Carnegie Mellon University

Psychological and Social Constructs

Numerous psychological and social constructs were assessed across the 5 cold studies via self-administered questionnaire and/or telephone interview before viral-challenge.  These constructs include characteristics of the social environment (e.g. perceived social support, social integration), stress (e.g. perceived stress, stressful life events), state/trait affect, psychological well-being (e.g. self-esteem, purpose in life, life satisfaction) and personality (e.g. extraversion, neuroticism).  

While not all specific constructs were assessed in each study, several variables were measured consistently, such as perceived stress, social integration, and trait affect.  In some cases, similar constructs were measured in more than one study, but the specific instruments used to assess those constructs differed (e.g., Eysenck Personality Inventory vs. Goldberg’s Adjective Scale to measure extraversion).  To facilitate combining the 5 studies, the data set includes standardized versions of differing variables that represent the same construct.

The table below lists the psychological and social constructs that were assessed in the 5 cold studies, and the specific measures used to assess them in each.  More detailed information on how each construct was assessed can be obtained by clicking on the name of the measure.

Construct  BCS  PCS1 PCS2 PMBC PCS3
Childhood / Adolescence
          Family, physical, and social environments
          Perceived stress
          Religious upbringing
          Socioeconomic status
          Subjective socioeconomic status
Marital Quality    
Personality, general
          Big 5
          Anger expression
Personality, social
          Agreeableness and Extraversion
          Attachment style
          Communal orientation
          Eliciting self-disclosure from others
Social Relationships
          Perceived availability of social support
          Perceived tendency to give support
          Positive relationships
          Social network size and Social integration
          Daily social interactions and Daily social rhythms
          Social control
          Social participation
          Community ties
          Perceived community    
          Negative interactions
          Enjoyable activities
          Pet ownership
Socioeconomic Status, objective
          Traditional (education, occupation, income)

          Non-traditional (home ownership, home size, vehicle 

          ownership, newspaper delivery, out-of-town vacations

Socioeconomic Status, subjective
          Relative social standing - United States
          Relative social standing - community
          Major stressful life events - checklist

          Major stressful life events - interview
          Subjective global
          Subjective job

 Other Psychological Measures        

          Psychological functioning (depressive symptoms,

          emotion regulation, alexithymia, reactive responding)

          Life satisfaction

          Life effort

          Mastery & control

          Purpose in life
          Religious background