Author Archives: taylorlelam

The PTG Lab Welcomes New Member

Welcome to Emilee Causey, our new undergraduate research assistant! Emilee is currently a junior at Oakland University, double majoring in psychology and sociology. She joined the lab due to her interest in positive psychology and wanted to learn how posttraumatic growth and positive psychology intertwine. Emilee plans to study various aspects of PTG, especially how overcoming trauma can lead to an overall improved wellbeing. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for counseling psychology to study techniques successful in marriage and family therapies. Emilee can be reached at  

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Olivia & Whitney's Research Colloquium Presentations

Second-year master’s student, Olivia Rothig, and fifth-year PhD student, Whitney Dominick, presented an update of their respective current studies at the most recent Psychology Department’s Research Colloquium. The Research Colloquium hour provides a monthly opportunity for students and faculty to gather and view presentations of current psychological research at Oakland University. The presentation hour is open to all OU students and faculty.

Olivia presented results from her master’s thesis entitled, The Relationship Between Growth and Creativity in Children. She conducted a study that analyzed creativity, personal growth, and posttraumatic growth (PTG) in children between the ages of 8-11 years old. She found that creativity is positively correlated with both PTG and personal growth in children and that the level of extraversion and openness within the children plays a significant role in that relationship. However, Olivia did not find significant results on the caregiver’s level of openness on the relationship between the children’s PTG and creativity. Overall, Olivia’s research suggests that daily life stressors might encourage positive outcomes like creativity.


Whitney shared results from the third part of her doctoral dissertation titled, The Impact of Captive Swim-With-Dolphin Programs on Children’s Mental Health and Environmental Attitudes. She conducted a study that examined children’s educational and psychological aspects before and after interacting in a swim-with-dolphin program. She found that swimming with captive dolphins can help with emotion regulation, knowledge of dolphin welfare, and heart rate in children, but her findings suggest little long-term impact. She also found that the length of the program impacted the children’s environmental awareness and conservation behavior. Lastly, her participants enjoyed interactions with dolphins, found it to be entertaining and novel, and many of the children wanted to stay longer and/or do again.

The PTG Lab is extremely proud of Olivia and Whitney for representing the lab well with their fascinating research. Both presentations sparked curiosity in the audience and prompted many follow-up questions. We look forward to the completion of each of their studies and further presentations that will incorporate even more fascinating results! Wonderful job, Olivia and Whitney!

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Q's Master's Thesis Presentation

Second year master’s student, Qandeel, recently gave her master’s thesis presentation titled, The Roles of Femininity, Masculinity, and Androgyny in Female College Students Coping with Adversity, Optimism, and Posttraumatic Growth. Q examined the relationship of optimism beliefs and PTG due to adversity in college females in Pakistan and America based on their masculinity, femininity, and androgynous traits. She wanted to show cultural differences on which country (Pakistan or America) shows ranking of masculine, feminine, or androgynous traits in college aged females. She predicted that (1) females in Pakistan who are more feminine will have lower optimism levels, females in America who are feminine will have higher optimism levels, and females who are androgynous in America and Pakistan will have higher optimism levels overall, (2) females in America and Pakistan who have higher feminine traits and optimism will have significant PTG levels and (3) there will be cultural differences between America and Pakistan in regards to their ranking of masculine, feminine, and androgynous traits in females. Q found that in the American sample, females who displayed feminine and androgynous traits had higher optimism levels. She did not find a significant link between femininity, optimism, and PTG, however, she did find cultural differences between the countries in their rankings of feminine, masculine, and androgynous traits in females. Q believes that her research can help future cultural research on PTG and coping mechanisms based on the gender spectrum for different countries. She also believes that therapeutic interventions can be put into place for those who have experienced negative events that can be tailored to their gender identification. Amazing work Q, we look forward to hearing more of your results!

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Jo’s Article Presentation

First semester undergraduate lab member, Jo, recently gave her first article presentation titled Secondary Traumatic Stress, Burnout, and Compassion Satisfaction in a Sample of Spoken-Language Interpreters that was published by Christopher J. Mehus and Emily H. Becher. The researchers of this study wanted to analyze the level of secondary posttraumatic stress (SPTS), burnout, and compassion satisfaction in spoken-language interpreters and compare them to the population normed score. They predicted that refugee interpreters who may have similar personal histories with their clients, would exhibit higher levels of SPTS. The results showed that burnout and the prediction that refugee status would increase SPTS was not significantly different than the population norm. This suggests that the interpreter’s ability to connect to their clients, develop high compassion satisfaction, and find meaning within their work may protect them against burnout and SPTS. These results help to facilitate the discussion of interpreter psychological support programs by understanding what affect’s their psychological states from the impact of their client histories. The researchers believe that future directions should seek to better understand the psychological impact of interpreting and how it influences the overall quality of their relationships through interpreting. Jo would like to use this article to build upon her own interests in examining how signed interpreters may be influenced by SPTS. Good job on your presentation, Jo!  

