As 2018 comes to a close, the PTG Lab is excited to share that three lab members have been awarded the Provost Research Award! Congratulations to Whitney and Jess for being awarded the Provost Graduate Student Research Award and to Velinka for being awarded the Provost Undergraduate Research Award!
In order to be considered for the award, students are required to develop a detailed research proposal and submit it to OU’s Research Office by early October. The awards reflect considerable support for the hard work put into each of the studies. Whitney plans to travel to Hawaii next summer to continue collecting data for her doctoral dissertation titled The Impact of Recreational Wild Dolphin Interactions on Children’s Empathy, Emotion Regulation, Perceived Social Support, and Knowledge of Dolphin Welfare. Jess will continue to work on her master’s thesis titled Redefining Negative Personality Traits and Coping Techniques After Impacts of Stress and Trauma. Velinka will continue to recruit participants and collect data for her senior’s thesis project titled Youth Perceptions of Intergenerational Discordance and Immigrant Well-being. Good luck to Whitney, Jess, and Velinka as they continue to make strides with their studies!
The PTG Lab is thrilled to close out another productive year! As we look toward 2019, we are excited to welcome an incoming new research assistant beginning in the Winter semester and look forward to many research ventures as lab members share their projects at national conferences, develop new research studies, and much more!
Second year Master’s student Alvin recently presented an update of his research study in preparation for his master’s thesis defense in the 2019 Winter semester. Alvin’s research study is aimed at examining the impact of achievement and resiliency on the relationship between failure experiences and positive and negative outcomes. Through prior literature review, he found that the effects of failure and achievement have not been examined in tandem. He suggests that doing so will provide valuable insight into the unique combined positive and negative effects of a wide range of life experiences. Additionally, Alvin suggests that taking one’s resiliency into account is important when examining the effects of life experiences because, not only can it temper the effect of particular outcomes such as fear of more failure, but it may also affect the degree to which one experiences personal growth or wisdom. As Alvin moves forward with further analyses, we look forward to seeing what he finds. Great job and good luck, Alvin!
On Sunday, November 10th, members of the PTG Lab participated in a fitness fundraising event hosted by the Shelby Jane Seyburn (SJS) Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to support Shelby’s passion of helping others through psychological research and intervention. While she was a student at Oakland University and member of the PTG Lab, Shelby put considerable effort into furthering research of PTG and resiliency in order to help those who struggle in the aftermath of trauma. The foundation honors Shelby’s memory by supporting the work Shelby began during her time at Oakland University as well as supporting psychology students in their research pursuits. To learn more about the SJS Foundation, please visit their website: shelbystrong.life.
The heart of the fitness event was a commemoration of Shelby’s spirit by giving others the opportunity to support the SJS Foundation in a way that reflects Shelby’s other passions — fitness and nutritional health. PTG Lab members were honored to be a part of this exciting event and look forward to joining the SJS Foundation for other events in the future! Shelby would be very proud of her family and friends!
First year master’s student Qandeel recently shared her master’s thesis proposal titled College Cohort of Gender Roles & Sex Roles in Coping Due to Life Adversity and Trauma: Belief and Optimism. Qandeel identified that research which examines sex and gender differences are often inconsistent in their use and assessment of the terms. She explained that stereotypical attitudes about gender still pervade pockets of society (e.g., femininity equated with emotion expression and nurture versus masculinity equated with suppressed emotions and assertiveness). Therefore, Qandeel plans to specifically assess both biological sex and gender through measures of one’s own gender identification, respectively. Doing so will help clarify some of the discrepancies associated with an empirical understanding of the topics. In addition, Qandeel aims to examine how potential sex and gender differences emerge in relation to trauma, optimism, coping, and posttraumatic growth, which could have valuable clinical implication. We are excited to see what she finds. Good luck, Qandeel!
