University Students’ Psychopathology: Correlates and the Examiner's Potential Bias Effect
Revista Portuguesa de Investigação Comportamental e Social, 1(1):42-51. DOI: 10.7342/ismt.rpics.2015.1.1.10
10 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2017
Date Written: February 28, 2015
Background: Psychopathological symptoms are very common among university students from different cultures, but the socio-demographic correlates that have been found are different depending on the studies. The correlates of such symptoms among Portuguese students have not been studied thoroughly, besides the methodological issues that arise in this type of studies, in the sense that has not been described who does the psychological evaluations. Aims: the main objective was to verify if there is a difference on psychopathological symptoms between two groups questioned by two different examiners, controlling for the potential role of social desirability, and other potential covariates. Additionally, we want to assess the level of psychopathology and its socio-demographic correlates. Methods: 185 Coimbra’s university students completed the Brief Symptom Inventory/BSI and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale. In one group the examiner was of the same age and academic status as the students, while in the other group the examiner was older and a teacher. We studied the psychopathological correlates with Pearson, point-biserial correlations, and qui-square analyses, and we controlled the potential role of covariates through Quade non-parametric ANCOVAs. Results: The level of distress was lower in comparison with other investigations. Women had higher level of distress and more symptoms of somatization, anxiety, phobic anxiety, obsessive-compulsion, and depression. The students that live a higher distance from home had more anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. The group assessed by the younger examiner scored higher in distress and in some BSI factors, and had lower levels on social desirability. Conclusions: Sex and distance from home seem important factors for university students’ mental health. However, the examiner does have an influence in the evaluation, probably because of social desirability, suggesting that the examiner’s characteristics should be given in investigations involving university students.
Keywords: University students, psychopathology
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