Psychology - Student Works
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- ItemExamining the relationship between music training and early reading skills in children(2014) Byfield, Elise; Corrigall, KathleenPast research has found evidence of a link between musical perception and performance on literacy related tests, such a reading tests and phonological awareness measures. Particular focus has been on the correlation between musical skills and phonemic understanding, with few studies examining reading specifically. Thus far in the literature, it is unclear if the relationship between perception and reading is dependent on specific perceptual abilities or is more domain general. Past investigation is also limited in the musical tasks that are available for children, and this had led to very mixed results as to why the relationship between music and reading might exist. The present study tested 120 6- to 10- year olds on a variety of musical perception measures and word reading tests to examine the association when controlling for general cognition and length of music training. Our results revealed that speed and tuning perceptual abilities were the only significant predictor of word reading scores, and that music training was uncorrelated with reading ability.
- ItemExamining explanation types given by exhibitionists(2015) Rahime, Jamal; Jung, SandySexual offenders who typically deny or minimize the severity of their actions are often considered unqualified to participate in treatment interventions. Although denial is a significant predictor of poor treatment motivation, the literature also reveals inconsistent findings to demonstrate that denial and minimization is a good predictor of recidivism (Hanson & Morton-Bourgon, 2005). The use of cognitive distortions is considered a common and reasonable defense strategy among most, if not all individuals when we are confronted for doing something wrong. However, when sexual offenders attribute their criminal behaviour to multiple internal and external factors, their explanations are often ignored and they are rejected from treatment (Maruna & Mann, 2006). Nonetheless, previous research has shown that some denying offenders eventually admitted to some or all of their charges after they engaged in a relapse prevention program, and therefore it has been recommended that more research needs to be done on offender denial and minimization (Cooper, 2005). This study investigates the different explanation types given by sexual offenders convicted of exhibitionism and indecent acts. Fifty closed forensic case files were reviewed and coded to create a descriptive record of the offenders’ behavioural characteristics and the different types of explanations given after committing their crimes. Explanations identifying cognitive distortions (e.g., externalizing excuse) rather than absolute admittance of criminal motives were the more common types expressed from the sample. This study is important because it is the first of its kind to examine explanation types in exhibitionists and contributes to our understanding of their excuse-making patterns.
- ItemFifty shades of risk: psychopathic traits, gender and risky behaviour(2016) Wallis, Cassidy; Peace, KristineThe purpose of this study was to determine what effect psychopathic traits, gender and informed consequences have upon risk-taking behaviours across multiple domains. Although psychopathy has been associated with increased risk for violent and criminal behaviours, few studies have addressed psychopathic traits in relation to different types of risky behaviours outside the criminal realm, as well as whether gender is associated with manifestation of different risk-taking actions. Further, those high in psychopathic traits often disregard the consequences of their risky behaviours relative to those low in such traits who weigh the benefits and risks associated with their actions. Therefore, we examined how risk-consequence information may influence endorsement of risky behaviours across psychopathic trait and gender groups. In this study, participants were assessed on their levels of psychopathic traits, and completed multiple measures evaluating risk-related attitudes and behaviours (i.e., domain-specific, driving, sexual behaviours, and drug use). Participants also were randomly assigned into risk-consequence conditions (positive, negative, none) where information was presented in the form of a fake news release. We anticipate that males and females will endorse different domains of risk-taking and that psychopathic traits will be related to gender-specific patterns of risky behaviours. We also predict that risk-consequence information should only impact low psychopathic trait groups, although this effect may be moderated by gender.
