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    Research recast(ed): S2E18 - Student Research Day: student research spotlight - Katryna Yasinski, Madison Karpiak, and Amy Wildeman
    (2023) Miskiman, Megan; Schabert, Reinette; Yasinski, Katryna; Karpiak, Madison; Wildeman, Amy
    In today’s episode, we are joined by three student researchers here at MacEwan: Katryna Yasinski from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications, Madison Karpiak from the Faculty of Arts and Science, and Amy Wildeman from the Faculty of Nursing.
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    Neuroticism to GAD: The influence of thought processes and metacognitions
    (2024) Styba-Nelson, Kevin
    There are many cognitive thought patterns and individual factors that are known to underly the persistent and wide spread worrying of individuals with GAD. This includes the personality trait of neuroticism, as well as the maladaptive cognitions of AS, and IU. Metacognitive beliefs about worry, people’s beliefs about the impact and controllability of worrying, are also known to be a substantial factor in GAD. The present studies sought to investigate this possible moderating effect, and evaluate its impact on individuals’ worry severity and symptoms of GAD. The first of these studies (N = 573) investigated the moderating effect of metacognitions on the relationships anxiety sensitivity has with worry severity and GAD in an undergraduate sample. The second of these studies (N = 627) expanded upon the first. It investigated the indirect pathways from neuroticism to worry severity and GAD, through anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty. Its primary focus was to then investigate if these indirect pathways would be moderated by metacognitive beliefs. Overall, these studies did not conclude that metacognitions play a moderating role in the relationships neuroticism, anxiety sensitivity, and intolerance of uncertainty have with worry severity and GAD. Despite this, it was still found that anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty were significant mediators in the indirect pathways that connect neuroticism to worry severity and GAD. This would suggest that future research may wish to further investigate these mediational pathways, and possibly incorporate metacognitions as mediating rather than moderating variables.
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    Do metacognitions have a moderating role in GAD? An investigation with neuroticism, anxiety sensitivity, and intolerance of uncertainty
    (2024) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Penney, Alexander
    There are many cognitive thought patterns and individual factors that are known to underly the persistent and wide spread worrying of individuals with GAD. This includes the personality trait of neuroticism, as well as the maladaptive cognitions of AS, and IU. Metacognitive beliefs about worry, people’s beliefs about the impact and controllability of worrying, are also known to be a substantial factor in GAD. The present studies sought to investigate this possible moderating effect, and evaluate its impact on individuals’ worry severity and symptoms of GAD. The first of these studies (N = 573) investigated the moderating effect of metacognitions on the relationships anxiety sensitivity has with worry severity and GAD in an undergraduate sample. The second of these studies (N = 627) expanded upon the first. It investigated the indirect pathways from neuroticism to worry severity and GAD, through anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty. Its primary focus was to then investigate if these indirect pathways would be moderated by metacognitive beliefs. Overall, these studies did not conclude that metacognitions play a moderating role in the relationships neuroticism, anxiety sensitivity, and intolerance of uncertainty have with worry severity and GAD. Despite this, it was still found that anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty were significant mediators in the indirect pathways that connect neuroticism to worry severity and GAD. This would suggest that future research may wish to further investigate these mediational pathways, and possibly incorporate metacognitions as mediating rather than moderating variables.
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    How to make a good first impression when socially anxious
    (2023) Nielsen, Melissa
    Making a good first impression is integral to forming and maintaining relationships, which affect nearly every aspect of one's life. Whether interviewing for a job or meeting a partner's friends and family, making positive first impressions can significantly improve one's quality of life. Research shows that social anxiety impedes a person's ability to make a good first impression. Wherein appearing anxious (i.e., tense, fidgeting, unstable vocal pitch) can cause a person to come across as less desirable, more submissive, detached, and less expressive. Social anxiety also contributes to one's negative interpretation of their impressions on others, further perpetuating this fear. However, there are specific strategies that can help people conquer social anxiety and make better first impressions. By creating self-distance (e.g., non-first-person self-talk, reflecting as if watching a stranger), focusing on others (e.g., learning about others, performing acts of kindness), and increasing self-expression, one can decrease social anxiety and make better first impressions.
