Qandeel’s Master’s Thesis Proposal Presentation

Recently, first year master’s student Qandeel presented an overview of her master’s thesis proposal, College Cohort of Gender & Sex Roles in Coping Due to Life Adversity: PTG Belief and Optimism. Qandeel is interested in exploring the concepts of sex and gender in relation to optimism, coping mechanisms after trauma, and posttraumatic growth (PTG). She plans to gather data from female college students because of the challenges they often face like sexual harassment, sexism, and major gender differences that can affect their professional and personal lives. Qandeel suggests that many females may identify themselves as different genders or sexual orientations that have not been studied as much as men. With growing attention on feminism, she thinks it is important to look at how this sample perceives various adversity issues involving feminism. She is also interested in how culture may play a role as well. Therefore, she plans to collect data from females in America and Pakistan. She suggests that doing so will help further cultural research of PTG and coping mechanisms to elucidate cultural differences. She hopes her research will draw attention to effects of adversities some females face, involving varying levels of femininity and gender identity. We are excited to hear about her findings. Good luck, Qandeel!

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Alvin’s Master’s Thesis Defense Presentation


Congrats to second-year masters student, Alvin, on his successful defense!

Study one examined the impact of achievement and resiliency on the relationship between failure experiences and positive and negative outcomes. Study two examines the predictability of resilience, amount of failure and achievement experiences, and racial discrimination on various psychological outcomes, such as fear of failure, wisdom, and depression. Overall, the two studies also look at the subjective impact of both failure and achievement experiences on the various psychological outcomes. Alvin found that the impact of any of the experiences examined might influence depression more than the experience itself.  He also found that racial discrimination might be influenced by cultural biases. Lastly, data suggests that the influence of discrimination on cultural biases may elicit a degree of illusory growth instead of authentic posttraumatic growth. He found that resiliency decreased the relationship between failure experiences and psychological outcomes like wisdom were consistent between both studies. Alvin suggests that these findings can encourage those who have experienced many failures by informing them of the positive outcomes that can result from those experiences. He also believes these findings can create a path for therapeutic interventions targeted around resilience, motivation, and racial discrimination. Moving forward, he would like to incorporate how various personality traits (e.g. avoidant and social anxiety) can influence the relationship between life experiences (e.g. failure and achievement) involving the use of technology. Great job Alvin!

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Taylor’s Article Presentation

First semester undergraduate student, Taylor, recently gave her first article presentation, reflecting her research interests: emotions, deception detection, and behavioral psychology. Taylor chose the article Pathways to Posttraumatic Growth Versus Posttraumatic Stress: Coping and Emotional Reactions Following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks by Crystal L. Park, Carolyn M. Aldwin, Juliane R. Fenster, and Leslie B. Snyder, published in 2008. This study aimed to explore common reports from the American population of both distress and positive outcomes after television exposure of the attacks. The researchers hypothesized that there would be a relationship between coping, emotions, posttraumatic growth (PTG), and posttraumatic stress (PTS). They also hypothesized that positive coping would be more expressive through anger and would, therefore, lead to PTG while negative emotions would be more expressive through depression, leading to PTS following the terrorist attacks. Results showed that the relationship goes both ways. Meaning, emotions influence coping and coping influences emotions. They also found that although anger is often perceived as a negative emotion, it could prompt an individual to seek positive coping skills and potentially lead to PTG. The researchers concluded that the information found in the results shows how growth may be achieved by practicing positive coping skills because of arousal or motivation from anger. Taylor plans to continue researching emotions and behaviors in relation to PTG throughout her time in the lab as well as in her future career goals within behavioral psychology. Great job on your article presentation, Taylor, and good luck with future research!

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Congrats to Velinka!

Congratulations to Velinka! Her paper, “Youth perceptions of intergenerational discordance and immigrant well-being” was selected as the second place winner of the Kresge Library’s Frank Lepkowski Undergraduate Research in Writing Award!