- ItemAre we on the same page? Comparing the perceptions of professionals on overall sexual offending risk(2017) Maltais, Natasha; Jung, SandyThe current study will be looking at overall sexual risk perceptions of professionals who assess and treat sexual offenders. The participants will be members of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), who will be asked to complete an online survey comprised of a vignette and a questionnaire. The vignette will describe a person who has offended sexually and will include one of three levels of risk (i.e., low, moderate, high). The questionnaire will also be comprised of basic questions about the participant, their role in conducting risk assessments, and their attitudes and individual characteristics. The survey will attempt to address three separate questions. First, we will be looking at how different risk categories are perceived. Second, participants will be asked about the intensity of treatment that they believe should be assigned to a given level of risk. Finally, the survey will examine the relationship between their perceptions and their political attitudes, general views on sexual offenders, and punitive attitudes of the participants. The findings from this study may provide insight into treatment providers’ perceptions of risk and how this may influence predictions of reoffending and treatment decisions, such as allocation of services. Their perceptions may also be associated with specific characteristics and traits, which will also be examined and may identify reason for these perceptions.
- ItemKeep it simple: using the BARR-2002R to assess risk for violent recidivism in a police context(2017) Wielinga, Farron; Jung, SandyThe general criminality subscale and age at release item from the Static-2002R form the actuarial risk scale, Brief Assessment of Recidivism Risk-2002R (BARR-2002R), to predict violent and general recidivism among male sex offenders. Previous studies show that the BARR-2002R predicts violent and general recidivism significantly better than the Static-99R and Static-2002R with convicted sex offenders. Although the BARR-2002R, the Static-2002R, and its predecessor, the Static-99R, have been validated using convicted offender samples, only one recently published study has examined the predictive validity of the Static-99R and Static-2002R with non-convicted male perpetrators of sexual assault. The present study investigated the ability of the BARR-2002R to predict future violent offending of 290 perpetrators that were randomly sampled from police-referred sexual assault cases. Police cases were retrospectively coded for the Static-99R and Static-2002R, which includes the six items that comprise the BARR-2002R. Provincial and federal criminal records were used to code recidivism outcomes including presence, severity, frequency and imminence of future violence. The relationship between BARR-2002R scores and recidivism outcomes as well as the utility of the BARR-2002R as a risk tool for police officers who investigate sexual assault had not yet been examined. Results indicate that the BARR-2002R had very good predictive validity for future violent and general recidivism and higher scores were associated with increased frequency of post-index violent offences and decreased time until violent reoffending, though severity of future violence was not related to higher BARR-2002R scores. Implications for the use of the BARR-2002R in front-line work and directions for future research will be discussed.
- ItemJohn "drinks"? Or John is "a drinker"? Implying a disordered identity affects perceived functioning(2017) Williams, Sarah; Howell, AndrewUsing noun phrasing to refer to an individual's maladaptive behavioral pattern (e.g., "John is a drinker.") may lead to inferences of lower functioning or poorer adaptation compared with non-noun phrasing (e.g., "John drinks"). Building on research from developmental and social psychology, the current study examines the impact of noun labels in the mental disorder domain. The study will randomly assign 220 undergraduate participants to one of four conditions comprising a 2 (noun label vs non-noun label) x 2 ( alcohol vs gambling) experimental design. While participants read a paragraph about the target individual, "John", they will describe him by actively writing down the noun phrase "is a drinker" (or "is a gambler") or the non-noun phrase, "drinks" (or "gambles"), by filling in several blank spaces within the paragraph. They will then make ratings of John's personal functioning (e.g, the extent to which he feels happy, is successful at school, feels a sense of purpose in life). The prediction is that conceiving John as a being a "drinker" or "a gambler" will lead to lower ratings of personal functioning compared to the non-noun conditions. Findings could broaden our understanding of the effects of language which implies identity in the domain of mental disorders.
- ItemProsodic and semantic effects on the perception of mixed emotions in speech(2017) Bubar, Ayslin; Vongpaisal, TaraThe current study examines the perception of mixed happy-sad emotions elicited by a combination of prosodic voice cues (pitch and tempo), and sentence content (semantics) in speech. In the first experiment, participants will rate sentences spoken by a female talker on happiness and sadness using a 7-point Likert scale. In the second experiment, the processing of emotions will be examined using eye-tracking. Participants will watch audio-visual recordings of a female talker speaking a series of sentences and will rate the emotional expressions using the same rating scale. When pitch and tempo cues are consistent with happy and sad expressions, we expect listeners to rate the expressions in accordance with these emotions. However, when voice cues that signal happy and sad emotions are in conflict, they will result in intermediate happiness and sadness ratings, reflecting the perception of mixed happy-sad emotions. We expect that eye-tracking measures will reveal shorter durations of looking time to purely happy or sad emotions in comparison to mixed happy-sad emotions. Furthermore, the semantics of sentence content will reduce the perception of mixed happy-sad emotions evoked in vocal expressions. The findings from the current study are expected to extend our knowledge on the perception of mixed emotions in normal populations and in special populations with social-emotional deficits.
