Monthly Archives: March 2023

Avery’s Article Presentation

Avery Machuk, a new member this semester, presented a research article to the members of the FF-PTG lab. The article titled “The Protective Effect of Agency on Victims of Humiliation” investigated if agency and emotions can influence the effects humiliation can have on an individual after an embarrassing experience.

In order to understand this topic we have to define some terms. Agency in this case is the ability of an individual to actively respond back to an individual. If someone is the cause of the humiliation one is feeling, and the person can confront them about it afterward, this would be considered a high agency. Being able to confront the person who humiliated you in this way may decrease feelings of internalization; when an individual takes what someone says and begins to think that way about themselves as well. Previous research also observed agency having connections with self-esteem; an important factor in how one might respond to humiliation. The researchers hypothesized that if victims of humiliation could respond to the perpetrator of the humiliation in an agentic way then the negative emotional effects associated with the humiliation would be diminished. They also tested whether the hostility of the humiliation would affect the emotions felt, such as anger and shame, and the internalization of the humiliation.

They tested this hypothesis through a series of experiments. The first experiment asked individuals to self-report their feelings based on a humiliating scenario they were asked to think about as if they had experienced it. They were then divided among those who did or did not confront the perpetrator of the humiliating scenario and recorded what their responses would be. In the second and third experiments, the participants were put into potentially humiliating scenarios. The participant answered questions to the best of their ability and the researcher, regardless of correct their answer was, told them they were wrong. This response from the researcher could either be hostile or non-hostile. In experiment two the participants could not respond (non-agentic) while in the third the participants could (agentic). The results showed significantly lower feelings of shame, humiliation, and internalization in the agency condition compared to the non-agentic condition. Experiments 2 and 3 showed mixed results with internalization and humiliation both being lower in the agentic condition, but not shame.

The results showed that agency can have some effects in alleviating the negative emotional effects of humiliation. The hypotheses were supported to varying degrees. Several limitations exist in this experiment, including the first experiment being solely based on self-reports. The experiments were conducted in a lab setting which could have influenced the participants responses. Lastly, the sample was all from the same university so the results should be replicated with different populations to further consolidate the findings. This research can have a positive impact on the world. These application include anti-bullying programs which would encourage standing up against to a bully in a productive way. Research on the subject of humiliation can also decrease the negative feelings experienced by those who experience discrimination. Working to reduce the negative impact a situation can have and empowering those by encouraging responding in a productive way may help as this research demonstrates.

Thank you for sharing your research interests with us Avery, and we are excited to see how this shapes your future projects!

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Lewis’s Thesis Defense Preparation

Lewis Luttrell, a first-year Masters student, has been preparing to defend his thesis on poly-culturalism as a method of increasing intergroup relations. Intergroup relations are the interactions between members of different ethnic or cultural identities. When groups interact in hostile ways this can be described as an intergroup threat. America is experiencing increased intergroup threats currently with many issues regarding racial discrimination, injustice, and civil unrest. That is why researching ways to decrease intergroup threats is more important than ever. Polyculturalism may have practical use in decreasing intergroup threats.

Polyculturalism is an approach to interethnic relations where culture focuses on the shared aspects between different ethnic groups that are all a part of one whole. This method differs from other interethnic ideologies such as colorblindness, where differences between groups are de-emphasized or ignored completely, and multiculturalism, in which each race or ethnicity is individually given attention. What these interethnic theories lack, however, is the influence each group can have on one another. Appreciating these influences that build each culture may better alleviate tension that contributes to intergroup threats. One source of intergroup threat is social dominance orientation. This idea posits that one’s own ethnicity or race is superior to others. This construct has associated with discrimination, prejudice, and intergroup threat. Lewis hopes that by teaching poly-culturalism feelings of threat can be reduced as well as feelings of social dominance. Lewis’s experiment will be conducted online and further investigate the potential benefits of teaching poly-culturalism. The study will also be collecting data over time to pinpoint the direct effects that learning poly-culturalism can have on perceptions of threats.

