Methodology

[3 abstracts]

1. Comparison of different procedures for eliciting aroused psychophysiological state and emotions  [presentation, pdf, 2534 kB]
Komidar L., Podlesek A., Sočan G., Bajec B., Bucik V., Mihelič F., Gajšek R., Štruc V.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

A lot of scientific effort is put lately in development of intelligent computer systems that would be able to extract some information from human speech in order to verify or determine the speaker's identity and assess his emotional state. Contemporary studies use different procedures to elicit emotion in participants that may be expressed in speech. Some studies put effort into evoking spontaneous emotional speech (e.g. the participants have to describe a certain situation that evoked their emotions in the past), whereas in others researchers use professional actors who are asked to perform and express an emotion through their verbal behaviour. We designed several laboratory situations in order to obtain speech recordings from which we could extract features characteristic of the aroused psychophysiological state or a certain emotion. The aim of our study was to examine which situation is most effective in evoking arousal or emotions in participants. We used the following situations: giving instructions to a different person in playing a computer game, and solving difficult cognitive tasks. We will present different situations for eliciting emotions and preliminary results regarding their efficiency, which was assessed by means of self-reported experiences, and comparison of speech characteristics in normal and aroused psychophysiological state.

2. A comparative analysis of different procedures for measuring speech recognition threshold  
Podlesek A., Komidar L., Brezovar S., Smodiš K., Rus J.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

In Slovenia, the adapted Freiburg Monosyllabic Word Test has been used to assess speech recognition threshold (SRT). The aim of our study was to compare several adaptive procedures with the Freiburg Test. Based on the analysis of comprehensibility and commonness of stimuli used in the Freiburg Test, we selected the most appropriate words for use in three adaptive procedures: two variants of a descending procedure, both recommended by the ISO 8523-3 standards for measuring SRT, and the staircase method. On a normal-hearing sample (N = 36 in test measurement and N = 24 in retest measurement), comparable SRTs were obtained with the adaptive procedures, whereas the Freiburg Test yielded slightly higher SRTs. This could be attributed to a non-optimal pool of words used in the classical version of the Freiburg test: When the selected stimuli were used in the Freiburg test, the results were similar to the ones obtained with the adaptive methods. The methods also showed moderate reliability. We conclude that adaptive methods can be validly used instead of the Freiburg test for measuring SRT. The poster will also present the first step in developing a new base of monosyllabic words, which will be more representative of contemporary Slovenian language than the present base.

3. Pattern of preferences by searching a place in a nursing home  
Zernig Malatschnig C., Frick U., Habich M., Zaminer I.
First author's affiliation: FH - Kärnten, Feldkirchen, Austria

Based on the fact that the population grows older and older, the health care system needs more than ever a computerised documentation and information system. The project CAREN „Carinthia Registry of Nursing“ is aimed at establishing a populated based nursing registry in Carinthia. To query the status of the daily availability of beds in all nursing homes in Carinthia, a well-structured database needed to be designed. To prioritize potential decision criteria for chosing a place in a nursing home, N = 226 patients, relatives and professionals in hospitals and/or nursing homes were asked to fill out the questionnaire from the perspective of a patient. Patterns of preferences and relative importance of 47 decision criteria were analysed by latent class analysis (LCA). The LCA differentiates between five patterns of preferences. The five motives are very different from “everything is important in a nursing home” by “what is the present price of all these things” and “I don’t care”. Some criteria discriminate very well for example the item “there is a sauna in the nursing home”, between the five types than other criteria. Other criteria like “There are qualified employees in nursing homes” will be judged as very important by all persons. The chi-square test shows a correlation between sex and the five types. The result will be considered by the construction of the structure of the CAREN information website.

Cognitive psychology

[10 abstracts]

1. Stimulus-reaction complexity and magnitude of the Stroop effect  
Barać D., Šunjić M.
First author's affiliation: University of Mostar, Philosophy faculty, Psychology department, Mostar, BiH

The aim of the study was to examine reaction times in different situations of the Stroop effect. Thirty subjects participated in various (non)congruent stimulus situations, where they had to react in compatible and incompatible way. Four different words (red, blue, green, and yellow) were used together with four corresponding colours. The word was combined with colours in such a way that six of them made congruent situations and 18 of them made incongruent situations. The subject’s task was, when the word which meant one of the four colours appeared on the screen, to press the adequate key corresponding to the colour or the meaning of the word. In compatible situations, the subject had to: (i) react on the meaning of the word by pressing the key with the name of the colour written in black ink, (ii) react on the colour the word was written in (but not the meaning) by pressing the key of the same colour. In non-compatible situations the subject had to: (i) react on the meaning of the word by pressing the key whose colour corresponded to the meaning of the word, (ii) react on the colour the word was written in by pressing the key with the name of the colour written in black ink. The results showed the shortest reaction times in the compatible situations, where words had meaning of the colours they were written in. Reaction times were longer in situations where subjects reacted to the colour whereby the stimulus colour corresponded to the word. Generally speaking, reaction times were significantly longer in non-compatible situations where subjects had to react to the meaning of the word written in a different colour by pressing the adequate coloured key. The longest times were obtained in situations where stimulus word was written in non-adequate colour and subject had to react to the colour by pressing the adequate key with the name of the colour written in black ink. The results therefore showed that the magnitude of the Stroop effect depends on the complexity of reaction between stimulus and response.

