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!
First semester undergraduate lab member, Brooklin, recently gave her first article presentation, where she guided the lab through a research article that reflects her research interests. Brooklin is interested in industrial organizational (I/O) psychology, so she decided to choose an article that focused on the workplace. Because there are a limited number of scales that specifically measure resilience within the workplace, Brooklin chose the article Workplace Resilience and the Development of the Work-Related Resilience Scale by Peter Winwood, Rochelle Colon, and Kath McEwen. Researchers hypothesized that their measure of workplace resilience would correlate positively with psychometric measures of measure of recovery (from work demands), engagement at work, physical health, and chronic fatigue and sleep habits. Results showed that acute (end of shift) fatigue due to work demands was moderated by on-the-job-resources, like free lunches and employee enrichment. Additionally, high resilience was seen to be associated with recovery from the acute fatigue and in turn associated with better physical health. Brooklin plans to continue addressing the topic of resilience in the workplace throughout her time in the PTG lab, as well as in her future career in I/O psychology! Fantastic job on your article presentation, Brooklin, and good luck with future research!
Fourth-year PhD student, Whitney Dominick, and second-year master’s student, Jess Kopitz, presented an update of their respective current studies at the most recent Psychology Department’s Lunch Bunch Research Colloquium. The Lunch Bunch hour provides a bi-monthly opportunity for graduate and undergraduate 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.
Whitney shared results from her doctoral dissertation entitled The Impact of Recreational Wild Dolphin Interactions on Children’s Empathy, Emotion Regulation, Perceived Social Support, and Knowledge of Dolphin Welfare. She found that children feel more supported by dolphins if they also feel support from pets & program staff, and that knowledge about dolphin welfare after the program leads to greater perceptions of support a month later. Whitney presented data collected from Hawaii and Florida and plans to continue collecting data over the summer in Hawaii!
Jess presented preliminary results from her master’s thesis entitled Redefining NegativePersonality Traits and Coping Techniques after Impacts of Stress and Trauma. Jess framed her master’s thesis to deconstruct dichotomous thinking about coping strategies following traumatic experiences. She shared interesting themes from semi-structured interviews, revealing that her participants provided many examples where both traditionally negative coping techniques were crucial to their growth, and traditionally positive coping techniques were harmful or lead to harmful behaviors.
The PTG Lab is extremely proud of Whitney and Jess for representing the lab well with their fascinating research. Both presentations sparked curiosity in the audience and prompted many follow-up questions. Whitney and Jess both did a great job interacting with the audience. We look forward to the completion of each of their studies and further presentations including results! Way to go, Whitney and Jess!
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!
Recently, first year master’s student, Olivia, presented her thesis proposal titled Creativity and Trauma in Children. Creativity is highly valued in the work force, and Olivia is passionate about conducting research that advocates for the prioritization of creative growth in children. She is interested in understanding the impact that creativity has on the process of struggling with a traumatic experience, as well as how trauma can impact creativity. Olivia has identified personality traits that are shared by those who are creative and those who experience a trauma, including neuroticism, openness to new experiences, and extroversion. She plans to use these commonalities to 1.) examine the relationship between trauma and creativity in children 2.) examine the relationship between PTG and creativity in children and 3.) create a connection between the three variables (PTG, trauma, and creativity). As she continues to develop her study, we wish her the best of luck!
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!
Fatima is a senior high school student, and this is her first year interning for the PTG lab. Recently, Fatima presented findings from her literature review, titled Relationship Between Social Isolation in Childhood and Health. Fatima sought to examine how active social disengagement affects physical health, mental health, and social attachment. Fatima presented articles addressing the relationship between child abuse and social isolation, age differences of social isolation perception, and to what extent childhood friendships can buffer social isolation. She also looked at how childhood isolation can predict future health by reviewing an article that assessed the effects of social isolation in early childhood on potential mental health problems in adolescence and another article that predicted increased adult inflammation. Fatima learned that there is variation in childhood social isolation and that it may lead to cascading mental and physical health issues. We are impressed with Fatima’s work and hope she continues to pursue her love for behavioral sciences into college!
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!