Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics

Sattler S, Mehlkop G, Graeff P, Sauer C (2014)
Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 9(1).

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Background The use of cognitive enhancement (CE) by means of pharmaceutical agents has been the subject of intense debate both among scientists and in the media. This study investigates several drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use prescription drugs non-medically for augmenting brain capacity. Methods We conducted a web-based study among 2,877 students from randomly selected disciplines at German universities. Using a factorial survey, respondents expressed their willingness to take various hypothetical CE-drugs; the drugs were described by five experimentally varied characteristics and the social environment by three varied characteristics. Personal characteristics and demographic controls were also measured. Results We found that 65.3% of the respondents staunchly refused to use CE-drugs. The results of a multivariate negative binomial regression indicated that respondents’ willingness to use CE-drugs increased if the potential drugs promised a significant augmentation of mental capacity and a high probability of achieving this augmentation. Willingness decreased when there was a high probability of side effects and a high price. Prevalent CE-drug use among peers increased willingness, whereas a social environment that strongly disapproved of these drugs decreased it. Regarding the respondents’ characteristics, pronounced academic procrastination, high cognitive test anxiety, low intrinsic motivation, low internalization of social norms against CE-drug use, and past experiences with CE-drugs increased willingness. The potential severity of side effects, social recommendations about using CE-drugs, risk preferences, and competencies had no measured effects upon willingness. Conclusions These findings contribute to understanding factors that influence the willingness to use CE-drugs. They support the assumption of instrumental drug use and may contribute to the development of prevention, policy, and educational strategies.
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Sattler S, Mehlkop G, Graeff P, Sauer C. Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. 2014;9(1).
Sattler, S., Mehlkop, G., Graeff, P., & Sauer, C. (2014). Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 9(1).
Sattler, S., Mehlkop, G., Graeff, P., and Sauer, C. (2014). Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 9.
Sattler, S., et al., 2014. Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 9(1).
S. Sattler, et al., “Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics”, Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, vol. 9, 2014.
Sattler, S., Mehlkop, G., Graeff, P., Sauer, C.: Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. 9, (2014).
Sattler, Sebastian, Mehlkop, Guido, Graeff, Peter, and Sauer, Carsten. “Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics”. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 9.1 (2014).
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