The new year is always a great time to reflect on the past and spend time thinking about the happier memories and simpler times of childhood. Kicking off the new semester in Winter 2021 the FF-PTG lab has decided to mix things up and create a collage of all our current members using cherished baby photos. Can you guess who is who?
Welcome to our newest undergraduate research assistant Isabelle Teasel! Isabelle is currently a sophomore at Oakland University majoring in psychology with a concentration in pre-medicine along with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. She decided to join the lab to gain experience in research, grow her understanding of the aftermath of trauma, and hopes that learning about PTG will improve the future treatment of patients. Isabelle is interested in studying the relationship between PTG and those diagnosed with chronic diseases of any age group. She is also interested in researching topics relating to well-being, healthcare, and the dark side of PTG and resilience. After completing her undergraduate degree, she is planning to attend medical school to become a physician. Isabelle can be reached at email@example.com.
Recently, first year Master’s student Joey, presented a proposal for his master’s thesis titled Understanding the Cultural Differences in Behavior During a Global Pandemic. Joey is interested in examining how social identity influences one’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent depression symptoms. Social identity, within the context of his study, refers to the cultural alignment of individuals, typically expressed as either individualistic or collectivistic at the most basic understanding. Individualism is typically reflective of western cultures, and describes individuals who are autonomous and independent, prioritizing their own personal goals above those in-group. Collectivism on the other hand, describes individuals who are interdependent, and prioritize the goals of their in-group over their own personal goals. Therefore, Joey predicts that collectivist individuals will be more likely to engage in prosocial behavior (such as wearing a mask and social distancing) than individualists. He also hypothesizes that collectivistic individuals will be more likely to experience greater depression and suicide ideation, in that individuals who align with the collectivist social identity will suffer more from experiencing social isolation due to procedures put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joey plans to test his hypotheses by studying samples in America as well as Japan. The main goal of his research is to establish and understand the relationships between individuals’ perceived social identities and their prosocial behavior, or lack thereof, in response to COVID-19. Once relationships between culture and behavior are established, Joey would like to investigate what information is most persuasive in promoting prosocial behavior for individuals in different cultures. Awesome work Joey, we can’t wait to receive updates!
First semester undergraduate lab member Emily gave a presentation on the article Prevalence and predictors of burnout in Swiss farmers. The study examined burnout within farmers, whose work heavily overlaps with family and personal life. Specifically, the authors aimed to analyze the effects of stress, personal, and social factors on burnout, predicting that both situational and personal-specific predictors would relate to individual differences in burnout. The majority of the situation stressor variables correlated with burnout. For both men and women, lack of free-time had the strongest correlation with burnout, in addition to time pressure, which was a strong correlate within men. Additionally, there were strong correlations with burnout for women who reported more frequent work-family conflict, and being responsible for farm administration, while for men, both poor health status and work-family conflict were strong correlates with burnout.
After conducting multivariate analysis, the authors found that work-family conflict, personality, and social support most strongly influence burnout. Additionally, high job and home demands were found to be the main contributors to burnout, as well as social isolation in the farmers. The results indicate that in agricultural professions, in which spillover between professional and personal life occurs, family and social support may be more important factors in preventing the burnout that occurs. Emily believes this research will be a good segue into future research examining burnout in other professions that are understudied. She believes the results of this study may also have applications to people working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Good work Emily! We can’t wait to see more of your work!
First year master’s student, Kolton, recently gave a presentation for his master’s thesis proposal titled Victim-Perpetrator Overlap and PTG. Kolton wants to study Victim Perpetrator Overlap (VPO) in college students, in which a victim of a problematic behavior (abuse, violence, etc.) becomes a perpetrator of the same problematic behavior. Stress and trauma due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to more frequent instances of being victimized or engage in problematic behaviors, because students may be forced to go home to abusers or poor home environments that could be otherwise escaped by living on-campus. Furthermore, the pandemic has limited social circles and access to mental health resources, which may contribute to increased VPO.
Some literature indicates that perpetrators are capable of experiencing PTG, especially if they were originally a victim of trauma or abuse. Therefore, Kolton wants to investigate whether or not someone who experienced PTG will go on to become a perpetrator. He predicts that people who experience PTG will be less likely become a perpetrator. Additionally, he predicts that compared to participants who start with questions regarding being a perpetrator, those who first answer questions about being a victim will be less likely to report instances of being a perpetrator. Great job Kolton, we look forward to hearing more about your thesis!
Senior undergraduate member, Kat, gave a presentation on The Impact of Multiple Events on Posttraumatic Growth in Adolescence. Based on previously collected data, Kat’s presentation examines the relationship between different measures of trauma severity and PTG within a sample of high school students. In addition, PTG is uniquely measured as a result of multiple events, rather than just one. Her analysis found that the number of events experienced linearly and positively correlated with PTG, as did reports of stressfulness at the time of the event(s). When filling out the PTGI, participants were more likely to experience specific aspects of PTG as a result of one event, rather than multiple events.
Interestingly, experiencing recent enduring symptoms of posttraumatic stress shared a curvilinear relationship with PTG and with specific items on the PTGI, indicating that severe symptoms of PTSS may hinder the ability to recognize or experience PTG.
Kat is currently working on adapting her results into a manuscript. Great work, Kat, we look forward to hearing more about your work!
