ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 8, Issue 3, 241-251, 2017
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Context Effects in the Evaluation of Bodily Symptoms: Comparing Three Versions of the Health Norms Sorting Task

  Florian Weck - Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Potsdam, Potsdam
  Michael Witthöft - Department of Clinical Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Volume 8, Issue 3, 2017, Pages 241-251

The illness-related evaluation of bodily symptoms is considered an important maintaining factor in somatoform disorders. However, little is known about context variables that could influence the evaluation process. In the current study, participants conducted three versions of the Health Norms Sorting Task (HNST) and evaluated bodily symptoms in different contexts (i.e., different evaluation perspectives and time frames of evaluation). Additionally, the three HNST versions were presented in different orders. Bodily symptoms were evaluated more often as a sign of illness when a specific time frame (i.e., one week) was given. However, this context effect was only large when participants previously evaluated symptoms existing without a concrete duration. Thus, previously conducted symptom evaluations appear to represent an important frame of reference in terms of a cue that makes specific context variables salient. The results further suggested that these cueing effects are less relevant for participants with elevated somatic symptom reports.

Table of Contents
  Health Norms Sorting Task (HNST)
  Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-15)
  Illness Attitude Scales (IAS)
  Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI)
 Statistical analysis
 Differences between the three versions of the HNST and order effects
 Correlations of the scores of the three HNST versions with scores of other psychopathological measures

Correspondence to
Dr. Florian Weck

context effects; Health Norms Sorting Task; somatic symptom disorder; symptom evaluation

Received 4 Jan 2016; Revised 22 Feb 2017; Accepted 22 Feb 2017; In Press 19 Mar 2017

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