Author Archives: Isabelle Teasel

FF-PTG Lab Staff 2022-2023

The FF-PTG Lab is excited to begin its educational endeavors this fall semester. Welcome, new members! And, welcome back, returning members!

Top row (left to right): Natalie Safo, Dominic Turcott, Taylor Elma, Isabelle Teasel, Amani Qaqish, Kayla Benson, Kaylie Williams

Bottom row: Dr. Kanako Taku, Amber Efthemiou, Paxton Hicks, Lazo Dordeski, Lewis Luttrell

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Kayla Benson: Thesis Defense Update

Kayla Benson, a third-year Ph.D. student, recently gave a presentation in preparation for her thesis defense. The purposes of Benson’s study, “Growing Toward the Common Good: Collective Action Engagement as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth”, include understanding the collective action behaviors as an indication of action-focused growth and constructive posttraumatic growth [PTG] and the relationships between community identity and collective action. The study will also strive to evaluate narcissism and optimism as potential components restricting constructive PTG.

Benson hypothesizes (1) people who are high in PTG will engage in more collective action interventions overall; (2) When individuals believe that their identities are strongly connected to the community, they will engage in more collective action behaviors; and (3) individuals who display patterns of illusory growth (high PTG, low in collective action) will be higher in narcissism and/or optimism. A total of 168 participants ranging from the ages of 18 to 47 years old (M=20.21, SD=3.19) participated in the study. The items that were measured in the online survey were posttraumatic growth, narcissism, optimism, altruism, social identity, and COVID-19 collective action.

After the completion of data analysis, hypothesis 1 of those who report PTG in response to events high in event centrality (constructive growth) will report more collective action behaviors than those who report PTG following low centrality events (illusory growth) was not supported. However, if using altruism as the outcome, the first hypothesis is partially supported, since constructive growth is higher than the low PTG group but no different from the illusory group. Hypothesis 2, narcissism and/or optimism will be higher in participants defined as having illusory growth, was not supported. It is important to note that the results were consistent with the literature that PTG is positively associated with optimism.

Hypothesis 3, individuals defined as experiencing constructive growth will engage in more mask-wearing when not required by a local mandate, was not supported. In fact, there were no differences found between groups in terms of masking when it was not required. It was found through additional correlation analysis that narcissism and a sense of community had small correlations with masking when it was no longer required.

Benson states the limitations of the study include: data collections initiating 1.5 years after the start of the pandemic, college student [only] sample, measurement error with the ‘COVID-19 Collective Action’ variable, study format, and the definitions of constructive versus illusory growth. There are potential future directions with the data which could investigate the interesting patterns recognized through Benson’s study. For example, there could be an examination of the four types of identity relating to other individual differences in numerous ways or further exploration of the PTG subscale could be performed.

Congratulations on the completion of the “Growth Toward the Common Good: Collective Action Engagement as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth”, Kayla! We are eagerly awaiting your defense presentation in the upcoming months.

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The FF-PTG Lab Welcome New Undergraduate Students

Within the Fall 2022 semester, we will have four new undergraduate students joining the FF-PTG Lab!

Natalie is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Health Communication. She joined the lab to gain experience in research about PTG and further specify her interests. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to obtain a PhD in clinical psychology to work as a therapist and continue research. Natalie can be reached at nataliesafo@oakland.edu.

Amber is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology and minoring in holistic health. She joined the lab to gain research experience and learn more about PTG as a whole and in relation to behavioral psychology. Amber is generally interested in studying non-pharmacological interventions for mental disorders related to traumatic life events in adulthood and late life. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend graduate school and later practice clinical psychology. Amber can be reached at amberefthemiou@oakland.edu.

Paxton Hicks is a junior at Oakland University. He is majoring in Psychology Major with a minor in biology with aspirations to pursue clinical psychology or other similar pursuits. By a professor’s recommendation and by his own interest in growing his experience, the FF-PTG Lab seemed like the best opportunity for me. He is interested in research related to emotions and their relation to patient outcomes. Paxton can be reached at phicks2@oakland.edu.

Amani is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology with a minor in human resources management. She joined the FF-PTG lab to gain hands-on research experience and to understand how post-traumatic growth can affect people in the workplace. In the lab, Amani is interested in exploring work-life balance and burnout in relation to people who have experienced PTG. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Amani plans to pursue an industrial-organizational psychology graduate program to become an I/O psychologist. Amani can be contacted at amaniqaqish@oakland.edu 

We are so excited for the new undergraduate students to be joining us! We are looking forward to working with you and seeing what you will accomplish.

