Insights From a Survey of First Year Psychology


This survey was conducted the 332 first year psychology students participated in this experiment as a course. PNS scare consists of 12 items assessed individual desire and their environment. CU/CUS includes of 14 items that measure perceived ability to determine the causal social incidents. VS is comprised 20 items, with 10 pro-vaccination items using five point Likert scale and participants answered from strongly to disagree to strongly agree. Results indicated PNS and VS shows moderate, and it was highest correlations in the three. CU and VS is the second highest that is also moderate correlation, PNS and CU had weakest correlation of the three. However, according literature, the concept of PNS and CU relates highly in the structure. Hypothetically view was error because this error happened because of the reason may be limited sample of number and place. When decision making of children’s vaccination, the ability to understand is important because individual social circumstances affect the cognitive process (Schaller et al., 1995). Therefore, avoiding cognitive fault information, it is suggested that effective communication between medical experts and parents. In addition, about the further research, future research should examine variety of samples to assess greater generalized perceptions (Lattela et al., 2018).


Individually, the cognition of social impact and information could be different. In order to understand the individual personalities, it is essential to influence the unintentional cognitive process relating to stereotype formation (Schaller, Boyd, Yohannes & O’Brien 1995). Personal Need for Structure (PNS) methods are often used or applied to analyse individual differences for predicting and controlling the issue of stereotyping (Schaller et al., 1995). “Personal Need for structure (PNS) is based on the assumption of a certain individual’s ability to reduce the uncertainty of the situation” (Svecove & Pavlovicova, 2016, p 652). Furthermore, PNS assesses an individual's desires and structure of their world or environment (Schaller et al., 1995).


Alternatively, Weary & Edwards (1994) suggested that the constant feeling of uncertainty affects a person's cognitive process. They described this as measuring chronic individual differences in the uncertainty of the ability to make sense of and finding the cause and its result in the social environment (Weary & Edwards, 1994). At the point of analysing individual differences scale, both PNS and CU can be the adequate methods or techniques used to infer or evaluate how people view vaccination, both supporting and opposing views. Schaller et al., (1995) and Weary & Edwards, (1994) applied PNS and CU respectively to explore the result about social cognition. According to Weary & Edwards, (1994), casual uncertainty can affect anybody or all individuals especially because people usually get exposed to some uncertainties and unclear situations.

Previous studies conducted in the 1950s were mostly on individual characteristics relating to perceptions and behaviour in specific groups (Schaller et al., 1995). These perceptions and behavior were mostly associated with “the authoritarian personality, ethnocentrism and prejudice” (Schaller et al., 1995, p544). Other researches revealed an association between prejudice and cognitive processes which arise from unbearable uncertainty (Schaller et al., 1995). Prior research mostly focused on ethnocentrism, intergroup favour, prejudice while no research touched on how stereotype groups developed or emerged (Schaller et al., 1995). However, it is said that individual personality influences unintentional cognitive process that contributes to development of stereotypes (Schaller et al., 1995).

Recently, many parents have preferred alternative vaccination approaches thus skipping or delaying the vaccinations. Various researches indicate that parents are highly sensitive to benefits and harms of vaccination which results in their attitudes towards the importance of vaccination (Latella, McAuley, & Rabinowitz, 2018). Literature has shown that effective communication regarding the vaccines mainly influences parental health-related attitudes. Particularly, Opstelten et al. (2008) pose that the vaccination schedule for children is abided by parents as a result of effective physician communication concerning vaccination. Furthermore, a systematic review on beliefs and attitudes regarding vaccination indicated distrust and poor communication as the main challenges to timely vaccination (Zuzak, 2008).

Vaccination is an important issue to achieve in public health as it contributes to the mortality and morbidity of various inflectional diseases (Dube et al., 2013). Nowadays, many parents are concerned whether they should take non-vaccine, or vaccine or delaying vaccine because of increased sensitivity to the perceived negative and confident of the vaccination for their children (Latella, et al., 2018). According to Smiteth et al. (2011), vaccine refusal regarding autism was mainly because of the vaccine effectiveness or side effects and media in the society. When parents decide whether their children vaccinate or not, it is essential to understand how parents consider possible risk and efficacy of the vaccine (Serpell & Green, 2006).

