Another Milestone

The Big 50! Today, I joined the half century club!!

And I got the best present ever from “all these people”!

Thank you for all 68 people who joined, graduated, and are working in the lab!

P.S., Also, happy birthday to our former lab member, Alex! We share the same birthday! So, it’s extra special.

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Kayla Benson: Thesis Defense Preparation

Kayla Benson, second year PhD 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=20.07, SD=3.25) 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.

Within the preliminary data analysis, hypothesis 1 of people who are high in PTG will engage in more collective action interventions overall was not supported. Participants scored high across the board in collective action behaviors during the pandemic. Hypothesis 2, when individuals believe that their identities are strongly connected to the community, they will engage in more collective action behaviors, was not supported. A slight negative relationship was present. Also, Hypothesis 3, individuals who display patterns of illusory growth (high PTG, low in collective action) will be higher in narcissism and/or optimism, was not supported, since there were no difference between the groups.

Currently, the recognized limitations of the study includes data collection started over 1.5 years after the start of the pandemic; local and state mask mandates changed throughout the course of data collection; measure for pandemic behaviors are limited; only college participants so far, who are more likely to follow guidelines compared to other populations.

What are the next steps? Benson is planning are continuing analysis to understand the relationships with the individual domains of PTG along with explaining the relationships between SEC with narcissism and optimism. She will also find potential controls, since many of the predicted relationships are virtually non-existent or trending in the opposite direction. Finally, Benson will continue data analysis to discovered other potential connections between the data measures and its variables.

Great work so far, Kayla! We are looking forward to your discoveries.

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End-of-the-semester/Welcome party

Lab members got together to celebrate the end of the semester and welcome newly joined members.

Joey, Dom, Kolton (behind); Lewis, Kaylie, Isabelle, Victoria, Danielle, Natalie (middle); Kana, Taylor, Kayla, and Lazo (front)

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Congratulations, Joey!

Joey Rhodes, a second-year Master’s student, presented his study “Understanding Cultural Differences in Behavior During a Global Pandemic”, which examined the differences between those who lived in Japan and the United States. The importance of this research is that gaining an understanding of someone’s behavior is the first step in learning how to motivate them to continue or stop a behavior. The objective was to understand potential factors that may increase or decrease precautionary behavior in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the purpose was to establish and understand the relationships between individuals’ perceived cultural values (e.g., individualism-collectivism) and their prosocial behavior, or lack thereof, in response to COVID-19; and once relationships between culture and behavior are established, to understand what information is most persuasive in promoting prosocial behavior for individuals in different cultures.

Joey hypothesized (1) collectivistic participants will be more likely to report having engaged in precautionary behaviors than individualistic participants, regardless of country of origin. (2) Participants primed for collectivism will be more likely to report willingness to engage in precautionary behavior in the future than individualism-primed participants regardless of country of origin along with (3) those who were primed for collectivism will be more likely to report willingness to engage in precautionary behavior in the future than individualism-primed participants regardless of country of origin. (4) Participants that show a preference for dichotomous thinking will be more likely to report engaging in precautionary behavior than participants lower in dichotomous thinking, regardless of country of origin. (5) Participants currently living in Japan will be more susceptible to depression and suicidal ideation than participants currently living in the United States. Lastly, (6) participants who show a preference for interpersonal adjustment will be more likely to report engaging in precautionary behavior than participants who show a preference for interpersonal influence.

Participants were college students recruited from Japan and the United States with the inclusion criteria of having to be 18 and older with fluency in the native language of their country. American participants received SONA class credit from completing the online survey through Qualtrics, which took on average 28 minutes. The survey collected general demographics, precautionary behavior in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other measures.

Results show that hypothesis one was not supported with a small non-significant relationship between individualism and precautionary behaviors. Hypothesis two was also not supported with no significant relationship between primed groups and predicted precautionary behaviors. Hypothesis three concluded a small non-significant correlation between independent self-construal and precautionary behaviors along with a significant negative relationship (p < .001) between mask-wearing and independent self-construal. There was no significant relationship for total precautionary behaviors and a significant negative relationship between DTI and mask-wearing (p = .009) for hypothesis four. For hypothesis five, participants in Japan scored higher on both measures of depression and suicidal ideation (p < .001). Lastly, hypothesis six discovered a significant negative correlation between interpersonal adjustment and precautionary behaviors (p = .018). Additionally, Japanese sample was higher on overall precautionary behaviors (M = 29.00) vs. (M = 26.39); both samples nearly identical on Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism scale (M = 53.90) vs (M = 53.58); and, American sample had more of an independent self-construal (M = 183.52) compared to the Japanese sample (M = 166.05).

Future directions include conducting this study again with samples from different countries (potentially India and Germany), especially ones more diametrically opposed in terms of individualism and collectivism, preforming similar studies with populations outside of college students, and expanding upon the questions concerning precautionary behavior, outside of a global pandemic, and the role that culture has in these behaviors.

