Winter 2023 semester is here! We have exciting news to share. We are pleased to welcome Avery Machuk as the newest undergraduate research assistant.
Welcome, Avery! She is currently a Junior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with plans to continue her education and become a therapist. She decided to join the lab to gain a deeper understanding of posttraumatic growth and hopes to learn how to utilize posttraumatic growth to treat her future clients. Avery will begin working on her Honors College Thesis during this upcoming semester and in doing so she hopes to further explore psychological constructs in relation to young adults and adolescents, who she hopes to work with after becoming a licensed therapist. Avery can be reached at email@example.com.
Additionally, Paxton Hicks (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be the upcoming lab manager! Be sure to follow for more updates within the FF-PTG Lab.
Toward the end of November, Lazo Dordeski, a post-undergraduate research assistant, presented his current manuscript, “Non-violent Behaviors and Depression in Victims and Perpetrators” which builds off of his previously conducted research in the FF-PTG Lab.
Prior research has indicated that individuals who identify as either victims or perpetrators were more likely to report experiences in bother, creating the Victim-Perpetrator Overlap [VPO]. VPO conceptualized the increase of offending at the risk of being a victim and victimization may increase the risk of becoming a perpetrator. The overlap can be observed across various violent and non-violent transgressions (i.e., petty theft to sexual violence). A relationship between depression and victims/perpetrators has been discovered in the populations of adolescent victims of bullying, patients with depression, and perpetrators clinically diagnosed with depression. Depressed patients had a higher prevalence of repeat victimization; while perpetrators had more risk factors for intimate partner violence.
The purpose of Dordeski’s study is to examine the differences between non-violent behaviors (i.e., racial slurs, stealing, and exclusion) and depression within both victims and perpetrators. Hypothesis 1 states that individuals who were only victims of having racial slurs used against them would show higher depression than perpetrators who only used racial slurs against others and those who experienced overlap which would show higher depression than those who experienced neither. Hypothesis 2 states that individuals who are only victims of exclusion will have higher levels of depression than individuals who experienced overlap, which would show higher levels of depression than perpetrators who only excluded others and those who experienced neither, which would report even levels of depression.
A total of 397 participants were used from the previously collected Smith (2020) study. Data was collected through the Qualtrics survey tool. Participants were randomly assigned to two conditions of answering questions about 1) perpetrator experiences first or 2) victim experiences first. The survey included responses to PTGI-X, filler scale questions, filled conditions, and repeated PTGI-X. Measures used for analysis were the Victimization and Perpetration Scale and Beck Depression Inventory through the statistical tests of one-way ANOVAs and post-hoc analyses using LSD. No significant differences between the perpetrator-only group and the group that didn’t experience either. Findings suggest that exclusion is impactful on reported feelings of depression among victims, even though some of them excluded others themselves.
Limitations identified by Dordeski included sample size with skewed distribution, college demographic, and measures that focused on more violent behavior. Potential future directions would be to make a greater emphasis on non-violent behaviors, focus on group differences and how this could increase victim/perpetrator susceptibility, and increase diversity/intersectional samples to improve external validity.
Congratulations, Lazo! We are proud to send you off to the next stage of your career. Dordeski will be attending the Master of Arts in Counseling program at Oakland University starting January 2023. Wishing you nothing but the best!
First-semester undergraduate research assistant, Amber Efthemiou, recently presented the article titled, “The Effects of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion on Improving the Capacity to Adapt to Stress Situations in Elderly People Living in the Community” (Perez-Blasco et al., 2016).
The concept of self-compassion embodies kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Mindfulness specifically encourages openness, curiosity, and acceptance through the non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. Interventions based on mindfulness have been found to be effective in clinical and non-clinical contexts in hand with increasing one’s ability to cope (i.e., emotion-focused and problem-focused) and resilience. Elderly adults, especially, can benefit from such mindfulness interventions due to the experience of hardships related to aging. Self-judgement, isolation, and rumination can be prevented with the improvement of emotional regulation and self-perception of aging.
Perez-Blasco et al. (2016) aimed to improve resilience levels, reduce stress, reduce age-related anxiety and depression, and change coping strategies through the evaluation of the effectiveness of mindfulness and self-compassion in older adults. Participant criteria included age of 60 years or older, not under institutional care, and being cognitively healthy. The measurements used were the Brief Resilient Coping Scale, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, and Coping Strategies Questionaire. The intervention program lasted 10 consecutive weeks with one 2-hour session a week in a group setting. The formal practice held different forms of meditation; while the informal practice consisted of daily mindful activities.