People are living in a complex world which is rich in information; thus barriers or exposure to unwanted information is a frequent phenomenon (Neuberg & Newsom, 1993). Vaccine decisions include the complex interaction of different society, culture and personal factors (Dube et al., 2013). Through the article of Schaller, et al., (1995), PNS can be applied to know the reasoning process and judgment with associating group to infer what influencing when parents decide for children’s vaccine. CU is often used to understand individual differences particularly those that emerge due to dispositional effect (Weary & Edwards, 1994).

The purpose of this research is to assess how parents’ feeling of uncertainty influences the social cognitive process. High PNS and CU is more likely to result in pro/anti vaccination.


332 first year psychology students participated in this experiment as a course requirement.

Neuberg and Newsom’s (1993) Personal Need for Structure (PNS).

The PNS scale consists of 12 items and assesses the degree to which an individual desires to simplify and order their environment. It has been found to consist of two subscales “desire for structure” and “response to lack of structure”. Participants indicated their responses using a six point Likert scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. In the current study reliability for the PNS scale was good, with an alpha level of .83.

The scale consisted of items such as the following. “I don’t like situations that are uncertain.”

Weary & Edwards’s (1994) Causal Uncertainty scale (CUS)

The CUS is comprised of 14 items that measure perceived ability to determine the causes of social events. Participants responded using a six point Likert scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. In the current study, it was found to have an acceptable reliability with an alpha of .88. An example of the items in the scale is listed below.

“I do not understand what causes most of the good things that happen to me.

Latella, McAuley & Rabinowitz, (2018) Vaccination Statements (VS)

VS consists of 20 items, with 10 pro-vaccination items and 10 anti-vaccination items. Participants responded to these statements using a five-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The 10 pro-vaccination items were recoded so that high scores indicated higher levels of anti-vaccination attitudes and combined with the anti-vaccination attitudes. The current study produced as acceptable alpha level of .75. Below is an example;

“An increase in hygiene and improved living conditions are the reasons why the prevalence of diseases has declined; it is not a result of an increase in vaccinations.”


Participants completed the questionnaire via Survey Monkey on a PC in the students’ tutorial classroom.


An initial analysis was found significant correlations among the three about belief about vaccinations, individual differences in casual uncertainty, and personal needs for structure. Therefore, data for these three were combined and compared that are presented in the Table 1.

Global Railway versus Air

Between CU, VS, and PNS, VS that had moderate, while PNS and CU had weak but all of them were greater probability. The results show that CU, PNS, and VS had comparatively correlations as moderate, and weak in spite of highly correlations. According the test, PNS is highest score with VS as .39 (moderate), following to CU and VS has .31(moderate), and thirdly, PNS and CU had .27 (weak).


The aim of this research is figured out how the parents’ attitude is influenced when their decision is made about vaccination for their children. The attitude is different individually due to different personal cognitive process. The individual difference of social cognitions that is related to process to the formation of stereotype (Schaller, Boyd, Yohannes & O’Brien 1995). For some reasons, false stereotypes may rise by insufficient information belief (Schaller et al., 1995). Therefore, VS, PNS and CU are used to analyse this issue by measuring and comparing as above the table data.

As an anticipated, VS and two other CU and PNS are strongly related. CU expressed to need cognition to understand uncertainly in several individual in the social world, PNS was greater related to formation of false stereotype by influencing individual personality, and parents’ attitudes (VS) of children’s vaccine was shown strongly influencing how they understand as factual information of the vaccination from communicating with medical experts (Schaller., et al 1995: Latella., 2018: Weary & Edward, 1994). These were predicted to significantly relate each other but the results did not support for the hypothesis that CU, and PNS with VS relate to making decision on vaccination how their individual construct influence on their belief.

