First semester undergraduate lab member, Brooklin, recently gave her first article presentation, where she guided the lab through a research article that reflects her research interests. Brooklin is interested in industrial organizational (I/O) psychology, so she decided to choose an article that focused on the workplace. Because there are a limited number of scales that specifically measure resilience within the workplace, Brooklin chose the article Workplace Resilience and the Development of the Work-Related Resilience Scale by Peter Winwood, Rochelle Colon, and Kath McEwen. Researchers hypothesized that their measure of workplace resilience would correlate positively with psychometric measures of measure of recovery (from work demands), engagement at work, physical health, and chronic fatigue and sleep habits. Results showed that acute (end of shift) fatigue due to work demands was moderated by on-the-job-resources, like free lunches and employee enrichment. Additionally, high resilience was seen to be associated with recovery from the acute fatigue and in turn associated with better physical health. Brooklin plans to continue addressing the topic of resilience in the workplace throughout her time in the PTG lab, as well as in her future career in I/O psychology! Fantastic job on your article presentation, Brooklin, and good luck with future research!
Author Archives: acorille
Fourth-year PhD student, Whitney Dominick, and second-year master’s student, Jess Kopitz, presented an update of their respective current studies at the most recent Psychology Department’s Lunch Bunch Research Colloquium. The Lunch Bunch hour provides a bi-monthly opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students and faculty to gather and view presentations of current psychological research at Oakland University. The presentation hour is open to all OU students and faculty.
Whitney shared results from her doctoral dissertation entitled The Impact of Recreational Wild Dolphin Interactions on Children’s Empathy, Emotion Regulation, Perceived Social Support, and Knowledge of Dolphin Welfare. She found that children feel more supported by dolphins if they also feel support from pets & program staff, and that knowledge about dolphin welfare after the program leads to greater perceptions of support a month later. Whitney presented data collected from Hawaii and Florida and plans to continue collecting data over the summer in Hawaii!
Jess presented preliminary results from her master’s thesis entitled Redefining NegativePersonality Traits and Coping Techniques after Impacts of Stress and Trauma. Jess framed her master’s thesis to deconstruct dichotomous thinking about coping strategies following traumatic experiences. She shared interesting themes from semi-structured interviews, revealing that her participants provided many examples where both traditionally negative coping techniques were crucial to their growth, and traditionally positive coping techniques were harmful or lead to harmful behaviors.
The PTG Lab is extremely proud of Whitney and Jess for representing the lab well with their fascinating research. Both presentations sparked curiosity in the audience and prompted many follow-up questions. Whitney and Jess both did a great job interacting with the audience. We look forward to the completion of each of their studies and further presentations including results! Way to go, Whitney and Jess!
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!
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!
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!
Lab members Lauren, Jenna, Velinka, Jess, and Alvin attended the 90th annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, from April 12-14 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. The purpose of the conference is for students and psychologists across the Midwest to share and discuss their research. The conference featured nearly a thousand research presentations across all branches of psychology, and included major addresses and methodology workshops. Additionally, the conference featured programs offered by Psi Chi, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Society for Community Research and Action.
Lauren and Jess presented their poster titled Which Dimensions of Narcissism are Influential in Reporting Posttraumatic Growth? which they worked on with Dr. Taku. Particularly, their presentation explained how aspects of narcissism like grandiose fantasy and contingent self-esteem, respectively, influence PTG. Narcissism was a popular topic at the conference, and Jess and Lauren answered many questions from interested attendees.
Jess presented her and Velinka’s poster titled Examining the Relationship Between the Dark Triad and Posttraumatic Growth, which they worked on with Dr. Taku. This poster presentation examined the association between Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism, respectively, and PTG. Jess got a chance to inform many intrigued attendees about both the Dark Triad and PTG.
Velinka presented her poster titled Personality Traits and Importance of Nationality: Indicators of Cultural Adaptation? which she worked on with Kyle and Dr. Taku. This poster presentation shared results about how extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness relate to the importance one places on nationality. Many attendees stopped to ask questions and found Velinka’s poster regarding immigration research extremely engaging!
