Even minor head injuries can result in the post traumatic syndrome, a symptom complex that includes physical discomfort and sleep, sexual, affective, and memory disturbance. Little is known about the layperson's knowledge of the syndrome but this may influence judgements about malingering and attitudes towards victims of minor head injury. Descriptions of rear-end automobile accidents were presented to two groups. One group (n = 22) rated the likelihood of a variety of physical, affective, cognitive, and distractor (never or rarely reported by trauma victims) symptoms. A second group (n = 21) judged the speed necessary to cause each of the symptoms. The results indicated that highly exaggerated speeds were thought necessary to produce even the most common physical symptoms. Moreover, cognitive symptoms were thought to be no more likely than were distractor symptoms. In contrast, the knowledge about physical symptoms, the effects of loss of consciousness and whiplash versus direct head injuries was consistent with what is known from research literature.
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