of being alone on ESWB also varied by choice status, but to a lesser extent. The findings offer theoretical and practical insights into the effects of the social environment on well-being.


By studying participants’ experiences in their natural environment, this study affirmed our previous findings that ESWB is shaped by an interaction between the social context and choice of being in this context. Across the different expressions of ESWB, choice was more consequential 'with others' than alone, corroborating approaches that suggest that social contexts act to amplify and intensify experiences (e.g., Steinmetz et al., 2016).

The findings extended beyond ESWB, addressing some of the processes that could account for the observed differences in ESWB. Being with others by choice was also associated with an increase in sense of meaning and control. Our participants evaluated their activities and their level of agency more extremely during non-solitary experiences, and the choice of being in each social context moderated whether this would be for better or worse.

General Discussion

Being alone and socializing are fundamental bricks in the human experience. The mere being in one state (vs. the other) carries important short-term (Kahneman et al., 2004; Uziel, 2007) and long-term (Bowlby, 1973; Winnicott, 1958) implications in a wide range of domains—affective, cognitive, motivational, and behavioral. Crucially, both conditions are conducive to well-being (Uziel, 2021). Seminal studies documented the immense importance of meeting social needs and establishing sound social bonds on healthy development and personal well-being (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), and emerging literature recognizes the benefits of solitary living (DePaulo & Morris, 2005).

In the present investigation, we sought to add to this literature in several respects. First, much of our knowledge on the effects of social bonds or solitary living is based on these conditions as stable ways of living (e.g., being married vs. being single). These are important aspects of our social lives, but the knowledge acquired only via a 'stable relations' lens does not capture the dynamics of our social lives as they unfold across the scenes that comprise our daily experiences (Nezlek et al., 2002). Second, research generally does not compare these social conditions (alone/'with others') but studies each condition separately. And, importantly, research has yet to fully account for the substantial variability in ESWB in these two settings. To address these issues we conducted two studies, an experiment and an experience-sampling study, which provided initial answers to these questions.

Our experience-sampling study (Study 2), which sampled more than 4200 episodes across 10 days, uncovered some of the dynamics of (young) individuals’ daily social lives. Participants reported being with others in about 63% (and alone 37%) of the sampled episodes (which were throughout the day), and regardless of the social context, they were also in a setting of their choice in most (64%) of the episodes. These frequencies are consistent with findings reported in previous studies (e.g., Hudson et al., 2020; O'Connor & Rosenblood, 1996), and they imply that individuals (specifically, students) spend non-negligible periods—about a third of their time—in externally imposed social settings.

Do social interactions increase ESWB compared with periods of aloneness? The extant literature associates stable social relations with greater subjective well-being (Diener & Seligman, 2002), but findings are less conclusive for episodic social interactions (Uziel et al., 2020). The results of the present research coincide with the intricacy of the effect and provide directions toward understanding when and how episodic interactions affect well-being. First, being with others is associated with desirable effects if it reinforces one’s sense of agency, and it is detrimental in the absence of control. Supporting this account are our findings on the sense of control, which increased under chosen social settings, along with the increase in ESWB. These findings resonate early models about the effects of social presence in the social facilitation effect, which emphasized the role of (un)certainty in shaping the reaction to others’ presence (Guerin & Innes, 1982; Zajonc, 1965).

Another path for constructive (vs. destructive) episodic social interactions that emerges from the present findings concerns the sense of meaning. Social contacts were constructive when they were experienced as meaningful. Interestingly, low meaningful contacts (which in experiential sense are less impactful) were nonetheless associated with a relative reduction in ESWB, highlighting an often-neglected aspect in our daily social life. Furthermore, our findings imply that choosing (and perhaps initiating) social interactions is central in affecting ESWB, thus accounting for both—the reason why many people do not initiate such relations (because they generally expect to experience low ESWB in non-chosen settings), and why they may gain if acted to initiate (i.e., choose to be in such) interactions (Epley & Schroeder, 2014).

