Monthly Archives: April 2020

Taylor’s Research Study Proposal

Recently, third semester undergraduate student, Taylor, presented her proposal for an independent research study titled, Individual Differences in Emotion Recognition: Examining the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Growth, Empathy, Personality, & Facial Expression Recognition. Based on previous research conducted, Taylor is interested in looking at the relationship between posttraumatic growth (PTG) and emotion recognition ability (ERA) and how the Five Factor Model personality traits of: agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness to experiences, and extraversion may moderate this relationship. Taylor aims for her research to help aid in understanding the ways that PTG can impact day-to-day communications and individual’s interpretations of them. With her research, Taylor hopes to point towards the possibility of promoting PTG in trauma victims that suffer from mental disorders to improve their ERA. This will, in turn, positively impact daily social interactions, aid in creating healthier relationships, and increase success in professional domains. Great work Taylor, we can’t wait to learn more from your study!

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Brooklin’s Michigan Academy & MOM Presentation

Second year undergraduate lab member, Brooklin, recently gave her last presentation in the lab, as she will be graduating this semester. Brooklin presented her analyses for one of the lab’s current studies, Survey using Vignettes, in preparation for the Michigan Academy and the Meetings of Minds conferences. Her presentation for Michigan Academy examined the relationship between resilience and optimism among college students, by utilizing different measures of optimism. Uniquely, one of the optimism scales measured how participants rated and adjusted their probabilities of experiencing various life events. The results confirmed the positive correlation between resilience and optimism measures, but indicate that controllable events show greater correlation to resilience in comparison to events that happen at random. For Meetings of Minds, Brooklin further explored these scales, measuring if resilience correlates with optimism and having the perception of control over events in life. Her presentation highlighted the overlap between traits of resilience and optimism, and she plans to analyze the events to see, of those participants, who did not change their scores and determine whether they are low or high in optimism. Great Job Brooklin, you worked hard this semester! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish at University of Detroit Mercy next year, good luck!!

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Congrats Whitney!

Recently, fifth-year PhD lab member, Whitney, successfully defended her dissertation titled, The Impact of Dolphins on Children’s Mental Health: Longitudinal Analyses of Three Interaction Programs. Whitney conducted 3 separate studies where she analyzed (1) the impact of swimming with wild dolphins and whale watching on the psychological factors of children, (2) the impact of Wild Dolphin Assisted Therapy on children, and (3) the impact of differing lengths of captive dolphin interaction programs on children’s mental health and educational variables.

For the first study, she predicted that psychological factors such as social support, emotion regulation, empathy, posttraumatic growth (PTG), sense of awe, and knowledge of dolphin welfare would increase over time and show a greater change in participants of the dolphin condition rather than the whale watching condition. For study 1, she also predicted that the childrens’ heart rate would decrease more in the swim-with-dolphin condition than the whale watching condition. Whitney found that emotion regulation, sense of awe, and PTG changed over time for the children but more so in the whale watching conditions than the swim-with-dolphin condition, partially supporting her prediction. She also found that heart rate remained stable in the swim-with-dolphin condition and decreased in the whale-watching condition, not supporting her prediction.

For the second study, Whitney predicted that heart rate would decrease over the span of the 5-day program for the children along with stress levels. Meanwhile, she predicted that the childrens’ comfort in water and positive emotions would increase over the span of the program. Lastly, she predicted that the program would be perceived as enjoyable, as well as, helpful among the participants, and those feelings would carry on at least one month later after the program ended. Her results showed that heart rate decreased for some of the participants over the span of the program, partially supporting her prediction. She also found that stress and anxiety levels also decreased for some of the children, partially supporting her prediction. Overall, the children found the program to be enjoyable and helpful, fully supporting her prediction.

