Impact of contextual factors and substance characteristics on perspectives toward cognitive enhancement

Sattler, Sebastian, Forlini, Cynthia, Racine, Eric and Sauer, Carsten (2013) Impact of contextual factors and substance characteristics on perspectives toward cognitive enhancement. PLoS One, 8 8: e71452.1-e71452.12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071452

Author Sattler, Sebastian
Forlini, Cynthia
Racine, Eric
Sauer, Carsten
Title Impact of contextual factors and substance characteristics on perspectives toward cognitive enhancement
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2013-08-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0071452
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue 8
Start page e71452.1
End page e71452.12
Total pages 12
Editor Qinghua Sun
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Enhancing cognitive performance with substances–especially prescription drugs–is a fiercely debated topic among scholars and in the media. The empirical basis for these discussions is limited, given that the actual nature of factors that influence the acceptability of and willingness to use cognitive enhancement substances remains unclear. In an online factorial survey, contextual and substance-specific characteristics of substances that improve academic performance were varied experimentally and presented to respondents. Students in four German universities rated their willingness to use and moral acceptance of different substances for cognitive enhancement. We found that the overall willingness to use performance enhancing substances is low. Most respondents considered the use of these substances as morally unacceptable. Situational influences such as peer pressure, policies concerning substance use, relative performance level of peers, but also characteristics of the substance, such as perceptions of substance safety, shape the willingness and acceptability of using a substance to enhance academic performance. Among the findings is evidence of a contagion effect meaning that the willingness was higher when the respondents have more CE drug users in their social network. We also found deterrence effects from strong side effects of using the substance, as well as from policy regulations and sanctions. Regulations might activate social norms against usage and sanctions can be seen as costly to users. Moreover, enhancement substances seem to be most tempting to low performers to catch up with others compared to high performers. By identifying contextual factors and substance characteristics influencing the willingness and acceptability of cognitive enhancers, policy approaches could consider these insights to better manage the use of such substances.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 13 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 07 May 2014, 00:11:46 EST by Cynthia Forlini on behalf of UQ Centre for Clinical Research