Amani’s Article Presentation and Upcoming Research

Amani, a second-semester undergraduate member of the lab, successfully presented her topic of job satisfaction and its role in turnover in the workplace. Industrial-organizational psychology, also known as IO psychology, focuses on the functions of the workplace, the workplace environment’s effects on a worker, and the mental states of said workers. IO psychology is Amani’s main focus which is what inspired her research interest.

Jobs offer an opportunity for individuals to put their skills to the test and earn rewards for their work. However, what happens when a worker is dissatisfied with their job. In some cases, people quit their job to find a new ones. Another all too familiar scenario to some is when someone complains about their job frequently and yet stays with the job regardless. Why do some people stay in one unfavorable work environment and others leave? How can job satisfaction serve as a tipping point for a change in someone’s work status? Job status is not limited to employed and unemployed, as some individuals may be retired, non-working/disabled. These are just some of the phenomena Amani is set on addressing. While Amani’s focus is on job satisfaction, other factors are acknowledged as potential influential factors in changes in employment status. Such as, but not limited to, organizational change, workplace incivility, job performance, inefficacy, organizational justice, and job insecurity.

Organizations, like everything, can experience changes. Whether that be changes in leadership, policies, or even the type of work conducted organizations must adjust to accommodate for this change. In some instances, change can cause unintended consequences. For example, if a company hires a new CEO who elects to make cut-offs, this can cause job insecurity, which is the feeling of anxiety experienced when your job is at risk. Organizations in a sense have to enact justice or make things fair. If the new CEO is laying off people to increase his own salary, this can be viewed as unjust. In scenarios like this workers may begin to engage in deviant behavior or those that go against the organization. These behaviors could be a response to the leadership’s decision, but it is not limited to this scenario. Individuals are capable of going against the policy at any point, whether it is stealing money, smoking on the job, being rude to customers, or anything else. Each of these factors can influence the satisfaction one may feel in their work environment which inevitably can affect one’s job satisfaction.

The literature review Amani conducted on the topic of tipping points in employment status lacked not a general consensus on a consistent tipping point. In addition, the literature on this topic was very limited. Only a handful of articles addressing the topic and some were unrelated entirely. Her future research will focus on finding that tipping points; believing job satisfaction is the main influence on job status changes. In her search for answers, the data collected will not only go towards her lab project for the FF-PTG lab but also her Honors College thesis. We are excited to see what the future has in store for your research Amani!

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Kaylie’s Master’s Thesis Defense

Thesis season is here at the FF-PTG Lab! Kaylie Williams, a Master’s student, defended her thesis on conspiracy beliefs and different thinking styles. Conspiracy beliefs are alternatives to widely believed explanations for an event. These conspiracy beliefs often assume that one explanation is staged and often is done to harm others. The ways in which people think would influence how they interpret and begin to believe, the information provided by a conspiracy belief. In Kaylie’s research, different thinking styles were used to attempt to change the way people think about conspiracies. These thinking styles were measured in order to observe which are consistent with conspiracy beliefs. Some of the thinking styles included In her experiment, abstract and concrete thinking were used in an attempt to influence an individual’s conspiracy beliefs. It was hypothesized that abstract thinking would show increased conspiracy beliefs. As for concrete thinking the opposite would be true. In general, as well individuals higher in the following were hypothesized to show higher conspiracy beliefs as well: symptoms of PTSD, antisocial behaviors, vaccine hesitancy, low medical trust, paranoia, and more openness to experience.

Of the many hypotheses, there were a couple that was either fully or partially supported. The first of which is medical trust and vaccine hesitancy. The medical trust had a significant negative correlation with conspiracy beliefs. Unfortunately, the same was not found for vaccine hesitancy. The rationale is that vaccine hesitancy may have measured individuals more cautious of the vaccine rather than outright believing conspiracies related to the vaccine. As seen in previous research, Kaylie was able to replicate the positive relationship between paranoia and conspiracy beliefs. The thinking styles did not influence individuals’ conspiracy beliefs with every thinking style intervention resulting in higher conspiracy beliefs. This may not have in fact been the fault of the experiment, but survey fatigue. With how many measures were used for the first portion of the experiment it may have caused participants to become tired and lose focus. This fatigue, rather than the experiment’s priming, may have had a stronger influence on the participant’s responses for the second portion. Kaylie plans to collect more data to address the issue with the priming used in this experiment. Other limitations include the sample being a college sample, and only with individuals in the USA, the fact that this was an online survey and potentially dishonest answers from the participants. Hopefully, by addressing this issue we can see if the priming is successful, and how the different thinking styles may affect believing in conspiracies. We are excited for your next round of collecting data and wish you the best Kaylie!

