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    A theoretical perspective on the mediating role of mental clarity in the relationship between health and cognitive processing

    Jackson, Duncan and Hassard, Juliet (2016) A theoretical perspective on the mediating role of mental clarity in the relationship between health and cognitive processing. In: Teoh, Kevin and Dediu, V. and Saade, N.J. and Hassard, Juliet (eds.) BOOK OF PROCEEDINGS, 12th Conference of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology ‘ OHP in Times of Change: Society and the workplace. European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology. ISBN 9780992878627.

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    Abstract

    Background. Previous research has linked health to cognitive processing. Cognitive processing is an important predictor of performance in the workplace and, thus, plays a role in the productivity of organisations and for the well-being of individuals. However, the processes involved in the link between health and cognitive performance outcomes are unclear. Two possible underlying influences linking health and cognitive function are described in the literature on (a) sickness behaviour and in the literature on (b) executive function. Sickness behaviour is a term used to describe bodily and psychological responses to illness. The physical process here involves the body responding to threats by releasing pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. The effects of increased cytokine levels include, among other effects, a suppression in one’s ability to concentrate and a depression of mood. Executive function is a term used to describe the underlying cognitive processes that guide behaviour, particularly in non-routine cognitive tasks. Given that sickness behaviour has been related to cognitive performance; by implication, sickness behaviour is likely to be related to executive function. However, the process by which sickness behaviour and executive function relate to outcome cognitive performance is unclear. A possible common linkage between health and cognitive performance could be explained by an emerging research stream on mental clarity, defined as a “clouding of mental operations” (Leavitt & Katz, 2011, p. 445). Study Aim. Based on the extant literature, we present a theoretical model of how mental clarity possibly relates to both health and cognitive processing. Our suggestion is that mental clarity plays a mediating role in the relationship between health and cognitive functioning. Specifically, we hypothesize that symptoms of illness invoke a sickness behaviour-related response within the individual, which depresses mental clarity. We propose that this reduction in mental clarity, in turn, reduces an individual’s capacity to process cognitively demanding stimuli. Method. We review the literature on mental clarity, sickness behaviour, and cognitive processing and present a theoretical mediating model. The aim is to test this model empirically using latent modeling techniques. Results. Data collection is currently ongoing. Discussion. The model proposed here will be considered in light of the available literature from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Implications for future research and workplace practices will be proposed. References Leavitt, F., & Katz, R. S. (2011). Development of the mental clutter scale. Psychological Reports, 109, 445-452. doi: 10.2466/02.07.14.22.PR0.109.5.445-452

    Metadata

    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Business, Economics & Informatics > Organizational Psychology
    Depositing User: Duncan Jackson
    Date Deposited: 12 May 2016 09:04
    Last Modified: 27 Jul 2019 08:03
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/14219

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    • A theoretical perspective on the mediating role of mental clarity in the relationship between health and cognitive processing. (deposited 12 May 2016 09:04) [Currently Displayed]

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