- ItemBehavioural interventions for sleep: who prefers what?(2017) Hemmings, Nicholas; Digdon, NancyMany university students have trouble sleeping because their minds are too active with worries and other sleep disruptive thoughts they are unable to control. Previous research has compared two self-help intervention: Structured Problem-solving, which involves scheduling time earlier in the day to write out worries and steps toward solutions; and Beaudoin’s Somnotest APP, which uses mental imagery to prevent sleep disruptive thoughts. Both interventions were equally effective alone or in combination. Nevertheless, there were individual differences in how students responded to the interventions. Our study extends previous research by examining these individual differences. We examined students’ preferences for interventions in relation to their circadian preference (morning types and evening types) and their preferred way of coping with stress (i.e, emotion focused vs. problem focused). We predict that students who prefer problem-focused coping will also prefer Structured Problem-solving, whereas those who prefer emotion-focused coping will favour the APP. Since evening types take longer to fall asleep, we predict that they may find the APP less effective because it could be arousing. Participants consisted of 131 MacEwan University students who were poor sleepers. They completed standardized measures of sleep and arousal (Sleep Quality Scale, Glasgow Sleep Effort Scale and Pre-Sleep Arousal Scale), ways of coping with stress (COPE) and circadian preference ( Composite Scale of Morningness). Data analysis will be completed by April. Results and implications will be discussed.
- ItemCultivating incremental theories regarding anxiety to reduce student academic and general anxiety(2017) Doherty, Kyla; Howell, AndrewAn incremental view of a personal attribute (i.e., a growth mindset) often confers significant affective and psychological advantages relative to an entity view (i.e., a fixed mindset). For example, a fixed mindset regarding anxiety has recently been shown to be associated with higher anxiety and poorer emotional coping skills (De Castella et al., 2014). No research to date has examined the causal impact of incremental vs. entity views toward anxiety on levels of anxiety. In the current proposed study, undergraduate participants will be randomly assigned to receive either an intervention that trains an incremental view of anxiety or to receive a control intervention. Three weeks later, academic and general anxiety will be measured in both groups along with their incremental vs. fixed views toward anxiety. It is predicted that that those who undergo cultivation of an incremental view toward anxiety will exhibit less anxiety than control group participants. Supportive findings would suggest that preventative interventions may be effective for protecting students from anxiety throughout the school year and from more general health risks connected to long-lasting anxiety.
- ItemTime estimation during mutual eye gaze(2017) Sliwkanich, Laura; Jarick, MichelleEye contact requires attention both when we send and receive gaze signals. Previous research suggests that when one is attending to something their perception of time is altered, such that time passes by more slowly while watching a pot boil. The disruption of time perception has been shown to happen during face-to-face eye contact but has also been observed (albeit to a lesser extent) if one person is looking at another or being looked at by another [Jarick et al., 2016]. Here, we aimed to tease apart whether eye contact is more attention-capturing when we are sending signals during mutual gaze or receiving the gaze signal, or both. This will be investigated by having pairs of participants (sitting side-by-side) make subjective time estimates of 40, 60, and 80 seconds during the participation of four gaze trials: looking away from one another (baseline), looking at the profile of their partner, being looked at by their partner and making eye contact. If attention is equally attributed to sending and receiving signals, we predict that the degree to which time estimation is disrupted during the profile and looked at trials will sum to the disruption found during eye contact trials. Alternatively, if attention is captured more by sending or receiving gaze signals, then we should see time estimation more disrupted in either the profile or looked at trials. This research will allow us to further understand how attention is allocated during face-to-face eye contact in the wild.
