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The living dead? Perception of persons in the unresponsive wakefulness syndrome in Germany compared to the USA

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Psychology, February 2018
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (78th percentile)

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24 Mendeley
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The living dead? Perception of persons in the unresponsive wakefulness syndrome in Germany compared to the USA
Published in
BMC Psychology, February 2018
DOI 10.1186/s40359-018-0217-4
Pubmed ID

Inga Steppacher, Johanna Kissler


The extent to which people ascribe mind to others has been shown to predict the extent to which human rights are conferred. Therefore, in the context of disorders of consciousness (DOC), mind ascription can influence end of life decisions. A previous US-American study indicated that participants ascribed even less mind to patients with unresponsive-wakefulness-syndrome (UWS) than to the dead. Results were explained in terms of implicit dualism and religious beliefs, as highly religious people ascribed least mind to UWS. Here, we addresses mind ascription to UWS patients in Germany. We investigate the perception of UWS patients in a large German sample (N = 910) and compare the results to the previous US data, addressing possible cultural differences. We further assess effects of medical expertise, age, gender, socio-economic status and subjective knowledge about UWS in the German sample. Unlike the US sample, German participants did not perceive UWS patients as "more dead than dead", ascribing either equal (on 3 of 5 items) or more (on 2 items) mental abilities to UWS patients than to the dead. Likewise, an effect of implicit dualism was not replicated and German medically trained participants ascribed more capabilities to UWS patients than did a non-medical sample. Within the German sample, age, gender, religiosity and socio-economic status explained about 15% of the variability of mind ascription. Age and religiosity were individually significant predictors, younger and more religious people ascribing more mind. Gender had no effect. Results are consistent with cross-cultural differences in the perception of UWS between Germany and the USA, Germans ascribing more mind to UWS patients. The German sample ascribed as much or more but not less mind to a UWS patient than to a deceased, although within group variance was large, calling for further research. Mind ascription is vital, because, in times of declining resources for healthcare systems, and an increasing legalization of euthanasia, public opinion will influence UWS patients' rights and whether 'the right to die' will be the only right conceded to them.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 24 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 24 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 4 17%
Researcher 3 13%
Student > Doctoral Student 3 13%
Other 2 8%
Student > Master 2 8%
Other 5 21%
Unknown 5 21%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 5 21%
Neuroscience 4 17%
Nursing and Health Professions 2 8%
Philosophy 2 8%
Arts and Humanities 2 8%
Other 3 13%
Unknown 6 25%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 9. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 29 May 2018.
All research outputs
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Outputs from BMC Psychology
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from BMC Psychology
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Altmetric has tracked 17,367,552 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done well and is in the 84th percentile: it's in the top 25% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 443 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 20.0. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 68% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 283,285 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 78% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them