These measurements have similarities. Schaller et al., (1995) mentioned PNS may show important effects on forming stereotype in result of unintentional personal cognitive process. Detecting the individual differences of causal uncertainty belief (CU) that have also important cognitive process and attitude. In this point, according literature, they are highly related and identified the need for the structure as conceptional significant points (Munkova, Hodakova &Welnitzova, 2014). One is related to the extended desiring structure in daily life and another is represented by their response away of the structure that is shown how personal cope with unstructured und unpredictable situation (Munkova et al., 2014). When parents make a decision on their children’s vaccine, their attitude is influenced in the population group and it is important how their personal belief is constructed (Latella et al., 2018).

There are some limitations in studies with 332 first year psychology students participated in this experiment as a course. There are limited number, place and unknown gender numbers. The sample would be necessary to make greater and variety generalizations to get specific view (Latella et al., 2018). The hypothesis shows error might be the reason from this limitation.

Future research should examine variety of samples to assess greater generalized perceptions (Lattela et al., 2018). While personality attend to difference way in the individual cognitively process, individual social circumstances affect the cognitive process (Schaller et al., 1995). And the notion of chronic individual differences in CU will evidence as important method of judgment social

While personality attend to difference way in the individual cognitively process, individual social circumstances affect the cognitive process (Schaller et al., 1995). And the notion of chronic individual differences in CU will evidence as important method of judgment social process of research and theory (Weary & Edward., 1994). Latella et al., (2018) mentioned parents’ belief is indicated mainly rather than factual information. Therefore, to construct unfaulty belief, it is suggested that effective communication between medical experts and parents. As well as medical professions may need to be encouraged re-evaluation how they communicate about child vaccine (Latella, et al, 2018).

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  • Dubé, E., Laberge, C., Guay, M., Bramadat, P., Roy, R., & Bettinger, J. A. (2013). Vaccine hesitancy: An overview. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 9(8), 1763–1773. Retrieved from
  • Latella, L, E., McAuley, R, J., & Rabinowitz, M. (2018). Belief about vaccinations: Comparing a sample from a medical school to that from the general population. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(4), 620. Retrieved from
  • Munkova, D., Hodacova, S., & Welnitzova, K. (2014). Causal uncertainty and translation: Studia Psychologica, 56, 221-232.
  • Neuberg, S, L., & Newsom, J. (1993). Personal need for structure: Individual differences in the desire for simple structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(1), 113-131.
  • Opstelten, W., van Essen, G. A., Ballieux, M. J., & Goudswaard, A. N. (2008). Influenza immunization of Dutch general practitioners: vaccination rate and attitudes towards vaccination. Vaccine, 26(47), 5918-5921.
  • Schaller, M., Boyd, C., Yohannes, J., & O’Brien, M. (1995). The prejudiced personality revisited: Personal need for structure and formation of erroneous group stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(3), 544–555.
  • Serpell, L., & Green, J. (2006). Parental decision-making in childhood vaccination. Vaccine, 24(19), 4041-4046.
  • Smiteth, P. J., Humiston, S. G., Marcuse, E. K., Zhao, Z., Dorell, C. G., Howes, C., & Hibbs, B. (2011). Parental delay or refusal of vaccine doses, childhood vaccination coverage at 24 months of age, and the Health Belief Model. Public Health Reports, 126(2_suppl): 135–146. Retrieved from
  • Svecova, V., & Pavlovicova, G. (2016). Screening the Personal Need for the Structure and solving word problems with fractions. SpringerPlus, 5, 652.
  • Weary, G., & Edwards, J.A. (1994). Individual differences in causal uncertainty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 308-318.
  • Zuzak, T. J., Zuzak-Siegrist, I., Rist, L., Staubli, G., & Simoes-Wust, A. P. (2008). Attitudes towards vaccination: users of complementary and alternative medicine versus non-users. Swiss Medical Weekly, 138(47), 713.

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