Also, she recently successfully defended her senior’s thesis. Velinka’s presentation was an update of her honors independent study. She is interested in exploring youth perceptions of acculturation, the process of adapting to a new culture, and individual factors between immigrant youth and their parents after coming to the United States. Velinka has taken a mixed methods approach, using qualitative and quantitative methods, to examine youth-perceived parent-child gaps in acculturation and emotion processing. She is interested in exploring how those gaps affect immigrant youth with varying outcomes, such as acculturative stress, somatic symptoms, depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms, as well as post-traumatic growth (PTG). Findings will contribute to the expanded Acculturation Gap-Distress Model and help clarify the effects of adapting to a new culture at differing rates. This will help provide information for people of all ages who may struggle with acculturating, as well as educators, clinicians and physicians who may assist those individuals. Wonderful job Velinka, and good luck with further research!

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Olivia’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

Congrats to first-year masters student, Olivia, on her successful proposal presentation, which has been approved by the committee. Recently, Olivia presented an overview of her masters thesis proposal titled Pushing Through The Hard Times: Does Growth After Trauma Enhance Creativity in Children. Olivia is interested in analyzing a new topic of creativities’ impacts on children’s abilities to move past trauma’s and experience posttraumatic growth (PTG). She is also interested in seeing if there are environmental and personality factors that play a role in the relationship. Stemming from the Kilmer’s Model, which suggests that creativity plays a indirect role in the push towards growth, Olivia will be looking at direct correlations between PTG and its impact on creativity. As there are only two major studies that examine the relationship between creativity and PTG, both with adult populations, Olivia plans to gather data that will show the need for fostering and encouraging creativity among children and support her prediction that PTG can spark creativity among those who experience it. We are very excited about Olivia’s work and wish her the best of luck!

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She presented two studies at the 4th Annual OU Graduate Student Research Conference on March 15th, 2019.

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Dr. Kanako Taku’s Videos

To start off the new year, Dr. Taku has started a YouTube page! In her first video post, she defines posttraumatic growth (PTG).

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Moving forward, she plans to elaborate on various topics related to PTG and our research. Some of these topics include: what we have found so far by using the PTGI-X, how PTG may be different from resiliency, how we define PTG and illusory growth in our research, how PTG is related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and much more!

You can access her first video by clicking the picture below or under our new tab titled Video in the Menu bar at the top right corner. You can also stay up-to-date with her videos by subscribing to her YouTube page, under “Kanako Taku”. We hope you enjoy it!

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Alex’s Manuscript Presentation

Second year undergraduate lab member, Alex, recently presented an outline for a manuscript that he, Velinka, and Dr. Taku are writing. This is Alex’s second manuscript. He is principal investigator of an ongoing study titled, Survey About Images of Psychosomatic Disorder or Posttraumatic Growth.He began the presentation by providing  an overview of a previous manuscript that was focused on individual differences in attitudes and perceptions towards posttraumatic growth (PTG) and illusory growth.  Findings from that part of the study showed that, overall, participants can distinguish between the two different growth types: PTG and illusory growth. They also tend to relate more to narratives reflecting PTG rather than illusory growth. The second manuscript addresses how relatability to a trauma narrative may affect PTG. Specifically, it addressed whether being able to relate to the type of trauma would elucidate a stronger relationship between relatability and self-reported PTG. Alex suggests that the results will provide great insight for social support groups and intervention where the focus is on sharing stories and traumatic events with groups to foster personal growth. Moving forward, Alex plans to further decipher which aspects of the stories are most relatable and potentially try to replicate the study using different trauma narratives. Future studies will then clarify whether relatability to different traumatic events brings about different self-reports of PTG. Great job, Alex, and good luck with future research!

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The PTG Lab Welcomes a New Member

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Welcome to Taylor Elam, our new undergraduate research assistant! Taylor is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology. She joined the lab due to her interest in behavioral psychology and wanted to learn about how people grow after being faced with adversity. During her time in the lab, Taylor plans to study various aspects of PTG, especially how decision-making may improve or decline after experiencing PTG and how an individual’s behavior, in relation to body language and micro-expressions, may change after experiencing PTG as well. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for behavioral psychology. Taylor can be reached at telam@oakland.edu.

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Closing out 2018 with Great News

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!

Vel_Jess_Whitney Photo (for Provost 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!

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Alvin’s Master Thesis Presentation

Alvin Presentation PhotoSecond 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!

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