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Paxton Hicks: Article Presentation & Upcoming Research

Second-semester undergraduate research assistant, Paxton Hicks, recently presented the article “I Cheated, but Only a Little: Partial Confessions to Unethical Behavior” (Peer et al., 2014).

Lying is described as the intentional act of conveying incorrect information to mislead another individual and may have several motivations. Confessions are viewed as either someone confessing or not, which can be problematic as some confessions are partial. They provide a grey area to confessions since they are hand-picking what to reveal. The authors of this article propose that partial confessions may minimize guilt and motivate providing part of the information. The purposes of the study include (1) examining the prevalence of partial confessions, (2) the antecedents of partial confessions, and (3) the consequences of partial confessions.

This article included five studies and each study had mean ages ranging from 28-34 recruited from Amazon MTurk. The hypotheses of each study are as followed: H1: Extent of cheating and the likelihood of confessing to all or some of the cheating, H2: Individuals partially confessing will be perceived as more trustworthy than both of those that fully confess or do not confess at all, H3: Do people feel better or worse when partially confessing?, H4: Individuals will perceive others who partially confess as more honest than those who do not confess at all, and H5: Do these results apply to daily life occurrences? How will people classify their confessions? In each of the five studies, participants were given a task and then a questionnaire measuring confession, mood and prospective mood, factors of individuals’ reasons for confessing, and the extent of the confession.

After reviewing the results of each study, Hicks revisited the hypotheses. For H1, it was found that of the 139 confessors, 40.44% were partial confessions, 59-56% were full confessions, and individuals who partially cheat were more likely to fully confess and vice versa. H2 was partially supported as partial confessions were more credible than non-confessions (t(492)= 4.93, p< .01), but not for full confessions. H3 results suggest that partial confessions led to higher levels of actual negative affect across all groups. H4 was supported as partial confessions were higher in credibility ratings than non-confessions (t(437) = 3.14, p < .01). H5 shows that full confessions were significantly higher than partial confessions in all motivation domains of confession except public shame. 

Limitations of the study include that the stakes of the experiment were low (.10-$1) despite the relatively high frequency of cheating/lying as higher stakes scenarios may produce better results. The study included small sample size and the use of parametric tests. Additionally, Hicks recognizes that there may be measurement errors in some of the studies which lead to the curiousness that there may be more human errors included in the data. 

While confessions were not manipulated, this study gives insight into the prevalence and some of the potential outcomes and perceptions. It showed that others’ partial confessions were viewed as more credible than no confession at all and led to many future research directions for Paxton. He will be conducting his own study based on his interest in confessions and lying. We are excited to see what he accomplishes!

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Since 2008, the PTG lab led by Dr. Kanako Taku has conducted a series of social and clinical research on how people experience various changes as a result of highly stressful, potentially traumatic life events, centering around the construct of posttraumatic growth (PTG). PTG is what brought Dr. Taku to the US, to lead a lab with students at Oakland University and colleagues around the world, and this work continues to be inspired and motivated by the memory of Shelby.

In 2019, the lab changed its name to FF-PTG (Free Form PTG) Lab, challenging both established research and ourselves. We now study various content, meanings, and forms of changes, including crystallization of socio-emotional status, tipping point, non-linear changes, and continuity and discontinuity within the field of clinical, social, cross-cultural, and personality psychology.

In 2023, Dr. Taku agreed to serve as Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Loss and Trauma (Taylor & Francis), aiming to foster more inclusive research topics, targets, and authors, especially people who have been stigmatized or have little resources, believing that the meanings and values of loss and trauma changed tremendously from mostly pathological to more holistic and they can change even more to be inclusive.

Our lab always recruits creative and motivated students and researchers from around the world to foster collaboration. Just so you know, we are still having fun with weekly themed two-slide presentations and step-backs at lab meetings. The lab keeps going, and the lab keeps growing, but in a non-linear way!

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Kayla’s Master’s Thesis Defense

Kayla Benson, a Ph.D. student, presented her thesis defense titled Collective Action as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Kayla’s purpose for the thesis was to investigate collective action behaviors during COVID-19 and whether it could be an indicator of constructive PTG growth. Collective action is when people in a group work towards a common goal. Whether it was wearing a mask, avoiding large social gatherings, or remaining quarantined when sick, the pandemic presented an opportunity to investigate these preventative behaviors as collective actions.

