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OU Hosts Founders’ Day Faculty Recognition Event

The annual Founders’ Day Faculty Recognition event commends faculty members whose teaching and research excellence, creative achievements, and community service have contributed to the betterment of society. They honor OU faculty members for their scholarly achievements and dedication regarding research and critical teaching roles in educating the leaders of tomorrow. This year, the FF-PTG lab’s very own director, Dr. Kanako Taku has been awarded as an honoree for her teaching. In regards to her skills in the classroom, Dr. Taku “helps her students find success by using data derived from students, making students more involved and classroom time more engaging.” But her dedication and passion for teaching goes beyond the classroom: “the students that she has supported have found success, earning awards, grants and presenting work at local, national, and international conferences”. Congrats Dr. Taku! The lab is extremely proud of you and all of your accomplishments!

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Kat’s Presentation

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!

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Kara’s Master’s Thesis Proposal Updates

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!

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Colin’s Master’s Thesis Proposal Updates

Colin, second year master’s student, presented updates to his master’s thesis proposal titled Types of Change in Anxiety Regarding
Mass Shootings in Response to New Information
. He intends to examine psychological outcomes, focusing on taking a closer look at the different types of change in anxiety experienced by individuals and their responses to various types of information regarding mass shootings. Recently, he began collecting data for his thesis through the use of online surveys, allowing for preliminary analysis of the responses from the participants. With the data collection being a work in progress, Colin has been able to work on analysis on the different types of changes in anxiety: alpha (linear), beta (non-linear reprioritization & recalibration), and gamma (non-linear reconceptualization). His analysis revealed that regardless of emotional content in information presented to individuals, the discussion of mass shootings alone is enough to raise anxiety levels. Congratulations, as well, to Colin, for being awarded the Provost Graduate Student Research Award
which will aid him in furthering his research!

With his research, Colin hopes to better the current understanding of how various forms of media on mass shootings are impacting individuals not directly involved in the event. He aspires to one-day assist in the creation of active shooter training based on his research, by finding better ways to spread awareness and news within the media. In addition, Colin hopes to discover different therapeutic routes for those both directly and indirectly involved in. Amazing work Colin, we look forward to hearing more about your findings!

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The FF-PTG Lab Welcomes New Members

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 kbenson@oakland.edu

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 josephrhodes@oakland.edu

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 koltonsmith@oakland.edu


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 vkaznowski@oakland.edu.

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The FF-PTG Lab Welcomes New Member

Welcome to Emily Burley, our new undergraduate research assistant! Emily is currently a sophomore at Oakland University, double majoring in psychology and human resources management. She joined the lab due to her interest in using psychology to help others achieve a better quality of life, and hopes that learning about PTG will help her do so. Emily plans to study PTG as it relates to specific groups of people, such as grade school teachers and people who cause traumatic events by hurting others, both intentionally and unintentionally. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school and start a career in psychology. Emily can be reached at emilyburley@oakland.edu.

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Potential Research Topics in 2020-2022

We are excited to start the new semester in a month and look forward to initiating new lines of FF-PTG LAB research projects. Here is some ideas.

  • Social, political, and psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic, including the distinctions between PTG, resilience, and well-being
  • Impact on values and trust in government and statistics that relate to personality, anxiety, coping, and PTG
  • Racial disparities, inequality, the mass protests in the U.S.,and justice related to action-focused growth 
  • PTG as defense mechanism against anxiety under COVID-19
  • Tipping point for post-traumatic/daily cognitive, emotional, personality, relational, and physical changes
  • Bright, dark, and ugly side of resilience and PTG
  • Impact of being hurt and harming others within the same person
  • Issues surrounding PTG, authentic growth, and illusory growth
  • PTG as a means of revenge, and DARVO (deny, attack, reverse victim and offender roles)
  • Sustainability of PTG and PTG as a temporal coping/mood
  • Values of leisure, outdoor activities, sports and athletes under COVID-19 relate to mental and physical health
  • Impact of cyber harassment, rejection, and bullying on well-being

If you would be interested in any of these topics, please let us know so we can collaborate and delve into some big unanswered questions together!

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Kat’s Presentation

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!

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Emilee’s Article Presentation

First semester undergraduate lab member, Emilee, recently gave her first article presentation titled Is Resilience only skin deep? Rural African Americans’ socioeconomic status – Related Risk and Competence in Preadolescence and Psychological Adjustment and allostatic load at age 19 that was published by Gene H. Brody et al. in 2013. The researchers of this study wanted to analyze the interaction between resilience and negative physical outcomes in a population of disadvantaged African-American preadolescents. They predicted that the preadolescents who exhibited high psychosocial competence despite their lower socioeconomic status would at the same time show signs of stable mental health and increased physical health problems, specifically higher levels of allostatic load (a measure of a person’s stress response). The results showed that higher resilience, or psychosocial competence, in the preadolescents correlated with higher levels of allostatic load and physical health issues at age 19, but these results were found only for the disadvantaged preadolescents. This suggests that resilience is multidimensional, positively affecting mental health while simultaneously negatively affecting aspects of physical health. These results help to facilitate the discussion of the complexity of psychological constructs and the possible “dark side” to ones which are consistently viewed in a positive light. The researchers believe that future directions should seek to explore mediating factors and functions behind the biological and physiological effects of active coping skills. Emilee would like to use this article to build upon her own interests in examining the unexplored sides to common psychological constructs. Great job on your presentation, Emilee!

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OUGSRC 2020

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!

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