Psychology, Department of

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Electrophysiological Correlates of Visual Singleton Detection

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-03-20
Abstract: 

Identifying a fixed-feature singleton that pops out from an otherwise uniform array of distractors elicits an event-related potential (ERP) component called the N2pc over the posterior scalp. The N2pc has been used to track attention with millisecond accuracy, inform theories of visual selection, and test for specific attention deficits in clinical populations, yet it is still unclear what neuro-cognitive process gives rise to the component. One hypothesis is that the N2pc reflects a spatial filtering process that suppresses irrelevant distractors. In support of this hypothesis, Luck and Hillyard (1994) showed that the N2pc is eliminated when the features of the target and distractors switch unpredictably across trials so that participants cannot prepare to filter out irrelevant items. The present study aimed to replicate Luck and Hillyard’s singleton detection experiment, but with modifications to enhance the N2pc signal and to gain statistical power. We show that orientation singletons do, in fact, elicit the N2pc as well as an earlier-onsetting and longer-lasting singleton detection positivity (SDP) over the occipital scalp when the target and distractor orientations swap randomly across trials. We conclude that spatial filtering might not play a major role in the generation of the N2pc and that the selection processes required to search for fixed-feature targets (in feature-search mode) are also engaged in the detection of variable-feature singletons (in singleton-detection mode).

Document type: 
Article
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Psychopathy and Violent Misconduct in a Sample of Violent Young Offenders

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-06-24
Abstract: 

Purpose: Most prior research on psychopathy and institutional misconduct/violence occurs with adult samples and comparatively less is known about the nature of this relationship among serious, violent juvenile offenders.

Methods: A subsample of 159 male serious and violent offenders interviewed in custody facilities in British Columbia, Canada as part of the Vancouver Longitudinal Study of Incarcerated Young Offenders were used. Bivariate, AUC-ROC, and Poisson regression models examined the association between psychopathy and violent misconduct and exposure to violence with different specifications and separately for Caucasian and Aboriginal youth.

Results: Overall, psychopathic youth evince more misconduct, are more violent, and break more institutional rules than their less psychopathic peers; however, the effects are relatively small, and ROC-AUC models reveal generally unimpressive classification accuracy.

Conclusions: Although psychopathy is a risk factor for violent misconduct, its effects are measurement-variant (e.g., total scores, factor scores, and item scores) and differ for Caucasian and Aboriginal serious offenders.

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Article
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A Conceptual Framework for Thinking About Physician-Assisted Death for Persons With a Mental Disorder

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-05
Abstract: 

Physician-assisted death (PAD) has been enacted in a number of international jurisdictions, with several extending access to PAD for persons whose condition is not terminal, including those with a mental disorder.  We argue that based on the state of the literature, it is too early to make well-defined recommendations on how relevant fields can proceed legally, ethically, and clinically, particularly in regard to PAD for persons with a mental disorder.  The aim of this paper is to introduce a framework for further discussions on PAD for persons with a mental disorder to stimulate thoughtful and considered debate in our field.  We provide a brief discussion of the principles that guide regulatory frameworks on PAD practices worldwide, including a discussion of jurisdictions in Europe and North America that allow PAD for those suffering from an incurable non-terminal disease, illness, or disability.  Next, we present a conceptual framework as a series of questions that address legal, ethical, and clinical dilemmas arising from this trend.  We conclude with a summary of guidelines on the practice of PAD from international jurisdictions in order to assist in the development of potential legal and professional regulations.