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Welcome Incoming Graduate Students

Welcome to the FF-PTG Lab! Let’s introduce the three incoming graduate students.

Taylor is a first-year Ph.D. student with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in writing and rhetoric that she obtained from Oakland University. She initially joined the lab as an undergrad due to her interest in emotions and individual differences related to trauma, PTG, and resilience. Her current research interests include understanding emotions, nonverbal communication, and person perception in clinical settings. Taylor can be reached at elam@oakland.edu.

Lewis is a first-year Master’s student with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a minor in applied statistics from Grand Valley State University. He became interested in PTG due to his own experiences in the Marine Corps and getting to meet other veterans with similar backgrounds and experiences, but drastically different outcomes. His primary interest concerns the changes in cultural and ethnic impact on self and social identities as society continues to promote and encourage diversity. Following his instruction at Oakland University, he intends to continue his education in pursuit of a Ph.D. Lewis can be reached at luttrell@oakland.edu

Dom is a first-year master’s student who earned a bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Detroit Mercy with honors in 2020. He became intrigued with post-traumatic growth and bridging the gap as it relates to practices of cognitive-behavioral therapy and substance abuse recovery. Working as a substance use and domestic violence therapist, he carries a passion for serving members of the community who are in need. Going further, his research interests include alcohol and drug abuse, religious trauma syndrome, clinic efficacy and efficiency, gun violence, and more. Dom is goal-oriented on completing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after obtaining his master’s at Oakland in order to one day contribute to greater knowledge through research education while striving to conduct the best therapy he can. He can be contacted at DomTurcott@oakland.edu.

We are so excited for the new undergraduate students to be joining us! We are looking forward to working with you and seeing what you will accomplish.

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Lazo Dordeski: Hypotheses Presentation

Ending the Winter 2022 semester, undergraduate research assistant, Lazo Dordeski, presented his hypothesis presentation titled “Victim-Perpetrator Overlap: An Analysis of Chronology and Impact of Events”. The purpose of the study was to examine the chronological timeline of perpetration and victim events to see which precedes the other and the interactions between the chronology of Victim-Perpetrator Overlap [VPO] and the impact of victim and perpetrator experiences. It strived to conduct an exploratory investigation between non-violent actions and VPO.

The first hypothesis states there should be three groups depending on the timing of each event: (1) perpetrator event occurs first, with victimization occurring after; (2) victim event occurs first, with perpetration occurring after; and (3) overlap, which means the events co-occur. Dordeski also proposed the degree of shaken beliefs in victim experiences should be the largest in Group 2 (V to P), whereas the degree of shaken beliefs in perpetrator experiences should be the largest in Group 1 (P to V). The third hypothesis was lying and excluding someone will be suppressed if participants are experiencing overlap.

A total of 84 valid participants from the ages of 18-32 years old (M=20.57, SD=2.69) collected via the Qualtrics survey were used for data analysis. The measures used were “The Victimization and Perpetration Scale” (Smith, 2020) and “Shaken Beliefs” (Taku et al., 2015).

The study concluded that hypothesis one was supported since data analysis demonstrated three different groups depending on the timing of each event. Hypothesis two was not supported, because there were no significant differences between the two groups with P or V experiences. However, hypothesis three was supported after the performance of a One-way ANOVA and post hoc for analysis for confirmation of the differences between the groups. A negative mean difference was present between overlap and P first group in the exclusion event, and negative mean differences between overlap and both P and V first groups regarding the lying event, thus supporting hypothesis three. “Manipulative” behaviors were more likely to be suppressed when participants experience overlap. This overlap allowed for a greater impact of the events on the individuals. Limitations of this study would include the sample size of 84 participants, demographics limiting generalizability, and measures still focusing more on violent behaviors.

Great job, Lazo! We appreciated all of your contributions to the FF-PTG Lab. Wish you the best of luck in your academic endeavors.

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Kayla Benson: Thesis Defense Preparation

Kayla Benson, second year PhD student, recently gave a presentation in preparation for her thesis defense. The purposes of Benson’s study, “Growing Toward the Common Good: Collective Action Engagement as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth”, include understanding the collective action behaviors as an indication of action focused growth and constructive posttraumatic growth [PTG] and the relationships between community identity and collective action. The study will also strive to evaluate narcissism and optimism as potential components restricting constructive PTG.

