Monthly Archives: November 2021

Joey’s Master’s Thesis Update

Second-year Master’s student, Joey Rhodes, recently presented updates on his Master’s thesis titled Understanding cultural differences in behavior during a global pandemic. Based on the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and previous research on cultural values, he aims to examine the differences in precautionary behavior between those who identify as either more collectivistic or individualistic. Joey also mentioned using this research to understand the best methods of promoting precautionary behavior among different cultural populations. Findings may also shed light on the possible adverse effects of social distancing on depression and suicidal idealization.

The online survey created for the study, which includes various measures on self-perceived independence, interpersonal values, individualism and collectivism, and dichotomous thinking, has been used to collect data from both American and Japanese samples. Joey is currently working on preliminary data analysis for the American sample and plans on testing his hypotheses soon with both samples. An implication of the current study could be a newfound insight into the individual priorities of those from different cultural backgrounds during a global pandemic and how that influences their actions under the COVID-19. The current study could also inspire research on the role of precautionary and prosocial behaviors beyond the scope of a pandemic to see how our cultural identities influence our interactions with others on a daily basis. Great work, Joey, we are excited to hear more!

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Lazo’s Article Presentation

First-semester undergraduate lab member, Lazo Dordeski, recently gave a thought-provoking presentation on an article titled Perceived Neighborhood Violence and Crime, Emotion Regulation, and PTSD Symptoms Among Justice-Involved, Urban African-American Adolescent Girls.

The purpose of the study was to examine how perceived neighborhood violence and crime (NVC) and emotion regulation (ER) and their effects on one another influence the participants’ PTSD symptoms over time. Researchers also were interested in how these relationships acted following the participants’ release from detention facilities.

NVC has been linked to poor life outcomes, delinquency, and a variety of internalizing and externalizing issues, and more. It also disproportionately affects African American youth in urban areas, with a subpopulation of justice-involved African-American adolescent girls for which the interaction between NVC and PTSD symptoms appears to be particularly strong. Dysfunctional ER strategies are linked to the development of many issues related to justice-involved AA youth and may elevate the adverse impact of an individual’s environment.

The sample was made up of 85 female participants aged 13-17 years old. The researchers surveyed Perceived Neighborhood Violence and Crime, measures of ER, PTSD symptoms, and their history with trauma/adverse experience immediately after their release and again three months later. Results for main and interaction effects indicated that perceived NVC and dysfunctional ER were positively associated with PTSD symptoms post-release. The participants who reported high levels of perceived NVC reported more severe PTSD symptoms when engaging in more internal dysfunctional ER strategies. This result specifically suggests the need for interventions targeted towards female adolescents reporting high levels of NVC and internal dysfunctional ER, because they may be more vulnerable to developing PTSD.

Lazo made some very insightful conclusions from his literature review and understanding of the justice system. He highlighted the need for interventions and research to take a community perspective approach because of the strong influence perceived NVC appears to have on PTSD symptoms post-release. Community interventions could protect vulnerable justice-involved adolescents once they come back to their neighborhoods. Another significant point Lazo made was the push for more intersectionality in research on these topics, to help generalize results and broaden the reach of interventions to vulnerable populations. Great work, Lazo!

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Victoria’s Senior Thesis

Kicking off the Fall 2021 semester, Victoria Kaznowski presented on the initiation of her research project, Mechanisms Driving the Nature and Psychological Well-Being Relationship: Mindfulness and Connection to Nature Intervention. Previous research has discovered a positive significant relation between nature and well-being. It has been proven that 10 to 20 minutes of being outside in a natural area benefits college students’ mental health. Expanding upon the established research, the purpose of the Mindfulness and Connection to Nature Intervention study was to design a nature intervention to investigate the nature well-being relationship (NWBR). The research study will examine changes in psychological well-being and emotional perceptions through nature exposure. Mindfulness and connectedness to nature will be evaluated as mechanisms in the NWBR through manipulation.

Oakland University’s Biological Preserve is being used for the nature intervention. To reduce COVID-19 risk, it is a self-guided intervention. The goal is to recruit a total of 90 students to participate. Participants must be 18 years or older, have access to a mobile device with internet access, and can walk a half-mile with regular nature exposure. They will be completing a pre- and post-test. The intervention is currently taking place with time slots available every day of the week during daylight hours. There is a one-participant limit per time slot. The procedure includes a pre-study screening survey, pre-test, 15-minutes following instructions of the assigned conditions, and a post-test. Surveys will be taken through Qualtrics via mobile device.

Earlier on in the semester, Victoria gave a “Step-Back” presentation to propose her project to fellow lab members and brainstorm tasks to assign for intervention groups and details for the logistics of a self-guided intervention. Many of the ideas worked through by the group contributed to her final study design.

Hypothesis one predicts nature exposure with heightened mindfulness and connection to nature will show increased positive affect and decreased negative affect, the highest mindfulness/connection to nature across all groups, and the lowest stress across all groups. Hypothesis two predicts that nature exposure with decreased mindfulness and connection to nature will show decreased positive affect and increased negative affect, the lowest mindfulness/connections to nature across all groups, and the highest stress across all groups. Lastly, hypothesis three predicts participants will report different perceptions of emotions from the pretest to the posttest.

The Mindfulness and Connection to Nature Intervention project might add support for mindfulness and connectedness to nature as mechanisms in the nature and well-being relationship. Another possible implication is providing evidence to strengthen the clinical utility of nature exposure being used in psychological treatment. Victoria also hopes the study might aid in proposing the Biological Preserves as an on-campus nature mental health resource for students.

In fact, we just heard that Victoria’s project got awarded for the Provost Undergraduate Research Award! It is a huge achievement. Congratulations, Victoria!

We are looking forward to your findings. Keep up the great work!

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