2. Relationships between solving different problems demanding nonlogical thinking  
Bernáth L., Barkóczi I.
First author's affiliation: University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

A pilot study was conducted, the aim of which was to reveal the relationships between solving different problems - simple A:B::C:D four term analogies, visual and verbal creativity tests, visual and verbal insight problems, visuo-spatial ability test, similarity ratings between analog story problems (e.g. the radiation problem) by pairs, and the difference of ratings between analog and non-analog control story problems. This theme was concerned with the questions of verbal-visual processing and nonlogical problem solving. In sum, 241 students, girls and boys participated in four groups: high school students, vocational secondary school students, university students of mathematics and university students of history. With the standardized results of the eight problems mentioned above, correlations, factor analysis, and cluster analysis were calculated. Four problems emerged with strong 0,40-0,50 highly significant intercorrelations: the simple analogies, the visuo-spatial ability test, the verbal and the visual insight problems. Besides there were many lower but significant relations. Therefore, to find the direct and indirect relations, partial correlations were calculated one by one with the simple analogies, the visuo-spatial ability test, and the verbal insight problem. The results showed direct relationships between the before mentioned four problems except the relation between the simple analogies and the visual insight problems. The most of the creativity tests’ relations were mediated by the simple analogies, but direct relation remained between the visual creativity test and the similarity ratings plus the difference ratings. Thus, verbal and visual problems did not separate each other. Based on the performance in the various tasks we have established the so called "thinking profiles".

3. The influence of alcohol on basic motor and attention-perceptual abilities  
Ivanec D., Rebić V.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia

The aim of the study was to investigate effects of different levels of the blood alcohol concentration on the performance in three basic motor and attention perceptual tasks. Participants (N=24, repeated measurement design) were tested at four levels of the blood alcohol concentration: placebo, 0.3, 0.5, and 0.8 g/kg. In every single measurement, participants were performing three different tasks: go-no-go reaction time task, the test of perceptual speed, and the classical Stroop task. These three tasks were chosen due to the different levels of perceptual, motor and cognitive-attention abilities they are proven to include. Results showed that different effects of the blood alcohol concentration have a statistically significant and linear effect on the performance in go-no-go reaction time task and the test of perceptual speed. As alcohol concentration increased, reaction time decreased and perceptual speed was more impaired. For the classical Stroop task, the effect of alcohol consumption was also significant, but the obtained function was quadratic, not linear. The amount of interference was the same for the non-alcohol (placebo) and highest alcohol (0.8 g/kg) blood concentration level, and interference in those two situations was smaller than in those obtained at mid (0.3 and 0.5 g/kg) alcohol concentration levels. According to these results, Stroop performance is more impaired at moderate then at higher level of alcohol consumption. At higher level, results are similar to those obtained for non-alcoholic consumption. The influence of different alcohol levels was statistically significant for all three tasks. Size effects were also high, but in terms of differences on absolute measurement unit, effects were small.

4. Spatial abilities test for drivers-operators  
Khon N., Kim A., Mukhitdinova T., Shaukenova Z., Basybekova K.
First author's affiliation: Kazak National State University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The purpose of the present research was to present a test of spatial abilities for drivers-operators of over dimension cargo. A driver-operator operates by the platform with eight pairs of wheels. Up to four single platforms could be connected for extra dimension cargo. A driver-operator of such an extra platform must feel the spatial position or angle of all 32 pairs of wheels. Spatial abilities of drivers-operators are of mental rotation kind. Should selection procedure for drivers-operators job include any mental rotation test and what kind of mental rotation test is the most effective one, is not yet clear. We interviewed 3 professional trainers and 2 HR-managers of transport company and made an observation of job selection procedure during two years. We found that in the most used job selection procedure for drivers-operators all applicants are first selected according to some formal requirements (normally about 50% of all applicants); then all selected applicants are professionally trained as drivers-operators (to set cargo at the platform, to stick it, to operate etc.); finally, the participants most effective in training are selected (normally, about 25% of all people trained). As a result, time and money of the company are wasted because most of the trained applicants are not offered job in the end. We also found that the procedure of job selection doesn’t include any mental rotation tests. The reason is that most of them are constructed as perception tasks, not as a model of motor-perception coordination. Obviously, a new measure of mental rotation ability should be developed. We suggested a special procedure of professional test, measuring mental rotation abilities of applicants for driver-operator position. The result of implementation of this procedure in the job selection was the following: 5 candidates from 40 applicants were selected and then professionally trained. All of them (100%) became successive drivers-operators after professional training. Experts (i.e.., professional trainers as well as HR-managers) considered the procedure as a very good professional test.

5. Spatial experience results in better performance on Money Road Map Test  
Kim A., Mukhitdinova T., Khon N.
First author's affiliation: Kazak National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The purpose of our study was to investigate whether the experience in activities that load considerably on visuo-spatial functions will result in better performance on Money Road Map Test (MRMT). We were also interested whether the performance on this test is sensible to the hand used for tracing the dotted pathway of MRMT. It was hypothesized that right-handers may be more effective (performance times will be shorter and/or with fewer errors), when using their left hand, which is controlled by the right, “spatial”, hemisphere. Thirteen male non-drivers and 14 male non-professional drivers were randomly distributed to four experimental groups (with mean age in years in parentheses): RL non-drivers (22.7), RL drivers (21.6), LR non-drivers (23.1) and LR drivers (23.7). In RL groups, subjects were asked to perform MRMT using their right hand first (in 3 successive trials). They were then given a mental rotation task, followed by 3 trials on MRMT using their left hand. The order was inverse in LR groups. Right-handedness of all subjects approached 75 per cent and higher as assessed by the Edinburgh Handedness Questionnaire. Significant effects of both the order of trials (RL vs. LR) and driving experience were revealed. The interaction of these factors was not significant. LR drivers were performing better than both RL drivers and RL non-drivers, whereas no significant difference in performance of drivers and non-drivers was found in LR group. Non-drivers of LR group performed the task better than RL non-drivers after they had performed the task with their left hand. Therefore, relevant spatial experience enhances performance on Money Road Map Test. The test has also been shown to be sensible to motor activation of the right hemisphere of the brain.