For Whitney’s third study, she predicted that educational and psychological variables would increase over the span of the program and continue for one month after. She predicted that the programs with a longer time duration would be more effective than the shorter programs. Along with that, she predicted that time touching the dolphins would influence the impact that the dolphin interactions had on the children, assuming that the more time touching the dolphins, the greater the changes will be. Lastly, Whitney predicted the children would find the program enjoyable and helpful. Her results showed that swimming with captive dolphins can aid with emotion regulation, knowledge of dolphin welfare, and heart rate but there is little long-term impact. She found that there were no significant differences between the program length’s effect on the children, except when it came to the perceived support from the parents. More time touching the dolphins did correspond with higher knowledge of dolphin welfare and overall, the participants found the dolphin interactions to be entertaining and enjoyable.

Overall, Whitney’s research shows that dolphin interactions programs are more than just fun, they can help with learning about the dolphins, increasing feelings of calm while decreasing stress and anxiety, and they provide feelings of social support. Her research leaves a lasting impact on considering dolphin interactions as a means of therapy for children undergoing stressful life experiences and daily hardships. Whitney has dedicated a significant amount of time and energy into her research, providing amazing results! We can’t wait to see what you plan to do next! Good luck, Whitney, and awesome job!

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Congrats Olivia!

Recently, second-year Master’s student, Olivia, successfully defended her master’s thesis titled, Challenges are Meant to be Overcome: A Sense of Growth as One Predictor of Children’s Creativity. The study analyzes the relationships between Posttraumatic Growth (PTG), Creativity, and Personal growth among children (8 – 11 years of age) and impacts of environmental factors and caregiver roles on creativity. Olivia found that creativity is positively correlated with both PTG and personal growth with her participants. The children who expressed having faced a challenge in life had higher levels of creativity than those who did not express having a challenge. As hypothesized, results indicated that the participants levels of extraversion significantly predicted creativity.

On the contrary, caregivers levels of extraversion had no significant effect, indicating that levels of creativity may have more to do with the children personality types regardless of their parents personality type’s influence on the children. It was also found that the various levels of the “openness” personality trait of the children and caregiver play no significant role on the children’s level of creativity. These results indicate that for those who experience hardships or challenges, it is possible that growth can be experienced greater when creative avenues are used regularly, along with allowing children to express themselves in ways that follow their personality traits. Wonderful work Olivia, we have been so excited and amazed by the work you have done over the last two years! We are excited to see what comes next for you!

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Congrats Q!

Second year master’s student, Qandeel, recently and successfully, defended her master’s thesis titled, The Roles of Femininity, Masculinity and Androgyny in Female College Students Coping with Adversity, Optimism, and Posttraumatic Growth. Q examined the masculinity, femininity, and androgyny of college-aged females, both in America and Pakistan, in regard to their ability to overcome struggles and remain optimistic. She was interested in determining whether levels of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny had any effect on females who have endured traumatic and stressful life events.

She predicted that (1) feminine females in Pakistan would have lower optimism levels than feminine females in America. With this, she believed that androgynous females from both countries would have the highest optimism levels overall. She also predicted that (2) femininity and optimism levels would significantly predict higher posttraumatic growth (PTG) levels following a traumatic event. Lastly, she predicted that (3) Americans would rank their female participants as first having first masculine, feminine, and then androgynous traits while Pakistan would rank their females as first having feminine, androgynous, and then masculine traits. Q’s results showed some significance altogether. She found that androgynous females have higher levels of optimism than feminine females in America and that femininity and PTG had a positive relationship. Lastly, Q found that Pakistan does rank their females in the order of having first feminine, androgynous, and then masculine traits. Overall, Q’s study allows societies from different cultures to see that females can be feminine, masculine, and androgynous. Through her study, Q was able to reveal the effect that feminine, masculine, and androgynous traits can have on an individual’s PTG and optimism beliefs after going through hardships. With these findings, therapeutic interventions can begin to be put in place for those who have experienced negative events and the interventions can be tailored to their gender identification. Congratulations Q! You did a great job and we are very proud of you!

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