Taylor’s Article Presentation

First semester undergraduate student, Taylor, recently gave her first article presentation, reflecting her research interests: emotions, deception detection, and behavioral psychology. Taylor chose the article Pathways to Posttraumatic Growth Versus Posttraumatic Stress: Coping and Emotional Reactions Following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks by Crystal L. Park, Carolyn M. Aldwin, Juliane R. Fenster, and Leslie B. Snyder, published in 2008. This study aimed to explore common reports from the American population of both distress and positive outcomes after television exposure of the attacks. The researchers hypothesized that there would be a relationship between coping, emotions, posttraumatic growth (PTG), and posttraumatic stress (PTS). They also hypothesized that positive coping would be more expressive through anger and would, therefore, lead to PTG while negative emotions would be more expressive through depression, leading to PTS following the terrorist attacks. Results showed that the relationship goes both ways. Meaning, emotions influence coping and coping influences emotions. They also found that although anger is often perceived as a negative emotion, it could prompt an individual to seek positive coping skills and potentially lead to PTG. The researchers concluded that the information found in the results shows how growth may be achieved by practicing positive coping skills because of arousal or motivation from anger. Taylor plans to continue researching emotions and behaviors in relation to PTG throughout her time in the lab as well as in her future career goals within behavioral psychology. Great job on your article presentation, Taylor, and good luck with future research!

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Velinka’s Senior Thesis Defense Preparation

Recently, Velinka gave a presentation in preparation for her senior’s thesis defense titled Youth Perceptions of Intergenerational Discordance and Immigrant Well-being. Velinka’s presentation was an update of her honors independent study. She is interested in exploring youth perceptions of acculturation, the process of adapting to a new culture, and individual factors between immigrant youth and their parents after coming to the United States. Velinka has taken a mixed methods approach, using qualitative and quantitative methods, to examine youth-perceived parent-child gaps in acculturation and emotion processing. She is interested in exploring how those gaps affect immigrant youth with varying outcomes, such as acculturative stress, somatic symptoms, depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms, as well as post-traumatic growth (PTG). Findings will contribute to the expanded Acculturation Gap-Distress Model and help clarify the effects of adapting to a new culture at differing rates. This will help provide information for people of all ages who may struggle with acculturating, as well as educators, clinicians and physicians who may assist those individuals. Wonderful job Velinka, and good luck with further research!

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Olivia’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

Congrats to first-year masters student, Olivia, on her successful proposal presentation, which has been approved by the committee. Recently, Olivia presented an overview of her masters thesis proposal titled Pushing Through The Hard Times: Does Growth After Trauma Enhance Creativity in Children. Olivia is interested in analyzing a new topic of creativities’ impacts on children’s abilities to move past trauma’s and experience posttraumatic growth (PTG). She is also interested in seeing if there are environmental and personality factors that play a role in the relationship. Stemming from the Kilmer’s Model, which suggests that creativity plays a indirect role in the push towards growth, Olivia will be looking at direct correlations between PTG and its impact on creativity. As there are only two major studies that examine the relationship between creativity and PTG, both with adult populations, Olivia plans to gather data that will show the need for fostering and encouraging creativity among children and support her prediction that PTG can spark creativity among those who experience it. We are very excited about Olivia’s work and wish her the best of luck!

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Dr. Kanako Taku’s Videos

To start off the new year, Dr. Taku has started a YouTube page! In her first video post, she defines posttraumatic growth (PTG).

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Moving forward, she plans to elaborate on various topics related to PTG and our research. Some of these topics include: what we have found so far by using the PTGI-X, how PTG may be different from resiliency, how we define PTG and illusory growth in our research, how PTG is related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and much more!

You can access her first video by clicking the picture below or under our new tab titled Video in the Menu bar at the top right corner. You can also stay up-to-date with her videos by subscribing to her YouTube page, under “Kanako Taku”. We hope you enjoy it!

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Alex’s Manuscript Presentation

Second year undergraduate lab member, Alex, recently presented an outline for a manuscript that he, Velinka, and Dr. Taku are writing. This is Alex’s second manuscript. He is principal investigator of an ongoing study titled, Survey About Images of Psychosomatic Disorder or Posttraumatic Growth.He began the presentation by providing  an overview of a previous manuscript that was focused on individual differences in attitudes and perceptions towards posttraumatic growth (PTG) and illusory growth.  Findings from that part of the study showed that, overall, participants can distinguish between the two different growth types: PTG and illusory growth. They also tend to relate more to narratives reflecting PTG rather than illusory growth. The second manuscript addresses how relatability to a trauma narrative may affect PTG. Specifically, it addressed whether being able to relate to the type of trauma would elucidate a stronger relationship between relatability and self-reported PTG. Alex suggests that the results will provide great insight for social support groups and intervention where the focus is on sharing stories and traumatic events with groups to foster personal growth. Moving forward, Alex plans to further decipher which aspects of the stories are most relatable and potentially try to replicate the study using different trauma narratives. Future studies will then clarify whether relatability to different traumatic events brings about different self-reports of PTG. Great job, Alex, and good luck with future research!