Kara, second year Master’s student presented updates to her thesis proposal titled Identifying the tipping point of recognition of alcohol abuse symptoms in undergraduate students. Tipping points are typically defined as specific moments that elicit major change, or even perception of change. For her master’s thesis, Kara intends to identify tipping points for alcohol abuse symptomatology, examining undergraduate’s self-perceptions of alcohol consumption and perceptions of their peers’ consumption. Specifically, she is measuring alcohol use and subsequent symptomatology, parental alcohol use and permissiveness, and tipping points through an assessment in which participants identify how many drinks per day and duration of the behavior required to be considered problematic, as both a self-evaluation and evaluation of their peers. This spring, Kara began collecting data, which is still ongoing, but she has provided us with some preliminary data analysis. Her findings so far indicate that both self tipping points and peer tipping points are impacted by personal drinking habits. Interestingly, the averages of self tipping points were lower than peer tipping points.
Kara hopes her research will contribute to literature regarding tipping points in psychology, and the impact of exposure to alcohol on perceptions of developing a problem. Her work may have potential clinical applications in the discussion of alcohol abuse and creating interventions to reduce alcohol use disorder on college campuses. Great job, Kara! We look forward to hearing about your future findings!
This fall, the FF-PTG lab would like to welcome 4 new members!
Welcome to new graduate student lab member, Kayla! Kayla is a first year PhD student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She became interested in PTG after doing research and working with hurricane victims from North Carolina. Her current research interests involve how communities respond to trauma and crisis, and she is excited to pursue these interests more as she begins her time at Oakland University. Kayla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The FF-PTG lab also welcomes new graduate student lab member, Joey! Joey is a first year Master’s student with three bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, sociology, and psychology from Arizona State University. His main interest in psychology concerns examining human behavior through a social and cultural lens, especially when faced with taxing stimuli. He joined the FF-PTG Lab due to its focus on human behavior and response to extremely taxing stimuli, as well as the opportunity to develop and hone his research skills. His long-term goal is to earn a PhD in Psychology so that he can teach as a university professor while simultaneously working on research to add to the current literature in social psychology. Joey can be reached at email@example.com
The lab would also like to welcome graduate student lab member, Kolton! Kolton is a first year Master’s student, graduating from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a minor in youth studies. He became interested in psychology due to his childhood fascination of the show Criminal Minds, which revealed how interesting the human mind can be. Kolton enjoys learning about psychology and how the mind works, specifically how it affects human behavior. After completing his Master’s, he plans to eventually obtain a PhD in counseling psychology. Kolton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, the FF-PTG lab would like to welcome aboard new undergraduate member, Victoria! Victoria is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Holistic Health. She joined the lab out of an interest to do research that contributes to clinical psychology. Her personal interests involve exploring how the outdoors interact therapeutically with mental health and if spending time in nature can influence PTG. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue a graduate program in counseling psychology. Victoria can be contacted at email@example.com.
Second semester undergraduate lab member, Kat, gave a presentation titled Examining Curvilinear Relationships within PTG. Her presentation addressed the literature that has found quadratic relationships between trauma and PTG. This relationship suggests that moderate amounts of trauma may support greater PTG, while events perceived as less traumatic may not shake one’s core beliefs enough to facilitate PTG, and very severe traumatic events may be too debilitating to experience growth. In contrast, other studies have found only a linear relationship between trauma and PTG, so no consensus has been made when defining the relationship. For her presentation, Kat aimed to test for these relationships using data from one of our lab’s previous studies. Uniquely, the data is from a sample of high school students, and measures for PTG based on multiple events, both of which are less prevalent in the literature. Kat analyzed the data to examine if there is a curvilinear relationship between PTG and different measures of trauma severity, such as the stressfulness or number of traumatic events reported. The results were mixed, which indicates finding curvilinear relationships may be due to statistics or a combination of many different variables, and therefore needs to be further studied. Kat plans to continue working with this dateset and investigating the relationship between trauma and PTG. Nice job on your presentation, Kat!
Members of the lab attended the Graduate Student Research Colloquium on campus in March and presented their posters. We also had the opportunity to listen to presentations and view other OU graduate students’ posters from a variety of subjects, ranging from evolutionary psychology to engineering and biological sciences!
Olivia and CJ presented their poster: The Association Between a Caregiver’s Education and Their Child’s Levels of Openness and Personal Growth. They hypothesized that parents with higher levels of education would have children with higher levels of openness and more personal growth. Their results found that children whose parents had a master’s degree or higher reported both greater levels of personal growth and openness than those with parents who had a bachelor’s degree or less. The higher level of openness in children with highly educated primary caregivers could be due to the fact that the caregivers are often from a higher social class, which may allow parents to provide children with more opportunities for new experiences, therefore increasing their openness, and indirectly encouraging personal growth.
Kara Presented her poster Perfectionism in medical professionals increasing deliberate rumination and PTG. She investigated how perfectionism may increase rumination following a medical mishap, leading to PTG. Perfectionist behaviors have been found to increase rumination, which is known to be positively related to PTG. Her results found that perfectionism, overall, positively correlated with the frequency of thinking about the mishap. In turn, the frequency of thinking about the mishap also positively correlated with PTG. Rumination forces individuals to work through the event that causes psychological struggle, while perfectionism increases the desire to understand why things went awry. Future research may help training medical professionals to ruminate on their mistakes to facilitate growth.
Olivia and Kat presented their poster A Sense of Personal Growth and Creative Behaviors among Children, in which the number of creative behaviors children have engaged in outside of school was positively related to their sense of personal growth. Interestingly, the relationship was consistent when controlling for other variables and demographics, except for gender. They found that the relationship between creativity and personal growth was much stronger in girls than in boys, which reflects gender differences in perceiving or reporting growth.
Dr. Taku had a good time serving as a poster judge with Drs. Jennifer Vonk and Lisa Welling!
Everyone worked hard and did a great job presenting their posters!