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    Research recast(ed): S1E17 - Student Research Day - allyship, e-scooters and criminal psychology
    (2022) Ekelund, Brittany; Cave, Dylan; Lakhani, Alysha-Khanu; Bailey, Brady; Thomas, Mackenzie
    Today, we learn about three different MacEwan student research projects focusing on the topics of Indigenous allyship, sustainability and criminology. In our first Student Research Day podcast, we speak with three student researchers. First, Alysha-Khanu Lakhani discusses her paper on Indigenous allyship in the Asian Diaspora, touching on implicit bias, challenging perceptions and cognitive imperialism. Next we talk with Brady Bailey, whose award winning research looks at sustainability, e-scooters and the sharing economy. Lastly, we talk with Mackenzie Thomas about her pioneering research into typographies and risk assessment of criminogenic needs of sexual offenders.
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    Ugh! Don’t get sick: disgust sensitivity contributes to health anxiety
    (2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Byam, Layton; Penney, Alexander
    Health anxiety (HA) refers to persistent fears about experiencing or developing severe illnesses. HA has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and with dysfunctional health beliefs. However, some research has also indicated that the primary emotion of disgust may be associated with HA. The present study sought to investigate if a relationship exists between HA and disgust, even when controlling for OCD symptoms and dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs about health. An undergraduate sample (N=552) completed online self-report questionnaires of HA, OCD symptoms, health-related-metacognitions, disgust propensity, and disgust sensitivity. Disgust propensity refers to the likelihood that a person will experience disgust, while disgust sensitivity refers to how strongly a person experiences disgust. OCD symptoms, health-related-metacognitions, disgust propensity, and disgust sensitivity all showed moderate to strong bivariate correlations with HA. A hierarchical multiple linear regression was conducted with HA as the dependent variable, OCD symptoms entered in the first step, health-related-metacognitions in the second step, and disgust propensity and disgust sensitivity in the third step. It was found that disgust sensitivity, but not disgust propensity, was a unique predicter of HA, even when controlling for both OCD symptoms and health-related-metacognitions. This finding suggests a person’s sensitivity to the emotion of disgust may play a role in HA, and that this relationship is not better accounted for by OCD symptoms or health-related-metacognitions. Techniques targeting disgust sensitivity could be a valuable addition to therapies aimed at HA, with interoceptive exposure to the feelings of disgust being a possible area for future research.
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    Can’t stop worrying? Examining the mechanisms of generalized anxiety disorder
    (2023) Parkinson, Sydney; Penney, Alexander
    Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience excessive and chronic worry over various daily events. If left untreated, GAD tends to be impairing and chronic. Existing research has shown negative beliefs about worry (NBW), positive beliefs about worry (PBW), intolerance of uncertainty (IU), and fear of emotions to be associated with GAD. However, the existing research is primarily cross-sectional. The present longitudinal study examined whether changes in NBW, PBW, IU, and fear of emotions predict changes in pathological worry and GAD symptoms over time. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 372), pre-screened for high levels of worry, completed a series of online self-report measures assessing worry, GAD symptoms, NBW, PBW, IU, and fear of emotions. Participants completed the questionnaires again 4 months later. Changes in NBW, IU, and fears of emotions predicted changes in worry severity. Additionally, changes in NBW and IU were the only mechanisms to predict changes in GAD symptoms. Further, NBW was the strongest predictor of changes in both worry and GAD. These findings have implications for the understanding and treatment of GAD. Primarily targeting NBW, while incorporating IU and fear of emotions into therapy, may enhance the treatment of GAD.
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    Do metacognitions contribute to health anxiety when controlling for OCD comorbidity?
