Should I stay or should I go--cognitive conflict in multi-attribute signals probed with East and West German 'Ampelmannchen' traffic signs.
ABSTRACT: In post-unification Germany, lingering conflicts between East and West Germans have found some unusual outlets, including a debate of the relative superiority of East and West German 'Ampelmännchen' pedestrian traffic signs. In our study, we probed the visual efficacy of East and West German Ampelmännchen signs with a Stroop-like conflict task. We found that the distinctive East German man-with-hat figures were more resistant to conflicting information, and in turn produced greater interference when used as distractors. These findings demonstrate Stroop-like effects for real-life objects, such as traffic signs, and underline the practical utility of an East German icon.
Project description:Since unification in 1990, living conditions in Germany's "New Länder" have slowly converged to the conditions in the "Old Länder". One can assume, however, that West-East differences persist more strongly in remote rural areas neglected by economic development. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate and compare the living conditions of older adults in rural areas in East and West Germany with respect to personal and environmental resources which are important preconditions for autonomy and well-being in old age. These conditions were examined in a survey conducted in urban and rural regions of five European countries in 2000. The German rural study was carried out in the districts of Jerichow (Saxony-Anhalt) and Vogelsberg (Hesse), and included 762 men and women aged 55 years or older, randomly chosen in villages of at most 5,000 inhabitants. East-West comparison showed both similarities and differences. Similarities arose in human conditions such as subjective health, parenthood and network variety, and in environmental conditions such as home-ownership, attachment to one's home, length of residence in the same neighbourhood, and satisfaction with mobility options. Differences were found in socio-demographic conditions (e.g. education, income, household composition), basic neighbourhood features, and patterns of social and leisure activities. Regression analysis showed the differing impact of single predictor variables on life satisfaction in the East and West: satisfaction with financial situation and functional health contributes far more to older people's life satisfaction in the West German rural area, whereas mobility-related aspects affect elders' life satisfaction more strongly in the East German countryside. The findings reflect, on the one hand, continuing structural East-West differences and, on the other, diverging socio-cultural habits.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>While a strong negative impact of unemployment on health has been established, the present research examined the lesser studied interplay of gender, social context and job loss on health trajectories.<h4>Methods</h4>Data from the German Socio-Economic Panel was used, which provided a representative sample of 6838 participants. Using latent growth modelling the effects of gender, social context (East vs. West Germans), unemployment (none, short-term or long-term), and their interactions were examined on health (single item measures of self-rated health and life satisfaction respectively).<h4>Results</h4>Social context in general significantly predicted the trajectories of self-rated health and life satisfaction. Most notably, data analysis revealed that West German women reported significantly lower baseline values of self-rated health following unemployment and did not recover to the levels of their East German counterparts. Only long-term, not short-term unemployment was related to lower baseline values of self-rated health, whereas, in relation to baseline values of life satisfaction, both types of unemployment had a similar negative effect.<h4>Conclusions</h4>In an economic crisis, individuals who already carry a higher burden, and not only those most directly affected economically, may show the greatest health effects.
Project description:BACKGROUND: From May 2003 to May 2006, the Robert Koch Institute conducted the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS). Aim of this first nationwide interview and examination survey was to collect comprehensive data on the health status of children and adolescents aged 0 to 17 years. METHODS/DESIGN: Participants were enrolled in two steps: first, 167 study locations (sample points) were chosen; second, subjects were randomly selected from the official registers of local residents. The survey involved questionnaires filled in by parents and parallel questionnaires for children aged 11 years and older, physical examinations and tests, and a computer assisted personal interview performed by study physicians. A wide range of blood and urine testing was carried out at central laboratories. A total of 17 641 children and adolescents were surveyed - 8985 boys and 8656 girls. The proportion of sample neutral drop-outs was 5.3%. The response rate was 66.6%. DISCUSSION: The response rate showed little variation between age groups and sexes, but marked variation between resident aliens and Germans, between inhabitants of cities with a population of 100 000 or more and sample points with fewer inhabitants, as well as between the old West German states and the former East German states. By analysing the short non-responder questionnaires it was proven that the collected data give comprehensive and nationally representative evidence on the health status of children and adolescents aged 0 to 17 years.