Benson hypothesizes (1) people who are high in PTG will engage in more collective action interventions overall; (2) When individuals believe that their identities are strongly connected to the community, they will engage in more collective action behaviors; and (3) individuals who display patterns of illusory growth (high PTG, low in collective action) will be higher in narcissism and/or optimism.A total of 168 participants ranging from the ages of 18 to 47 years old (M=20.07, SD=3.25) participated in the study. The items that were measured in the online survey were posttraumatic growth, narcissism, optimism, altruism, social identity, and COVID-19 collective action.

Within the preliminary data analysis, hypothesis 1 of people who are high in PTG will engage in more collective action interventions overall was not supported. Participants scored high across the board in collective action behaviors during the pandemic. Hypothesis 2, when individuals believe that their identities are strongly connected to the community, they will engage in more collective action behaviors, was not supported. A slight negative relationship was present. Also, Hypothesis 3, individuals who display patterns of illusory growth (high PTG, low in collective action) will be higher in narcissism and/or optimism, was not supported, since there were no difference between the groups.

Currently, the recognized limitations of the study includes data collection started over 1.5 years after the start of the pandemic; local and state mask mandates changed throughout the course of data collection; measure for pandemic behaviors are limited; only college participants so far, who are more likely to follow guidelines compared to other populations.

What are the next steps? Benson is planning are continuing analysis to understand the relationships with the individual domains of PTG along with explaining the relationships between SEC with narcissism and optimism. She will also find potential controls, since many of the predicted relationships are virtually non-existent or trending in the opposite direction. Finally, Benson will continue data analysis to discovered other potential connections between the data measures and its variables.

Great work so far, Kayla! We are looking forward to your discoveries.

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Congratulations, Joey!

Joey Rhodes, a second-year Master’s student, presented his study “Understanding Cultural Differences in Behavior During a Global Pandemic”, which examined the differences between those who lived in Japan and the United States. The importance of this research is that gaining an understanding of someone’s behavior is the first step in learning how to motivate them to continue or stop a behavior. The objective was to understand potential factors that may increase or decrease precautionary behavior in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the purpose was to establish and understand the relationships between individuals’ perceived cultural values (e.g., individualism-collectivism) and their prosocial behavior, or lack thereof, in response to COVID-19; and once relationships between culture and behavior are established, to understand what information is most persuasive in promoting prosocial behavior for individuals in different cultures.

Joey hypothesized (1) collectivistic participants will be more likely to report having engaged in precautionary behaviors than individualistic participants, regardless of country of origin. (2) Participants primed for collectivism will be more likely to report willingness to engage in precautionary behavior in the future than individualism-primed participants regardless of country of origin along with (3) those who were primed for collectivism will be more likely to report willingness to engage in precautionary behavior in the future than individualism-primed participants regardless of country of origin. (4) Participants that show a preference for dichotomous thinking will be more likely to report engaging in precautionary behavior than participants lower in dichotomous thinking, regardless of country of origin. (5) Participants currently living in Japan will be more susceptible to depression and suicidal ideation than participants currently living in the United States. Lastly, (6) participants who show a preference for interpersonal adjustment will be more likely to report engaging in precautionary behavior than participants who show a preference for interpersonal influence.

Participants were college students recruited from Japan and the United States with the inclusion criteria of having to be 18 and older with fluency in the native language of their country. American participants received SONA class credit from completing the online survey through Qualtrics, which took on average 28 minutes. The survey collected general demographics, precautionary behavior in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other measures.

Results show that hypothesis one was not supported with a small non-significant relationship between individualism and precautionary behaviors. Hypothesis two was also not supported with no significant relationship between primed groups and predicted precautionary behaviors. Hypothesis three concluded a small non-significant correlation between independent self-construal and precautionary behaviors along with a significant negative relationship (p < .001) between mask-wearing and independent self-construal. There was no significant relationship for total precautionary behaviors and a significant negative relationship between DTI and mask-wearing (p = .009) for hypothesis four. For hypothesis five, participants in Japan scored higher on both measures of depression and suicidal ideation (p < .001). Lastly, hypothesis six discovered a significant negative correlation between interpersonal adjustment and precautionary behaviors (p = .018). Additionally, Japanese sample was higher on overall precautionary behaviors (M = 29.00) vs. (M = 26.39); both samples nearly identical on Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism scale (M = 53.90) vs (M = 53.58); and, American sample had more of an independent self-construal (M = 183.52) compared to the Japanese sample (M = 166.05).

