Negative and positive personification of multiple sclerosis: Role in psychological adaptation

Roy Aloni, Golan Shahar, Amichai Ben-Ari, Danielle Margalit, Anat Achiron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Illness personification theory posits that individuals suffering from chronic illness ascribe human characteristics to their illness, which impacts their adaptation. Whereas negative or malevolent personification of chronic illness derails adaptation, positive or benevolent personification yields a complex pattern with aspects of adaptation. This study aimed to examine, for the first time, the role of personification of multiple sclerosis (MS). Method: A two-wave design was implemented with 90 people with MS (PwMS) at T1 (2019) and 60 at T2 (2020). The Ben-Gurion University Illness Personification Scale (BGU-IPS) was administered alongside a host of adaptation-related variables relating to salutogenic, psychological, psychopathological and health aspects. The intent was to replicate the 2-factor structure of the IPS and examine associations with adaptation variables. Results: The 2-factor structure of the BGU-IPS was replicated by Principal Component Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis, with good to excellent test-retest reliability. for negative (ICC = 0.81; p < .001) as well as for positive personification scale (ICC = 0.76; p < .001). Negative personification was associated with elevated levels of psychological and psychopathological aspects, as well as low levels of heath related-adaption and salutogenic adaption. Positive personification was associated with salutogenic adaption. In addition, exploratory longitudinal analyses revealed that negative personification at T1 significantly predicted anxiety, physical problems, pain frequency and fatigue frequency at T2, while controlling for the variable's T1 measurements, while positive personification at T1 significantly predicted intolerance of uncertainty at T2. Conclusion: The findings depict negative personification as a risk factor for adaptation in MS and call for a detailed exploration of the meaning of positive personification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111078
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Illness-personification
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psychological adaption


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