Recently, Joey successfully defended his Master’s Thesis to the department. He will be graduating in April 2022 with a Master’s of Psychology. Congradulations! We look forward to what you will accomplish in the future.

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Danielle’s Article Presentation

First-semester undergraduate lab member, Danielle McDonald, recently gave an insightful presentation on an article titled “Eating disorder diagnosis and the female athlete: A longitudinal analysis from college sport to retirement“.

Eating disorders (EDs) are mental disorders defined by abnormal eating behaviors that negatively affect a person’s mental or physical health and typically include misperceptions about one’s body shape or weight. Additionally, they may cause disruptions in healthy eating behaviors. Female athletes are a group that is considered high-risk for EDs, especially showing Hugh rates of clinical and subclinical EDs, which may be facilitated by high-pressure sports environments. Research, using longitudinal designs, has also shown that EDs can change over time. The purpose of the study was to examine the long-term stability of eating disorders in female athletes into retirement.

The sample comprised of 193 NCAA Division 1 female athletes from 26 different U.S. universities, 122 of which were artistic gymnasts and 71 of which were swimmers. 41 athletes were six years into retirement, 57 athletes were five years into retirement, 50 athletes were four years into retirement, 43 athletes three years into retirement, and 2 athletes were two years into retirement. Results indicated that the retired athletes’ overall prevalence rates were 3.1% for clinical EDs, 26.9% for subclinical Eds, and 69.9% remained healthy.

Results also showed, between the two times, that athletes spent less time exercising, fasting times, laxative use, and intentional vomiting remained similar, and binge eating decreased. Furthermore, the overall number of athletes classified with clinical EDs decreased from 13 to 6, and only one athlete maintained a clinical ED between the two times, whereas the other 12 athletes were classified as subclinical or healthy. The results seem to support the trends consistent with past research that clinical EDs decrease from college to adulthood which is similar with non-athlete research. Disordered eating was also food to peak during late adolescence, during which a college social environment could be considered a risk for the development of an ED.

Danielle had very insightful takeaways about athletes and EDs. She stressed that athletes were a very vulnerable population at risk of developing eating disorders and that they can develop at a young age. A major point Danielle alluded to was the need for coaches to undergo training to understand the importance of eating disorders amongst their athletes so that they may better communicate, educate, and help support the athletes instead of pressuring them.

Awesome work, Danielle!

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Congratulations, Victoria!

Congratulations to senior lab member, Victoria Kaznowski, on successfully defending her independent senior thesis titled “Mechanisms Driving the Nature and Psychological Well-Being Relationship: Mindfulness and Connection to Nature Intervention.”

During the Fall 2021 semester, Victoria had first presented her senior thesis which detailed the plans of her study to investigate the nature well-being relationship (NWBR) by examining changes in psychological well-being and emotional perceptions through nature exposure.

Victoria’s first hypothesis was that the heightened group will increase positive affect and decrease negative affect and stress after the intervention and that the distraction group will decrease positive affect and increase negative affect and stress after the intervention. The second hypothesis stated that mindfulness and connection to nature will differ amongst the three groups. The third hypothesis examined correlational relationships between mindfulness and psychological well-being. Lastly, the fourth hypothesis stated emotion perceptions would change from the beginning of the intervention to the end.

Data was collected and analyzed by 109 participants who completed both the pre-and post-tests. She found that her first hypothesis was partially supported with the heightened group increasing in positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions after the intervention with the other two groups similarly changing. Although her second hypothesis was not supported, her third hypothesis was supported, showing that mechanism would correlate positively with positive affect and negatively with stress and negative affect after the intervention, reflecting a significant relationship between better psychological outcomes and higher levels of mindfulness and connectedness to nature. Although her fourth hypothesis was also partially supported, it demonstrated exploratory use of a modified PANAS-scale which hadn’t been used before and can be modified upon future studies to further develop the idea. Nice work Victoria!

There were a few limitations presented within this study. It would beneficial to run the study in a controlled lab setting to ensure that participants are following instructions, despite the checkpoints for study participation being in place, there could have been variation. The modified PANAS measure was created by Dr. Taku and Victoria, so it would be helpful to test the validity and reliability for future studies.

Victoria has also been awarded the Psychology Departmental Honors which required her to have a 3.2 and 3.5 or higher in her psychology courses, complete various upper-division psychology research classes, and receive written recommendations from a mentor. So congratulations on your departmental honors and your successful defense of your independent thesis Victoria!

In other exciting news, Victoria has decided to join the Clinical Psychology Master’s program at Minnesota State University – Mankato in the fall. It is a unique program that prepares students for doctoral study in clinical psychology by offering training under the scientist-practitioner model at the Master’s level. We can’t wait to see what awaits you after graduation and look forward to more of your accomplishments!

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Congratulations, Kolton!

