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Congrats, Kara!

A second-year Master’s student, Kara Pado, successfully defended her master’s thesis titled “Perceptions of Tipping Points of Alcohol Abuse Tendencies in Undergraduate Students“.

Kara studied the importance of tipping points, specifically in how our perceptions of tipping points relate to the perceptions of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use in undergraduate students has become increasingly prevalent, reaching levels greater than those of the general population.  Kara hypothesized that (1) individuals would indicate a later tipping point when evaluating the problematic behavior in the self-condition than they will when evaluating a peer, (2) students who reported a higher level of alcohol consumption would indicate a much larger threshold for a tipping point of alcohol abuse disorder in both themselves and a peer, and (3) participants who reported that their parents that were more accepting of alcohol will identify larger tipping points in potential alcohol abuse tendencies.

Kara then collected data from college students and analyzed 354 responses. She found that while students, on average, reported earlier tipping points indicative of problematic drinking behaviors for themselves, rather than their peers, many factors including current quantity of alcohol consumption, current frequency of alcohol consumption, and parental alcohol use all played a role in determining what quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption would constitute problematic behaviors in both themselves and their peers! Very interesting!

It would be beneficial to collect more data on current alcohol consumption, the perceptions of alcohol consumption behaviors, and the individual influences that play a role in making decisions regarding alcohol consumption among undergraduate students. This additional data would allow undergraduate institutions to effectively develop preventative measures and recovery plans for students impacted by dangerous alcohol consumption behaviors.

Excellent job! Congratulations, Kara!! We look forward to your future research in this field!

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Congrats, CJ

A second-year Master’s student, Colin O’Brien, successfully defended his master’s thesis titled, Types of Change in Anxiety Regarding Mass Shootings in Response to New Information.

He investigated how different types of information about mass shootings can affect an individual’s state anxiety, while also defining and examining the type of change taking place. CJ also examined the association between trait anxiety and changes in state anxiety. A total of 364 participants recruited from a midwestern university were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, in which they read either emotional information (news media), unemotional information (statistics), or a filler article. Before and after reading these articles, CJ asked participants to respond to questions from the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. CJ then analyzed his data by using R and SPSS. He found that participants experienced alpha changes in anxiety after reading either article related to mass shootings, but not after reading the filler article. Also, CJ found that individuals higher in trait anxiety were more likely to experience negative alpha changes after reading the filler article and were more likely to experience beta changes across all three conditions. These results demonstrate that information about mass shootings is likely to elevate anxiety levels regardless of its emotionality, which may be relevant for professionals attempting to educate about mass shootings. CJ’s thesis also illustrates the connection between trait anxiety and changes in state anxiety, and that constructs other than the construct being changed may need to be considered when testing for alpha and beta changes.

Excellent job!!

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Dr. Dominick’s Research Update

Dr. Dominick presented an update on her latest research project, “COVID-19, social support, and posttraumatic growth“. The purpose of her study is to examine the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on posttraumatic growth (PTG), core belief disruption (CBI), perceptions of social support, and usage of alternative support sources. The aspects of social support include human connection, pets, and social media. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on PTG, social support, and CBI and the relationship between different types of stressful events (mainly the pandemic and politics) and their impact on PTG, social support, and CBI were examined through repeated measures ANOVA and independent sample t-tests.

Dr. Dominick predicted that the data would show an increase in PTG, increase in CBI, decrease in perceptions of support, and increase the use of alternative support. The three time points for data collection that have already been completed were March 31st, April 30th, and September 30th, 2020. The final round of data collection will take place March 20, 2021, about a year after the first survey and beginning of the pandemic.

The presentation included current findings from the first three time points of data collection which included participants from all around the United States. Interestingly, only 33% of the participants reported the COVID-19 pandemic as the most stressful event of the last six months. This subgroup reported a significantly higher level of PTG than the participants who reported other events as most stressful, such as racial justice and political events. Politics were reported as the most significant issue by 25% of participants and correlated with significantly lower PTG than participants who reported other issues as most significant. However, it is important to keep in mind that data was last collected before the 2020 Presidential election.

The longitudinal change of PTG was broken down into the five different domains of PTG in order to get a closer look. Overall PTG levels did not show did significant change, but there was a notable improvement in the “New Possibilities” and “Strength” domains.

It was also found that those who live alone could have a higher chance of loneliness with less social support. Unexpectedly, these participants demonstrated a lower attachment to pets and also did not report any changes in CBI or PTG over time. While those who owned pets correlated with a higher core belief disruption and an increased attachment to their pets.

Despite the limitations, Dr. Dominick strives to examine the impact of the pandemic and politics longitudinally. She believes there will be changes in the data results because of COVID-19 vaccination administration and eased regulations throughout the United States. We are looking forward to hearing more about your findings, Dr. Dominick!

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Do We Want AI to Believe in Karma?

Thinking about the way to study karma in the FF-PTG lab.

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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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Kara’s Master’s Thesis Defense

Kara Pado, second year Master’s student, presented the latest updates on her thesis proposal, Identifying the tipping point of recognition of alcohol abuse symptoms in undergraduate students. The purpose of Kara’s Master’s thesis is to identify tipping points in perceptions of alcohol abuse symptomatology by examining undergraduate students’ self-perceptions of alcohol consumption and perceptions of their peers’ consumption. Tipping points are generally defined as a moment of revelation that indicates a major change; however, it can differ in interpretation depending on the field of study. Alcohol usage and subsequent symptomatology, parental alcohol permissiveness and usage, and tipping point were measured through an assessment. Kara collected data from 354 undergraduate students at Oakland University which were recruited through an online study link in SONA. Participants identified how many drinks per day and duration of behavior required to be considered concerning, through both self-evaluation and evaluation of their peers.

Through the initial data analysis, Kara has discovered participants will identify a tipping point of an alcohol problem developing in themselves earlier than in their peers. Another interesting finding was peer tipping points were significantly influenced by parental permissiveness, while self tipping points were not. She will be performing further data analysis on additional data that was collected.
The future directions of her study will be expanding to other colleges and universities in the hopes to have more diverse samples, exploring gender-specific habits and outcomes, and collecting self-efficacy data. Through her research, Kara aspires to contribute to the understanding of tipping points in psychology and the impact of exposure to alcohol on perceptions of developing a problem along with potential clinical applications to decrease alcohol use disorder on college campuses. We are looking forward to hearing more about your findings, Kara!

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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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Colin’s ARFID Study

ARFID, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, can be characterized by the avoidance of food whether it is in variety or volume. There are three domains which ARFID can be broken down into: picky eating, low appetite, or fear. Graduate student, Colin O’Brien’s ARFID study, Differentiating between Domains of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, will be examining potential factors associated with ARFID. Specifically, the study will be focusing on factors of anxiety, disgust, and parenting and their associations with ARFID and each of its domains. Colin will be starting to collect data soon from participants who are 18 or older and will be recruited through an OU Psychology Pool ad on SONA along with other internet postings.

In recent news, the Michigan Academy conference has accepted Colin’s abstract submission for the ARFID study. Congratulations! Thank you to Joey Rhodes and Victoria Kaznowski for your collaboration on this study. We are looking forward to hearing about your findings!

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Now Accepting Grad Student Applications

The current application review cycle has begun and we look forward to meeting you!

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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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