6. Strategy solutions in mental arithmetic: are flexible strategists better than stable ones?  
Lucidi A., Lefevre J., Rossi-arnaud C., Cestari V.
First author's affiliation: L.U.M.S.A, Roma, Italy

Mental arithmetic has been investigated for some time but only recently have researchers explored the solution procedures that adults use to mentally solve arithmetic problems. Solution procedures vary considerably across individuals and across cultural backgrounds. In the present study individual differences in mental arithmetic were investigated by examining the solution strategies used by adults to mentally solve 2- plus 2-digit addition problems (e.g., 35 + 47) across four levels of complexity (no carry; carry in ones; carry in tens and carry in both). Operands were presented sequentially over 3 s in two conditions: visually (i.e., one addend of the addition problem at a time appeared at the centre of a computer screen) and aurally (the addition problems were presented through the headphones). Participants reported two broad categories of strategies: Digit strategies are versions of a standard algorithm, based on written addition and involve operating on a series of single digits, and Holistic strategies are based on more representations of the numbers that preserve overall magnitude and involve decomposing and recombining the operands in various ways. Participants could be grouped according to whether they were “flexible” (i.e. employed a variety of strategies, such as decomposition, transformation, standard algorithm) or “stable” in that they used one of these strategies throughout the experiment. Results suggest that the type of strategy solution has a greater effect on solution latency than on accuracy. Although response times were longer with auditory presentation, in this modality, flexible strategists solved problems more quickly than stable strategists. Results are discussed in terms of a contribution from working memory to the encoding and maintenance of operands and intermediate products during mental arithmetic.

7. Attention difficulties and impulsivity in euthymic outpatients with bipolar disorder  
Novak T., Šprah L.
First author's affiliation: Sociomedical Institute SASA, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Bipolar affective disorder is characterised by impulse disregulation and cognitive disturbances. Although numerous studies agree that bipolar patients show extensive attention deficits and increased impulsivity, it is still unclear to which extent these problems persist across different mood states, including euthymia. In the present study, we aimed to examine selective attention functioning, emotional attentional bias and impulsivity in the group of euthymic outpatients with bipolar disorder. Thirty outpatients with euthymic bipolar disorder without current depression or mania episode were age- and education-matched with 30 healthy individuals. Participants completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11 version) which is subfactored into attentional, motor, and nonplanning impulsiveness, as well as the computer administered colour-word and emotional Stroop task. Relative to the controls, euthymic bipolar outpatients displayed higher levels of impulsiveness and demonstrated a generally worse performance on colour–word and emotional Stroop task regarding longer reaction times and less accurate responding. The between-group differences were most pronounced in the interference condition of the colour-word task and in neutral and negative words condition of the emotional task. Within bipolar group, we found negative correlations between impulsiveness dimensions and performance on colour-word task. To conclude, euthymic bipolar outpatients in our study demonstrated a relatively marked impairment in aspects of impulse regulation and selective attention functioning. Attentional bias was discovered with neutral and negative stimuli and problems with interference control were revealed. However, a causal role between impulsivity and attention has yet to be established.

8. The effect of level of processing, test instruction, and the type on priming in memory tests  
Pojhan M.
Islamic Azad University of Tonekabon, Tonekabon, Iran

This research had been examining the effects of three factors – level of processing (graphemic-semantic), test instruction (implicit-explicit), and the type of test (word-stem and word-fragment) on priming in memory tests. On the basis of transfer appropriate processing (TAP) model and retrieval intentionality criterion (RIC), and with respect to the characteristics of word stem and word fragment tests, it was predicted that the subjects in the condition of implicit test instruction do differently in word stem and fragment tasks. The subjects were 80 university undergraduates, randomly assigned in eight experimental groups. As expected, each of the three factors had significant effect on priming, specifically in the implicit condition. The tests did not have similar effects: Level of processing affected the word fragment, but not the stem. In addition, on the basis of these findings it can be concluded (i) that word fragment task is not a pure perceptual implicit test and (ii) that word stem is a cued-recall test under explicit test instruction and a perceptual implicit test under implicit test instruction.

9. Threshold of coherent motion and contour integration in children with development dyslexia  
Révész G., Séra L., Járai R., Berényi I.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Previous empirical research suggests that visual perceptual impairment may occur in up to 75% of developmental dyslexics (e.g., Boden & Giaschi, 2007; Samar & Parasnis, 2005). These deficits, especially the magnocellular and the dorsal stream of visual pathways deficit are well documented in dyslexia (e.g., Skottun, 2000; Skottun & Skoyles, 2005). On the other hand, another explanation proposes that magnocellular and parvocellular channels are intact but that there is an abnormal interaction between them: a failure of mutual inhibition (e.g., Slaghuis & Pinkus, 1993) or the transient but delayed magnocellular processing inhibits (masks) the sustained parvocellular processes (Keen & Lovegrove, 2000). Other possibilities are that the visual disorder in dyslexia is located in higher visual areas which may explain the disordered perception of coherent global motion in dyslexia. In this research we examined the threshold of coherent motion with our own developed method (CoMot & Geier, 2008) and the threshold of contour integration (Kovács & Julesz, 1993; Kovács, Kozma, Fehér, & Benedek, 1999; Kovács, 2000) in two age and IQ matched dyslexic and typically developed groups. There was no difference between the two groups in the task of contour integration, while the threshold of coherent motion was higher in the group with dyslexia. This result suggests that the deficit of visual processing may not be in the lower – local - pathways, but instead in the higher - integrative - visual areas (MT).