Congratulations to second-year Master’s student, Kolton Smith, on successfully defending his Master’s Thesis titled “Victim-Perpetrator Overlap and Posttraumatic Growth“. Given the limited research in this field that is often constrained to intimate partner and sexual violence, Kolton’s study set out to explore Victim-Perpetrator Overlap (VPO), Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in relation to VPO, and if perpetrators experience or report PTG concurrently with offending.

Kolton hypothesized that (1) people who experience PTG as a victim will be less likely to become a perpetrator, (2) people who are asked to reflect on their victim experiences first will be less likely to report instances of being a perpetrator than those who are asked to reflect on their perpetration experiences first, and (3) PTG as a victim will be greater than that of PTG as a perpetrator regardless of condition.

Kolton’s study design consisted of randomly separating participants into two conditions in questions based on either victim or perpetrator experiences would appear first. The independent variables consisted of the condition that the participant was placed in as well as their experiences as a victim and perpetrator. The dependent variables were the amount of PTG that was being reported, both as a victim and as a perpetrator, and the amount of offending that was being reported.

Data was collected from 397 participants, 300 from an OU sample, who received .5 SONA credits for completing the survey, and 97 participants from the community sample, who received entry into a raffle for completing the survey. of the 397 participants, only 248 participants completed all four attention checks, thus serving as the basis for the analysis.

After analyses were ran, data revealed Kolton’s first hypothesis was not supported as PTG as a victim had very low correlation with the total for perpetration experiences.

His second hypothesis was also not supported after initial composite scores for perpetration found no significant difference between groups. Kolton’s third hypothesis was not supported either, however, there was a significant interaction between conditions, for condition one in which participants encountered perpetrator experiences before victim experiences, they reported higher PTG scores for perpetration rather than for victimization.

Lack of support for Kolton’s hypotheses can be attributed to massive skews that were found during data analyses, partially due to the OU sample used, which differs in composition in relation to other communities. However, this finding can be used to adjust the design for future studies, and can be addressed through expanding community samples.

Even though there is limited research regarding Victim-Perpetrator Overlap, Kolton has made great headway. Congratulations on defending your thesis Kolton! We can’t wait to see what else you accomplish!

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Kaylie’s Master’s Thesis Proposal Update

Congratulations to first-year Master’s student, Kaylie, on her successful proposal presentation, which has been approved by the committee. Recently, Kaylie presented an overview of her master’s thesis proposal titled, Psychological Mechanisms Behind Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Changing Conspiratorial Thinking. Kaylie’s proposal discussed what influences conspiratorial thinking in people, how to change those beliefs, and explored the relationship between mental illness, trauma, and conspiracy beliefs. Since there is no current research on trauma and belief in conspiracy theories, Kaylie hopes to use the data she gathers to establish a foundation for the literature. The results from the study could help push the boundaries of research into exploring different theories of thinking, such as Kahneman’s Dual Process Theory, as well as exploring different therapeutic styles to contribute to interventions designed to change conspiratorial thinking. Kaylie’s next step will be to submit her study protocol to the IRB to get approval, after which she will be ready to collect her data.

We also just heard that she was awarded Provost Research Grant! Congratulations!!

We are excited for Kaylie!

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The FF-PTG Lab Welcomes a New Member

The FF-PTG Lab welcomed a new student this Winter 2022 semester!

Danielle McDonald is currently a senior at Oakland University majoring in psychology. She decided to join the lab to gain more research experience, as well as to gain a better understanding of trauma and posttraumatic growth as a whole. Danielle’s personal research interest revolves around childhood trauma, specifically in children with autism. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue a clinical psychology program that specializes in applied behavior analysis research.

Welcome, Danielle! We are looking forward to working with you.

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Taylor Elam: PTG Handbook Chapter Development

Senior researcher, Taylor Elam, obtained the opportunity to write a chapter in a Posttraumatic Growth Handbook with Dr. Kanako Taku. Within her presentation, “Posttraumatic Growth & Resiliency: More Alike or Different?”, she walked the members of the FF-PTG Lab through her progress so far on the material.

Taylor discussed the importance of understanding the overlap and differences of PTG and resiliency to appropriately approach, teach, and implement the concepts in different settings (i.e., clinic).

Taylor also discussed emotions, emotional empathy, Emotion Recognition Ability (ERA), clinical depression (traditional type depression and modern type depression) with expression and perception, and racial and cultural differences. She stated the impact race and culture have on the constructs of PTG, resilience, and ERA should be taken into consideration with individuals’ experiences. These could have a dramatic influence on multiple aspects. Therefore, if race and culture are not taken into consideration, research will be less generalizable and PTG/Resilience programs may be less effective. She proposes using data previously collected in the lab to further explore this idea. Clinical implications include creating programs and therapy practices that educate and promote resilience along with developing interpersonal skills potentially lost or underdeveloped. New programs and practices could also educate individuals on PTG and the new findings on how growth occurs intrapersonally, interpersonally, and, possibly, cognitively through ERA.

We look forward to seeing the end result. Keep up the great work, Taylor!

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