• Created by: lauren
  • Created on: 04-05-14 09:22


aimed to study the effects of enhanced personal responsibility and choice in a group of nursing home patients, particularly whether; -increased control has general beneficial effects, -physical and mental alertness, activity, socialbility and satisfaction would be affected, -the sense of responsiblility would be generalised to other aspects of their lives.

physical changes in old age may be due to a reduced sense of personal control, loss of roles may lead to a loss of perceived competence, purpose and ultimately death.

deCharms (1968) suggested humans strive to 'be the primary locus of causation for, or the origin of, their own behaviour'
Langer et al (1975) found hospital patients who felt more in control requested less pain killers 
Ferrare (1962) studied 17 old people who wer placed in a home without choice, in 4 weeks 8 had died, in 10 weeks another 8 had died
Bettleheim (1943) noted survival depended on being able to have some sense of control 

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  • study took place in a nursing home in Connecticut, USA. residents on all floors were similar in terms of physical and psychological health, length of time in the home and SES
  • two floors were selected for the study, one randomly seleced to be the RIG, the nursing home adminstrator met the residents twice to breif them;
    • RIG (responsibility induced group) the experimental condition, they were told they 1) had influence over what happened 2) should give their opinions on how complaints should be handled 3) select a plant and take care of it 4) choose movie night
    • CG (control group) control condition, told 1)had many options 2) all complaints were handled by staff 3) had a plant which was taken care of by someone else 4) told movie night
    • RIG; 8 males and 39 females CG; 9 males and 35 females
  • questionnaires: pre test one week before breifing, post test three weeks after breifing
    • 1: given by research assisstant, asses control, how happy and active they felt also assessed alertness of residents
    • 2: completed by two nurses, rated residents happiness, alertness, dependency, sociability, and activity levels and made notes on time spent (eating sleeping reading socialising)
  • residents were also assessed on attendance to movie night, participation in comepetitions and the use of wheelchairs
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  • QUESTIONNAIRE 1 pre-test shows two groups were very similar at the start of the study
    • happiness; 48% of RIG repoted happier and only 25% of CG
    • activeness; RIG reported being more active
    • control; no significant greater increase for RIG
    • interviewer rating; RIG were more alert than CG
    • nurses rating,RIG increased in active activities and less passive
      • CG 8% of time visiting patients, RIG was 13%
    • RIG had average total change score of 3.97 from pre-post test, CG score was -2.39
    • 93% of RIG improved compared to 21% of CG
    • movie night attendence was significantly higher in RIG (p<05) similar attendance check taken one month before breifing revealed no differences in attendance on both floors
    • jelly bean guessing competition 10 from RIG and 1 from CG participated
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  • implications; findings support that personal responsibility produces an improvement, in the case of this study they may have experienced a reduction in their sense of responsibility which might not apply too all groups
  • debilitation; CG were told the staff were there to make them happy and treated them in a sympathetic manner, 71% of the CG were actually rated as having become more delibitated over the short three week period
  • direct or indirect; isn't clear in the study whether the behavioural improvements e.g attendance at the movies, were direct consequenc of increased perception of choice and decision making oppurtunities, or whether it was an indirect consequence- may be the increased sense of control led to incresed happiness- meaning behavioural improvements
  • small improvements; behavioural measures improvements were quite small, even though they were signifcant, larger improvements might be achieved by indivisual treatments.
  • real world application; langer and rodin concluded the findings of this study should be developed to increase sense of responsibility, treatments may slow down or even reverse negative consesquences of ageing
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  • DESIGN- field experiment and independant groups
    • double bline
    • less demand characterictics, ecological validity
    • no conrtol over extraneious variables, deception
  • ETHICS- no informed consent,
    •  CG were twice as likely to die, beneficial treatment was held back
    • effects peoples lives
  • RELIABILITY- inter-rater reliability
    • correlation between ratings made by the two nurses about the same patient was .61 (CG) and .68 (RIG) both significant
    • happiness is dificult to measure = operationalise
  • VALIDITY- two nurses were asked to provide the ratings so they were unbiased on what they thought of behaviour, nursing home facilities may have effected validity - extraneous variables - natural field experiment - ecological
  • SAMPLE- all similar physical and mental health
    • not generalisable - mainly women
    • oppurtunity sample
    • RIG- 8 males and 39 females
    • CG- 9 males and 35 females
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  • FOLLOW UP STUDY; Rodin and Langer(1977) re tested participants in the study 18 months later, 15% of RIG had died whereas 30% of CG had died - avg was 25%
  • OTHER FIELD EXPERIMENTS; Schulz(1976) found a positive impact upon the well being of the institutionalised aged when they controlled time and who visited
    Savell (1991) studied older adults, found no significant difference in choice and no choice effects on peopole - happiness, alertness etc
  • NATURAL EXPERIMENTS; Wurm et al (2007) used longitudinal data from The German Agency Survey - 100 participants aged 40-85, assessed at beginning and 6 years later, found negative correlation between control and physical illness.
  • Suls and Mullen (1981) used SRRS, found it was uncontrollable life changes that were associated with subsequent illness whereas controllable ones werent
  • Cohen et al (1993) gave participants nasal drops containing cold virus, and gave them questionnaire to assess stress, positive correlation between stess and catching a cold.
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  • natural environment
  • ecological validity
  • no demand characteristics
  • easily controlled and replicable


  • ethically, effected peoples lives
  • cant control all extraneous variables
  • nurses view- not residents
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