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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Velinka recently gave her Senior’s Thesis presentation titled “Youth Perceptions of Intergenerational Discordance and Immigrant Well-being”. Velinka is interested in studying acculturation, the process of adapting to a new culture, and how differing rates of acculturation between immigrant youth and their parents can lead to family tension and potential youth distress and maladjustment. This explanation of immigrant youth distress is known as the Acculturation Gap Distress model and has been expanded to take into account intergenerational, contextual, and individual differences. Velinka plans to take a mixed methods approach to examine youth-perceived parent-child gaps and assess their relation to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic growth (PTG), and somatic symptoms in immigrant youth. This is an exploratory study designed to quantitatively and qualitatively examine the role of perceived gaps between immigrant parent and child in acculturation and emotion processing and awareness on youth distress and to explore if stress related to perceived parent-child discrepancies leads to PTG. Velinka hopes to contribute to the Acculturation Gap-Distress Model, clarify the relationship between gap-distress-related stress and PTG, and provide information to educators, clinicians and physicians to assist those who struggle with immigration. We are excited to see what Velinka finds!
Whitney recently presented her dissertation proposal entitles “Psychological Growth, Distress, and Educational Impact of Dolphins and Dolphin Assisted Therapy in Children”. Whitney’s research is divided into three studies. The first study will examine the effect of a Wild Swim-With-Dolphins program on several variables of children including posttraumatic growth, social support, emotion regulation, and more. For the second study, she plans to empirically examine the impact of wild DAT on psychological factors among children, document physiological change across program using heart rate, and assess participant & guardian perceptions of the program. For the third study, Whitney will collect data from a Captive-Swim-With-Dolphins programs. She plans to assess the impact of physical touch with dolphins, assess emotion regulation, social support, and empathy changes, and assess conservation behavior and attitudes in children from the dolphin interaction. Upon completing these three studies, Whitney will be able to address the relationship between posttraumatic growth and dolphin interactions, compare captive versus wild swim-with-dolphin programs, and determine the mechanisms of effective animal assisted therapies with the goal of developing clinical interventions. Whitney has been collecting data and plans to continue next spring and summer! Good luck Whitney!
Several PTG lab members recently had the opportunity to travel to San Fransisco, California and present their studies at the 126th meeting of the American Psychological Association from August 9th-12th.
Jenna, Alvin, and Dr. Taku developed a poster presentation of their project, titled Impact of Life Events and Stressors Related to Posttraumatic Growth. The aim of the study was to investigate how how particular life stressors (e.g., death of a loved one, academic issues) would relate to specific PTG domains (i.e., Appreciation of Life, Relating to Others, Personal Strength). Alvin did a great job presenting their work. Jenna also worked on another project with Dr. Taku and Dr. Matthew McLarnon, title Resiliency, Posttraumatic Growth, and Growth Motivation in U.S. Military Personnel, in which they examined the relationship between two perspectives of resiliency and their relations to growth motivation and posttraumatic growth. Dr. Taku presented the poster on behalf of the group. Jess presented the project she worked on with Lauren and Dr. Taku, titled The Influence of Dark Triad Personality Traits on Perceived Trauma. The purpose of the study was to assess how certain aspects of the Dark Triad influence an individual’s perception of a most impactful event when multiple events are experienced.
Jess and Velinka presented their project with Dr. Taku, titled The Relationship Between Interpersonal Stressors, the Dark Triad, and PTG. The purpose of their study was to examine how the relationship between individuals with Dark Triad traits and PTG changes depending on types of interpersonal stressors. Lastly, Lauren, Velinka, and Dr. Taku developed a project titled How Narratives of Authentic and Illusory Growth are Perceived. The purpose of the study was to assess differences in perceptions of authentic and illusory growth through the use of narrative vignettes.
APA 2018 proved to be another rewarding experience and even allowed for the opportunity meet Dr. Taku’s colleague and friend, Dr. Jane Shakespeare-Finch who traveled from Australia. Overall, lab members were excited for another opportunity to share their work and learn about research being conducted around the world.