Skip to main content Accessibility help

“Expectation as etiology” versus “the good old days”: Postconcussion syndrome symptom reporting in athletes, headache sufferers, and depressed individuals

  • JOHN GUNSTAD (a1) and JULIE A. SUHR (a1)
    • Published online: 05 March 2001

The present study explored the explanatory power of Mittenberg's “expectation as etiology” theory for the persistence of postconcussion syndrome (PCS) complaints. One hundred forty-one participants completed a PCS symptom checklist under 2 conditions. Normal controls, healthy athletes and depressed individuals reported current symptoms and symptoms expected following a hypothetical mild head injury. Head-injured athletes, chronic headache sufferers, and a 2nd sample of normal controls reported current symptoms and retrospective symptoms (prior to their injury/illness or from some point in the past). Depressed individuals reported more current symptoms than normal controls and healthy athletes, demonstrating that “PCS” symptoms are not specific to PCS. All groups expected more symptoms following mild head injury than currently experienced, supporting the idea that individuals expect negative consequences following head injury. However, healthy athletes expected fewer symptoms than normals or depressed individuals, possibly due to preexisting expectations for speedy recovery. Both head-injured athletes and headache sufferers reported more current symptoms than the past, but not at a rate lower than baseline of normal controls. Results suggest that the “expectation as etiology” hypothesis may be too specific, and that, following any negative event, people may attribute all symptoms to that negative event (the “good old days” hypothesis). (JINS, 2001, 7, 323–333.)

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to: J.A. Suhr, Psychology Department, 200 Porter Hall, Ohio University, Athens OH 45719. E-mail:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-neuropsychological-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed