Lewis Luttrell: Master Thesis Proposal

Lewis Luttrell, a first-year Master’s student, presented his thesis proposal, “Using Polyculturalism to Reduce Intergroup Threat” on November 8th, 2022, in preparation for the upcoming departmental presentation. Polyculturalism is defined as cultures that are byproducts of historical interaction with different groups without a “pure” culture belonging to any one group along with an emphasis on the interconnectionnedness rather than separation. It is one of the four concepts of interethnic ideologies. Some examples would be the two distinct cultures in Louisiana (i.e., Cajun and Creoloe); music genres (i.e., jazz and country); food (i.e., tacos); and architecture (i.e., Indonesian style).

To understand the concept of polyculturalism, it is important to create a solid foundation interconnecting theories such as Social Dominance Theory and Intergroup Threat Theory with Realistic Threat, Perceptions of Threat, and Artifical Segreation. Within previous research, investigations upon ascertaining how polycultural approach may be received by marginalized racial and ethnic groups has been limited. Experts have hypothesized those of marginalized groups could have negative attitudes towards dominant groups which could lead to a decrease in interactions.

At the initial stages of Luttrell’s study, hypothesis one states that polyculturalism with attenuate intergroup threat for all participants regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender. Hypothesis two will narrow the scope to white participants with the expectation that polyculturalism will attenuate intergroup threat regardless of social domination orientation. Measures that will be utilized include SDO-D and SDO-E of SOD7 (alpha=.93), Polyculturalism (alpha= .88), and Intergroup Threat [ITT] for symbolic and realistic threat. Through a prior analysis, Luttrell discovered he would need to obtain 175 participants per group despite previous studies utilizing about 60 individuals per group with the time one and time two phases. During time 1, partipants will initially complete ITT, SDO7, and demographic information. Participants will complete interethnic ideology shift (experimental group) or read an section from the farmers almanac as a control within time 2. However, Luttrell identifies three potential limitations including: a need for a third factor of race; dependence on least one other of race or ethnicity; and two-part study which would increase likelihood of attrition.

We wish you the best of luck on your Master Thesis Defense at the end of the Fall 2022 semester, Lewis! Keep up the wonderful work.

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Taylor Elam: Master’s Thesis Proposal

Taylor Elam, a first year Ph.D. Student, recently gave a presentation on her research proposal titled, “I’ll Believe it When I See it: Behavior Change and Person Perception”. This project focuses on how and when people change their perceptions of others.

Taylor explains that people can change by changing their habits, behaviors, attitudes, outlook, verbal and/or physical responses, and most recently discovered, personality. Studies so far have focused on how people change through therapy, how impressions are made and how accurate they are, and how to help people change. Elam saw a need for research that studies when we change our perceptions of others whether the perception is accurate or not.

Elam hypothesized that those who watch a video describing a person’s behavior will change their perception of the person sooner than those who read the vignettes. She aimed to explore the influence of participant characteristics, mood, and interpersonal accuracy on person perception change. The study recruited 300 college students 18+, 100 in each group, for an online survey with 4 time points.

The study would include a person named Taylor described in differing settings and behaviors. For example one setting would be:

“Taylor walks into class, smiling. She shakes hands with teachers and greets her classmates. She sits straight up while watching the lecture. She laughs at the jokes during the presentation. “

“Taylor drives to work listening to upbeat music. “

“Taylor cries at home. Her house is messier because she hasn’t cleaned. She slams her backpack down and goes straight to sleep. “

Other settings would switch out the behaviors with sad connotations with happy behaviors. Throughout the 4 time points, participants would experience differing settings of the same story about Taylor through a video, vignette, or a combination of both. Participants would then complete the survey reporting their demographics, psychological status, adversity experience, personality, mood, emotional intelligence, and empathy. They would then complete the task to report their perception of Taylor based off the video or vignettes.

This study called for a repeated measures design with between and within groups. Data will be analyzed using correlation and regression as well as repeated measures ANOVA. Limitations include the potential need for 5 time points to show stability and consistency, the lack of person-memory concept, lack of subject background information, demographics, and previous behaviors.

Taylor did an excellent job designing and presenting her research proposal, and we can’t wait to follow her through this process!

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Paxton Hicks: Article Presentation

Paxton Hicks, a first-semester undergraduate research assistant, recently gave a presentation on the article titled,” Social Interaction in Online Support Groups: Preference for Online Social Interaction Over Offline Social Interaction” from Jae Eun Chung.

Online support groups [OSG] have been a rapid source for individuals seeking support. Sixty percent of users who search for health-related information use social media. The usage of the internet alleviates barriers to communication (i.e., geography), which is beneficial to those with rare conditions in order to easily access resources. However, short-term relationships are more common than not along with the increased chance of the spread of unhealthy advice. Researchers have previously observed the excessive use of the internet and its connection to the preferences of online interaction without the context of OSGs. Therefore, there has been an increase in the current body of research focusing on the positive aspects of OSGs.

The purpose of the presented study was to examine the potential factors that influence the presence of online social interaction as opposed to in-person, how support is integrated from online and offline relationships, and advance the understanding of the role of the internet for patient healthcare. Chung hypothesized that (1) compared to those with weaker relationships in OSGs, individuals with deeper relationships in OSGs will develop a stronger preference for social interaction in OSGs over offline social interaction; (2) compared to those with a higher level of satisfaction with offline social support, individuals with a lower level of satisfaction with offline social support will develop a stronger preference for social interaction in OSGs over offline social interaction; and (3) compared to those with a higher level of satisfaction with medical care, individuals with a lower level of satisfaction with medical care will develop a stronger preference for social interaction in OSGs over offline social interaction.

A sample was recruited through four established OSGs of 158 participants (M= 48.2, SD= 16.4) who completed an approximately 15 minutes in length survey. The demographics were 52.2% male, 47.8% female, the majority of the white race, and residency with a spread of 34.6% urban, 47.2% suburban, and 18.2% rural. Measures included Adapted PIU & GPIUS, Adapted QRI, Standard SSO, and PSQ. The Adapted PIU & GPIUS scales, Problematic Internet Use, were used to gauge the preference of social interaction in OSGs. Adapted QRI, Quality of Relationships Inventory, assessed the depth of relationship within the OSG to other users. The shortened version of the SSQ, Social Support Questionaire, measured satisfaction with offline support. The PSQ, Patient Satisfaction Questionaire, measured patient satisfaction with the medical care received.

A correlation matrix was performed to examine the relationships between the variables. Results indicated the depth of relations in OSGs correlated with a preference for social interaction in OSGs (p < .001). Satisfaction with offline support is related to satisfaction with medical care (p < .001). Satisfaction with offline support negatively correlated with a preference for social interaction in OSGs. Multivariate regression was used to measure the effect of these predictors on preference for social interaction in OSGs.

After the data analysis was performed, the results indicated hypothesis 1 and hypothesis 2 were supported. Individuals with higher relationships in OSGs showed higher preferences for social interaction in OSGs. People with lower levels of satisfaction in offline social support reported a higher preference for interaction in OSGs. Hypothesis 3 was not supported; therefore, no significant changes were found.

Chung listed the cross-sectional design as a limitation since it was unable to see the consequences of the developing preference for OSGs. A longitudinal design could have looked at the development of a preference and its consequences better. Hicks, however, believes the under-coverage of certain demographics (i.e., those of different races and communities) and differences in the types of relationships measured were also limitations. Future directions could include applying OSGs in the relevant wake of the COVID-19 pandemic since the lockdown restrictions limited in-person resources. There are various opportunities in investigating individuals with varying health statuses.

Wonderful presentation! We are looking forward to where your research takes you. Keep up the great work, Paxton Hicks!

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Yates Cider Mill

Fall is here!

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Amani Qaqish: Article Presentation

Amani Qaqish, a first-semester undergraduate lab member, recently gave an article presentation on the article titled “Effort-Reward Imbalance and Employee Performance With the Moderating Roles of Overcommitment and Humor” (Reizer & Siegrist, 2022).

Effort Reward Imbalance (ERI) is described as when the amount of effort one puts into the workplace should be equally reciprocated with reward but is not. The negative implications of ERI include stress-related mental health disorders and physical disorders. Additionally, to cope with ERI, many engage in overcommitment or the two types of different humor: affiliative humor and self-enhancing humor. Affiliative humor is a joke made during a conversation to bring everyone together which can strengthen interpersonal relationships. Self-enhancing humor is a joke about oneself staying positive during a negative time which can regulate emotions. Amani explains the Broaden-and-Build theory which is the idea of broadened attention focus is positive emotions (considering new possibilities and fostering psychological flexibility). Lastly, to explain the background, the dimensions of employee performance were explained as four parts: task performance, organizational citizenship, creative performance, and destructive deviance (DD).

The presented study had three different hypotheses starting with (1) Employee ERI is related to job performance measures with 4 sub-hypotheses: (a) negatively associated with task performance, (b) negatively associated with OCB, (c) negatively associated with creative performance, (d) positively associated with DD. Hypothesis (2) states that overcommitment moderates the relationships between ERI and task performance (H2A), OCB (H2B), creative performance (H2C), and DD (H2D). Lastly, hypothesis (3) states adaptive humor moderated the associations between ERI and workplace outcomes. Both self-enhancing and affiliative humor diminishes the negative associations between ERI and task performance (H3A), OCB (H3B, creative performance (H3C, and DD (H3D).

Three hundred and ninety-nine adults who worked a minimum of 10 hours per week, worked for their respective employer for at least 6 months, salary employees, had access to the internet and email, and had direct supervisors involved were included in the study. Participants ranged from different genders, ages, education levels, employment, and supervisor-employee relationships. Effort Reward and ERI were measured along with humor scales, task performance, creative performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and destructive workplace deviance through a self-report questionnaire.

Multiple regression was conducted for statistical analysis. Results for H1a, H1b, & H1c show the ER ratio negatively associated with task performance, OCB, and creative performance, ER and DD were unrelated, but the reward measure was negatively associated with DD. ER ratio and overcommitment (OC) are positively correlated, and OC is positively correlated with creative performance. Hypothesis 2 results showed that overcommitment moderated associations between ER ratio and task performance with negative associations between ER ratio and task performance for employees who scored high in over-commitment. Hypothesis 3 results show that humor moderates the association between ER ratio and workplace outcomes. Specifically for H3A, there was a negative association between ER ratio and task performance which reached significance for employees who scored low in self-enhancing humor. For H3B, H3C, and H3D, associations were found between ER ratio and OCB, creative performance, and DD which reached significance for employees who scored low in self-enhancing humor.

This study demonstrated the effects of overcommitment as a moderating effect limited to task performance. It was found that self-enhancement humor reduced the strength of associations for ERI and employee task performance, OCB, and DD. It was found to be a robust predictor of resilience and a stable moderator for job stress-burnout relationships, and affiliative humor was less effective. These findings have important implications for improving balance in the workplace, implementing more group-based programs, interventions to decrease overcommitment and increase humor, and more leader involvement. Limitations of the study include a lack of longitudinal design, not exploring the full range of information inherent in the ERI model, and no empirical insights into the mediating process. There are also opportunities for future research by considering burnout and occupational health problems or looking at other mediators such as a trust or organizational commitment.

Amazing job presenting this article, Amani! She will be using this research to assist her in her literature review throughout the semester!

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Natalie Safo: Article Presentation

First-semester undergraduate lab member, Natalie Safo, recently gave an astute presentation on an article titled “The Importance of Employment to Workers with Pre-existing Behavioral Health Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (Cook et al., 2022).

During the pandemic, a relationship between job loss and poor mental health was discovered. Previous studies demonstrated that those with pre-existing mental health issues are expected to experience a greater chance of instability, unemployment, reduced hours, and economic uncertainty. Those who were unemployed exhibited higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, stress-related disorders, and suicidal ideation than those who are employed. However, those who were employed as peer support specialists experienced feelings of isolation and communication issues.