In popular and academic writings, episodes of aloneness are often depicted as reflecting reduced subjective well-being compared to social engagement (Larson, 1990; Srivastava, 2008). Our data lend partial support to these findings. Study 2 (but not Study 1) found periods of aloneness to be less conducive to well-being than 'with others' contexts, averaged across the different measures. Differences between these conditions were especially notable for sense of meaning. People felt that their actions were more meaningful 'with others' than alone (with the interaction term significant, but weaker than for other measures). This, though, does not necessarily imply that the alone setting was less desirable, as it could reflect the sense that having others observe your actions makes them more consequential (Baumeister, 1982).

Aloneness (by choice and not) emerged as a setting of relative stability, with participants experiencing their different alone conditions quite similarly. Therefore, solitude might not present immediate benefits to well-being, but it does appear to offer a more predictable experience, and if utilized effectively could be a source of personal growth (Lay et al., 2018; Long & Averill, 2003; Uziel, 2021). A worthy direction for future research would be to compare the immediate and sustained implications of periods of aloneness. Moreover, these findings imply that internal (i.e., non-contextual) factors play a significant role in shaping the effects of aloneness. Indeed, the literature has begun identifying relevant factors, such as personality traits (Uziel, 2016; Uziel et al., 2020), preferences and desires (Coplan et al., 2019; Leary et al., 2003), and developmental periods (Larson et al., 1985).

The most robust effect that emerged from the present two studies is in the intersection of being with others, aloneness, and choice. Choice was substantially more important 'with others' (vs. alone) in determining ESWB, sense of meaning, and control. This finding showed in controlled settings (Study 1) and real-life data (Study 2). This finding is in line with approaches stemming from laboratory research, which associate social presence with polarizing effects (Blascovich et al., 1999; Uziel, 20072015), greater intensity and arousal (Wilt & Revelle, 2019; Zajonc, 1965), and self-presentational concerns (Baumeister, 1982). They are further in line with cognitive approaches suggesting that experiences are amplified in social presence (Boothby et al., 2014; Steinmetz et al., 2016). Our data indicate that for better or worse, experiences are more intense 'with others', and that choice of being with others is more consequential to well-being than the choice (vs. not) to be alone.

Last, this study highlights a relatively neglected aspect of research in social psychology, which often applies an experimental approach to the study of social interactions, and consequently non-chosen social settings. The findings inform about the role that chosen social settings play in real-life dynamics, showing that individuals often manage to navigate their social lives by their choice. It is worthwhile to consider this aspect with greater attention in future research.

Limitations and Future Directions

The present research is not free from limitations. First, although sample composition varied between the two studies (e.g., by age and native language), participants were nonetheless from Western cultures (UK and Israel), and Study 2 participants were (mainly Female) college students. Perceptions and experiences of aloneness and of being with others may differ by culture and over the lifespan. Marital status, family composition, and work status could affect not only the likelihood of being with others (or alone) by choice (or not) but also one’s experience in these conditions. Future research could extend the present findings beyond the sampled populations and systematically consider the role of different life conditions.Footnote3

Second, the present studies were focused on transient situational variables, yet individual differences in personality may also affect the experiences in these settings. For example, being alone is experienced differently by individuals varying in neuroticism (Uziel et al., 2020) or in affinity for aloneness (Coplan et al., 2019). Seeking others' company is often affected by extraversion (Wilt & Revelle, 2019) and a range of additional personality traits (e.g., Uziel, 2015). Furthermore, locus of control and self-deception may moderate people's experience of situations as chosen or not.

A third issue concerns the scope of the experiences sampled. Our conclusions are bounded by sampling daily activities in the lives of normative populations. Questions of choice (or lack thereof) and solitude take different forms under extreme conditions, and this warrants separate investigations. Moreover, choice was considered in our study a (subjectively judged) dichotomy. It could be argued that situations are often a mix of choice and constraints. Future research could address this issue by considering different levels of experienced choice. In addition, although our Study 2 sampled a large number of episodes across and within days, it addressed experiences resulting from being in a given situation, but not dynamics resulting from these situations. Future research could address such dynamics by looking at situational contingencies (e.g., likelihood of being alone by choice after being with others), time spent in each situation, and variations in ESWB over extended periods. Additionally, we did not ask about the specific activities that participants were doing (nor about their level of engagement with other people in the ‘with others’ setting). Future research could extend the present findings by emphasizing the type of activities people pursue under these settings.

