Plenary lectures

Thomas M. Achenbach, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
University of Vermont

Evidence-Based Multicultural Assessment of Psychopathology

Stemming from the conceptual framework that spawned the discipline of Developmental Psychopathology, systematic empirically based assessment of psychopathology applies scientific methods to identifying patterns of psychopathology in relation to developmental levels and sequences. Dr. Achenbach’s talk will outline the progress of empirically based assessment of psychopathology as it has advanced to encompass data from multiple informants assessing people in multiple developmental periods and multiple cultures. Dr. Achenbach will present multicultural research findings for ages 1½-5, 6-18, and 18-59 years from some 50 societies, as well as practical applications of the findings to clinical and educational services, research, and training.

Kevin R. Murphy, Lamorinda Consulting and Colorado State University

Performance Appraisal is both More and Less than Performance Measurement

The judgments of supervisors are often used to assess the job performance of their subordinates.  There is widespread agreement that supervisory judgments are not particularly good measures of job performance, but much less agreement about why.  Theory and research about the individual, organizational and societal factors that bias or influence supervisors' evaluations of their subordinates' job performance are discussed, and methods of improving the reliability and validity of judgmental measures of job performance are outlined.

Dragutin Ivanec, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia

It hurts differently depending on the context – psychological aspects of pain sensation

All of our sensory-perceptive systems make our organism more adaptive to the changing environment. Even though sight is considered to be the most important system by the literature, and it is estimated that we receive around 80% of conscious stimuli from the environment by sight, the fact that people who are blind can efficiently function tells us that the human organism can prevail without visual sensory information.  But without pain sensation, that would not be possible. Intuitively it is clear that this sensory-perceptive system is crucial for survival of the species. It warns us of adverse environment or internal processes that may be harmful. If for some (rare) reason this system is not functional, as we know from some sparsely documented cases, organism can not survive.
This lecture aims to present some general and some specific characteristics of pain sensation and perception. A short comparison between pain and other sensory-perceptive systems will be based upon the analysis of different contextual influences on sensation and perception. The purpose is to demonstrate the fact that all our sensory-perceptive systems do not function on the bases of simple stimuli replication, but that the majority of conscious reactions to external stimulation are the result of simple or complex interactions between different sensory-perceptive systems, as well as their interaction with higher cognitive processes. In the context of pain sensation, understanding these contextual factors may be very interesting since the potential to change (to lower) the intensity of pain is a desirable outcome. The possibility of modulating the amount of nociceptive activity as a function of changing some psychological factors, is interesting both from the pragmatic and scientific view.  The results from empirical studies on the role of different psychological factors in the change of pain sensation intensity will be presented. Some of these factors are attention distraction, emerging emotions, making expectations, learning process as well as different state of consciousness.
Results suggest that some psychological and contextual factors, as well as their interactions, may lead to significant changes in pain sensation and may modulate physiological processes underlying pain sensation. In this respect, the most investigated and demonstrated is the placebo effect, a par exellance example of contextual influence on pain sensation modulation.