First year master’s student Megan recently presented her Master’s Thesis proposal. Megan is interested in examining attitudes and perceptions towards child abuse across generations and cultures. While searching through the literature, Megan identified potentially harmful punishments or treatments towards children that are commonly overlooked, such as refusal to vaccinate or grounding. She suggests that attitudes and perceptions about traditional and non-traditional forms of child abuse will vary depending on age and cultural background and that attitudes about what is acceptable or not acceptable will vary depending on the age and sex of the child. Megan hopes to expand the dialogue about the potential harmful effects of non-traditional forms of child abuse by assessing opinions regarding what should be classified as abuse. We are excited to see how Megan’s study develops. Good luck, Megan!
Recently, Jess presented an overview of her master’s thesis. While reviewing research related to trauma, personality, and coping, Jess identified that traits and psychological constructs are often interpreted from a dichotomous perspective – good/bad, positive/negative – which does not necessarily reflect the reality of one’s lived experiences. Therefore, Jess framed her master’s thesis to deconstruct dichotomous thinking. The purpose of her study is fourfold: 1) to find the link between negative personality traits, maladaptive coping, and trauma, 2) identify adaptive implications of maladaptive coping and negative personality traits, 3) redefine negative personality traits, disorder, and coping in light of trauma, and 4) set the framework to de-pathologize personality disorders, while implementing new interventions for trauma survivors. Jess suggests that maladaptive coping strategies may be used in adaptive ways by individuals with higher levels of negative personality traits, thereby providing ample rationale for a reconsideration of a dichotomous understanding of coping strategies and psychological constructs. She proposes that an optimal balance model would better serve those who struggle in the aftermath of traumatic experiences, both in the short-term and long-term. Jess is currently in the process of collecting data and we look forward to hearing more about her findings. Great job, Jess, and good luck with your research!
For Alex’s second semester research article presentation to the lab, he chose an article with some relation to the research study over which he is principal investigator, entitled A Survey about Images of Psychosomatic Disorder or Posttraumatic Growth. Alex chose an article that was aimed at examining if defensive styles moderate the relationship between well-being and PTG. Defensive styles were categorized as neurotic, immature, and mature defensive styles, with the supposition that neurotic and immature defensive styles are associated with illusory growth, while mature defensive style is associated with authentic PTG. The researchers suggest that level and type of defensive style will provide valuable insight into interpreting self-reports of personal growth. Results revealed that neurotic type of defensive style was associated with self-reports of PTG, which was suggested to indicate the presence of illusory growth. Results also revealed that mature defensive style moderated the relationship between PTG and positive and negative affect, respectively, which the researchers interpreted as support for the moderating effect of defensiveness style on the relationship between PTG and well-being. However, Alex challenged the idea of assigning positive and negative affect as a substitute for well-being, especially after the well-being scale did not yield significant results to support the stated hypothesis. The presentation led to engaging discussion about research design and implementation. Great job, Alex, on a thought-provoking presentation!
The PTG Lab would like to welcome four new members!
Welcome to new graduate student lab member, Olivia! Olivia is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology and a minor in early childhood from the University of Michigan-Flint. She is currently interested in the short term and long-term effects that trauma and abuse can have on children. Additionally, she is interested in creativity and the development of the creative process. She hopes to connect these two interests for her master’s thesis. Olivia got involved with the PTG lab because it compliments her interests and future goals, and she is looking forward to working alongside others with similar interests. She plans to apply what she learns in the PTG lab to a future career as a child psychologist at a children’s hospital. Olivia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PTG Lab also welcomes new graduate student lab member, Megan! Megan is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Flint with minors in early childhood and substance abuse. During her time at Oakland University, she plans to study PTG in those effected by trauma at all ages, especially in children. Megan joined the lab to expand her knowledge of PTG, examine how individuals are affected by trauma over time, and identify different coping methods utilized after trauma. In the future she hopes to work with children who are victims of abuse and neglect in the foster care system. Megan can be reached at email@example.com.
