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Substance use for cognitive enhancement among university students : what is the role of stress and conscientiousness?

Pawlaczyk, Felix M. (2018) Substance use for cognitive enhancement among university students : what is the role of stress and conscientiousness?

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Abstract:The use of cognitive enhancement drugs is becoming an increasing problem among university students. By using illegal or prescription drugs to enhance their cognitive performance they are exposing themselves to high mental and physical risks. It is well known that, aside from its abuse potential, these substances may aggravate mental illnesses, produce sleeping disorders and can lead to cerebrovascular complications. Although drug use, in general, has been widely examined in literature very little research exists about the possible risk-factors and underlying psychological mechanisms of cognitive enhancement drug use. The aim of this study was to examine the relation between the personality trait conscientiousness and cognitive enhancement drug use and the relation between stress and cognitive enhancement drug use. In addition, the effect of stress on the relation between conscientiousness and cognitive enhancement drug use was analysed. The reason for that is that stress and conscientiousness have been found to be important factors with regard to drug use in general. A cross-sectional study was performed analysing 175 students (126 women, 48 men, 1 other, Mage = 20.79) of different fields of study in the Netherlands. The participants were asked to complete an anonymous online survey. The results showed a weak negative correlation between conscientiousness and cognitive enhancement drug use, meaning that students high in conscientiousness reported using less cognitive enhancement drugs. Furthermore, it was found that there is no relation between stress and cognitive enhancement drug use. Students who experienced a high amount of stress did not report to use more cognitive enhancement drugs. Finally, the results indicate that stress does not moderate the relation between conscientiousness and cognitive enhancement drug use. The cognitive enhancement drug use of conscientious students did not increase when they were put under a high amount of stress. These results give an insight into the role of conscientiousness and stress in cognitive enhancement drug use and suggest that in conscientious people the use of such substances is not affected by stress.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/75142
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