As some may be aware intergroup relations in the United States is especially tense. Research on topics of intergroup relations will have a significant impact on our society. As Lewis points out, previous programs have been ineffective with some even contributing to bias. Lewis states that if poly-culturalism is successful in reducing threat it could potentially change the ways in which we teach our youth about other cultures. It can also impact our society and how we recognize individuals of different cultures and contribute to reducing future intergroup conflicts.

We are proud of the progress Lewis has made and we wish him luck when it comes to defending his thesis!

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Taylor Elam’s Talk at the OU Graduate Student Conference

Taylor Elam, first year Ph.D. student, recently gave a talk at the OUGSC titled “Shaken by Guilt or Growing with Confidence: Positive and Negative self-evaluations during COVID-19.

Elam explains how we all experience trauma whether that is a major life crisis or a natural disaster. When the COVID-19 pandemic came about, many were forced into their homes and even lost people close to us. These types of adverse events can cause a disruption in one’s core beliefs (CBD). Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) is defined as the positive psychological changes someone can experience as a result of trauma. This all connects to guilt and confidence through the aim of this study: To examine individual state emotions of guilt and confidence at the beginning of COVID-19, and their associations with CBD and PTG.

Using the Core Belief Inventory (CBI), Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory Expanded (PTGI-X), and the Modified Emotional States Questionnaire, 1000 participants over the age of 18+ with the mean age of 35 were included in this online study. Data was analyzed using a one-way ANOVA. Across the four groups (guilt only, guilt and confidence, confidence only, and neither) there were significant group differences in CBD (f(3,908 = 3.17, p=.02) and PTG (f(3,909 = 6.90, p=.01). The guilt-only group reported more CBD (M=3.35, SD=1.12) than the confident-only group (M=2.92, SD=1.27; p=.02, but the confident-only group reported more PTG (M=2.11, SD=1.28) than guilt-only group (M=1.62, SD=.95; p=.01) and neither guilt or confident group
(M=1.70, SD=1.09; p=.01)

Implications for these findings include providing evidence for the associations that the emotional states have with cognitive processing related to adversity. The findings showed that people who reported more PTG felt more confident, while those whose core beliefs were shaken felt more guilt. Additionally, we are able to use this research for prospective reports during another worldwide traumatic event to analyze current feelings and state emotions. Future directions for this study include possibly looking at influence of current coping mechanisms on state emotions or tipping points that transform guilt into confidence.

Amazing job, Taylor! We are so proud of how far you’ve come and can’t wait to see more!

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Research Series Talk: Amber & Paxton

Undergraduate members of the FF-PTG lab made their debut presenting for the department of psychology during their research talk series. Amber Efthemiou and Paxton Hicks presented their respective topics among other undergraduates in different labs.

Amber’s presentation was about the effects of losing specific loved ones on PTG. Specifically, how loved grandparents could indicate higher rates of PTG and resilience more so than the death of other relatives. The idea behind this is thought to be that those who experience the death of a grandparent may have more of an expectation of their death. If a grandparent dies of old age or health-related conditions this may be more expected than the sudden death of a parent. Participants in the study were divided by the types of death experiences, whether that was a grandparent, anyone other than a grandparent, or multiple deaths (grandparents included). Results showed that there were significant differences between PTG for those experiencing the death of a grandparent and those experiencing the death of someone else. None of the groups differed significantly in resilience. Future research should consider the types of relationships an individual has with any type of relative. Individuals in this study could have been close with their grandparents which made the potential for growing stronger, while others had a distant relationship with an aunt. The types of relationships and their closeness could be a factor in the amount of PTG experienced.

Paxton was able to present an upcoming study that will be conducted. Many of the details cannot be shared but what can be is the study’s focus on prosocial lying. Prosocial lies are those that benefit someone else rather than the teller of a lie. For example, parents who tell their kids that Santa is real are a form of prosocial lying. Telling the kids that Santa is real makes the children happy with little to no benefit to the parent telling the lie. Another example is complimenting a friend’s outfit that you may not like. You tell them it looks good despite your own truthful opinion to not hurt their confidence. Paxton successfully completed an application for the Provost Research Award Grant to get funding which is still being reviewed.

We are excited and proud of your members for presenting some of their work so far! Amber and Paxton were able to share information on topics they are curious about with a larger audience! We look forward to the future of both members’ projects!

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