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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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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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Emilee’s Honors College Senior Thesis

Congratulations, Emilee, on being awarded “Thesis with Distinction” from the Honors College and given a “Thesis Award in Psychology (certificate and sash)” in recognition of her considerable and exceptional accomplishment!!

Emilee Causey presented her Honors College senior thesis that was later presented at Oakland University’s Honors College Research Day and is titled Is Resilience Hiding a Dark Side? An Exploration of Resilience and Unrealistic Optimism.

Her research objective was to further examine the relationship between unrealistic optimism and resilience along with the extent to which resilience may affect an individual’s judgment of event likelihood. It was hypothesized that individuals who are highly resilient will report a lower likelihood of themselves

experience the same events, and less likely to alter their answers after being given fabricated rates framed as the true prevalence. Events would include being struck by lightning, failing a course, and so on. A sample of 118 college undergraduate students was recruited through introductory psychology courses and completed an in-person survey that included Brief Resilience Scale and Event Likelihood. Research participation gave credit compensation for various courses. Emilee performed a correlational analysis and linear regression analysis.

Hypotheses one and two were not supported by correlational analysis and linear analysis. Highly resilient individuals did not report a lower likelihood of negative events happening to themselves. They also did not rate others as being more likely to experience the same negative events. On the other hand, hypothesis three was partially supported. Highly resilient individuals were less likely to change their answers for certain events but not others. Three of the negative events lacked significance, which suggests the relationship between an individual’s estimations and their resilience level differ based on the event.

Despite the lack of the significant results, there was a prevalent trend of negative associations between resilience and event likelihood, which can be attributed to the correlation between self-esteem and social competence to resilience. Higher levels of social competence tend to correlate with frequent engagement in risky behaviors. Self-awareness can also influence the resilience of the individual; therefore, participants with higher resilience may have a strong sense of self and recognize their abilities. After participants heard the actual statistics, they did not change their answers which suggests highly resilient individuals may less cautious. This could be a result of high levels of optimism in resilient individuals that indicates a potential “dark side” to resilience. High levels of optimism could result in positively viewing the future leading to failure to recognize the possible bad experiences.

Future research could investigate the implications of negative psychological effects and more events related to impulsivity and risk-taking. Researchers could continue to investigate other specific factors of resilience that lead may lead to negative effects along with other negative sides to resilience in addition to risk-taking, inaccurate estimations, and psychological stress effects.

One more thing — Congratulations on your graduation, Emilee! We are so happy to share in the excitement and joy of your graduation, and very proud of you!! We appreciate all your contributions to the FF- PTG Lab and continue to support you as you continue to further your education. We wish you all the best in your new career for Master’s in Counseling program at Wayne State! We hope you swing by Pryale!

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Victoria’s Article Presentation

Second-semester undergraduate lab member, Victoria Kaznowski, recently gave a presentation on the article titled Examining connection to nature and mindfulness at promoting psychological well-being.

The purpose of the presented study was to examine the relationship between nature connection, mindfulness, and psychological well-being by proposing a model demonstrating the nature well-being relationship. A survey measuring mindfulness and connection to nature (CN) was administrated to 360 undergraduates from a midwestern university enrolled in an array of courses. Students were compensated for their participation by receiving extra credit. Researchers hypothesized three potential mediating pathways from nature to psychological well-being: cognitive restoration, increase in positive affect and decrease in negative affect, and mindfulness. It was predicted that CN and mindfulness have indirect and direct associations with psychological well-being and that indirect associations are mediated by mindful attention and mindful awareness.

Results showed mindful attention and mindful awareness significantly mediated several connections between connection to nature and psychological well-being. Connection to nature could facilitate mindfulness and might be interacting with the direct attention relief provided by natural environments. Mindful awareness was found to significantly moderate the effect of perceived stress on life satisfaction. This suggests it may help individuals adopt a more temporary perspective of thoughts experienced during unpleasant circumstances. Mindful acceptance significantly moderated perceived stress and positive states of mind contrary to expectations. It was also discussed that nature exposure could be an avenue to overall mindfulness.

To further her investigation, Victoria used the data collected from the ARFID Study to examine if individuals participation in outdoor activities and exposure to nature relates to trait anxiety and social anxiety levels. After primary data analysis, an inverse relationship between nature observation and social anxiety was revealed. Those with lower levels of social anxiety had more exposure to nature through participation in nature observation activities.

Nature observation, a variation of connecting to nature, could facilitate mindfulness and may be beneficial in alleviating feelings of social anxiety. Victoria will be participating in a nature immersion program during the summer, which might aid in the preparation for her senior thesis. We are looking forward to future findings! Amazing job, Victoria.

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Dr. Dominick’s Research Update

Dr. Dominick presented an update on her latest research project, “COVID-19, social support, and posttraumatic growth“. The purpose of her study is to examine the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on posttraumatic growth (PTG), core belief disruption (CBI), perceptions of social support, and usage of alternative support sources. The aspects of social support include human connection, pets, and social media. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on PTG, social support, and CBI and the relationship between different types of stressful events (mainly the pandemic and politics) and their impact on PTG, social support, and CBI were examined through repeated measures ANOVA and independent sample t-tests.

Dr. Dominick predicted that the data would show an increase in PTG, increase in CBI, decrease in perceptions of support, and increase the use of alternative support. The three time points for data collection that have already been completed were March 31st, April 30th, and September 30th, 2020. The final round of data collection will take place March 20, 2021, about a year after the first survey and beginning of the pandemic.

The presentation included current findings from the first three time points of data collection which included participants from all around the United States. Interestingly, only 33% of the participants reported the COVID-19 pandemic as the most stressful event of the last six months. This subgroup reported a significantly higher level of PTG than the participants who reported other events as most stressful, such as racial justice and political events. Politics were reported as the most significant issue by 25% of participants and correlated with significantly lower PTG than participants who reported other issues as most significant. However, it is important to keep in mind that data was last collected before the 2020 Presidential election.

The longitudinal change of PTG was broken down into the five different domains of PTG in order to get a closer look. Overall PTG levels did not show did significant change, but there was a notable improvement in the “New Possibilities” and “Strength” domains.

It was also found that those who live alone could have a higher chance of loneliness with less social support. Unexpectedly, these participants demonstrated a lower attachment to pets and also did not report any changes in CBI or PTG over time. While those who owned pets correlated with a higher core belief disruption and an increased attachment to their pets.

Despite the limitations, Dr. Dominick strives to examine the impact of the pandemic and politics longitudinally. She believes there will be changes in the data results because of COVID-19 vaccination administration and eased regulations throughout the United States. We are looking forward to hearing more about your findings, Dr. Dominick!

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