10. A neural model for learning of number representation in children and adults  
Setic M., Domijan D.
First author's affiliation: University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia

Investigations with children showed that they gradually develop an approximate representation of magnitude (numerosity). Lipton and Spelke (2004) investigated the children capacity to distinguish sequences of sounds. Six month babies were able to discriminate sequence with 16 sounds from the sequence of 8 sounds. However, they were not able to discriminate between sequences of 12 and 8 sounds. On the other hand, nine month babies were able to discriminate sequences of 12 and 8 sounds. Similar process could be observed in adults when they are faced with the problem of learning new system of relationships between numbers. For instance, Marques and Dehaene (2004; Dehaene & Marques, 2002) showed that participants in Portugal and Austria had problems in estimating values of various goods when they are shown in euro and not in national currency. These problems were seen immediately after the euro was introduced. Few years of experience with euro reduces the problem. Described results are explained (simulated) using neural network for number representation proposed by Domijan (2004). In the original version, the model simulated the neurophysiological findings about neurons in the prefrontal cortex, which are sensitive to numerosity. In the model, all connections were fixed. Here, we proposed a new version of the model which is able to learn using Hebb rule. This type of associative learning has a plausible neurophysiological interpretation (long-term potentiation). Computer simulations showed that the width of the tuning curves for the neurons sensitive to different numbers gradually decrease as a function of experience. In other words, tuning curves become sharper with learning, which enable better discrimination of numbers. The same result is obtained with different sensory modalities. We conclude that the proposed model explains neural mechanisms for the construction of number representation in the parietal and prefrontal cortex.

Emotion and motivation

[2 abstracts]

1. Academic self-handicapping among high-school students  [presentation, ppt, 170 kB]
Šimek D.
Srednja ekonomska šola Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

In comparison to French and English school systems relatively competitive and achievement-oriented Slovene system offers fewer possibilities for less successful students to maintain positive self-esteem within the system (Kobal in dr., 2003). One of the strategies students employ to protect their self-worth and self-esteem is self-handicapping. Although strategic creation of obstacles to successful performance increases the likelihood of failure, it permits the self-handicapper to externalize poor performance and protect self-worth and self-esteem (Jones in Berglas, 1978). The study aimed at investigating dispositional academic self-handicapping among 747 Slovene secondary-school students (NM=371, NF=377). Using the Academic self-handicapping scale (Midgley et al., 1998) the Slovene participants showed lower level of self-handicapping than the American students (e.g. Thomas and Gadbois, 2007), which may be a reflection of historically higher collectivism and less profound individualism, intertwined with Slovenian teachers' negative attitude toward using competition in the teaching process (Smart et al., 2006). While self-handicapping in academic setting remains stable through the secondary school years, boys showed significantly higher level of self-handicapping than girls; decrease of self-esteem in academic setting is found to represent a bigger threat for boys than for girls (Ferrari, 1991). Higher level of academic self-handicapping was established among students with low academic performance and among those who subjectively overestimated their school performance. Socio-economic status of the family proved less impact on self-handicapping than the quality of interactions within the family: attendants who had a trusted person within the family self-handicapped less then those who did not or had one outside the family, yet no significant differences in academic self-handicapping were observed with regard to formal education of the parents. Self-handicapping can represent the last connection to the school and the possibility for the teachers to channel students' self-worth motivation in a more constructive direction.

2. The relationship between personality traits and accuracy in facial expression judgments  
Šverko D., Težak K., Župan D.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Previous studies found strong associations between personality and emotions, more precisely neuroticism was related to negative emotions and extraversion to positive ones. In these studies personality was mainly conceptualized and assessed according to five-factor theoretical framework, while emotions were assessed in different ways: subjective ratings, autonomic reactions recording (e.g. skin conductance responses) and psychophysiological information recording (e.g. using fMRI). The aim of the present study was to extend the exploration of the associations between personality and emotions by investigating the relationship between Big Five personality model traits and emotion recognition assessed by an objective method. The participants were 236 students from the University of Zagreb who completed personality inventory and were presented 12 pictures of facial expressions selected from Facial Action Coding System Manual (Ekman et al., 2002). The participants’ task was to identify emotions from facial expressions. Each of six following emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust and fear, was represented by two pictures of facial expressions. The results showed that students with higher scores on dimension of agreeableness were more accurate in recognition of positive and negative emotions from facial expressions. Consistent with the findings in the literature, female students were more accurate in emotion recognition from facial expressions than male students.

Developmental psychology

[7 abstracts]

1. Psychological adjustment patterns between Italian majority and Slovene minority children  
Dimitrova R., Tallandini M.
First author's affiliation: University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

Based on the model developed by Garcia Coll and Szalacha (2004), the present research aims to explore the psychological situation of children from two native ethnic groups in Northern Italy. The model suggests that minority status leads to a decrease in children’s psychological well being, so that the ethnic minority children show more adjustment difficulties compared to the majority ones. Important buffering factors which prevent the development of negative outcomes are strong ethnic cohesion, community support and good family socio-economic conditions (Stansfeld et al., 2004). All these factors characterize the Slovene minority, which is the dominant ethnic group owning a specific minority status in North Italy. Triggered by these considerations, the present study investigates psychological adjustment of Slovene minority compared to Italian majority school-age children. Given the high ethnic density and historical presence of Slovene ethnic community in the area, it is expected that Slovene children would not present adjustment differences as compared to the Italians (Stansfeld et al., 2004). Moreover, we hypothesized gender differences with boys presenting more adjustment problems than girls (Boxer, Tisak, & Goldstein, 2004) for both groups. The sample consisted of 130 children aged 7 to 12 years – 61 Slovene minority and 69 Italian majority. To test the predictions, adjustment was assessed in terms of emotional instability, prosocial, aggressive behavior and depressive symptoms through two standardized questionnaires - Social Adjustment Capacity Indicators Questionnaire (Caprara et al., 1992) and Children’s Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1988). Consistent with our expectations, results did not show ethnic group differences between the Slovenian and Italian participants, who presented more similarities in their self-ratings of adjustment. The gender comparisons showed that girls tend to respond more pro-socially than boys did. These results contribute to understanding the Slovene minority children’s integration, suggesting positive adjustment in relation to their school and peer-related context.