Kayla gathered data from 354 participants, 302 of them were eligible for the analysis. These participants were recruited through Oakland University’s SONA system for credits. When it came to analyzing the data, it was found that there were no significant differences between those experiencing constructive PTG and engaging in more COVID-19 precautious behaviors. However, when exploring whether altruism could be different for those experiencing constructive PTG it was found to be different than those experiencing low PTG. Other interesting results include that while narcissism did not differ between the groups, optimism was different between constructive and low PTG; with the former being the higher of the two. Lastly, another analysis was run for participants who responded when there was no local mandate for wearing a mask. 204 participants were included in this analysis to see if wearing a mask would be more common for those experiencing constructive PTG despite the mandate being disbanded. The results unfortunately found no difference in mask-wearing behavior. Kayla is in the process of collecting more data related to this topic in order to conduct future analyses. There are several future directions for this field of study. One potential direction includes investigating the phenomenon of individual and collective trauma in stressful times. Utilizing a longitudinal design may also help to investigate other factors that would indicate constructive PTG growth. We cannot wait to see what you find next, Kayla!

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Announcement: New Research Assistant & Upcoming Lab Manager

Winter 2023 semester is here! We have exciting news to share. We are pleased to welcome Avery Machuk as the newest undergraduate research assistant.

Welcome, Avery! She is currently a Junior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with plans to continue her education and become a therapist. She decided to join the lab to gain a deeper understanding of posttraumatic growth and hopes to learn how to utilize posttraumatic growth to treat her future clients. Avery will begin working on her Honors College Thesis during this upcoming semester and in doing so she hopes to further explore psychological constructs in relation to young adults and adolescents, who she hopes to work with after becoming a licensed therapist. Avery can be reached at

Additionally, Paxton Hicks ( will be the upcoming lab manager! Be sure to follow for more updates within the FF-PTG Lab.

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Isabelle Teasel: Honors College Thesis Presentation

Senior lab member, Isabelle Teasel, gave a presentation on her Honor’s College Thesis titled, “The Paradoxical Nature of Resilience, Optimism, and Anxiety in Relation to COVID-19.” The project focuses on the paradoxical relationships between resilience, optimism, and anxiety in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resilience is defined as “the process of successfully adapting mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally to difficult traumatic experiences through life,” and optimism is defined as “the positive attitude that good things will occur, and an individual’s aims will be fulfilled.” Isabelle explained the resilience paradox which suggests that high resilience can lead to overconfidence, being too tolerant of adversity, or even unhealthy or “toxic” optimism; however, too low of resilience may lead to adverse mental health conditions and learned helplessness. There is also presence of an optimism paradox in which high optimism leads to impractical expectations and overconfidence while low optimism leads to higher life stress and maladaptation. High resilience will lead to an unhealthy amount of optimism, creating a viscous cycle of disadvantages for the affected individual. State, trait, and health anxiety and their connection to resilience and optimism are where there are gaps in literature that Isabelle would like to fill.

This lead her to the question of “Will the paradoxical nature hold true when interconnected together?” The current study will examine resilience, optimism, and anxiety within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hypotheses are stated as followed: (1) The paradoxical nature of optimism will hold true in relation to the levels of the three types of anxiety, resilience, post-behaviors, and COVID-19 Inventory. (2) The paradoxical nature of the resilience will hold true in relation to the levels of the three types of anxiety, resilience, post-behaviors, and COVID-19 Inventory. (3)The paradoxical nature of the three types of anxiety will hold true in relation to post-behaviors and COVID-19 Inventory.

The current study uses data from a prior study titled, “Reactions to COVID-19,” conducted by Olivia Rithig, Dr. Kanako Taku, and Kara Pado, which was approved on March 31st, 2020. The purpose of the original longitudinal study was to examine public perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, including emotions, behavioral, cognitive, and physical reactions as well. Data was collected through an online survey at two time points. Time 1 Data was collected on March 30th, 2020, while the Time 2 Data was collected as a follow-up on April 27th, 2020.

Isabelle is currently cleaning the date from the Reactions to COVID-19 database and will be conducting statistical tests to analyze the paradoxical nature of the given variables. Limitations include the online nature of the study, attrition between T1 and T2, and limited diversity. Future directions may include rerunning the study trio compare to 2 years after the initiation of the pandemic or targeting specific groups (i.e., those who had COVID) in research.

Amazing progress, Isabelle! We can’t wait to see what you do next!

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Congrats to Taylor

Taylor’s research application, “I’ll Believe it When I see it:” Behavior Change and Person Perception, has been awarded for the Provost Graduate Research Award – Fall 2022.

Congratulations, Taylor!

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Lazo Dordeski: Manuscript

Toward the end of November, Lazo Dordeski, a post-undergraduate research assistant, presented his current manuscript, “Non-violent Behaviors and Depression in Victims and Perpetrators” which builds off of his previously conducted research in the FF-PTG Lab.