Project description:Before 1990, Germany was divided for more than 40 years. While divided, significant mortality disparities between the populations of East and West Germany emerged. In the years following reunification, East German mortality improved considerably, eventually converging with West German levels. In this study, we explore changes in the gender differences in health at ages 20-59 across the eastern and western regions of Germany using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the 1990-2013 period. We apply random-effects linear regressions to the SOEP data to identify trends in health, measured as self-assessed health satisfaction, after German reunification. The findings indicate that women were substantially less satisfied with their health than men in both West and East Germany, but that the gender gap was larger in East Germany than in West Germany. Furthermore, the results show that respondents' satisfaction with their health decreased over time, and that the decline was steeper among men - and particularly among East German men - than among women. Thus, the initial male advantage in health in East and West Germany in the years immediately after reunification diminished over time, and even reversed to become a female advantage in East Germany. One interpretation of this finding is that stress-inducing post-reunification changes in the political and social landscape of East Germany had lasting damaging consequences for men's health. Ongoing risky health behaviors and high levels of economic insecurity due to unemployment could have had long-lasting effects on the health of the working-aged population. A partial explanation for our finding that health declined more sharply among East German men than among their female counterparts could be that women have better compensatory mechanisms than men for dealing with psychosocial stress.
Project description:Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, mortality was considerably higher in the former East Germany than in West Germany. The gap narrowed rapidly after German reunification. The convergence was particularly strong for women, to the point that Eastern women aged 50-69 now have lower mortality despite lower incomes and worse overall living conditions. Prior research has shown that lower smoking rates among East German female cohorts born in the 1940s and 1950s were a major contributor to this crossover. However, after 1990, smoking behavior changed dramatically, with higher smoking intensity observed among women in the eastern part of Germany. We forecast the impact of this changing smoking behavior on East-West mortality differences and find that the higher smoking rates among younger East German cohorts will reverse their contemporary mortality advantage. Mortality forecasting methods that do not account for smoking would, perhaps misleadingly, forecast a growing mortality advantage for East German women. Experience from other countries shows that smoking can be effectively reduced by strict anti-smoking policies. Instead, East Germany is becoming an example warning of the consequences of weakening anti-smoking policies and changing behavioral norms.
Project description:Cultural differences are generally explained by how people see themselves in relation to social interaction partners. While Western culture emphasizes independence, East Asian culture emphasizes interdependence. Despite this focus on social interactions, it remains elusive how people from different cultures process feedback on their own (and on others') character traits. Here, participants of either German or Chinese origin engaged in a face-to-face interaction. Consequently, they updated their self- and other-ratings of 80 character traits (e.g., polite, pedantic) after receiving feedback from their interaction partners. To exclude potential confounds, we obtained data from German and Chinese participants in Berlin [functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)] and in Beijing (behavior). We tested cultural influences on social conformity, positivity biases, and self-related neural activity. First, Chinese conformed more to social feedback than Germans (i.e., Chinese updated their trait ratings more). Second, regardless of culture, participants processed self- and other-related feedback in a positively biased way (i.e., they updated more toward desirable than toward undesirable feedback). Third, changes in self-related medial prefrontal cortex activity were greater in Germans than in Chinese during feedback processing. By investigating conformity, positivity biases, and self-related activity in relation to feedback obtained in a real-life interaction, we provide an essential step toward a unifying framework for understanding the diversity of human culture.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To assess disparities in mortality by socioeconomic status in Germany. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS:We analyse a large administrative dataset of the German Pension Fund (DRV), including 27?million person-years of exposure and 42 000 deaths in 2013. The data cover the economically active population, stratified by sex and by East and West. OUTCOME MEASURES:Age-standardised mortality rates and Poisson regression mortality rate ratios (MRRs). RESULTS:The risk of dying increases with decreasing income: the MRRs of the lowest to the highest income quintile are 4.66 (95% CI 4.48 to 4.85) among men and 3.06 (95% CI 2.90 to 3.23) among women. The impact of income attenuates after controlling for education and other explanatory variables, especially for females. In the fully controlled model for females, individual income is a weaker predictor of mortality, but there is a clear educational mortality gradient. In the fully controlled model, the MRRs of the unemployed to the employed are 2.09 (95% CI 2.03 to 2.15) among men and 2.01 (95% CI 1.92 to 2.10) among women. The risk of dying is around half as high among foreigners as among German citizens. The socioeconomic disparities are greater among East than West German men. CONCLUSIONS:Low socioeconomic status is a major determinant of excess adult mortality in Germany. The persisting East-West differences in male adult mortality can be explained by the higher socioeconomic status of men living in the West, rather than by contextual differences between East and West. These differences can be further monitored using DRV data.