2. Stress experiences and family coping strategies among families with adolescent children  
Mihic I., Zotovic M., Petrovic J., Jerkovic I., Dedic M.
First author's affiliation: University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia

The research presented in this paper aims to investigate relations between stress experiences of adolescents and the coping strategies in their families. The sample consisted of 201 adolescents, aged 15 to 19 years. All the participants gave information on their stress experiences (Risk scale, Grossman et al., 1990) and then assessed the dominant coping strategies in their families (F-COPES, McCubbin et al., 1981). The most frequent stress experiences among the participants are death of a family member or a person close to the adolescent (60.2%) and car accident (42.3%). Most of the adolescents from the sample have had 2 stress experiences by the time of research. Dominant coping strategies were internal coping strategies (redefining and passive assessment). Based on the number of indicated stress experiences, all participants were divided into two groups: with low stress experiences (up to 2), and high stress experiences (3 or more stress experiences). Research results indicate that these two groups significantly differ in dominant coping family strategies. The participants from the group with higher stress experiences assessed that their families rarely use redefining, and mostly use passive assessment and seeking institutional help as the strategies when coping with stressful events. These results indicate tendency that cumulative family stress may lower the adaptive behaviors and beliefs within family, and alter the family coping mechanisms towards collective denial of the stressful experience itself, and/or family’s capabilities to cope with it.

3. Gender differences in some aspects of sexuality among Croatian adults  
Nekić M.
University of Zadar, Department of Psychology, Zadar, Croatia

Human sexuality includes three important concepts: sexual-esteem, sexual-depression and sexual-preoccupation. Snell and Papini (1989) define sexual-esteem as positive regard for and confidence in the capacity to experience one's sexuality in a satisfying and enjoyable way. Sexual-depression is defined as the experience of feelings of depression regarding one's sex life and finally sexual-preoccupation is defined as the tendency to think about sex to an excessive degree. The results from Snell and Papini's (1989) initial study revealed considerable similarity between men's and women's sexual-esteem tendencies. Analyses revealed a significant gender effect only for the sexual-preoccupation subscale, with males reporting higher levels of sexual-preoccupation than females. Some interesting results about gender differences were reported in studies which examined sociosexuality (person’s inclination to engage in sexual intercourse in the absence of strong emotional commitment to his/her partner). The purpose of the present contribution is to present the results of a study designed to examine some aspects of sexuality and gender differences among young and middle aged adults. Therefore, the first aim was to examine gender differences in sexual-esteem, sexual-depression, sexual-preoccupation and sociosexuality, while the second aim included analysis of relation between examined variables. The 101 participants (48 males and 53 females) in this research filled out The Sexuality Scale (Snell & Papini, 1989) and The Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991). Results of this study showed expected differences in some aspects of sexuality among male and female participants. Males show higher tendencies in sexual-preoccupation and more comfort with engaging in casual sex than female participants.

4. Incremental validity of personality hardiness over the Big Five in predicting psychological well-being of young adults  
Smiljanič S., Zupančič M.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Extant research provides evidence of considerable association between basic personality dimensions and psychological well-being. Except for openness, four dimensions of the five-factor model (FFM) of personality are related to well-being. Dimensions of psychological well-being are also linked to personality hardiness. According to Ryff (1989), people with more hardy personality perceive life events mainly as positive, they are active in everyday life and estimate unexpected changes as a challenge in life. In the present research, the dimensions of FFM and personality hardiness were explored as predictors of psychological well-being in Slovene young adults. Relations of these variables with gender, age, education and developmental tasks successfully mastered were also examined. Data are based on self-reports using the BFQ (Caprara, et. al., 1997), Psychological Well-Being Scales (Ryff, 1989), Questionnaire of Personality Hardiness DRS-II (Sinclair & Oliver, 2003) and Demographic List, including reports on mastery of developmental tasks of young adulthood. Participants (N = 150) were aged from 24 to 45 years. The results suggest no differences among young adults in psychological well-being by gender, age, education, and developmental tasks already mastered. Multiple regression analyses show that both the FFM dimensions and the dimensions of personality hardiness predict considerable portions of variance in all of the dimensions of psychological well-being. Moreover, hierarchical multiple linear regressions demonstrate that the dimensions of hardiness have a substantial incremental power over and above the FFM in predicting psychological well-being. The FFM dimensions also contribute significantly over and above the prediction based on dimensions of hardiness. However, the incremental predictive value of the FFM is weaker than the incremental power of personality hardiness.

