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!
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.
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!
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!
On Sunday, November 10th, members of the PTG Lab participated in a fitness fundraising event hosted by the Shelby Jane Seyburn (SJS) Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to support Shelby’s passion of helping others through psychological research and intervention. While she was a student at Oakland University and member of the PTG Lab, Shelby put considerable effort into furthering research of PTG and resiliency in order to help those who struggle in the aftermath of trauma. The foundation honors Shelby’s memory by supporting the work Shelby began during her time at Oakland University as well as supporting psychology students in their research pursuits. To learn more about the SJS Foundation, please visit their website: shelbystrong.life.
The heart of the fitness event was a commemoration of Shelby’s spirit by giving others the opportunity to support the SJS Foundation in a way that reflects Shelby’s other passions — fitness and nutritional health. PTG Lab members were honored to be a part of this exciting event and look forward to joining the SJS Foundation for other events in the future! Shelby would be very proud of her family and friends!
First year master’s student Qandeel recently shared her master’s thesis proposal titled College Cohort of Gender Roles & Sex Roles in Coping Due to Life Adversity and Trauma: Belief and Optimism. Qandeel identified that research which examines sex and gender differences are often inconsistent in their use and assessment of the terms. She explained that stereotypical attitudes about gender still pervade pockets of society (e.g., femininity equated with emotion expression and nurture versus masculinity equated with suppressed emotions and assertiveness). Therefore, Qandeel plans to specifically assess both biological sex and gender through measures of one’s own gender identification, respectively. Doing so will help clarify some of the discrepancies associated with an empirical understanding of the topics. In addition, Qandeel aims to examine how potential sex and gender differences emerge in relation to trauma, optimism, coping, and posttraumatic growth, which could have valuable clinical implication. We are excited to see what she finds. Good luck, Qandeel!
Recently, first year master’s student, Olivia, presented her thesis proposal titled Creativity and Trauma in Children. Creativity is highly valued in the work force, and Olivia is passionate about conducting research that advocates for the prioritization of creative growth in children. She is interested in understanding the impact that creativity has on the process of struggling with a traumatic experience, as well as how trauma can impact creativity. Olivia has identified personality traits that are shared by those who are creative and those who experience a trauma, including neuroticism, openness to new experiences, and extroversion. She plans to use these commonalities to 1.) examine the relationship between trauma and creativity in children 2.) examine the relationship between PTG and creativity in children and 3.) create a connection between the three variables (PTG, trauma, and creativity). As she continues to develop her study, we wish her the best of luck!
First year master’s student Megan recently presented her Master’s Thesis proposal. Megan is interested in examining attitudes and perceptions towards child abuse across generations and cultures. While searching through the literature, Megan identified potentially harmful punishments or treatments towards children that are commonly overlooked, such as refusal to vaccinate or grounding. She suggests that attitudes and perceptions about traditional and non-traditional forms of child abuse will vary depending on age and cultural background and that attitudes about what is acceptable or not acceptable will vary depending on the age and sex of the child. Megan hopes to expand the dialogue about the potential harmful effects of non-traditional forms of child abuse by assessing opinions regarding what should be classified as abuse. We are excited to see how Megan’s study develops. Good luck, Megan!
Fatima is a senior high school student, and this is her first year interning for the PTG lab. Recently, Fatima presented findings from her literature review, titled Relationship Between Social Isolation in Childhood and Health. Fatima sought to examine how active social disengagement affects physical health, mental health, and social attachment. Fatima presented articles addressing the relationship between child abuse and social isolation, age differences of social isolation perception, and to what extent childhood friendships can buffer social isolation. She also looked at how childhood isolation can predict future health by reviewing an article that assessed the effects of social isolation in early childhood on potential mental health problems in adolescence and another article that predicted increased adult inflammation. Fatima learned that there is variation in childhood social isolation and that it may lead to cascading mental and physical health issues. We are impressed with Fatima’s work and hope she continues to pursue her love for behavioral sciences into college!