- ItemI can see it on your face: how levels of psychopathy, anxiety, and emotional intelligence predict detection of negative emotions(2017) Wieczorek, Karolina; Peace, KristinePast research has revealed a complex interplay between psychopathic traits, levels of anxiety, and emotional intelligence (EI). In particular, scholars argue that psychopaths vary in their levels of trait anxiety, suggesting that some may be able to “feel” or experience emotion to some degree. Conversely, psychopathy also has been negatively related to the ability to perceive and recognize emotion (a form of EI) in others, especially for those low in trait anxiety. That said, other studies have found that psychopaths may have an enhanced ability to detect negative emotions, particularly fear. Few studies have examined these variables in relation to the detection of real or feigned emotion, and none in relation to negative emotions. The present research was designed to evaluate the influence of psychopathic traits, levels of anxiety, and emotional intelligence in relation to an emotion veracity task focused on negative emotions. Participants will complete self-report assessments of our personality variables, followed by exposure to facial emotion sets that vary according to veracity (genuine/feigned) and emotion type (fear/sadness/anger/disgust). Accuracy scores and signal detection rates will be analyzed to determine what combination of psychopathic traits, anxiety, and emotional intelligence are linked to fine-tuned emotion detection.
- ItemThe effects of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on sustained attention(2017) Botha, Nadia; Striemer, ChristopherAlthough the cerebellum is primarily known for its role in motor coordination and motor learning, recent research indicates that it is also involved in cognitive functions such as attention. The current study used a mild brain stimulation technique – transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to further investigate the involvement of the cerebellum in sustained attention using two different sustained attention tasks. Specifically, we were interested in the effects of stimulation to the left lateral cerebellum on the sustained attention to response task (SART), in which participants (currently n=12) must respond (via button press) to the digits 1-9, but not 3, presented in a random continuous sequence on a computer screen. In addition, participants also completed the attentional blink task in which they must detect the presence of either one or two targets within a rapid serial visual presentation. For each task participants completed 3 sessions: sham (no stimulation), cathodal (-), and anodal (+) stimulation. Preliminary results for each task will be presented for this ongoing study.
- ItemMusic, interpersonal synchrony, and social affiliation(2017) Makowecki, Erika; Corrigall, KathleenResearch suggests that moving synchronously with others increases social affiliation as it blurs the boundary between “self” and “other” and allows group members to focus on a shared goal. In the real world, few synchronous movement behaviours are performed without the backdrop of a musical beat to support them (i.e., tribal rituals, soldiers marching, dancing during concerts). However, to our knowledge, only one previous study examined the role of music in the association between synchronous movement and social affiliation. To examine this question, we had participants watch a 3-minute dance video in groups of 3-4. They either mimicked the dance moves in the video (moving synchronously) or simply observed the movements while seated, and music was either present or absent. As such, there were four conditions: 1) move with music, 2) move without music, 3) observe with music, 4) observe without music. Participants then completed a series of questionnaires; our dependent measures focused on social affiliation (i.e., entitativity, inclusion of other in self, trustworthiness) and prosocial behaviours (i.e., helping). We hypothesize that 1) the movement groups will show greater social affiliation and prosocial behaviour than the observation groups, and 2) the group moving to music will show the strongest effect. If hypothesis 2) is supported, we suspect that it will result from an increased mood and/or a higher degree of synchronization compared to the other group(s). Because even simple synchronous movements (e.g., finger tapping) generate feelings of community and bonding, the addition of music may enhance or exaggerate this effect.