    (2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Byam, Layton; Penney, Alexander
    Previous research has found that dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs about health are associated with health anxiety (HA), even when controlling for depression, anxiety, and anxiety sensitivity. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) overlaps with HA, but OCD symptoms have not been controlled for in prior studies that examined metacognitive beliefs about health. The current study examined if metacognitive beliefs about health remain associated with HA when OCD and anxiety sensitivity were accounted for. An undergraduate sample (N = 400) completed online self-report questionnaires of OCD symptoms, anxiety sensitivity, metacognitive beliefs about health, and HA. OCD symptoms, anxiety sensitivity, and metacognitive beliefs about health all showed moderate to strong bivariate correlations with HA. A hierarchical multiple regression was conducted where OCD symptoms were entered in the first step, anxiety sensitivity was entered in the second step, and metacognitive beliefs were entered in the last step. Metacognitive beliefs about the uncontrollability of illness-related thoughts, along with OCD symptoms and anxiety sensitivity about physical concerns, were found to be uniquely predictive of HA. These findings support previous research establishing a link between metacognitive beliefs and HA, and expand upon them by suggesting the relationship is not accounted for by OCD symptoms.
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    Anxiety sensitivity, metacognitions, and generalized anxiety disorder symptoms
    (2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Penney, Alexander
    Previous research has established that anxiety sensitivity (AS) and metacognitions are both associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). AS consists of social concerns, cognitive concerns, and physical concerns about the negative impact of anxiety symptoms. Metacognitions are thoughts and beliefs about one’s cognitions, and both positive and negative beliefs about worry are key metacognitions in GAD. This study examined the unique contributions of these metacognitions and facets of AS on worry severity and GAD symptoms. An undergraduate sample (N = 150) completed self-report questionnaires of GAD symptoms, worry severity, AS, and metacognitions. Moderate to strong bivariate correlations were found between all variables. The results of multiple regression equations revealed that social concerns of AS, positive beliefs about worry, and negative beliefs about worry were uniquely associated with both GAD symptoms and worry severity. Additionally, negative beliefs about worry remained the only significant predictor of GAD symptoms when controlling for worry severity. These findings agree with previous research that negative beliefs about worry are a robust predictor of GAD symptoms. This serves to further highlight negative beliefs about worry’s connection with GAD, and indicates that therapists may wish to focus on negative beliefs about worry more than AS when treating GAD.
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    Are metacognitions part of the common core cognitive vulnerability?
    (2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Penney, Alexander
    Hong and colleagues have recently argued that anxiety and depression-related constructs like anxiety sensitivity (AS), intolerance of uncertainty, and ruminative style may be components of a broad general negative repetitive thinking style, known as the common core cognitive vulnerability. Despite similarities between AS and dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs, particularly between AS cognitive concerns and negative metacognitive beliefs about worry, there has been a lack of research examining commonalities between them. Examining AS and metacognitions together may help indicate if dysfunctional metacognitions should be considered another component of this larger cognitive vulnerability. In this study, an undergraduate sample (N=350) completed self-report questionnaires of AS and metacognitive beliefs. AS was assessed using the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3) with its three subscales measuring physically, socially, and cognitively focused concerns. Metacognitive beliefs were assessed using the Metacognition Questionaire-30 (MCQ-30), with its five subscales for positive beliefs about worry, negative beliefs about worry, cognitive confidence, need to control thoughts, and cognitive self-consciousness. An exploratory principal component analysis revealed the model of best fit was a one factor solution, with all eight subscales loading onto the factor. The cognitive subscale of the ASI-3 had the strongest loading on this factor, followed by negative beliefs about worry, and ASI-3 physical concerns. These findings demonstrate that marked similarities exist in the constructs that make up the subscales of the ASI-3 and MCQ-30. Further, the findings suggest that dysfunctional metacognitions may be another aspect of the proposed common core cognitive vulnerability. Implications for treatment and future research will be discussed.
