Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

The Scale of Psycho-Immunological Structure: Assessing Factorial Invariance in Poland and Slovakia

Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

The Scale of Psycho-Immunological Structure: Assessing Factorial Invariance in Poland and Slovakia

Article excerpt

Abstract: The paper starts with an attempt to develop a hypothetical cognitive structure of mental resiliency, called psycho-immunological system, which plays both a reactive (coping with difficult health situations) and proactive (health protection) role in relation to the human somato-immunological system. In order to answer the question: is the psycho-immunological system invariant in two neighboring cultures, Slovakia and Poland, the authors propose the psychometric operationalization of theoretical constructs of the psycho-immunological system in the form of The Scale of Psycho-immunological Structure (SPS) in both countries. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that four factors of the scale are equivalent in both samples on the structural level.

Key words: mental resilience, psycho-immunological system, measurement of psycho-immunological structure, psychosomatic system

Introduction

In the light of actual knowledge of the human biological immune system, particularly the discoveries of the 2011 Nobel Prize winners in medicine (Bruce A. Beutler, Jules A. Hoffman, and Ralph M. Steinman), it is clear that there are two steps of human body defense against pathogens. In the first step (socalled nonspecific immunity) the immune system works quickly to prevent infection by receptors called Toll-Like Receptors (TLR), which trigger inflammation and destroy harmful factors in human body. The second line of defense, adaptive immunity, uses the work of dendritic cells, the task of which is to intercept foreign antigens and present them to the immune system. They trigger the reaction of immune system cells - lymphocytes - which recognize and eliminate foreign antigens in the body.

Simultaneously with the biological immune system there exists the psychological immune system, which can be referred to as human psycho-immunity. This system performs two main functions. First, it autonomously regulates mechanisms maintaining human psychological health. Second, it contributes to the work of somato-immunological mechanisms by informing them about the physical state of the body.

The concept of mental resilience should be introduced here. It enables a new perspec- tive in understanding the way in which people maintain their health and well-being wh en th ey a r e fa ced wi t h di ffi cult ies (Charney, 2004; Zautra, Hall, & Murray, 2010). Mental resilience is understood as a dynamic process that leads to a successful adaptation in the face of encountered difficulties. This type of resilience can be seen as a process, a result of this process or an individual's characteristics (see Luthar, Cicch etti, & Becker, 2000; Za utr a, Arewasikporn, & Davis, 2010; Allen et al., 2011). Accordi ng t o Masten and O'Dougherty-Wright (2010) there are four elements of psychological resilience: resilience to current problems; the ability to recover, that is to return to previous positive states; a state of normalization caused by the improvement of an external situation; and transformation, being the result of a boost in adaptive consequences. Zautra, Hall and Murray (2010) distinguish two core functions of mental resilience: recovery and sustainability. The first may be operationalized as the time needed to psychologically recover after a functional disorder, while the second one as the range of problems, which a person can cope with without losing his/ her ability to maintain well-being and pursue his/her own important life goals. Mental resilience refers to challenges, life problems, serious stressors and everyday threats (Allen et al., 2011), but also to processes or mechanisms of positive adaptation and growth in terms of significant threats to an individual's life or functions (Zautra, Arewasikporn, & Davis, 2010). Many psychological structures, playing regulatory functions in maintaining mental health, have been identified in the research. Among them are such rudimentary constructs as free will, value system, sense of coherence, life perspective and life goals. …

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