- ItemThe effects of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on voluntary covert attention(2017) Botha, Nadia; Striemer, ChristopherAlthough the cerebellum is primarily known for its role in motor coordination and motor learning, recent research indicates that it is also involved in cognitive functions such as attention. The current study used a mild brain stimulation technique – transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to further investigate the involvement of the cerebellum in attention. Specifically, we were interested in the effects of stimulation to the left lateral cerebellum on a voluntary covert attention task. Voluntary covert attention refers to an intentional shifting of attention without moving one’s eyes (e.g. paying attention to an object in your periphery). Participants completed 3 sessions: sham (no stimulation), cathodal (-), and anodal (+) stimulation. In this exploratory study, our main interest was to demonstrate a modulation of performance on the attention task following cerebellar tDCS. Therefore, any difference in performance on the attention task following either cathodal or anodal stimulations compared to sham were of interest. Consistent with previous findings, the results show that participants were faster compared to invalidly cued targets; however, these effects were not systematically altered by tDCS. We argue that the absence of any effects of tDCS on voluntary covert attention could be related to the stimulation parameters used, or the sensitivity of the behavioural tasks employed.
- ItemCan leadership characteristics predict perceived growth when faced with stress?(2017) Cobler, Cody; Rogers, SeanIn recent years, positive psychology has devoted an area of study directed at exploring the anecdote "that which does not kill you makes you stronger." This led to the creation of a field of study called growth through adversity. Previous research in this area has demonstrated that there are a multitude of personality traits which contribute to growth through adversity, but no known research to date has looked at leadership traits specifically, and how these traits affect growth outcomes. This study sought to fill this void in the literature by attempting to determine whether or not leadership characteristics are strong predictors of perceived growth when an individual is faced with stressful life circumstances. Self report measures were used to assess 142 MacEwan students in levels of leadership, stress, and growth outcomes resulting from stress. The relationship between these variables was assessed using regression analysis, which yielded statistically significant findings, which supported that leadership traits have meaningful effects on growth outcomes.
- ItemThe effects of the H1 antagonist chlorpheniramine on anxiety in zebrafish(2017) Heritage, Susan; Schalomon, MelikeZebrafish (Danio rerio) have recently emerged as an excellent model organism to study the neurological basis of anxiety disorders. They display robust behavioural responses to external stimuli and possess all of the main vertebrate neurotransmitters. Research in rats has demonstrated that the histaminergic system plays a role in anxiety, possibly by interacting with other monoamines such as serotonin and dopamine. In zebrafish, however, the histaminergic system is not well characterized, so it is of interest to assess the role of histamine on anxiety in zebrafish. Chlorpheniramine, a histamine antagonist that has been tested multiple times in rodents and shown to decrease anxiety, was administered to fish with the expectation that we would observe similar anxiolytic effects in zebrafish. Chlorpheniramine was administered through immersion for ten minutes at two doses (20mg/L and 25mg/L), and zebrafish were tested using the shoaling test, which is a measure of anxiety based on the tendency of fish to form more cohesive shoals when anxious. We found that chlorpheniramine did not produce a significant anxiolytic effect at either dose; however previous research in our lab suggests that the 20mg/L dose reduces anxiety in the novel tank diving test. Further research using different doses and tests or other histamine antagonists should be conducted for a more thorough understanding of the histaminergic system in zebrafish.
- ItemThe unschedule planning method(2017) Richardson, Anna; Powell, Russell A.The proposed research seeks to examine the effectiveness of a novel application of scheduling called an unschedule. In an unschedule, the emphasis is paradoxically on scheduling enjoyable activities before scheduling work. According to the promoter of this method, Neil Fiore (2007), when we neglect to prioritize enjoyable activities, as often happens in traditional scheduling, our workload becomes tedious to the point of procrastinating. In this study, undergraduate participants will begin with a two-week baseline period in which they record the amount of time they spend studying. Participants will then be assigned to one of three conditions: (1) a control group that will employ the traditional method of scheduling their studying first, (2) an unscheduled group that will schedule their fun activities first, and (3) an unscheduled plus 30-minute group that will use unscheduling as well as short 30-minute study sessions (which Fiore also suggests in order to reduce task aversiveness). The hypotheses are that the participants who are in the unscheduled conditions, and especially those in the unscheduled plus 30-minute condition, will increase their time spent studying and report being less distracted by temptations, thereby, decreasing their overall tendency to procrastinate.