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    Research project: (-)-𝛂-pinene anxiolytic effects and boldness in zebrafish (Danio rerio)
    (2023) Stewart, Alycia; Hamilton, Trevor
    Canada has recently legalized cannabis, and this has resulted in an increased focus on genetic strains and chemical compounds in cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants that could have medicinal value. A terpene found in cannabis and other products is 𝛂-pinene. This study used (-)-𝛂-pinene to examine locomotion, anxiety-like behaviour, and boldness in zebrafish (Danio rerio) using a motion-tracking software system. The four experimental groups included a control, and (-)-𝛂-pinene groups at 0.01%, 0.02% and 0.1% (~n=15 each) and each fish was exposed for 10 minutes prior to being placed in the open field test and then the novel object approach test. The time in virtual zones in the arena, distance moved, velocity, meandering, high mobility and immobility of the fish were quantified. There was a significant difference observed between the control and 0.1% group in distance moved, velocity and high mobility in both tests. A significant difference was also found between the control and 0.1% group in time spent between virtual zones in the open field test. No significant differences were found in the other parameters and groups. Our results suggest that certain concentrations of (-)-𝛂-pinene may reduce anxiety-like behaviours in zebrafish and impact their locomotion. This research will be used to supplement previous findings as well as inform future research regarding the impacts of different terpenes.
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    The terpene (-)-𝛂-pinene can alter locomotion in zebrafish (Danio rerio)
    (2023) Stewart, Alycia; Hamilton, Trevor
    Canada has recently legalized cannabis, and this has resulted in an increased focus on genetic strains and chemica l compounds in cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants that could have medicinal value. A terpene found in cannabis and other products is 𝛂-pinene. This study used (-)-𝛂-pinene to examine locomotion, anxiety-like behaviour, and boldness in zebrafish (Danio rerio) using a motion-tracking software system. The four experimental groups included a control, and (-)-𝛂-pinene groups at 0.01%, 0.02% and 0.1% (~n=15 each) and each fish was exposed for 10 minutes prior to being placed in the open field test and then the novel object approach test. The time in virtual zones in the arena, distance moved, velocity, meandering, high mobility and immobility of the fish were quantified. There was a significant difference observed between the control and 0.1% group in distance moved, velocity and high mobility in both tests. A significant difference was also found between the control and 0.1% group in time spent between virtual zones in the open field tes t. No significant differences were found in the other parameters and groups. Our results suggest that certain concentrations of (-)-𝛂-pinene may reduce anxiety-like behaviours in zebrafish and impact their locomotion. This research will be used to supplement previous findings as well as inform future research regarding the impacts of different terpenes.
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    Does this LOOK like STALKING to you? factors associated with identification of stalking behaviours
    (2023) Robinson, Natasha; Peace, Kristine
    Perceptions of stalking are highly variable, dependent upon personal definitions and experiences. For example, recent surveys have found that young persons view social media stalking as acceptable and not distressing. Similarly, popular media often depicts stalking variably as misguided romance to psychotic deviance. In Canada, legal definitions of stalking (criminal harassment) are predicated on the victim feeling fear for their personal safety. Given that stalking is a victim-defined crime, understanding the circumstances under which stalking is identified and reported is critical for awareness, support, and prevention efforts. The present study aims to evaluate stalking identification in relation to lived experience, beliefs/myth endorsement, and characteristics of the stalking incidents themselves (such as form, intensity, and escalation). Participants (N = 500+) will be provided vignettes that vary in accordance with our variables of interest. They will be asked to assess the scenarios and identify specific points at which they would identify the behaviours as stalking, fear-inducing, and when they would seek police intervention. We anticipate that participants who have not been stalked will fail to recognize harassing behaviours and may only view stalking as such when it involves frequent, intense, and physical episodes. That said, those with lived experience related to stalking may vary more, with the possibility of lowered recognition of stalking cues (as depictions may differ from personal experience) or greater sensitivity to stalking cues and earlier identification. Empirical studies on how stalking is perceived remain limited, despite widespread implications for victims, support, and criminal justice.