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The PTG Lab Welcomes a New Member

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Welcome to Taylor Elam, our new undergraduate research assistant! Taylor is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology. She joined the lab due to her interest in behavioral psychology and wanted to learn about how people grow after being faced with adversity. During her time in the lab, Taylor plans to study various aspects of PTG, especially how decision-making may improve or decline after experiencing PTG and how an individual’s behavior, in relation to body language and micro-expressions, may change after experiencing PTG as well. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for behavioral psychology. Taylor can be reached at telam@oakland.edu.

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Closing out 2018 with Great News

As 2018 comes to a close, the PTG Lab is excited to share that three lab members have been awarded the Provost Research Award! Congratulations to Whitney and Jess for being awarded the Provost Graduate Student Research Award and to Velinka for being awarded the Provost Undergraduate Research Award!

Vel_Jess_Whitney Photo (for Provost Award)In order to be considered for the award, students are required to develop a detailed research proposal and submit it to OU’s Research Office by early October. The awards reflect considerable support for the hard work put into each of the studies. Whitney plans to travel to Hawaii next summer to continue collecting data for her doctoral dissertation titled The Impact of Recreational Wild Dolphin Interactions on Children’s Empathy, Emotion Regulation, Perceived Social Support, and Knowledge of Dolphin Welfare. Jess will continue to work on her master’s thesis titled  Redefining Negative Personality Traits and Coping Techniques After Impacts of Stress and Trauma. Velinka will continue to recruit participants and collect data for her senior’s thesis project titled Youth Perceptions of Intergenerational Discordance and Immigrant Well-being. Good luck to Whitney, Jess, and Velinka as they continue to make strides with their studies!

The PTG Lab is thrilled to close out another productive year! As we look toward 2019, we are excited to welcome an incoming new research assistant beginning in the Winter semester and look forward to many research ventures as lab members share their projects at national conferences, develop new research studies, and much more!

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Alvin’s Master Thesis Presentation

Alvin Presentation PhotoSecond year Master’s student Alvin recently presented an update of his research study in preparation for his master’s thesis defense in the 2019 Winter semester. Alvin’s research study is aimed at examining the impact of achievement and resiliency on the relationship between failure experiences and positive and negative outcomes. Through prior literature review, he found that the effects of failure and achievement have not been examined in tandem. He suggests that doing so will provide valuable insight into the unique combined positive and negative effects of a wide range of life experiences. Additionally, Alvin suggests that taking one’s resiliency into account is important when examining the effects of life experiences because, not only can it temper the effect of particular outcomes such as fear of more failure, but it may also affect the degree to which one experiences personal growth or wisdom. As Alvin moves forward with further analyses, we look forward to seeing what he finds. Great job and good luck, Alvin!

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Brooklin’s Article Presentation

Brooklin A.P.First semester undergraduate lab member, Brooklin, recently gave her first article presentation, where she guided the lab through a research article that reflects her research interests. Brooklin is interested in industrial organizational (I/O) psychology, so she decided to choose an article that focused on the workplace. Because there are a limited number of scales that specifically measure resilience within the workplace, Brooklin chose the article Workplace Resilience and the Development of the Work-Related Resilience Scale by Peter Winwood, Rochelle Colon, and Kath McEwen. Researchers hypothesized that their measure of workplace resilience would correlate positively with psychometric measures of measure of recovery (from work demands), engagement at work, physical health, and chronic fatigue and sleep habits. Results showed that acute (end of shift) fatigue due to work demands was moderated by on-the-job-resources, like free lunches and employee enrichment. Additionally, high resilience was seen to be associated with recovery from the acute fatigue and in turn associated with better physical health. Brooklin plans to continue addressing the topic of resilience in the workplace throughout her time in the PTG lab, as well as in her future career in I/O psychology! Fantastic job on your article presentation, Brooklin, and good luck with future research!

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Whitney and Jess’s Lunch Bunch Presentation

Fourth-year PhD student, Whitney Dominick, and second-year master’s student, Jess Kopitz, presented an update of their respective current studies at the most recent Psychology Department’s Lunch Bunch Research Colloquium. The Lunch Bunch hour provides a bi-monthly opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students and faculty to gather and view presentations of current psychological research at Oakland University. The presentation hour is open to all OU students and faculty.

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Whitney shared results from her doctoral dissertation entitled The Impact of Recreational Wild Dolphin Interactions on Children’s Empathy, Emotion Regulation, Perceived Social Support, and Knowledge of Dolphin Welfare. She found that children feel more supported by dolphins if they also feel support from pets & program staff, and that knowledge about dolphin welfare after the program leads to greater perceptions of support a month later. Whitney presented data collected from Hawaii and Florida and plans to continue collecting data over the summer in Hawaii!IMG-2287

Jess presented preliminary results from her master’s thesis entitled Redefining NegativePersonality Traits and Coping Techniques after Impacts of Stress and Trauma.  Jess framed her master’s thesis to deconstruct dichotomous thinking about coping strategies following traumatic experiences. She shared interesting themes from semi-structured interviews, revealing that her participants provided many examples where both traditionally negative coping techniques were crucial to their growth, and traditionally positive coping techniques were harmful or lead to harmful behaviors.

The PTG Lab is extremely proud of Whitney and Jess for representing the lab well with their fascinating research. Both presentations sparked curiosity in the audience and prompted many follow-up questions. Whitney and Jess both did a great job interacting with the audience. We look forward to the completion of each of their studies and further presentations including results! Way to go, Whitney and Jess!

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