To determine whether groups were homogenous prior to treatment, chi-squared tests, t-tests for independent samples, and Mann-Whitney U-tests were performed. The repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to analyze the intervention’s effects. Results showed a significant increase in resilience, positive reappraisal, and avoidance along with a significant decrease in anxiety and stress. For coping results, there was a significant decrease in problem-solving coping, negative self-focused coping, overt emotional expression, and religion. Conclusions indicated mindfulness leads to resiliency later in life with self-compassion as a useful tool in therapy. Self-compassion led to positive responses to aging and age-related events. Cathartic emotional expression and impulsivity decreased leading to a greater capacity for introspection through emotional awareness. There was a notable change in the meaning of a stressful situation, a decrease in religion, and no significant improvement in social support.
Limitations of the presented study were the small sample size, absence of double-blind assessment with lack of control for potential covariates, and some low ETA squared obtained. Implications would be included set up a mindfulness program adapted to elderly people to obtain greater benefits for this population. Efthemiou believes the demonstrated interventions could be used for those who are 75 and older along with those in a care facility/nursing home.
Wonderful presentation, Amber! We are eager to see how you pursue this line of research.
Lewis Luttrell, a first-year Master’s student, presented his thesis proposal, “Using Polyculturalism to Reduce Intergroup Threat” on November 8th, 2022, in preparation for the upcoming departmental presentation. Polyculturalism is defined as cultures that are byproducts of historical interaction with different groups without a “pure” culture belonging to any one group along with an emphasis on the interconnectionnedness rather than separation. It is one of the four concepts of interethnic ideologies. Some examples would be the two distinct cultures in Louisiana (i.e., Cajun and Creoloe); music genres (i.e., jazz and country); food (i.e., tacos); and architecture (i.e., Indonesian style).
To understand the concept of polyculturalism, it is important to create a solid foundation interconnecting theories such as Social Dominance Theory and Intergroup Threat Theory with Realistic Threat, Perceptions of Threat, and Artifical Segreation. Within previous research, investigations upon ascertaining how polycultural approach may be received by marginalized racial and ethnic groups has been limited. Experts have hypothesized those of marginalized groups could have negative attitudes towards dominant groups which could lead to a decrease in interactions.
At the initial stages of Luttrell’s study, hypothesis one states that polyculturalism with attenuate intergroup threat for all participants regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender. Hypothesis two will narrow the scope to white participants with the expectation that polyculturalism will attenuate intergroup threat regardless of social domination orientation. Measures that will be utilized include SDO-D and SDO-E of SOD7 (alpha=.93), Polyculturalism (alpha= .88), and Intergroup Threat [ITT] for symbolic and realistic threat. Through a prior analysis, Luttrell discovered he would need to obtain 175 participants per group despite previous studies utilizing about 60 individuals per group with the time one and time two phases. During time 1, partipants will initially complete ITT, SDO7, and demographic information. Participants will complete interethnic ideology shift (experimental group) or read an section from the farmers almanac as a control within time 2. However, Luttrell identifies three potential limitations including: a need for a third factor of race; dependence on least one other of race or ethnicity; and two-part study which would increase likelihood of attrition.
We wish you the best of luck on your Master Thesis Defense at the end of the Fall 2022 semester, Lewis! Keep up the wonderful work.
Paxton Hicks, a first-semester undergraduate research assistant, recently gave a presentation on the article titled,” Social Interaction in Online Support Groups: Preference for Online Social Interaction Over Offline Social Interaction” from Jae Eun Chung.
Online support groups [OSG] have been a rapid source for individuals seeking support. Sixty percent of users who search for health-related information use social media. The usage of the internet alleviates barriers to communication (i.e., geography), which is beneficial to those with rare conditions in order to easily access resources. However, short-term relationships are more common than not along with the increased chance of the spread of unhealthy advice. Researchers have previously observed the excessive use of the internet and its connection to the preferences of online interaction without the context of OSGs. Therefore, there has been an increase in the current body of research focusing on the positive aspects of OSGs.
The purpose of the presented study was to examine the potential factors that influence the presence of online social interaction as opposed to in-person, how support is integrated from online and offline relationships, and advance the understanding of the role of the internet for patient healthcare. Chung hypothesized that (1) compared to those with weaker relationships in OSGs, individuals with deeper relationships in OSGs will develop a stronger preference for social interaction in OSGs over offline social interaction; (2) compared to those with a higher level of satisfaction with offline social support, individuals with a lower level of satisfaction with offline social support will develop a stronger preference for social interaction in OSGs over offline social interaction; and (3) compared to those with a higher level of satisfaction with medical care, individuals with a lower level of satisfaction with medical care will develop a stronger preference for social interaction in OSGs over offline social interaction.