The presented study had three objectives with the first aim to find out whether those who were working would differ from those who were not in self-assessed exposure to COVID-19 infection, changes in sleep and dietary patterns, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The second aim was to find out whether those whose jobs changed would experience the forgoing factors differently than those whose jobs were not altered. Lastly, the researchers strived to investigate respondents’ own accounts of what it was like to be employed during the pandemic.

A mixed-methods cross-sectional survey was conducted among community adults with behavioral health disorders from April 15, 2020, to May 13, 2020. There were 272 participants with a mean age of 49.9 years old and standard deviation of 13.5 years that were surveyed via SurveyMonkey. Inclusion criteria included (1)affiliation with CSPNJ or NYAPRS, (2) self-report of behavioral health disorder, mental health disorder, or substance use disorder, (3) 21 years old or older, and (4) ability to understand English. Measures used were the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-2 Questionaire and Patient Health Questionaire-2 along with surveying the pandemic’s impact on employment, sleep and diet, and the degree of COVID-19 exposure in daily activities of the participant.

Results showed that employed and changed job participants encountered COVID-related disruptions in sleep patterns and dietary routines. The possibility of work buffers the effects of instability and uncertainty due to the gratitude for employment and relief. Those who changed jobs experienced higher levels of anxiety and psychological distress. The survey exhibited few participants who lost their jobs. A low proportion of workers screened positive for anxiety and depressive disorder, which could be linked to access to mental health resources when looking at those who were unemployed verse employed. Over half of those experiencing job changes screened positive for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 2/5 for MDD. Researchers indicated that the job instability group versus the job loss group may be the predominant challenge for this group. Job seeking process is more challenging with the need for evidence-based support for employment services during the pandemic. Limitations of the study include self-report measures, lack of longitudinal design, and sample group.

The study has demonstrated evidence of the importance of work in the lives of employees with pre-existing behavioral health conditions. Programs for support and resources could improve the work experience. Support from peers and other professionals could assist in pandemic recovery to improve health and wellness. Another implication would be the initiation of services to address unemployment in the COVID economy.

Natalie did a wonderful job presenting the discussed study. She will be using this research and other related studies to assist her during the composition of her literature review project. Keep up the great work!

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Kaylie Williams: Master’s Thesis Update

Kaylie Williams, a second-year Master’s student, recently gave a presentation on her thesis progress. The purpose of the study titled “Psychological Mechanisms Behind Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Changing Conspiratorial Belief”, includes identifying individual differences that influence people to believe in conspiracies and how to change people’s belief in conspiracies through thinking style.

Williams hypothesized that (1) PTSD symptoms, antisocial personality traits, vaccine hesitancy, openness to experience, and general thinking style will correlate with conspiracy beliefs (hypotheses A-E correlating with each variable mentioned), and (2) participants primed to think more concretely will report lower belief in conspiracy theories, while those primed to think more abstractly will report higher belief in conspiracy theories. 355 adults living in the U.S. were recruited for the online study with 288 passing attention checks. Items measured in the study were conspiratorial belief, antisocial behavior, personality surrounding the Big Five, screening for PTSD, public attitude toward vaccination, and thinking style (Analytic, Abstract, and Concrete Thinking).

After the analysis of the data, hypothesis 1 showed no significant relationship between PTSD and conspiracy beliefs (1.A), antisocial traits and conspiracy beliefs (1.B), openness to experience and conspiracy beliefs (1.C), and no significant relationship was found between general vaccine hesitancy and conspiracy beliefs for hypothesis 1.D. However, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy revealed a slight significant correlation with belief in conspiracies. This result is particularly interesting because COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was driven by conspiracies themselves which may have arisen due to the novelty of the COVID-19 pandemic & vaccine along with isolation and anxiety from the pandemic. Lastly, hypothesis 1.E showed no significant relationships between external, conservative, and global thinking styles and belief in conspiracies. However, post hoc analyses revealed internal and liberal thinking styles both had small, positive correlations with conspiracy beliefs, while local thinking styles did not reveal a significant correlation with belief in conspiracies. Williams discusses how those who believe in conspiracies may refute outside information, and only base their beliefs on their own thinking rather than allowing outside forces to influence their beliefs, and that novelty is valued within liberal thinking styles.

Limitations of the study were pointed out by Williams surrounding online & self-report measures, the college sample, and the potential for dishonest answers. Also, the study was limited to the U.S. which could influence thinking styles. Potential future directions with this research include adding the Dichotomous Thinking Inventory, a new openness measure, a new trauma measure, and the possibility to force a response to political affiliation.

We are so excited to see Kaylie progress through her Master’s thesis on this fascinating topic and complete data analysis for hypothesis 2. Congratulations on a job well done!

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FF-PTG Lab Staff 2022-2023

The FF-PTG Lab is excited to begin its educational endeavors this fall semester. Welcome, new members! And, welcome back, returning members!

Top row (left to right): Natalie Safo, Dominic Turcott, Taylor Elma, Isabelle Teasel, Amani Qaqish, Kayla Benson, Kaylie Williams

Bottom row: Dr. Kanako Taku, Amber Efthemiou, Paxton Hicks, Lazo Dordeski, Lewis Luttrell

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Kayla Benson: Thesis Defense Update

Kayla Benson, a third-year Ph.D. student, recently gave a presentation in preparation for her thesis defense. The purposes of Benson’s study, “Growing Toward the Common Good: Collective Action Engagement as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth”, include understanding the collective action behaviors as an indication of action-focused growth and constructive posttraumatic growth [PTG] and the relationships between community identity and collective action. The study will also strive to evaluate narcissism and optimism as potential components restricting constructive PTG.

Benson hypothesizes (1) people who are high in PTG will engage in more collective action interventions overall; (2) When individuals believe that their identities are strongly connected to the community, they will engage in more collective action behaviors; and (3) individuals who display patterns of illusory growth (high PTG, low in collective action) will be higher in narcissism and/or optimism. A total of 168 participants ranging from the ages of 18 to 47 years old (M=20.21, SD=3.19) participated in the study. The items that were measured in the online survey were posttraumatic growth, narcissism, optimism, altruism, social identity, and COVID-19 collective action.

After the completion of data analysis, hypothesis 1 of those who report PTG in response to events high in event centrality (constructive growth) will report more collective action behaviors than those who report PTG following low centrality events (illusory growth) was not supported. However, if using altruism as the outcome, the first hypothesis is partially supported, since constructive growth is higher than the low PTG group but no different from the illusory group. Hypothesis 2, narcissism and/or optimism will be higher in participants defined as having illusory growth, was not supported. It is important to note that the results were consistent with the literature that PTG is positively associated with optimism.

Hypothesis 3, individuals defined as experiencing constructive growth will engage in more mask-wearing when not required by a local mandate, was not supported. In fact, there were no differences found between groups in terms of masking when it was not required. It was found through additional correlation analysis that narcissism and a sense of community had small correlations with masking when it was no longer required.

Benson states the limitations of the study include: data collections initiating 1.5 years after the start of the pandemic, college student [only] sample, measurement error with the ‘COVID-19 Collective Action’ variable, study format, and the definitions of constructive versus illusory growth. There are potential future directions with the data which could investigate the interesting patterns recognized through Benson’s study. For example, there could be an examination of the four types of identity relating to other individual differences in numerous ways or further exploration of the PTG subscale could be performed.

Congratulations on the completion of the “Growth Toward the Common Good: Collective Action Engagement as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth”, Kayla! We are eagerly awaiting your defense presentation in the upcoming months.

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Psychology Department 2022 Distinguished Lecture

The Psychology Department is hosting the event, Distinguished Lecture 2022.

The following discussions are scheduled the next day, September 29th (Thursday) at 5pm.

If you would like to have zoom invites, please email to Kana Taku at taku@oakland.edu

Questions? Please email to Kana Taku at taku@oakland.edu

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