Recently, first year Master’s student Joey, presented a proposal for his master’s thesis titled Understanding the Cultural Differences in Behavior During a Global Pandemic. Joey is interested in examining how social identity influences one’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent depression symptoms. Social identity, within the context of his study, refers to the cultural alignment of individuals, typically expressed as either individualistic or collectivistic at the most basic understanding. Individualism is typically reflective of western cultures, and describes individuals who are autonomous and independent, prioritizing their own personal goals above those in-group. Collectivism on the other hand, describes individuals who are interdependent, and prioritize the goals of their in-group over their own personal goals. Therefore, Joey predicts that collectivist individuals will be more likely to engage in prosocial behavior (such as wearing a mask and social distancing) than individualists. He also hypothesizes that collectivistic individuals will be more likely to experience greater depression and suicide ideation, in that individuals who align with the collectivist social identity will suffer more from experiencing social isolation due to procedures put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joey plans to test his hypotheses by studying samples in America as well as Japan. The main goal of his research is to establish and understand the relationships between individuals’ perceived social identities and their prosocial behavior, or lack thereof, in response to COVID-19. Once relationships between culture and behavior are established, Joey would like to investigate what information is most persuasive in promoting prosocial behavior for individuals in different cultures. Awesome work Joey, we can’t wait to receive updates!
First semester undergraduate lab member Emily gave a presentation on the article Prevalence and predictors of burnout in Swiss farmers. The study examined burnout within farmers, whose work heavily overlaps with family and personal life. Specifically, the authors aimed to analyze the effects of stress, personal, and social factors on burnout, predicting that both situational and personal-specific predictors would relate to individual differences in burnout. The majority of the situation stressor variables correlated with burnout. For both men and women, lack of free-time had the strongest correlation with burnout, in addition to time pressure, which was a strong correlate within men. Additionally, there were strong correlations with burnout for women who reported more frequent work-family conflict, and being responsible for farm administration, while for men, both poor health status and work-family conflict were strong correlates with burnout.
After conducting multivariate analysis, the authors found that work-family conflict, personality, and social support most strongly influence burnout. Additionally, high job and home demands were found to be the main contributors to burnout, as well as social isolation in the farmers. The results indicate that in agricultural professions, in which spillover between professional and personal life occurs, family and social support may be more important factors in preventing the burnout that occurs. Emily believes this research will be a good segue into future research examining burnout in other professions that are understudied. She believes the results of this study may also have applications to people working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Good work Emily! We can’t wait to see more of your work!
First year master’s student, Kolton, recently gave a presentation for his master’s thesis proposal titled Victim-Perpetrator Overlap and PTG. Kolton wants to study Victim Perpetrator Overlap (VPO) in college students, in which a victim of a problematic behavior (abuse, violence, etc.) becomes a perpetrator of the same problematic behavior. Stress and trauma due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to more frequent instances of being victimized or engage in problematic behaviors, because students may be forced to go home to abusers or poor home environments that could be otherwise escaped by living on-campus. Furthermore, the pandemic has limited social circles and access to mental health resources, which may contribute to increased VPO.
Some literature indicates that perpetrators are capable of experiencing PTG, especially if they were originally a victim of trauma or abuse. Therefore, Kolton wants to investigate whether or not someone who experienced PTG will go on to become a perpetrator. He predicts that people who experience PTG will be less likely become a perpetrator. Additionally, he predicts that compared to participants who start with questions regarding being a perpetrator, those who first answer questions about being a victim will be less likely to report instances of being a perpetrator. Great job Kolton, we look forward to hearing more about your thesis!
Second semester undergraduate member, Emilee, recently gave her presentation on the article titled Crushing Hope: Short Term Responses to Tragedy Vary by Hopefulness published by Jason Fletcher in 2018. The article examines the relationship between optimism or hopefulness and experiences of trauma using a previous study’s sample of students from 1995. The study, ADD health, was administered through surveys in different waves from 1995 up until 2008. Given that the study coincided with the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, Fletcher determined if participants experienced a traumatic event based on whether or not they took their survey before or after 9/11/2001. Fletcher hypothesized that individuals with high levels of hopefulness will: 1.) be less likely to cope with trauma and 2.) experience higher levels of depressive symptoms after a traumatic event. Results showed a large impact on participants exposed to 9/11 only for those who reported “a lot” and “always” levels of hopefulness, supporting the hypothesis.
In addition to her analysis of the article, Emilee’s presentation covered a set of hypotheses she prepared for her Honors College Thesis regarding a similar idea on the topic of resilience and the possible detrimental effects it may have on individuals. In her future analysis, Emilee predicts that participants who are highly resilient will report a lower probability of negative life events happening to themselves – the reverse being true when evaluating a hypothetical other person experiencing the same event. Great work Emilee, we are looking forward to your future findings!