Author Archives: vkaznowski

Kolton’s Thesis Proposal Prep

Kolton, first year Master’s student, recently shared updates on his thesis project, Victim-Perpetrator Overlap and Post-Traumatic Growth.

His presentation included detailed information on the procedure, survey structure, and data analysis for the study. The focus of this project is Victim-Perpetrator Overlap (VPO), the idea that a current perpetrator of a problematic behavior was previously a victim of the same problematic behavior in the past. Kolton noticed that there is a lack of literature on the perpetrators of the trauma events being reported in Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) studies; he would like to explore the possibility of how PTG might play a role in victims becoming perpetrators.

Data will be collected via an online survey that will include questionnaires about experiences as both a victim and perpetrator along with a PTG inventory for traumatic experiences for both. It is predicted that participants who experience PTG as a victim will be less likely to report instances of committing problematic behavior as a perpetrator. The survey will be randomized so that some participants will complete the questions about their traumatic experiences as a victim first, complete a filler questionnaire, then complete questions about their traumatic experiences as a perpetrator and vice-versa. It is predicted that participants in the condition who answer questions about their experiences as a victim first will be less likely to report instances of being a perpetrator than those in the condition who initially reflect on experiences as a perpetrator. The information gathered from this study could deepen our understanding of why individuals commit crimes and strengthen crime prevention strategies. This project is coming together nicely, Kolton!

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Kayla’s Thesis Updates!

Last week, Ph.D. student Kayla presented updated plans for her project titled Growing Toward the Common Good: Collective Action during COVID-19.

Kayla aims to develop an understanding of collective action behaviors as a predictor of action-focused growth and constructive PTG by studying how bystanders might promote collective action among their group for the benefit of society during a pandemic. Not only will the relationship between PTG and collective action behavior be examined, but the possibility of narcissism and optimism being indicators of illusory PTG will be explored. Her study will include a preliminary survey collecting data on individual differences, evaluation of collective behavior, and attitudes towards COVID-19 along with daily surveys collecting data concerning behavior during public outings (e.g. mask wearing, how many people present). She is hoping to recruit about 400 participants who have resided in the United States since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and are at least 18 years old.

It is predicted that participants who score high on the PTG scale will engage in more collective action interventions. She also predicts that people who have high PTG scores and do not engage in collective action interventions will reflect illusory growth and anticipates that narcissism and/or optimism could be influencing factors in this relationship. This project has the potential to help identify predicting factors of who will take part in collective action as a reflection of action-focused growth. It seems like this study will collect extremely rich and relevant data. We are very excited to see the outcomes! Amazing presentation, Kayla!

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Joey’s Master’s Thesis Update

At the beginning of the semester, first year Master’s student Joey presented his Master’s thesis presentation titled Understanding the Cultural Differences in Behavior During a Global Pandemic with updates on his preparations for conducting the study.

Joey’s thesis focuses on how individuals with different social identities engage in prosocial behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic and how pandemic circumstances contribute to depression symptoms. In regards to his thesis, social identity refers to participants’ identification with either an individualist or collectivist cultural background. Individualists are commonly independent and prioritize personal goals while collectivists are most often categorized as interdependent and concerned with in-group goals above personal goals. Joey predicts that collectivists will be more likely to report prosocial behavior in response to the pandemic (e.g. wearing masks) than individualists. He also hypothesizes that collectivists will report higher levels of depression and suicide ideation than participants who identify with individualism due to the protective measures taken during the pandemic that resulted in prolonged socially isolating circumstances.

The hypotheses will be tested using samples from university students in the United States, which has an individualistic culture, and Japan, which has a collectivist culture. The main goal of Joey’s study is to examine a possible relationship between perceived social identity and prosocial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Joey is also interested in the mental health effects of the pandemic based on social identity and if social identity priming can influence one’s alignment with individualism or collectivism. This work has the potential to give insight into individual priorities and subsequent reactions to a global pandemic and develop a better understanding of how necessary limited social interaction can adversely affect mental health. We are excited to see how things go once data collection begins!

In other exciting news, Joey’s abstract submission titled Impact of Racial Discrimination on Academic Motivation and Academic Achievement was accepted for the Midwestern Psychological Association conference! This project focused on the relationship between racial discrimination, academic motivation, and academic achievement in undergraduate students. Congratulations to Joey, fellow lab member Kayla, and PTG alumni Alvin, who worked on this project together!

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