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Whitney’s Dissertation Update

Fifth year PhD student, Whitney, recently presented the third part of her dissertation on The Impact of Captive Swim-With-Dolphin Programs on Children’s Mental Health and Environmental Attitudes. She conducted a study that examined childrens’ educational and psychological aspects before and after interacting in a swim-with-dolphin program. She looked at the childrens’ knowledge of dolphin welfare, environmental attitudes, and conservation behaviors along with their perceived social support, emotion regulation, and empathy. Whitney also analyzed heart rate changes and the impact of physical touch between the dolphins and the children. She incorporated stress and trauma measures in the study, such as posttraumatic growth (PTG), as well. She found that swimming with captive dolphins can help with emotion regulation and heart rate but not empathy or environmental attitudes which may indicate very little long-term impacts from the program. Whitney found that conservation behaviors were positively correlated with human support, as well as, empathy. She found that younger participants were more aware of the environment than the older participants, whereas older participants perceived more support from their parents in comparison to the younger participants. Whitney did not find any significant correlations between stress symptoms and psychological variables but she is still analyzing the data for results on physical touch. She believes that these findings could help create programs to increase various educational and psychological aspects in children such as their overall emotional and behavioral health. Amazing work Whitney, we look forward to hearing more of your results!

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Brooklin’s Michigan Academy Proposal

Recently, second year undergraduate lab member, Brooklin, presented her exploratory analysis on one of the lab’s current studies as a preparation for an upcoming psychology conference known as Michigan Academy. Her presentation titled, Optimism & Resilience. An Exploratory Look at the Survey using Vignette Data, looked at the relationships of the two traits among undergraduate college students in hopes of finding aids for student’s chances of scoring jobs after graduating. Based on previously conducted research regarding the relationships between optimism and resilience, Brooklin choose to examine the relationships between the two while looking at different scales of comparative and adjusted optimism. With the data collected thus far, she found significant relationships between the scales and she plans to continue examining them with a larger sample size as research continues to be collected. Great job, Brooklin, we can’t wait to see what more you find!

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Kara’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

First year master’s student, Kara, recently presented her master’s thesis proposal titled Identifying the Tipping Point of Recognition of Depressive Symptoms in Undergraduate Students based on Self-efficacy. Based on previous research conducted, Kara is interested in looking at depressive symptomology and how it impacts college student’s perceptions of tipping points and self-efficacy. Kara aims for her research to help aid in determining self-efficacy at early ages and to better understand tipping points among younger populations for implementable courses of action. Kara has expanded and refined her idea (based on her presentation) and will also be looking at various disorders that are prevalent among college students such as alcohol abuse. She mentions that there is a high prevalence of alcohol abuse and binge drinking in the undergraduate population which can be predictive of future problems with alcohol abuse disorder. She is excited to focus on other metal and psychological disorders while maintaining her main idea of determining where people perceive tipping points of these disorders to be. Great work Kara, we cannot wait to learn more!

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Melissa’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

First year PhD student, Melissa, recently presented her master’s thesis proposal titled The Relationship Between Perceptions of Moral Injury and Posttraumatic Growth in Veterans. Melissa is interested in examining the relationship between moral injury (MI), posttraumatic growth (PTG), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans. Research has found that traumatic events causing PTSD are also likely to cause MI, meaning they often occur together. Research has also found that PTG and PTSD share a curvilinear relationship. Due to this, she predicts that perceptions of MI are correlated to PTG and likely follow a curvilinear relationship as well. She also predicts that different subtypes of MI will have different impacts on PTG levels. Melissa plans to critically examine the nature of the relationship between MI and PTG in order to push for the development of effective intervention programs for military and veteran populations. She believes that if the findings of MI and PTG are significant, research can begin to propose moral healing and moral repair intervention programs for veterans, and potentially, the general public. We are excited to see what Melissa finds and wish her the best of luck!  

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Colin’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

First year master’s student, Colin, recently presented his master’s thesis proposal titled Non-linear Change in Perceived Risk of Mass Shootings in Response to New Information. Colin is interested in examining the types of changes individuals may undergo when impacted by traumatic events such as mass shootings, in order to better understand how the public feels when these events occur and how anxieties may be affected by them. The types of changes he plans to analyze are known as: linear (alpha) change, non-linear recalibration (beta) change, non-linear reprioritization (beta) change, and non-linear reconceptualization (gamma) change. Colin predicts that when participants are shown statistics, regarding the probability of being involved in a mass shooting, they will adjust their perceived risk ratings but not actually have a change in anxiety. He also predicts that when participants are exposed to news articles about a mass shooting, their anxieties will truly increase. Colin believes that if the findings of alpha/beta/gamma changes are shown to be significant for measuring perceived risks of traumatic events such as mass shootings, it can be applied to psychotherapy related constructs. We are excited to see what Colin finds and wish him the best of luck!

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Olivia’s Master’s Thesis Defense Presentation

Second year master’s student, Olivia, presented updates on her master’s thesis proposal titled Pushing Through the Hard Times: Is Growth After Trauma an Influence on Children’s Creativity. Olivia is conducting a study that analyzes the relationships between PTG and Creativity and whether or not the relationship can be affected by the environment and/or personality types. She has predicted that 1) children who experience PTG will be more creative than those who have experienced trauma but show no growth and children who have not experienced trauma at all. With both the trauma experienced group who shows no growth and the no trauma experienced group having the same level of creativity. 2) Environments that foster creativity will affect the level of creativity in children, in addition to the impacts of both trauma and PTG, meaning children with all three will have the highest levels of creativity. 3) Children who’s parents have high levels of extraversion and openness to experiences will be more creative and report more PTG than parents who do not; children who have high levels of both will report more creativity than children who do not, regardless of the parents levels; children with high levels of both and have parents with high levels of both will report the highest PTG. With more data coming in Olivia is able to see many significant findings but is still collecting data and gaining more insight and results. Great work thus far Olivia, we can’t wait to hear more about your findings!

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