- ItemEscape theory and materialism: an experimental paradigm for self-blame(2017) Radetzki, Phillip A.; Watson, DavidEscape theory proposes a six-step process in which materialists’ forthcoming self-awareness reveals a general dissatisfaction with life, thereby stimulating a pursuit toward the attainment of tangible objects as a form of compensation. Although there is sufficient evidence supporting the overall plausibility of escape theory, Donnelly and colleagues acknowledge that further research regarding specific steps would enhance its strength. Moreover, a significant portion of findings on materialism are correlational, thereby making research utilizing experimental paradigms of particular value. The present study will investigate escape theory’s second step, self-blame, with an experimental design. The participant pool (n=300) will consist of undergraduate students with materialistic orientations. As a cover story, participants will be presented two unrelated studies regarding perceptions of interpersonal conflict and the impact of website design on the psychology of the online shopper. In the first portion, participants will be randomly assigned to a neutral condition or a condition designed to induce self-blame. Both conditions involve exposure to a vignette with a filler questionnaire. In the second portion, participants will explore a fictitious online store and purchase desired items. There will be 30 categories of product. Each category will contain three versions of the product corresponding to different levels of materialistic value. Within a materialistic population, those primed to experience self-blame are predicted to demonstrate significant bias toward products high in materialistic value. If the hypothesis is supported, the proposed study will add experimental evidence for the causal role of self-blame in the maladaptive attitude toward wealth and material objects.
- ItemModels of generalized anxiety disorder: does the emotion dysregulation model aid understanding?(2017) Deleurme, Kendall A.; Penney, AlexanderWhile models of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are available, the literature continues to explore and expand upon the different conceptualizations. Among these models, one of the most recent is the Emotion Dysregulation Model (EDM). According to the EDM, individuals with GAD have issues understanding, expressing, and managing emotions. The EDM proposes that individuals with GAD experience the following: emotional hyperarousal, involving low emotional thresholds; poor understanding of emotions, including problems with describing and labelling; negative attitudes towards emotions; and unsuccessful emotion regulation and management strategies. However, there is a lack of research providing support for the utility of the EDM. Furthermore, a gap exists in the literature comparing the EDM to more established models. The proposed study extends the current literature by examining whether the EDM helps explain GAD symptoms when compared to a well-established model of GAD, the Metacognitive Model (MCM). The MCM emphasizes that individuals with GAD have negative beliefs about the dangerousness and uncontrollability of worry. Several self-report measures previously used in research of the EDM and the MCM will be administered to non-clinical university participants (N = 400) to investigate which measures uniquely predict GAD symptoms. The proposed study hypothesizes the following: GAD symptoms will positively correlate with emotion dysregulation; GAD symptoms will positively correlate with negative beliefs about worry; and emotion dysregulation will predict GAD symptoms independent of negative beliefs about worry. Expected findings have implications for treatment of GAD, encouraging an approach focusing on emotion psychoeducation and development of effective emotional regulation strategies.
- ItemFaking faces: psychopathic traits and feigned emotional expressions(2017) Stewart, Jayme; Peace, KristineThe purpose of this study was to determine what effect psychopathic traits have on the ability to express both genuine and feigned emotional expressions through a detailed analysis of facial characteristics of emotion. Despite the wide array of research on psychopathic traits and emotional dysfunction, most studies have focused on recognition rather than expression of emotion. Participants (n = 121) were assessed for psychopathic traits and randomly assigned into a feigned or genuine emotional condition, and asked to display each of the six core emotions (i.e., happiness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust, and sadness). Each face was then coded for the presence of facial musculature action units using a standardized coding system. Results indicated that those feigned group produced more authentic facial expressions than their genuine counterparts. Limited main effects were found related to psychopathy and overall facial expressions; however, interesting patterns of specific action units were noted. Specifically, those high in psychopathic traits engaged in more authentic and pronounced expressions of specific facial musculature movements in some emotional expressions (i.e., fear and disgust). Implications concerning methods of coding, emotion induction, and facial affective mimicry are discussed.