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Article
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Assessing Protective Factors for Adolescent Offending: A Conceptually Informed Examination of the SAVRY and YLS/CMI

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-05-02
Abstract: 

Although the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) and the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) are among the most widely used adolescent risk assessment tools, they conceptualize and measure strengths differently.  As such, in this study, we compared the predictive validity of SAVRY Protective Total and YLS/CMI Strength Total, and tested conceptual models of how these measures operate (i.e., risk vs. protective effects, direct vs. buffering effects, causal models).  Research assistants conducted 624 risk assessments with 156 youth on probation. They rated protective factors at baseline, and again at 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month follow-up periods.  The SAVRY Protective Total and YLS/CMI Strength Total inversely predicted any charges in the subsequent two years (area under the curve scores [AUCs] = .61 and .60, respectively, p < .05).  Furthermore, when adolescents’ protective total scores increased, their self-reported violence decreased, thus providing evidence that these factors might play a causally-relevant role in reducing violence.  However, protective factors did not provide incremental validity over risk factors.  In addition, because these measures are brief and use a dichotomous rating system, they primarily captured deficits in protective factors (i.e., low scores).  This suggests a need for more comprehensive measures.

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Article
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Questioning Fairness: The Relationship of Mental Health and Psychopathic Characteristics with Young Offenders’ Perceptions of Procedural Justice and Legitimacy

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-06-13
Abstract: 

Background: Theories of procedural justice suggest that individuals who experience the processes and procedures used to make legal decisions as fair are more likely to perceive the legal system as legitimate, and in turn, less likely to offend.  When individuals come into contact with the legal system, however, they are not blank slates but have beliefs and personality characteristics that may systematically influence their perception of justice and legitimacy.  Aims: Our aim was to establish the extent to which personal characteristics, whether demographic, legal or clinical, influence the degree to which young people experience the justice system as fair and legitimate. Method: Self-report, file, and interview data were collected from 92 12-17 year-olds on probation in Western Canada. Results: There was some relationship between scores on the youth version of the psychopathy checklist and perceptions of fairness and legitimacy, and between substance misuse and the justice variables, but after taking all significant variables into consideration, history of major traumatic experience was the only one to be independently associated with perceptions of justice. Those in the youngest age group in our sample were more likely to have positive perceptions of justice than the older, but demographics and legal history otherwise seemed irrelevant. Conclusions:  Our findings suggest that examining personal qualities and experiences which may have a relationship the relationship with perceptions of procedural justice and legitimacy are worth exploring further. It may be that young people who do not accept the law as legitimate or the criminal justice system as fair could be more likely to offend.

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Article
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Do Risk Assessment Tools Help to Manage and Reduce Risk of Violence and Reoffending? A Systematic Review

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-06
Abstract: 

Although it is widely believed that risk assessment tools can help manage risk of violence and offending, it is unclear what evidence exists to support this view.  As such, we conducted a systematic review and narrative synthesis.  To identify studies, we searched 13 databases, reviewed reference lists, and contacted experts.  Through this review, we identified 73 published and unpublished studies (N = 31,551 psychiatric patients and offenders, N = 10,002 professionals) that examined either professionals’ risk management efforts following the use of a tool, or rates of violence or offending following the implementation of a tool.  These studies included a variety of populations (e.g., adults, adolescents), tools, and study designs.    The primary findings were as follows: (1) despite some promising findings, professionals do not consistently adhere to tools or apply them to guide their risk management efforts; (2) following the use of a tool, match to the risk principle is moderate and match to the needs principle is limited, as many needs remained unaddressed; (3) there is insufficient evidence to conclude that tools directly reduce violence or reoffending, as findings are mixed; and (4) tools appear to have a more beneficial impact on risk management when agencies use careful implementation procedures and provide staff with training and guidelines related to risk management.  In sum, although risk assessment tools may be an important starting point, they do not guarantee effective treatment or risk management.  However, certain strategies may bolster their utility.

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Article
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Primary Study Quality in Psychological Meta-Analyses: An Empirical Assessment of Recent Practice

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-09
Abstract: 

As meta-analytic research has come to occupy a sizeable contingent of published work in the psychological sciences, clarity in the reporting of such work is crucial to its interpretability and reproducibility. This is especially true regarding the assessment of primary study quality, as notions of study quality can vary across research domains. The present study examines the general state of reporting practices related to primary study quality in a sample of 382 published psychological meta-analyses, as well as the reporting decisions and motivations of the authors that published them. Our findings suggest adherence to reporting standards has remained poor for assessments of primary study quality and that the discipline remains inconsistent in its reporting practices generally. We discuss several potential reasons for the poor adherence to reporting standards in our sample, including whether quality assessments are being conducted in the first place, whether standards are well-known within the discipline, and the potential conflation of assessing primary study quality with other facets of conducting a meta-analysis. The implications of suboptimal reporting practices related to primary study quality are discussed.