A sample was recruited through four established OSGs of 158 participants (M= 48.2, SD= 16.4) who completed an approximately 15 minutes in length survey. The demographics were 52.2% male, 47.8% female, the majority of the white race, and residency with a spread of 34.6% urban, 47.2% suburban, and 18.2% rural. Measures included Adapted PIU & GPIUS, Adapted QRI, Standard SSO, and PSQ. The Adapted PIU & GPIUS scales, Problematic Internet Use, were used to gauge the preference of social interaction in OSGs. Adapted QRI, Quality of Relationships Inventory, assessed the depth of relationship within the OSG to other users. The shortened version of the SSQ, Social Support Questionaire, measured satisfaction with offline support. The PSQ, Patient Satisfaction Questionaire, measured patient satisfaction with the medical care received.
A correlation matrix was performed to examine the relationships between the variables. Results indicated the depth of relations in OSGs correlated with a preference for social interaction in OSGs (p < .001). Satisfaction with offline support is related to satisfaction with medical care (p < .001). Satisfaction with offline support negatively correlated with a preference for social interaction in OSGs. Multivariate regression was used to measure the effect of these predictors on preference for social interaction in OSGs.
After the data analysis was performed, the results indicated hypothesis 1 and hypothesis 2 were supported. Individuals with higher relationships in OSGs showed higher preferences for social interaction in OSGs. People with lower levels of satisfaction in offline social support reported a higher preference for interaction in OSGs. Hypothesis 3 was not supported; therefore, no significant changes were found.
Chung listed the cross-sectional design as a limitation since it was unable to see the consequences of the developing preference for OSGs. A longitudinal design could have looked at the development of a preference and its consequences better. Hicks, however, believes the under-coverage of certain demographics (i.e., those of different races and communities) and differences in the types of relationships measured were also limitations. Future directions could include applying OSGs in the relevant wake of the COVID-19 pandemic since the lockdown restrictions limited in-person resources. There are various opportunities in investigating individuals with varying health statuses.
Wonderful presentation! We are looking forward to where your research takes you. Keep up the great work, Paxton Hicks!
First-semester undergraduate lab member, Natalie Safo, recently gave an astute presentation on an article titled “The Importance of Employment to Workers with Pre-existing Behavioral Health Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (Cook et al., 2022).
During the pandemic, a relationship between job loss and poor mental health was discovered. Previous studies demonstrated that those with pre-existing mental health issues are expected to experience a greater chance of instability, unemployment, reduced hours, and economic uncertainty. Those who were unemployed exhibited higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, stress-related disorders, and suicidal ideation than those who are employed. However, those who were employed as peer support specialists experienced feelings of isolation and communication issues.
The presented study had three objectives with the first aim to find out whether those who were working would differ from those who were not in self-assessed exposure to COVID-19 infection, changes in sleep and dietary patterns, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The second aim was to find out whether those whose jobs changed would experience the forgoing factors differently than those whose jobs were not altered. Lastly, the researchers strived to investigate respondents’ own accounts of what it was like to be employed during the pandemic.
A mixed-methods cross-sectional survey was conducted among community adults with behavioral health disorders from April 15, 2020, to May 13, 2020. There were 272 participants with a mean age of 49.9 years old and standard deviation of 13.5 years that were surveyed via SurveyMonkey. Inclusion criteria included (1)affiliation with CSPNJ or NYAPRS, (2) self-report of behavioral health disorder, mental health disorder, or substance use disorder, (3) 21 years old or older, and (4) ability to understand English. Measures used were the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 Questionaire and Patient Health Questionaire-2 along with surveying the pandemic’s impact on employment, sleep and diet, and the degree of COVID-19 exposure in daily activities of the participant.
Results showed that employed and changed job participants encountered COVID-related disruptions in sleep patterns and dietary routines. The possibility of work buffers the effects of instability and uncertainty due to the gratitude for employment and relief. Those who changed jobs experienced higher levels of anxiety and psychological distress. The survey exhibited few participants who lost their jobs. A low proportion of workers screened positive for anxiety and depressive disorder, which could be linked to access to mental health resources when looking at those who were unemployed verse employed. Over half of those experiencing job changes screened positive for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 2/5 for MDD. Researchers indicated that the job instability group versus the job loss group may be the predominant challenge for this group. Job seeking process is more challenging with the need for evidence-based support for employment services during the pandemic. Limitations of the study include self-report measures, lack of longitudinal design, and sample group.
The study has demonstrated evidence of the importance of work in the lives of employees with pre-existing behavioral health conditions. Programs for support and resources could improve the work experience. Support from peers and other professionals could assist in pandemic recovery to improve health and wellness. Another implication would be the initiation of services to address unemployment in the COVID economy.
Natalie did a wonderful job presenting the discussed study. She will be using this research and other related studies to assist her during the composition of her literature review project. Keep up the great work!
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.