Prior research has indicated that individuals who identify as either victims or perpetrators were more likely to report experiences in bother, creating the Victim-Perpetrator Overlap [VPO]. VPO conceptualized the increase of offending at the risk of being a victim and victimization may increase the risk of becoming a perpetrator. The overlap can be observed across various violent and non-violent transgressions (i.e., petty theft to sexual violence). A relationship between depression and victims/perpetrators has been discovered in the populations of adolescent victims of bullying, patients with depression, and perpetrators clinically diagnosed with depression. Depressed patients had a higher prevalence of repeat victimization; while perpetrators had more risk factors for intimate partner violence.

The purpose of Dordeski’s study is to examine the differences between non-violent behaviors (i.e., racial slurs, stealing, and exclusion) and depression within both victims and perpetrators. Hypothesis 1 states that individuals who were only victims of having racial slurs used against them would show higher depression than perpetrators who only used racial slurs against others and those who experienced overlap which would show higher depression than those who experienced neither. Hypothesis 2 states that individuals who are only victims of exclusion will have higher levels of depression than individuals who experienced overlap, which would show higher levels of depression than perpetrators who only excluded others and those who experienced neither, which would report even levels of depression.

A total of 397 participants were used from the previously collected Smith (2020) study. Data was collected through the Qualtrics survey tool. Participants were randomly assigned to two conditions of answering questions about 1) perpetrator experiences first or 2) victim experiences first. The survey included responses to PTGI-X, filler scale questions, filled conditions, and repeated PTGI-X. Measures used for analysis were the Victimization and Perpetration Scale and Beck Depression Inventory through the statistical tests of one-way ANOVAs and post-hoc analyses using LSD. No significant differences between the perpetrator-only group and the group that didn’t experience either. Findings suggest that exclusion is impactful on reported feelings of depression among victims, even though some of them excluded others themselves.

Limitations identified by Dordeski included sample size with skewed distribution, college demographic, and measures that focused on more violent behavior. Potential future directions would be to make a greater emphasis on non-violent behaviors, focus on group differences and how this could increase victim/perpetrator susceptibility, and increase diversity/intersectional samples to improve external validity.

Congratulations, Lazo! We are proud to send you off to the next stage of your career. Dordeski will be attending the Master of Arts in Counseling program at Oakland University starting January 2023. Wishing you nothing but the best!

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Amber Efthemiou: Article Presentation

First-semester undergraduate research assistant, Amber Efthemiou, recently presented the article titled, “The Effects of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion on Improving the Capacity to Adapt to Stress Situations in Elderly People Living in the Community” (Perez-Blasco et al., 2016).

The concept of self-compassion embodies kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Mindfulness specifically encourages openness, curiosity, and acceptance through the non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. Interventions based on mindfulness have been found to be effective in clinical and non-clinical contexts in hand with increasing one’s ability to cope (i.e., emotion-focused and problem-focused) and resilience. Elderly adults, especially, can benefit from such mindfulness interventions due to the experience of hardships related to aging. Self-judgement, isolation, and rumination can be prevented with the improvement of emotional regulation and self-perception of aging.

Perez-Blasco et al. (2016) aimed to improve resilience levels, reduce stress, reduce age-related anxiety and depression, and change coping strategies through the evaluation of the effectiveness of mindfulness and self-compassion in older adults. Participant criteria included age of 60 years or older, not under institutional care, and being cognitively healthy. The measurements used were the Brief Resilient Coping Scale, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, and Coping Strategies Questionaire. The intervention program lasted 10 consecutive weeks with one 2-hour session a week in a group setting. The formal practice held different forms of meditation; while the informal practice consisted of daily mindful activities.

To determine whether groups were homogenous prior to treatment, chi-squared tests, t-tests for independent samples, and Mann-Whitney U-tests were performed. The repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to analyze the intervention’s effects. Results showed a significant increase in resilience, positive reappraisal, and avoidance along with a significant decrease in anxiety and stress. For coping results, there was a significant decrease in problem-solving coping, negative self-focused coping, overt emotional expression, and religion. Conclusions indicated mindfulness leads to resiliency later in life with self-compassion as a useful tool in therapy. Self-compassion led to positive responses to aging and age-related events. Cathartic emotional expression and impulsivity decreased leading to a greater capacity for introspection through emotional awareness. There was a notable change in the meaning of a stressful situation, a decrease in religion, and no significant improvement in social support.

Limitations of the presented study were the small sample size, absence of double-blind assessment with lack of control for potential covariates, and some low ETA squared obtained. Implications would be included set up a mindfulness program adapted to elderly people to obtain greater benefits for this population. Efthemiou believes the demonstrated interventions could be used for those who are 75 and older along with those in a care facility/nursing home.

Wonderful presentation, Amber! We are eager to see how you pursue this line of research.

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