5. Family in a developmental context: Do communication technologies  
Svetina M.
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Recent studies on adolescent behavior in both Europe and the USA suggest that the use of new communication technologies (mobile telephones and particularly internet) relate to age: children seem most likely to use internet to play games, adolescents to establish and maintain social relationships, and adults to search for different kinds of information. In Europe, there is a significant proportion of families in which children/adolescents know much more than parents do about communication technologies (like purchasing items, communicating with authorities via internet portals and so on). The fact that these children seem to help their parents to cope with the societal requirements, and not the vice versa, has an impact on various aspects of family life, including parental roles, statuses, and family decision making processes. The paper presents findings from a larger study on Slovenian adolescents who were given scales of family functioning, personality, as well as adolescents' experience and attitudes toward communication technologies. The findings suggest that the gap between adolescent's and parental experience with communication technologies relates to some vital family processes and relations. The implications of these findings are further discussed.

6. Effects of early learning experience on infants' exploration skills  [presentation, pdf, 1965 kB]
Tsolo M., Needham A., Libertus K.
First author's affiliation: Center for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck College, London, United Kingdom

We explored whether enrichment of infants’ early experiences as agents able to act on objects would have an effect on their object exploration skills. Three-month-old infants were given the opportunity to reach for and ‘grasp’ objects while wearing “sticky mittens”: mittens with palms that stuck to the edges of toys and allowed the infants to pick up the toys. The effects of this experience on their object exploration behavior were assessed by comparing their exploratory skills before and after the experience with the infants freely exploring a gummy teether. Their skills were also compared to the skills of another group of infants of the same age (control group), who did not actively manipulate the objects but were just passive observers of objects’ movements. We predicted that the looking and reaching behavior towards objects will increase in the experimental group after they have received the simulated experience of reaching. The results indicated that after the learning experience infants in the experimental group became more interested in the object, indexed by significantly longer looking in the second than in the first test phase, and also compared to the control group at the second test phase. We also examined infants’ latency to touch once an object had been introduced and while the two groups did not differ significantly in the first phase, latency in the second phase dropped considerably in the experimental group but not in the control group. These measures provide a demonstration of the experimental group infants’ increased interest in the object and a decreased interest in the external environment following their experience with “sticky mittens”. This suggests that the learning experience with mittens and the new ability to bring objects closer to their faces motivated babies to keep their attention on the object.

7. The present situation and prospects of the studies on Chinese left-at-home rural countryside children  
Wang X.
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Since early 1980s, China has undergone the course of Opening Policy and social transformation. Due to the fast economic growth in urban cities, a great number of peasant workforce have migrated to towns and cities, or even foreign countries to look for urban jobs. As most of these peasant workers are unable to migrate with their child, consequently, their children became so-called “left-at-home” rural countryside children. In the beginning, little attention has been paid to this special group by the society. However, today the population of “left-at-home” rural countryside children has already exceeded a number of 20 million, and their educational and psychological developmental problems turned out to be remarkable. In 2002, Chinese government has begun to fully recognize the severity of this social problem, while in 2004, more close attention has been paid both from Chinese government and academia. At present, plenty of surveys and studies have been made. Generally, these research could be classified into 4 groups: current situational surveys; quantitative studies on psychological health of left-at-home children, their personality and self-esteem, parenting styles and family function, their social support system and problem behaviors; a small quantity of qualitative studies on the process of how these left-at-home children adapt their daily life; and limited studies on developing questionnaires. During these years, many surveys and studies focusing on left-at-home children have been done, however, the findings have not been well organized and classified. Therefore, in this article the author has first discussed the accurate definition of “left-at-home” rural countryside children. Secondly, the findings of former surveys and studies are summarized, and their insufficiency discussed. Finally, the author has prospected the future studies on Chinese “left-at-home” rural countryside children.

Social psychology, (cross-)cultural issues and political psychology

[10 abstracts]

1. Strategies of coping with injustice and justice related beliefs  
Ćubela Adorić V., Tucak Junaković I., Sulić P.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia

Supplementing previous research into coping with experiences of injustice, this study aimed at exploring the various strategies people might use in dealing with injustice, and the pattern of their relationships with fundamental beliefs about justice and the (un)justness of the world. A self-reported measure of coping with injustice (Cubela Adoric, 2007), modelled after the existent measures of coping strategies, was administered to an age heterogenous group of adult participants (age range: 20 to 65 years) along with measures of justice centrality and just-world beliefs. The results showed a large number of specific forms of coping with injustice can be interpreted in terms of several dimensions as identified in the relevant literature (e.g., problem focused coping, avoidance, distraction, restructuring, rumination). The reported preference of using some strategies was found to correlate with the importance attached to justice as well as with the fundamental beliefs about the justness of the world. The observed pattern of relationships will be discussed in terms of previous research and theorizing about the functioning of these fundamental beliefs in providing the general interpretative framework for observed injustice.

2. Basic personal values and political choice  
Feric I.
Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, Croatia

Modern politics has become increasingly personalized as the individual characteristics of voters, particularly their basic personal values, become decisive for political choice – replacing traditional group interests as the crucial grounding of ideology. An abundant literature reports relations of values to political attitudes and choice. People are inclined to vote for parties whose leaders and policies they perceive as likely to promote or protect the attainment of their own important values. Conversely, they are inclined to vote against those they perceive as likely to frustrate or block the attainment and preservation of the values they cherish. Basic value priorities, through their influence on core political values and on perceptions of candidates and party platforms, can help us understand individual differences in political opinions and attitudes. However, value priorities that are likely to influence political attitudes and behavior are sensitive to the issues prominent in the social milieu. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze what the political choices in the specific sociopolitical context imply for the particular values. The present work examines the role of voters' personal values in their political choice, using the Schwartz (1992) theory of basic personal values. Controlling for some basic demographic variables (age, gender, income and education), the relative contribution of personal values to political choice is assessed, using data from 1130 voters for the major political parties in the Croatian national election of 2007. Hypotheses about the relations between values and political preferences are based on the implications for value attainment of policy differences between the political parties and coalitions. Results show that supporters of the major political parties differ in values largely as hypothesized.

