Recent research suggests that experiencing cognitive dissonance, which occurs when conflicting information challenges our beliefs or actions, can lead to increased pressure on the neck and low back during lifting and lowering tasks. The study observed that study participants, who initially received positive feedback during a precision lowering experiment, exhibited higher loads on their neck and low back vertebrae when later given negative feedback about their performance.

The researchers found a correlation between higher cognitive dissonance scores and greater loading on both upper and lower parts of the spine. This discovery implies that cognitive dissonance could be an unidentified risk factor for neck and low back pain, with potential implications for workplace risk prevention.

The study was conducted with 17 participants, aged 19-44, who completed three phases of an experiment involving the movement of a lightweight box. Changes in blood pressure, heart rate variability, and questionnaire responses were used to calculate cognitive dissonance scores for each participant. Wearable sensors and motion-capture technology helped detect peak spinal loads in the neck and low back.

The study’s senior author, William Marras, who is also the executive director of the Spine Research Institute at The Ohio State University, explained that the mind-body connection was investigated to better understand the impact of cognitive dissonance on the spine. He emphasized the significance of this finding, as increased spine loading under relatively light loads could have even greater consequences during more complex tasks or with heavier loads.

Marras and his team have been studying the effects of psychological stress on the spine for years. Previous research by the team indicated that certain personality types experience up to a 35% increase in spine loads under psychosocial stress. This new study delved into the relationship between cognitive dissonance and spine biomechanics, uncovering potential implications for preventing neck and low back pain in various settings, including workplaces.

The research was published in the journal Ergonomics and was supported by internal funds from the Spine Research Institute. Co-authors included Eric Weston, Afton Hassett, Safdar Khan, and Tristan Weaver from Ohio State and the University of Michigan.

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Source: Science Daily