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Article
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Medication Adherence in Renal Transplant Recipients: A Latent Variable Model of Psychosocial and Neurocognitive Predictors

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-09-28
Abstract: 

Objective Estimates indicate that 20–70% of renal transplant recipients are medication non-adherent, significantly increasing the risk of organ rejection. Medication adherence is negatively impacted by lower everyday problem solving ability, and associations between depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, and adherence are reported in renal transplant recipients. Nonetheless, to date, these associations have not been examined concurrently. Given the relationship between non-adherence and organ rejection, it is critical to gain a better understanding of the predictors of adherence in renal transplant recipients. To this end, we modeled relationships among cognitive abilities, depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, and adherence in this group.

Methods Participants (N = 211) underwent renal transplant at least one year prior to participation. Adherence was measured via self-report, medication possession ratio, and immunosuppressant blood-level. Traditionally-measured neurocognitive and everyday problem-solving abilities were assessed. Depressive symptoms were measured via self-report, as were general and medication adherence related self-efficacy. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the fit of the model to available data.

ResultsEveryday problem solving and self-efficacy had direct positive associations with adherence. Depressive symptoms were negatively associated with self-efficacy, but not adherence. Traditionally-measured neurocognitive abilities were positively associated with self-efficacy, and negatively associated with depressive symptoms.

Conclusions We present a comprehensive investigation of relationships between cognitive and psychosocial factors and adherence in medically stable renal transplant recipients. Findings confirm the importance of everyday problem solving and self-efficacy in predicting adherence and suggest that influences of depressive symptoms and neurocognitive abilities are indirect. Findings have important implications for future development of interventions to improve medication adherence in renal transplant recipients.

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Article
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The Use of the SAVRY and YLS/CMI in Adolescent Court Proceedings: A Case Law Review

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-03-05
Abstract: 

Despite the continued growth of adolescent risk assessment tools, we do not know how these tools are being used in adolescent court cases or how this information influences legal decision making. To address this gap, we reviewed 50 Canadian, American, and international adolescent offender cases using the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth or Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory.  The results confirm that adolescent risk assessment tools are primarily introduced during sentencing or adult transfer proceedings.  Judges identified the specific risk and protective factors of youth in 36.2% and 19.0% of cases, respectively.  In terms of legal decision making, the risk assessment was either directly or indirectly referred to in 76.0% of cases; however, judges most often placed some weight on the risk assessment as a part of an enumerated list of other important factors.  Although risk assessments were generally considered admissible in these cases, some legal concerns were raised, particularly with the use of risk assessments to guide sentencing decisions.  

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Article
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Remorse, Psychopathology, and Psychopathy among Adolescent Offenders

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Remorse has long been important to the juvenile justice system. However, the nature of this construct has not yet been clearly articulated, and little research has examined its relationships with other theoretically and legally relevant variables. The present study was intended to address these issues by examining relationships among remorse, psychopathology, and psychopathy in a sample of adolescent offenders (N = 97) using the theoretically and empirically established framework of guilt and shame (Tangney & Dearing, 2002). Findings indicated that shame was positively related to behavioural features of psychopathy, whereas guilt was negatively related to psychopathic characteristics more broadly. In addition, shame was positively associated with numerous mental health problems whereas guilt was negatively associated with anger, depression, and anxiety. These results provide empirical support for theory that psychopathy is characterized by lack of remorse (e.g., Hare, 1991), and also underscore shame and guilt as potentially important treatment targets for adolescent offenders.

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Article
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