3. Social cohesion and safety perceptions in a multicultural context: When the natives are the minority group  
Giovannini D., Pintus A., Vezzali L., Ferrari B.
First author's affiliation: University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Although several studies suggest that urban environment is experienced as less safe than non-urban one, different areas of the same city may consistently differ with respect to feelings of safety perceived by residents. The aim of this study was to analyze the representations and perceptions of people living in the area close to the railway station (Districts 6 and 7) of Reggio Emilia, where immigrants constitute the majority group, in terms of perceived safety and specific problems linked to the immigration process and intergroup relations. First, we hypothesized that marginalization perceptions occur more for Italians than for immigrant residents. Second, we expected that safety perceptions would be enhanced by social ties, and this relation would be mediated by sense of community. Furthermore, we explored the role of sense of community in fostering a more harmonious climate within the community. Data were collected in two distinct phases: in the first, we conducted deep interview to stakeholders so as to understand the real problems faced from people living in the area; in the second, semi-structured interviews, constructed on the basis of the contents collected in the first step, were conducted with a sample of residents. Results generally confirmed the hypotheses, supporting in particular the role of social cohesion in fostering safety perceptions and satisfaction within the community.

4. Perspective and group-membership influences causal attribution of interpersonal verbs  
Kabai P., Pólya T., László J.
First author's affiliation: University of Pécs Psychology PhD School, Pécs, Hungary

By the concreteness-abstractness of description of an event, there are other mechanisms, which have impact on causal attribution. Actor-observer bias suggests that actors tend to attribute their actions to situational factors, whereas observers rather use dispositional attribution. Perspective can be manipulated implicitly, by group membership. In our experiment we have varied valence, abstractness of interpersonal verbs, group membership and actor-observer perspective. We performed the latter variation by using mental verbs, e.g., "Petru was aggressive with Mihály" versus "Petru thought he was aggressive with Mihály." Participants were asked to estimate the dispositional and situational causal attribution of the interpersonal events. Linguistic manipulation of the perspective has effects which are in accord with theory of Bertram Malle on actor-observer bias. Results point to the potential linguistic means of alleviating stereotypes.

5. Cross-cultural comparison of family and friendship influences between adolescents in Croatia, Bosina and Herzegovina, and Macedonia  
Klarin M., Prorokovic A.
First author's affiliation: University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia

Recent investigations often emphasize the necessity of cross-cultural comparisons of parenting and friendship influences on different aspects of adolescent behaviour. Unfortunately, the number of cross-cultural studies in this field of research is still very small and most development theories are based on research conducted in western cultures. Therefore, the main goal of this study was to identify the similarities and differences in the perception of parenting and friendship influences between adolescents in three states: Republics of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia. As expected, the results (ANCOVA) showed significant differences in family and friendship interactions due to cultural affiliation. The main difference is related to adolescent perception of the quality of family interactions. Adolescents from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia estimate the quality of their family interaction to be better than do adolescents from Croatia. Also, there was a significant difference in family and friendship influences on various specific clusters of adolescents' social behaviour.

6. Internet-based public opinion research  
Lamza Posavec V., Rihtar S.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, Croatia

Internet-based surveys are becoming widely used in social research and are usually conducted through placing survey questions on web-pages or distributing them via e-mail. In public opinion research, results are usually generalized to the total population. In Internet surveying, a major methodological issue stems from the coverage bias: the sampling frame from which the sample is drawn does not match the target population. The main aim of our research was to investigate the possible effect of coverage bias in Internet-based surveys of public opinion in Croatia. Research was conducted in November 2007, on a representative probabilistic sample of adult population of Croatia. Sample included 1130 respondents from 93 communities or 118 sample points. Results were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics and discriminant analysis. According to the results, at the end of 2007, approximately 35% of adult population of Croatia had access to the Internet, and were using it mostly for information search (34%) and e-mail (28%). As expected, Internet users differ significantly from non-users in their demographic and social characteristics (they are younger, better educated, better situated, living in urban communities), but also in their political and social attitudes (they are more critical of the government and their leaders and less satisfied with the situation in society). When comparing the results of the total sample with those of the Internet-users, the observed differences point to a significant bias in almost all of the examined variables of political attitudes and behavior. An additional, important source of bias stems from the unresolved issue of probabilistic sampling, suitable for public opinion research.

7. Are we really Europeans? European identity in Serbia  [presentation, pdf, 289 kB]
Mihic V., Mihic I.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia

The birth of the European Union in the mid 20th century marked the birth of a new social identity which was shared by many, if not all Europeans, both in the EU and outside of it. The main questions raised in regard to this European identity dealt with its possible correlates with national identities in different countries. Although untill very recently most of the researchers dealing with this questions were sociologists and historians, in the last decade or so psychologist have started to claim there rightful place. This paper deals with the following question: is there a sense of belonging to Europe in Serbia, a country which is presently not a part of the EU and will not be its part for years to come? The sample consisted of 451 ethnic Serbs and Hungarians from Serbia, out of whom 47% women and 53% men, of different age and educational levels. The instruments used were STEIN scale (Attitudes toward European integration), collective self-esteem scale (Luhtanen and Crocker), and SDO scale (Sidanius, Pratto, Stallworth, Malle), as well as the European and national identity scale (Cinnirela). The results showed that there were significant differences between Serbs and Hungarians, and that low social dominance orientation and positive attitudes toward European integration are significant correlates of the European identity. We could not find any differences between men and women, as well as between subjects of different age and educational levels. Also, the results show that national and European identities can be perceived as independent types of social identity since there were no significant correlations between the two.