Recently, Jess presented an overview of her master’s thesis. While reviewing research related to trauma, personality, and coping, Jess identified that traits and psychological constructs are often interpreted from a dichotomous perspective – good/bad, positive/negative – which does not necessarily reflect the reality of one’s lived experiences. Therefore, Jess framed her master’s thesis to deconstruct dichotomous thinking. The purpose of her study is fourfold: 1) to find the link between negative personality traits, maladaptive coping, and trauma, 2) identify adaptive implications of maladaptive coping and negative personality traits, 3) redefine negative personality traits, disorder, and coping in light of trauma, and 4) set the framework to de-pathologize personality disorders, while implementing new interventions for trauma survivors. Jess suggests that maladaptive coping strategies may be used in adaptive ways by individuals with higher levels of negative personality traits, thereby providing ample rationale for a reconsideration of a dichotomous understanding of coping strategies and psychological constructs. She proposes that an optimal balance model would better serve those who struggle in the aftermath of traumatic experiences, both in the short-term and long-term. Jess is currently in the process of collecting data and we look forward to hearing more about her findings. Great job, Jess, and good luck with your research!
For Alex’s second semester research article presentation to the lab, he chose an article with some relation to the research study over which he is principal investigator, entitled A Survey about Images of Psychosomatic Disorder or Posttraumatic Growth. Alex chose an article that was aimed at examining if defensive styles moderate the relationship between well-being and PTG. Defensive styles were categorized as neurotic, immature, and mature defensive styles, with the supposition that neurotic and immature defensive styles are associated with illusory growth, while mature defensive style is associated with authentic PTG. The researchers suggest that level and type of defensive style will provide valuable insight into interpreting self-reports of personal growth. Results revealed that neurotic type of defensive style was associated with self-reports of PTG, which was suggested to indicate the presence of illusory growth. Results also revealed that mature defensive style moderated the relationship between PTG and positive and negative affect, respectively, which the researchers interpreted as support for the moderating effect of defensiveness style on the relationship between PTG and well-being. However, Alex challenged the idea of assigning positive and negative affect as a substitute for well-being, especially after the well-being scale did not yield significant results to support the stated hypothesis. The presentation led to engaging discussion about research design and implementation. Great job, Alex, on a thought-provoking presentation!
The PTG Lab would like to welcome four new members!
Welcome to new graduate student lab member, Olivia! Olivia is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology and a minor in early childhood from the University of Michigan-Flint. She is currently interested in the short term and long-term effects that trauma and abuse can have on children. Additionally, she is interested in creativity and the development of the creative process. She hopes to connect these two interests for her master’s thesis. Olivia got involved with the PTG lab because it compliments her interests and future goals, and she is looking forward to working alongside others with similar interests. She plans to apply what she learns in the PTG lab to a future career as a child psychologist at a children’s hospital. Olivia can be reached at email@example.com.
The PTG Lab also welcomes new graduate student lab member, Megan! Megan is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Flint with minors in early childhood and substance abuse. During her time at Oakland University, she plans to study PTG in those effected by trauma at all ages, especially in children. Megan joined the lab to expand her knowledge of PTG, examine how individuals are affected by trauma over time, and identify different coping methods utilized after trauma. In the future she hopes to work with children who are victims of abuse and neglect in the foster care system. Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PTG Lab would also like to welcome new graduate student lab member, Qandeel! Qandeel is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oakland University. She hopes that the research skills she develops in the PTG Lab will help her with a future career as a clinical psychologist. After completing a master’s degree, Qandeel aspires to obtain a PsyD in clinical psychology and eventually open her own private practice to pursue what she loves. Qandeel can be reach at email@example.com.
Finally, the PTG Lab would like to welcome Brooklin, our new undergraduate research assistant. Brooklin is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology. She became interested in joining the lab because she would like to learn about how posttraumatic growth is relevant to society, at large, and how the construct benefits people on an individual level. During her time in the lab, Brooklin hopes to study many aspects of posttraumatic growth, especially the way it can be fostered in veterans. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for industrial and organizational psychology. Brooklin can be reached at Bmadams234@oakland.edu.