Relatedly, the present research was focused on self-related constructs. Future research could address implications associated with interpersonal variables (e.g., trust), and objective outcomes (e.g., physiological responses). An additional extension concerns intervention aiming to modify the perceptions of choice in (imposed) social contexts (e.g., while commuting) and their impact on ESWB.

Daughters are less likely than sons to take over their parents’ rightist positions, while parent-son transmission is equally large on the left and the right

Political socialization, political gender gaps, and the intergenerational transmission of left-right ideology. Mathilde M. van Ditmars. European Journal of Political Research, February 21 2022.

Abstract: While left and right are the main terms to distinguish political views in Western Europe, the family socialization of citizens has mainly been studied in terms of partisan preferences rather than identification with these ideological blocks. Therefore, this study investigates the intergenerational transmission of left-right ideological positions in two European multiparty systems. To investigate expectations regarding gendered patterns in political socialization, ideological transmission between mothers, fathers, daughters and sons are analysed, making use of German and Swiss household data. The results underline the relevance of the family in the transmission of political ideology in multiparty systems, showing high contemporary parent-child concordance in ideological positioning in line with classic work in political socialization. Moreover, the study demonstrates how the gender-generation gap in political ideology is consequential for this process. Young women consistently place themselves on the left of men across all combinations of parental ideology, which indicates that the gender-generation gap trumps other gendered patterns in intergenerational transmission. Consequently, daughters are less likely than sons to take over their parents’ rightist positions, while parent-son transmission is equally large on the left and the right. This also means that left-leaning parents have a general advantage over right-leaning parents in having their ideological identification reproduced by their daughters. The study highlights the importance of differentiating between the transmission of left- and right-wing ideology in political socialization processes. Moreover, it demonstrates that the distinction by offspring gender is imperative when studying the intergenerational transmission of traits that display gender differences within and between parental and offspring generations. The findings point at the active role of especially female offspring in the political socialization process, as they seem to be more strongly impacted by influences outside the family that sustain generational processes of further gender realignment.

Placebo effects are ubiquitous yet highly variable between individuals; a meta-analysis of 10 different personality traits shows no evidence of associations between them and the magnitude of placebo effects

Kang, Heemin, Miriam S. Miksche, and Dan-Mikael Ellingsen. 2022. “The Association Between Personality Traits and Placebo Effects: A Preregistered Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” PsyArXiv. March 1. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Placebo effects are ubiquitous yet highly variable between individuals, and therefore strongly impact clinical trial outcomes. It is unclear whether dispositional psychological traits influence responsiveness to placebo. This preregistered meta-analysis and systematic review synthesized the literature investigating the association between personality traits and placebo effects. Based on 19 studies with 712 participants, we performed formal meta-analyses for 10 different personality traits. We did not find evidence of associations between any of these traits and magnitude of placebo effects, which was supported by equivalence tests. Furthermore, we did not find evidence for moderating factors such as placebo manipulation type (Conditioning, non-conditioning) or condition (pain, non-pain). However, the current synthesis was not statistically powered for full inquiry into potential conditional or interactive associations between personality and situational variables. These findings challenge the notion that personality influences responsiveness to placebos and contradict its utility for identifying placebo “responders” and “non-responders”.


Evidence of a talisman effect of insurance—consumers who have an insurance policy feel that the covered mishap is less likely to occur

Anxiety, Cognitive Availability, and the Talisman Effect of Insurance. Robert M. Schindler et al. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 1, 2022.

Abstract: Across four experiments (N = 1,923), this research provides converging evidence of a talisman effect of insurance—consumers who have an insurance policy feel that the covered mishap is less likely to occur. Although such an effect has previously been proposed, empirical evidence for it is limited, in part because the talisman effect has often been conflated with a related but distinct magical-thinking phenomenon, the tempting-fate effect. By disentangling these two effects, we are better able to isolate the talisman effect and show that it is a robust phenomenon in its own right. We also provide support for a mechanism underlying the talisman effect: Insurance reduces anxiety and repetitious thoughts related to the mishap; with fewer thoughts about the mishap, its cognitive availability is lower and so it seems less likely to occur.

Keywords: insurance, magical thinking, tempting fate, availability, anxiety