On the final day of the conference, Jenna and Alvin presented their poster titled, Counter-Intuitive Impact of Academic Stressors on Posttraumatic Growth in Bereaved College Students, which they worked on with Dr. Taku. Specifically, their poster presentation shared results regarding how experiencing both academic stressors and the death of someone close, respectively, affect PTG. They did a fantastic job communicating their research and ended the MPA conference on the right note!
The conference was a huge success with over 3,300 in attendance, and the PTG lab looks forward to presenting at the 91st MPA conference next year. Next year’s conference is set to be held at the Palmer House Hilton again, from April 11-13, 2019.
Great job Jess, Lauren, Velinka, Alvin, and Jenna for representing the lab well!
Congratulations to both Whitney Dominick and Alvin Nicholas for each being awarded a Provost Graduate Student Research Award! In order to be considered for the award, students are required submit an application, which includes a detailed research proposal, to OU’s Research Office. Both Whitney and Alvin submitted applications for their respective studies and both were offered the award! Whitney received the award for her study entitled “The Impact of Dolphin Interactions on Emotion Regulation and Perceptions of Social Support,” which will be a part of her doctoral dissertation. The purpose of her research is to compare the effects of various types of dolphin interactions on personal growth, distress, and psycho-education in children. In order to implement her study, Whitney plans to travel to Florida and Hawaii this summer where she will begin data collection! Alvin received the award for his study entitled “Achievement, Resiliency, and Deliberate Rumination Moderating the Relationship Between Failure and Positive and Negative Outcomes,” which will be a part of his Master’s Thesis. The purpose of his research is to test the relationship between amount of achievement and failure experiences and outcomes that are identified after either experience, such as posttraumatic growth or depression. He is currently preparing his online survey and is scheduled to begin collecting data with university students shortly. We are excited that Whitney and Alvin both have an opportunity to implement their respective studies and we look forward to seeing how their studies unfold! Good luck, Whitney and Alvin!
Velinka recently presented her Honors Independent Study Proposal, entitled “Immigrant Youth Well-being and the Role of Perceived Parent-Child Gaps of Acculturation, Family Obligations, and Emotion Processing Tendencies”. Velinka is interested in the acculturation gap-distress between immigrant parents and their children. Acculturation is the process of adapting to a new culture. The acculturation gap-distress model states that differing rates of acculturation occur between parents and their children, cause tension, stress, and may result in youth maladjustment. Velinka would like to quantitatively and qualitatively examine the role of perceived gaps between parents and children experiencing acculturation, attitude towards family obligation, and emotion processing tendencies on youth distress. In addition, she would like to explore if stress related to perceived parent-child discrepancies leads to personal growth. She plans to accomplish this by reaching out to high-schools, community centers, libraries, and Oakland University to locate participants and administer surveys. Overall, she would like to make a contribution to the acculturation gap-distress model, and she hopes to identify the relation between perceived parent-child differences and PTG. We are very excited about her work! Good luck Velinka!
First semester lab member, Nicholas, recently gave his first article presentation on a study entitled “Meaning Making and Psychological Adjustment Following Cancer: The Mediating Roles of Growth, Life Meaning, and Restored Just-World Beliefs” by Crystal L. Park, Donald Edmondson, Juliane R. Fenster, and Thomas O. Blank. The purpose of this study was to clarify the meaning making, the process of how persons understand or make sense of life events, relationships, and the self, and how it influences psychological well-being. The results showed that the meaning making process, including positive re-framing of negative thoughts and experiences, relates to better adjustment after experiences with cancer. The researchers also developed a pathway model of the meaning making process that illustrated multiple relationships, including the positive relations between life meaningfulness and psychological well-being. The researchers indicated that future research should account for different stages of cancer, severity of the cancer, and whether patients have had re-occurrences of the disease. Nicholas believes that it is important to examine the meaning making model over a longer period and that additional variables should be assessed that may assist in meaning making. Nicholas continues to pursue his passion with how posttraumatic growth impacts the lives of cancer patients, and we are excited to see how his interests grow in the lab! Well done, Nicholas!