455 research outputs found

    Measurement and properties of firms' subjective uncertainty

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    Subjective Uncertainty, Expectations, and Firm Behavior

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    Based on a large and representative panel of German firms, this paper relates a novel measure of subjective uncertainty to business expectations and firm decisions. Uncertainty is measured by asking managers directly how uncertain they are about their future business development. I show that the relationship between perceived uncertainty and expectations is strongly negative at the micro level and almost perfectly inverse in the aggregate. It is also state-dependent: uncertainty co-moves less with expectations in bad times. In a case study at the onset of the COVID-19 recession, I exploit the between-firm variation in firms' uncertainty and expectations to examine the implications of the ``real options'' theory. I find that changes in uncertainty during the aggregate downturn do not predict ``wait and see'' behavior. By contrast, first moment changes are related to investments deferral and a reduction of the workforce

    Using observational facial descriptors to infer pain in persons with and without dementia

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    Abstract Background For patients with advanced dementia, pain diagnosis and assessment requires observations of pain-indicative behavior by others. One type of behavior that has been shown to be a promising candidate is the facial response to pain. To further test how pain-indicative facial responses are, we investigated the predictive power of observational facial descriptors to (i) predict the self-report of pain and (ii) to differentiate between non-painful and painful conditions. In addition, the expertise of the observers (nurses vs. healthy controls) and the cognitive status of the observed (dementia vs. cognitively healthy) were considered. Methods Overall 62 participants (32 nurses and 30 control subjects) watched 40 video-clips, showing facial expressions of older individuals with and without dementia during non-painful and painful pressure stimulation. After each clip, participants were asked to rate the videos using commonly used facial descriptors of pain and also to provide global pain estimate ratings of how much pain the observed individual might have experienced. Results Out of the 12 facial descriptors used, only 7 were able to differentiate between non-painful and painful conditions. Moreover, participants were better in predicting the pain self-report of the observed individuals when using facial descriptors than when using global pain estimates. Especially, the anatomically-orienting descriptors (e.g. opened mouth, narrowing eyes) showed greatest predictive power. Results were not affected by pain-expertise of the observers (nurses vs. control subjects) or diagnostic status of the observed (patients with dementia vs. cognitively unimpaired subjects). Conclusions The fine-grained and specific observation of facial responses to acute pain appeared to provide valid indication of pain that is not compromised when patients with dementia are observed. The regular professional training does not put nurses at advantage to detect pain via facial responses

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    Optimism and the Experience of Pain:A Systematic Review

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    A growing body of literature provides evidence of the health-promoting effects of optimism, including its protective role in acute and chronic pain. Optimists are characterized by positive expectations concerning the future. These positive outcome expectancies lead to more and longer goal-directed efforts and the use of approach coping strategies. No systematic review on the effects of optimism on the experience of pain has so far been conducted. A search in the databases PubMed, Web of Science and PsycInfo, and the scanning of reference lists identified 69 eligible studies. These were categorized according to sample size, participants’ age and sex, design, optimism-pain relation as primary vs. secondary study objective, and level of study/publication quality. Overall percentages of positive, zero, and negative associations between optimism and pain as well as relative frequencies of these associations in the different categories were analyzed. About 70% of the studies showed a positive, i.e., beneficial association between optimism and at least one pain outcome. A larger percentage of beneficial associations was found in studies with experimental designs, in studies with the optimism-pain relation as primary objective, in high-quality studies/publications, and in studies including participants with a higher average age. The review suggests that optimism is associated with less acute and chronic pain, especially since a higher percentage of beneficial associations was found with high study/publication quality and with the primary focus on this relationship. For the moderating role of age, different explanations are proposed. Further research on causal relationships and on optimism-fostering clinical interventions is needed

    Attentional and emotional mechanisms of pain processing and their related factors: a structural equations approach

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    BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: It is known that maladaptive attentional and emotional mechanisms of pain processing – as indicated by constructs such as pain hypervigilance, pain-related anxiety and pain catastrophizing – play an important role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain conditions. However, little is known to date about the potential risk factors for these forms of maladaptive processing. The aim of the present study was to shed more light on this issue. A very comprehensive set of predictor variables was examined in healthy pain-free subjects

    Brain mechanisms associated with facial encoding of affective states

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    Affective states are typically accompanied by facial expressions, but these behavioral manifestations are highly variable. Even highly arousing and negative valent experiences, such as pain, show great instability in facial affect encoding. The present study investigated which neural mechanisms are associated with variations in facial affect encoding by focusing on facial encoding of sustained pain experiences. Facial expressions, pain ratings, and brain activity (BOLD-fMRI) during tonic heat pain were recorded in 27 healthy participants. We analyzed facial expressions by using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and examined brain activations during epochs of painful stimulation that were accompanied by facial expressions of pain. Epochs of facial expressions of pain were coupled with activity increase in motor areas (M1, premotor and SMA) as well as in areas involved in nociceptive processing, including primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, posterior and anterior insula, and the anterior part of the mid-cingulate cortex. In contrast, prefrontal structures (ventrolateral and medial prefrontal) were less activated during incidences of facial expressions, consistent with a role in down-regulating facial displays. These results indicate that incidences of facial encoding of pain reflect activity within nociceptive pathways interacting or possibly competing with prefrontal inhibitory systems that gate the level of expressiveness

    Vicarious facilitation of facial responses to pain

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    Introduction: Observing facial expressions of pain has been shown to lead to increased subjective, neural and autonomic pain responses. Surprisingly, these vicarious facilitation effects on its corresponding response channel, namely facial responses to pain have mostly been neglected. We aim to examine whether the prior exposure to facial expressions of pain leads to a facilitation of facial responses to experimental pain; and whether this facilitation is linked to the valence (pain vs. neutral expression) or also linked to specific motor-features of the facial pain expressions (different facial muscle movements). Method: Subjective (intensity and unpleasantness ratings) and facial responses (Facial Action Coding System) of 64 participants (34 female) to painful and non-painful heat stimuli were assessed. Before each heat stimulus, video clips of computer-generated facial expressions (three different pain expressions and a neutral expression) were presented. Results: The prior exposure to facial expressions of pain led to increased subjective and facial responses to pain. Further, vicarious pain facilitation of facial responses was significantly correlated with facilitation of unpleasantness ratings. We also found evidence that this vicarious facilitation of facial responses was not only linked to the presentation of pain versus neutral expressions but also to specific motor-features of the pain cue (increase in congruent facial muscle movements). Discussion: Vicarious pain facilitation was found for subjective and facial responses to pain. The results are discussed with reference to the motivational priming hypothesis as well as with reference to motor priming. Significance: Our study uncovers evidence that facial pain responses are not only influenced by motivational priming (similar to other types of pain responses), but also by motor-priming. These findings shed light on the complexity -ranging from social, affective and motor mechanisms -underling vicarious facilitation of pain
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