8. Hungarian and French economics students' social representations of competition and fraud: A confirmatory study  
Orosz G.
University of Szeged, University of Rheims, Eötvös Lóránd University, Szeged, Hungary

Considering Fülöp et al.'s previous studies, immoral competition is pervasively present in Hungarian business sphere – a phenomenon that can be interpreted as a negative after-effect of the change of regime. Hence, the aim of this research project was to analyze how the moral dimension appears in the next generation of businessmen’s social representations of competition. Hungarian and French economics students with different historical and cultural backgrounds were compared. The results of the first study show that moral dimensions are present, but only in the secondary peripheral part of Hungarians’ representations of competition. Moreover, Hungarian students concentrate on the result of competition, while French students’ representation contains more elements pertaining to the process of competition. Surprisingly, in the Hungarians’ fraud representation, academic cheating was strongly present. 127 Hungarian and 115 French economics students participated in this research; first they had to choose five most typical words from a 20-word list concerning competition and fraud, later they made relations between the 12 most peculiar words. These lists of words were constructed on the base of a previous study. The results of these tasks confirm the first study: French students’ competition representation is more self-developmental than that of Hungarian students, whose representation focuses on the results and not the manner of competition. In Hungarian’s social representation of fraud, academic cheating again appeared significantly more frequently than among their French peers. Previous studies show that academic cheating is more prevalent where goal orientation is more important (Hungarian students) than self-developmental aspects (French students). Moreover, former studies found a strong correlation between academic cheating and workplace frauds, which proves the importance of academic cheating in the socialization of dishonesty in the business sphere.

9. Moral emotions and political choice  
Rihtar S., Lamza Posavec V.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, Croatia

Numerous studies in the area of global impression formation have shown that morality and competence form two separate and most important clusters of traits (with a strong evaluative component) in person perception, including perception, evaluation and choice of political actors. Although moral information is more easily processed than information about competence, moral impressions are stronger and more resistant to change than impressions about competence, contrary to the expectations of dual processing models. The assumption that moral emotions might be partly responsible for this phenomenon was verified in public opinion research, conducted prior to the parliamentary elections in 2007 on a nationally representative sample of adults in Croatia. Results have shown that moral emotions are, in addition to perceived competence and morality of political actors, significant and stronger predictors of political choice, that negative moral emotions are better predictors of political animosity than positive of political sympathy, and, finally, that moral emotions are more responsible for the polarization of voters and public in general than other criteria of political choice.

10. How do we care about justice: Relationships among various justice related beliefs in Croatian adults  
Sulić P., Ćubela Adorić V., Tucak Junaković I.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia

Based on previous research and theorizing about why and how people care about justice, the current study aimed at exploring the relationships among several forms of self-reported justice concerns in an age heterogeneous group of Croatian adults. The participants completed self-report measures of the beliefs in the (un)justness of the world, justice centrality, sensitivity to injustice from three perspectives (victim, observer, and beneficiary), and of the attitudes toward justice at the societal level. As expected, the beliefs in a just and an unjust world correlated negatively. However, both beliefs were found to correlate positively with the importance attached to justice, as indicated by the justice centrality. Justice centrality was also positively related to justice sensitivity from all perspectives, whereas the beliefs in just and unjust world showed a somewhat different pattern of relationships with justice sensitivity variables. Along with the pattern of correlations between these variables and the evaluation of societal (un)fairness (which spread across several domains), these results provide support for the notion that a genuine concern and strive for justice is mostly reflected in the belief in the justness of the world as well as in the justice sensitivity from observer and beneficiary perspectives. The victim sensitivity and the belief in the unjustness of the world seem to reflect a more negative focus in evaluating the (un)fairness and a more self-focused rather than other-focused concern for justice. In general, the results suggest that the various forms of caring about (in)justice can be reliably assessed and differentiated in adults of various age using the measures that are being developed in the studies with younger (mostly student) participants.

Psychophysiology, cognitive neuropsychology and neuroscience

[1 abstracts]

1. Depression and mental adjustment in cancer patients: The role of serotonin transporter polymorphism  
Giraldi T., Capozzo M., Martinis E., Schillani G.
First author's affiliation: Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Trieste, Italy

Serotonin transporter (SERT) play a crucial role in monoaminergic neurotransmission, and was shown to be associated to the development of mental disorders, such as depression, and to the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs. The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism has been identified in the promoter region of SERT; this polymorphism has a high penetrance, significantly influences the transcriptional activity of the gene, and was shown to play a considerable role in determining difficulties in the adaptation to life events and the ensuing possible mental suffering in mental health. The aim of this study was consequently that to examine the role of 5-HTTLPR in determining the difficulties of mental adaptation to the disease in cancer patients. A series of 145 breast cancer patients (mean age 55.8 years, SD 9.00) were evaluated at two different times (T0, and T1 3 months later) by using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) in order to determine depression, and the Mini-Mental Adjustment to Cancer Scale (Mini-MAC) to examine the mechanisms of coping to the disease; the patients were also characterized for the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. The results obtained indicate that, when the patients are stratified for the 5-HTTLPR allelic variants, at T1 the patients carrying the LL allele had higher mean scores on depression, as well as on the Hopelessness-Helplessness (HH) and Anxious Preoccupation (AP) scales of Mini-MAC, as compared with carriers of an S allele. The patients with SS and SL haplotypes, when examined at T1, diplayed HH and AP scores which were significantly lower than those observed at T0. These results seem to encourage further research aimed to study the genetic polymorphism 5-HTTLPR, and its role in contributing to depression and difficulties in mental adaptation to the disease in cancer patients.