The PTG Lab would also like to welcome new graduate student lab member, Qandeel! Qandeel is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oakland University. She hopes that the research skills she develops in the PTG Lab will help her with a future career as a clinical psychologist. After completing a master’s degree, Qandeel aspires to obtain a PsyD in clinical psychology and eventually open her own private practice to pursue what she loves. Qandeel can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the PTG Lab would like to welcome Brooklin, our new undergraduate research assistant. Brooklin is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology. She became interested in joining the lab because she would like to learn about how posttraumatic growth is relevant to society, at large, and how the construct benefits people on an individual level. During her time in the lab, Brooklin hopes to study many aspects of posttraumatic growth, especially the way it can be fostered in veterans. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for industrial and organizational psychology. Brooklin can be reached at Bmadams234@oakland.edu.
Several PTG lab members recently had the opportunity to travel to San Fransisco, California and present their studies at the 126th meeting of the American Psychological Association from August 9th-12th.
Jenna, Alvin, and Dr. Taku developed a poster presentation of their project, titled Impact of Life Events and Stressors Related to Posttraumatic Growth. The aim of the study was to investigate how how particular life stressors (e.g., death of a loved one, academic issues) would relate to specific PTG domains (i.e., Appreciation of Life, Relating to Others, Personal Strength). Alvin did a great job presenting their work. Jenna also worked on another project with Dr. Taku and Dr. Matthew McLarnon, title Resiliency, Posttraumatic Growth, and Growth Motivation in U.S. Military Personnel, in which they examined the relationship between two perspectives of resiliency and their relations to growth motivation and posttraumatic growth. Dr. Taku presented the poster on behalf of the group. Jess presented the project she worked on with Lauren and Dr. Taku, titled The Influence of Dark Triad Personality Traits on Perceived Trauma. The purpose of the study was to assess how certain aspects of the Dark Triad influence an individual’s perception of a most impactful event when multiple events are experienced.
Jess and Velinka presented their project with Dr. Taku, titled The Relationship Between Interpersonal Stressors, the Dark Triad, and PTG. The purpose of their study was to examine how the relationship between individuals with Dark Triad traits and PTG changes depending on types of interpersonal stressors. Lastly, Lauren, Velinka, and Dr. Taku developed a project titled How Narratives of Authentic and Illusory Growth are Perceived. The purpose of the study was to assess differences in perceptions of authentic and illusory growth through the use of narrative vignettes.
APA 2018 proved to be another rewarding experience and even allowed for the opportunity meet Dr. Taku’s colleague and friend, Dr. Jane Shakespeare-Finch who traveled from Australia. Overall, lab members were excited for another opportunity to share their work and learn about research being conducted around the world.
The Meeting of Minds conference provides a yearly opportunity for undergraduate students from Oakland University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and University of Michigan-Flint to share research accomplishments through oral and poster presentations. On May 11th, U of M-Dearborn hosted this year’s event, and lab members Lauren, Alex, Nicholas, and Velinka attended and shared their projects. These studies have been also published in Meeting of Minds online Journal.
Lauren and Alex presented their project titled Can Hearing About Posttraumatic Growth Increase Self-Reported Growth? They examined self-reported PTG differences in those who were exposed to either PTG and Depression narratives. Contrary to their hypothesis, Lauren and Alex found that those who were exposed to Depression narratives reported higher PTG than those who were exposed to PTG narratives. The findings suggest that, when exposed to a negative narrative and then asked to reflect on oneself, participants may be motivated to maintain cognitive well-being.
Velinka presented her and Jenna’s collaborative project titled The Desire to Foster Personal Growth in First- and Second-Generation Immigrants: A U.S. Sample. Their study examined the difference between first- and second-generation immigrants’ desire to foster personal growth (i.e. growth motivation) in those whose country of origin is collectivist. In spite of notably small sample sizes, the results yielded marginally significant group differences in certain aspects of growth motivation. The findings suggest that, as immigrants acculturate to new country norms, they may also develop new desires to experience personal growth.
Nicholas and Velinka presented their project titled Does Type of Stress Affect Posttraumatic Growth? Examining Differences Among the Different Aspects of Growth. Their study examined PTG domain differences between participants who reported family related stress due to parental divorce and those who reported family-related stress due to cancer. They found significant differences between the groups when it came to the Personal Strength domain but not the other PTG domains. Even still, this suggests that growth after traumatic events may vary depending on the type of event.
Overall, the conference was a success and another great opportunity to share the hard work of many!