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    Lateralization of facial emotion recognition in the human cerebellum: a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) study
    (2023) Slade, Sophia A.; Striemer, Christopher
    The cerebellum, one of the oldest structures in the nervous system, is well-known for the important role it plays in the coordination and timing of movement. However, there has been a paradigm shift with recent clinical, neuroimaging, and experimental research suggesting that the cerebellum also plays a role in higher-order cognitive functions such as attention and emotion. The substantial increase in research regarding the cerebellum's ability for emotional processing has indicated that it may be particularly adept at recognizing and processing negative facial expressions (e.g., fear, anger, sadness). Previous research using functional brain imaging and patients with cerebellar brain injuries provide some evidence of cerebellar lateralization, with the left cerebellum being more specialized for processing emotions than the right. To examine this, we delivered transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the left cerebellum of 67 healthy participants, randomly assigned to a tDCS condition (anodal, cathodal, or sham), and had them complete a facial emotion recognition task pre-tDCS, during-tDCS, and post-tDCS. Anodal and cathodal cerebellar tDCS did not significantly alter participant reaction time and accuracy. Participants did get faster, less variable, and more accurate over time, especially for positive emotions (happy), compared to negative emotions (angry and sad). However, due to relatively limited research examining the role of the cerebellum in emotion processes, and the limitations of the current study, we cannot say for certain why there were no effects of tDCS.
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    Individual differences in inhibitory control: the associations between the “automatic pilot,” executive function, and executive attention
    (2023) Otte, Branden; Striemer, Christopher
    Research has demonstrated that the visuomotor system can rapidly correct ongoing movements following abrupt changes in a target's location. These “online corrections” can precede conscious awareness, and can occur even when participants are instructed not to correct. This “automatic pilot” is controlled by the dorsal visual stream, which plays a critical role in visually guided actions. These inadvertent corrections commonly occur during the Automatic Pilot Task – a procedure sensitive to errors in movement inhibition. Response inhibition is a component of executive function, which is governed, in part, by the right inferior frontal cortex, and a series of fronto-basal-ganglia networks. Response inhibition, however, is not a unitary construct, and has various facets. It is currently unclear whether the mechanisms that inhibit automatic movement corrections in the dorsal stream share common cognitive and neural substrates with other aspects of executive attention or executive function. Therefore, this study will investigate whether unintended corrections in the Automatic Pilot Task are related to other measures of executive attention, such as the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) and the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ), as well as measures of executive function such as the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS), and the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function for Adults (BRIEF-A). If the mechanisms that inhibit the “automatic pilot” share common substrates with executive attention and executive control, then increases in unintended corrections in the Automatic Pilot Task should be associated with increased errors on the SART, and poorer scores on the ASRS, CFQ, and BRIEF-A.
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    Parasocial relationships and materialism in the media: the moderating role of motivation
    (2023) Woods, Emily; Watson, David
    The literature has identified a positive relationship between materialism and social media intensity, as well as between materialism and celebrity worship. However, the literature on the relationship between materialism and parasocial relationships needs to be more thorough. Parasocial relationships are characterized by the one-sided online relationship audience members experience with media influencers, and materialism is when individuals hold values that prioritize image, popularity, making a lot of money, and having a lot of possessions. Previous studies have identified how materialism is related to the processes engaged in during extensive media consumption, as well as the attitudes involved in the increase in materialism as a function of celebrity worship, particularly envy. This study is aimed at expanding on a recently developed social comparison framework and determining whether the differing attitudes consumers hold regarding the fortunes-of-influencers (FOI) and their differing motivations behind media usage (process and social) are related to parasocial relationship intensity (PSI) and resulting materialistic outcomes. We will employ a correlational analysis using a sample of MacEwan first year students, the majority of which aged 18-24, who report frequent activity on social media, assessing the relationship between social comparison engagement, social media processes, FOI, PSI, and materialistic outcomes. The results and conclusion will be reported at a later date once the data has been collected.
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    Examining anxiety sensitivity, metacognitions, and anxiety symptoms
    (2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Penney, Alexander
    Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined by chronic, distressing worry regarding multiple areas of a person’s life. One thought pattern that is known to contribute to GAD symptoms is anxiety sensitivity (AS). AS can be thought of as the fear of anxiety and its consequences. Two other thought patterns that contribute to GAD are positive beliefs about worry (PBW) and negative beliefs about worry (NBW). PBW refers to beliefs that worry is a positive tool for things like problem solving. NBW refers to beliefs that worrying is harmful or uncontrollable. While both PBW and NBW are related to GAD, NBW’s relationship is much stronger. In Fall 2022, I conducted a study that examined how PBW and NBW interact with AS to contribute to GAD. Given NBW’s much stronger relationship with GAD than PBW, I predicted that only NBW would interact with AS to contribute to GAD symptoms. Data from 573 student self-reports showed that AS, NBW, and PBW all independently related to GAD without relying on one another. However, these findings may have been affected by an abnormally anxious student sample. Given this, a second running of this study with a non-student sample is planned, which will additionally examine how fears of uncertain future events, as well as tendencies to experience negative emotions, are associated with GAD. While these preliminary findings were unexpected, they provide a valuable foundation for future research, and may be relevant to understanding how different thought patterns can contribute to the same disorder.