Project description:The gene tyrosine hydroxylase 1 (TH01) has been suggested as a candidate for human longevity. A previous study has shown an association between longevity and specific alleles of the TH01 short tandem repeat (STR) polymorphism in an Italian population. This STR locus is also widely used in forensic genetics. If the TH01-longevity association could be confirmed in independent samples, this finding would have important ramifications for the use of this polymorphism in a forensic context. In the present study, we sought to replicate the previous association result by investigating 471 long-lived individuals (96-110 years) and 462 younger controls (19-75 years) from Germany. In the analyzed samples, the association between TH01 and longevity was not replicated. However, the obtained TH01 allele frequencies were consistent with published data. We observed considerable differences in the allele distribution between Germans and Italians, in particular with regard to allele 9.3, which displayed a previously undetected decreasing West-East and North-South cline across Europe. The discrepant TH01-longevity association results in Germans and Italians could therefore be due to population-specific effects. This finding highlights the need to take into consideration population genetic data when dealing with association studies.
Project description:The sizeable mortality gap between the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the pre-unified Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) narrowed rapidly after the two states were unified. Despite extensive research, the mechanisms underlying the convergence process are still not fully understood. Significant changes to coding practices and the system of data collection introduced in East Germany shortly after reunification have further complicated the ability of researchers to interpret mortality trends. Our aim is to assess the role of German reunification in the convergence process in light of the evolution of long-term mortality trends by causes of death. Compared to previous studies, we rely on much more detailed mortality data, which we first adjust for notable distortions. We propose an upward correction of cancer mortality, as well as corrections that account for obvious changes in the items selected within the ICD chapter of circulatory diseases. We identify three distinct processes that took place in East Germany around the time of reunification: (1) a sustained reduction in mortality that started before reunification; (2) a temporary increase in mortality in 1990-1991 that was related to the abrupt social transition, as reflected by socially sensitive causes such as accidents, alcohol-related diseases, and acute myocardial infarction; and (3) a reunification-driven process of convergence that was mostly caused by the accelerated decline in mortality from cerebrovascular and chronic heart diseases. Mortality improvements observed in the GDR starting in the 1980s might be interpreted as the first signs of a cardiovascular revolution. Shifts in individual behaviour likely started before reunification, whereas the real progress in medical care occurred later with the implementation of the Western system of health care. We therefore conclude that German reunification per se did not initiate the convergence process, but rather reinforced and accelerated trends that were already apparent.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Rehabilitation following medical conditions is largely offered as in-patient service in Germany. Foreign-national residents use rehabilitative services less often than Germans and attain less favourable treatment outcomes. These differences are independent of demographic, socioeconomic and health characteristics. Satisfaction with different aspects of rehabilitative care presumably affects the effectiveness of rehabilitative services. We compared the degree of satisfaction with different domains of the rehabilitative care process between Germans and non-German nationals residing in Germany. METHODS:We used data from a cross-sectional rehabilitation patient survey annually conducted by the German Statutory Pension Insurance Scheme. The sample comprises 274?513 individuals undergoing medical rehabilitation in 642 hospitals during the years 2007-2011. Participants rated their satisfaction with different domains of rehabilitation on multi-item scales. We dichotomised each scale to low/moderate and high satisfaction. For each domain, a multilevel adjusted logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine differences in the levels of satisfaction between German and non-German nationals. Average marginal effects (AMEs) and 99.5% CI were computed as effect estimates. AMEs represent differences in the probability for the occurrence of the outcome. RESULTS:Turkish nationals had a higher probability for being less satisfied with most aspects of their rehabilitation, with AMEs ranging between 0.05 (99.5% CI 0.00 to 0.09) for 'satisfaction with psychological care' and 0.11 (99.5% CI 0.08 to 0.14) for 'satisfaction with treatments during rehabilitation'. Patients from former Yugoslavia and from Portugal/Spain/Italy/Greece were as satisfied as Germans with most aspects of their rehabilitation. CONCLUSIONS:Turkish nationals are less satisfied with their rehabilitative care than other population groups. This may be attributable to the diversity of the population in terms of its expectations towards rehabilitation. Rehabilitative care institutions need to provide services that are sensitive to the needs of all clients. Diversity management can contribute to this process.