Future directions include conducting this study again with samples from different countries (potentially India and Germany), especially ones more diametrically opposed in terms of individualism and collectivism, preforming similar studies with populations outside of college students, and expanding upon the questions concerning precautionary behavior, outside of a global pandemic, and the role that culture has in these behaviors.

Recently, Joey successfully defended his Master’s Thesis to the department. He will be graduating in April 2022 with a Master’s of Psychology. Congradulations! We look forward to what you will accomplish in the future.

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The FF-PTG Lab Welcomes a New Member

The FF-PTG Lab welcomed a new student this Winter 2022 semester!

Danielle McDonald is currently a senior at Oakland University majoring in psychology. She decided to join the lab to gain more research experience, as well as to gain a better understanding of trauma and posttraumatic growth as a whole. Danielle’s personal research interest revolves around childhood trauma, specifically in children with autism. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue a clinical psychology program that specializes in applied behavior analysis research.

Welcome, Danielle! We are looking forward to working with you.

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Taylor Elam: PTG Handbook Chapter Development

Senior researcher, Taylor Elam, obtained the opportunity to write a chapter in a Posttraumatic Growth Handbook with Dr. Kanako Taku. Within her presentation, “Posttraumatic Growth & Resiliency: More Alike or Different?”, she walked the members of the FF-PTG Lab through her progress so far on the material.

Taylor discussed the importance of understanding the overlap and differences of PTG and resiliency to appropriately approach, teach, and implement the concepts in different settings (i.e., clinic).

Taylor also discussed emotions, emotional empathy, Emotion Recognition Ability (ERA), clinical depression (traditional type depression and modern type depression) with expression and perception, and racial and cultural differences. She stated the impact race and culture have on the constructs of PTG, resilience, and ERA should be taken into consideration with individuals’ experiences. These could have a dramatic influence on multiple aspects. Therefore, if race and culture are not taken into consideration, research will be less generalizable and PTG/Resilience programs may be less effective. She proposes using data previously collected in the lab to further explore this idea. Clinical implications include creating programs and therapy practices that educate and promote resilience along with developing interpersonal skills potentially lost or underdeveloped. New programs and practices could also educate individuals on PTG and the new findings on how growth occurs intrapersonally, interpersonally, and, possibly, cognitively through ERA.

We look forward to seeing the end result. Keep up the great work, Taylor!

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Kolton Smith: Master’s Thesis Progress Update

Master’s student, Kolton Smith, presented a progress update on his Master’s thesis, “Victim-Perpetrator Overlap and Posttraumatic Growth”. The Victim-Perpetrator Overlap is when someone who was a victim becomes a perpetrator and vis versa. The study’s purpose is to explore the phenomenon of Victim-Perpetrator Overlap (VPO), Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in relation to VPO, and if perpetrators report PTG concurrently with offending.

Kolton hypothesized that (1) people who experience PTG as a victim will be less likely to become a perpetrator, (2) people who are asked to reflect on their victim experiences first will be less likely to report instances of being a perpetrator than those who are asked to reflect on their perpetration experiences first, and (3) PTG as a victim will be greater than that of PTG as a perpetrator regardless of condition.

The design separated the participants randomly into two groups on which questions will appear first: victim questions or perpetrator questions. The independent variables are the question order condition and victim/perpetrator experiences. The dependent variables are the reported amounts of PTG (victim and perpetrator) and offenses.

Near the end of the Fall 2021 semester, the preliminary data analysis was performed using the valid 209 OU data sets with 106 participants with Perpetrator questions first and 103 participants with Victim questions first. So far, it has been found that PTGI-perpetrator is positively correlated with PTGI-victim, PTGI-perpetrator only slightly correlated with total perpetrator experiences, PTGI-victim significantly correlated with total victim experiences, and PTGI-victim very slightly correlated with total perpetrator experiences.

At this point, data collection is continuing with a community sample and preliminary data analysis is progressing. You are making great progress, Kolton! Keep up the great work.

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