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    A comparison of student achievement across pedagogical modalities
    (2023) Bown, Erica; Moscicki, Michele
    Recent research provides evidence that students’ active participation in course activities creates stronger connections and enables deeper levels of information processing and learning compared to passive teaching and learning methods (Nurbavliyev et al., 2022). The present study investigated the relationship between active and passive learning across different pedagogical modalities and its effect on academic performance. We hypothesized that students in the active learning group would perform better academically than students in the passive learning group. Participants were students enrolled in hybrid or in-person PSYC 105 courses at MacEwan University. Our sample size for our analyses related to academic performance included 24 participants, 14 from the active group and 10 from the passive group. Our sample size for our correlational analyses included 97 participants. Throughout the semester, participants in the active condition completed activities and participants in the passive condition heard a lecture. Academic performance was measured based on participants’ performance on eight standardized multiple-choice questions embedded into each class's midterm and final exams, and overall midterm and final exam grades. We also investigated if certain student characteristics moderate the effect of activities on retention. Participants filled out questionnaire items assessing personality, self-regulation, procrastination, and test anxiety. Our results showed that students in the active learning condition performed better than those in the passive learning condition. We also found a moderately positive relationship between procrastination and test anxiety, and neuroticism and test anxiety. These results illustrate the potential benefits of universities offering more opportunities for active learning on students’ academic performance.
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    Does a growth mindset reduce procrastination and perfectionism?
    (2023) Bown, Erica; Moscicki, Michele
    Research has consistently found a positive relationship between fear of failure (FoF) and both perfectionism and procrastination, which are both positively correlated with stress. Many university students report high levels of perfectionism, procrastination, and stress; thus, interventions to help reduce these characteristics are needed. Individuals who have a growth mindset (GM) are more likely to view challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and grow rather than as obstacles. The present study investigated the effect of a GM intervention on procrastination and negative perfectionism. We hypothesized that students who received the GM intervention would report lower procrastination due to FoF and lower negative perfectionism than students who did not receive the GM intervention. In Part 1, all participants completed questionnaires assessing personality, stress, perfectionism, procrastination, and GM. Participants in the GM intervention group were shown a video and infographic about GM and its benefits and were sent reminder emails about the benefits of GM once a week for four weeks. After four weeks, participants completed all measures again. Our results show that the GM intervention failed to produce any significant changes in GM, negative perfectionism, and procrastination due to FoF. We further show positive relationships between stress and both procrastination due to FoF and negative perfectionism. Future research will investigate a more effective GM intervention. Our results confirm that university students’ stress is highly associated with negative perfectionism and procrastination due to FoF and that students may benefit from stress reduction methods that specifically target perfectionism and FoF.
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    Language effects on emotion recognition in adult listeners
    (2023) Badiru, Monisola; Vongpaisal, Tara
    In an increasingly multicultural society, perception and understanding of emotions expressed by talkers across different languages are important for meaningful and effective social communication. The purpose of this study is to examine language effects on listeners’ ability to recognize emotions, specifically in individuals who speak English as their first language. Adult participants listened to sentences spoken in English and Yorùbá and identified whether the talker was happy, sad, angry, or neutral. Tonal languages such as Yorùbá are characterized by more variance in pitch compared to stress-based languages such as English. Therefore, we predicted that adult participants whose first language is English will have more difficulty recognizing emotions in Yorùbá than in English. The findings of this study will have implications in expanding our knowledge about the perception of emotions in different language contexts. It will also help us understand language effects on emotion recognition in other special populations, including children impacted by hearing loss.