Author Archives: iteasel

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. We are looking forward to your findings, Victoria. 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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Kara’s Master’s Thesis Defense

Kara Pado, second year Master’s student, presented the latest updates on her thesis proposal, Identifying the tipping point of recognition of alcohol abuse symptoms in undergraduate students. The purpose of Kara’s Master’s thesis is to identify tipping points in perceptions of alcohol abuse symptomatology by examining undergraduate students’ self-perceptions of alcohol consumption and perceptions of their peers’ consumption. Tipping points are generally defined as a moment of revelation that indicates a major change; however, it can differ in interpretation depending on the field of study. Alcohol usage and subsequent symptomatology, parental alcohol permissiveness and usage, and tipping point were measured through an assessment. Kara collected data from 354 undergraduate students at Oakland University which were recruited through an online study link in SONA. Participants identified how many drinks per day and duration of behavior required to be considered concerning, through both self-evaluation and evaluation of their peers.

Through the initial data analysis, Kara has discovered participants will identify a tipping point of an alcohol problem developing in themselves earlier than in their peers. Another interesting finding was peer tipping points were significantly influenced by parental permissiveness, while self tipping points were not. She will be performing further data analysis on additional data that was collected.
The future directions of her study will be expanding to other colleges and universities in the hopes to have more diverse samples, exploring gender-specific habits and outcomes, and collecting self-efficacy data. Through her research, Kara aspires to contribute to the understanding of tipping points in psychology and the impact of exposure to alcohol on perceptions of developing a problem along with potential clinical applications to decrease alcohol use disorder on college campuses. We are looking forward to hearing more about your findings, Kara!

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Colin’s ARFID Study

ARFID, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, can be characterized by the avoidance of food whether it is in variety or volume. There are three domains which ARFID can be broken down into: picky eating, low appetite, or fear. Graduate student, Colin O’Brien’s ARFID study, Differentiating between Domains of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, will be examining potential factors associated with ARFID. Specifically, the study will be focusing on factors of anxiety, disgust, and parenting and their associations with ARFID and each of its domains. Colin will be starting to collect data soon from participants who are 18 or older and will be recruited through an OU Psychology Pool ad on SONA along with other internet postings.

In recent news, the Michigan Academy conference has accepted Colin’s abstract submission for the ARFID study. Congratulations! Thank you to Joey Rhodes and Victoria Kaznowski for your collaboration on this study. We are looking forward to hearing about your findings!

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