Psychology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Coping with injury and daily stressors in university student athletes

Date created: 
2018-05-10
Abstract: 

While recent research has generated a great deal of useful information about the nature of the stressors facing injured athletes and the coping strategies used during injury rehabilitation, few studies have examined the actual experiences of injured student athletes. This study sought to begin to address this gap in the literature by exploring the stress and coping experiences of injured student athletes over the course of their rehabilitation. Nine university student athletes with athletic injuries were recruited to complete fourteen consecutive weekly journal entries describing their stressors and coping strategies related to the injury rehabilitation process and other areas of life. Five participants (three female and two male) provided full journal datasets and then completed semi-structured interviews after returning to sport. Grounded theory methodology was utilized to analyze the journal and interview data. Themes arose related to the student athlete lifestyle, stressors, psychological responses to injury, coping strategies and coping effects, coping processes and perceived benefits. The results are discussed within the context of models of sport injury rehabilitation and previous research on stress and coping with athletic injury. The study identified several stressors and coping strategies specific to injured student athletes. These include balancing intensive time demands, which became further strained with the addition of rehabilitation, the effect of the injury on employment, and related coping strategies. Strengths and limitations of the study are addressed, and recommendations for future research are made with respect to this specific population and, more generally, research on stress and coping with athletic injury. Recommendations regarding strategies to support injured student athletes are also offered.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Cox
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Use of digital records for studying skill learning

Date created: 
2018-04-27
Abstract: 

The present work uses a novel data source, real-time strategy video game play in StarCraft 2, to study complex skill learning. Chapter One discusses some important desiderata of a large dataset. Chapter Two discusses domain specifics about StarCraft 2, and introduces the process by which survey respondents donate digital archives which are parsed to reveal second-by-second information about in-game performance of players. Chapter Three asks how experience should be defined in a complex domain. I find that the common-sense definition, that experience should be measured soley in terms ot task-specific experience, misleads researchers by being both overly permissive and restrictive. A better definition can be achieved by focusing on other forms of experience, such as experience with different game modes. Chapter Four extends a previous study of age-related declines in a StarCraft 2 cross-sectional dataset. Segmented regression models are used to estimate the onset of age-related differences. Secondly, I examine the theory that large swaths of age-related differences, across a wide array of variables, are attributable to a single general cognitive, but not psychomotor, factor. I find support for this theory, as a simplified measure of redundant click-speed accounts for about 19\% of the shared age-related variance in established measures of StarCraft 2 speed. In Chapter Five I examine some of the common responses to the idea that Big Data, and the emerging data sources they employ, could effectively replace the role of theory in science. I argue, instead, that emerging data sources are a threat to overzealous generalizations from laboratory grown theories to complex behaviour. If emerging data sources fulfill their potential as tools for evaluating theory generality, then scientific standards for making claims about generality could change in pronounced ways. This would create a bigger gap between empirically grounded generalizations from the laboratory to life and careless generalizations which Frankfurt would call ``bullshit.'' Finally, I examine two very different research strategies for going about the evaluation of theory using Big Data, and point to the virtues and limitations of both.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Blair
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Do people who feel connected to nature do more to protect it? A meta-analysis

Date created: 
2018-04-10
Abstract: 

Nature connection, defined as a subjective sense of oneness with nature, is one psychological variable that promotes pro-environmental behaviour (Mayer & Frantz, 2004; Nisbet, Zelenski, & Murphy, 2009). This meta-analysis reviews correlational and experimental evidence for this relationship. Results in the correlational analysis show a strong association between nature connection and pro-environmental behaviours (r = .41), which was significant for various operationalizations of nature connection and private sphere and public sphere pro-environmental behaviours. Unlike in the correlational data, there was evidence of publication bias when meta-analyzing experimental studies. By including unpublished studies in the meta-analysis, I corrected for this bias and found a small but significant causal effect of nature connection on pro-environmental behaviour (d = .25). I discuss discrepancies between how nature connection is measured and manipulated, and how future studies can better examine the processes by which nature connection causes pro-environmental behaviour.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Schmitt
Rebecca Cobb
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Cross-cultural generalizability of the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality (CAPP) in South Korea

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-17
Abstract: 

The Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality (CAPP; Cooke, Hart, Logan, & Michie, 2013) is a new lexically-based conceptual model of psychopathy that has potential clinical utility. The main purpose of the current research was to investigate the generalizability of the CAPP conceptual model in South Korea. In Study 1, I conducted a study in which experts and lay people in South Korea were asked to rate the prototypicality of symptoms of psychopathy using a Korean language translation of the CAPP model (K-CAPP). The results indicated that, consistent with past research in other countries, Korean experts and lay people on average rated K-CAPP symptoms as being moderately to highly prototypical of psychopathy, and also more prototypical of psychopathy on average than symptoms theoretically unrelated to psychopathy. The prototypicality ratings for K-CAPP symptoms made by Korean experts and lay people were similar to each other, as well as to those made by experts and lay people using the CAPP in other countries. In Study 2, I evaluated the reliability and concurrent validity of expert ratings of psychopathy made using a Korean translation of a CAPP-based clinical measure, CAPP-Institutional Rating Scale (K-CAPP-IRS), in a sample of correctional offenders in South Korea. Reliability analyses based on simple intraclass correlations indicated very high (> .80) interrater reliability for almost all the K-CAPP-IRS symptom, domain, and total ratings. But a more sophisticated examination using a Generalizability Theory framework, with a Persons (89 offenders) x Raters (3 experts) x Occasions (2 occasions, three-month interval) x Items (33 K-CAPP-IRS symptoms) design, revealed complex but substantial interactions involving Raters; however, the impact of these interactions was mitigated when K-CAPP-IRS ratings were made by increasing the number of Raters, as opposed to Occasions. Concurrent validity analyses that K-CAPP-IRS total scores were correlated highly with total scores on the Korean translation of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (Cho & Lee, 2008), r = .647; and moderately with total scores on the Korean translation of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (Park & Lee, 2013), r = .350. Overall, the results of Studies 1 and 2 indicate that the concept of psychopathy, as captured by the CAPP concept map, appears to be cross-culturally valid in South Korea.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen D. Hart
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Children's Ability to Malinger Cognitive Deficits

Date created: 
2018-01-24
Abstract: 

Historically, psychologists have not assessed performance validity in child assessments where there is potential for secondary gain, although children’s ability to malinger is a growing concern among psychologists. The present series of three simulation studies examined (1) children’s ability to withhold their best effort on psychological testing, (2) whether performance validity tests (PVTs) can accurately detect withholding, and (3) whether inhibitory control explains individual differences in withholding. Participants were children in grades four and six, and performance was measured using the WISC-IV PSI subtests and the RAVLT. PVTs included the MSVT and TOMM. Children were instructed to either try their best (BE condition) or withhold (WE condition) based on instructions in a storybook read to children by their parent/guardian the night before the testing session. Study 1 used a repeated measures design to first assess best effort and then children were either given the BE or WE storybook. Both cohorts of children in the WE condition performed worse on the RAVLT and PSI than children in the BE condition, the PVTs obtained moderate accuracy, and inhibitory control was unrelated to withholding. Study 2 examined whether prior exposure to the testing materials was necessary for children to withhold and only included one testing session. Children in grade 4 scored lower on the PSI than their best effort comparison group, but otherwise scores on the performance tests were not statistically different between groups based on instructions given. There were significant differences between the groups on the MSVT, although the classification accuracy was only moderate. Study 3 examined whether children could withhold their best effort without being reminded of the instructions prior to the testing session. There were no differences on the performance tests or PVTs between those instructed to withhold and the best effort comparison group, although the variances on the MSVT were unequal, suggesting that the instructions had an effect, albeit subtle. Overall, the results show that fewer children can withhold their best effort as the task becomes more difficult, but nevertheless some can still withhold under certain conditions. Limitations, future directions, and implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Deborah Connolly
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Psychological functioning and bereavement care needs of bereaved Chinese immigrants in Canada

Date created: 
2017-12-12
Abstract: 

The death of a loved one can be associated with significant physical and psychological morbidity for bereaved individuals. Bereavement care services aim to foster healthy adjustment to loss. Research and clinical observations, however, suggest that such services are under-utilized by ethnic minorities and immigrants. Using a mixed methods design, the current research examined the psychological functioning of bereaved Chinese-Canadian immigrants, and factors related to their access and utilization of bereavement care. Twenty-five first-generation Chinese-Canadian immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Mainland China, who had been bereaved for 6 months to 3 years, completed Chinese-translated questionnaires on depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms, coping, and acculturation. Semi-structured interviews focused on their grief experiences, knowledge and experiences with bereavement care, and perception on barriers to access and ways to improve services. Quantitative results revealed that over half of the participants scored above clinical cut-offs on depression (56%), state anxiety (60%) and trait anxiety (64%). Eight themes emerged from the qualitative data. Chinese cultural grammar, being an immigrant in a foreign land, and navigating uncharted territories in a foreign health care system represented contextual forces that interacted to form barriers to accessing bereavement care. Bereavement as a lonely journey represented the core concern of the participants, with coping strategies, religion and spirituality, post-loss changes and growth, and ideal services emerging as outcome categories. Combined analyses on quantitative and qualitative data found that those displaying intense grief during interview also scored higher on depression and state anxiety. Emotion-oriented coping was associated with poorer psychological functioning, while taking solace in “good death”, cognitive reframing and discussing the loss with family predicted better adjustment. Those whose family members passed away in Canada or had received palliative care prior to death were more likely to receive pre-bereavement and/or bereavement follow-up care. Psychological morbidity and lack of discussion of grief with family were associated with increased initiative to seek professional help. Initiative to seek help, together with psychological morbidity, predicted subsequent access to bereavement interventions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Cox
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Social learning and social motivation: Examining parent-child interactions

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-07
Abstract: 

Humans are unique in our ability to learn from one another. Our sensitivity to non-verbal communicative cues has been argued to facilitate the learning process, drawing attention to critical information in the learning context. However, it is unclear whether these behaviours derive from children’s motivation to learn, or the motivation to interact and affiliate with others. I examined the use of non-verbal communicative cues in a social learning context in 50 parent-child dyads, with children varying in their desire to interact with others (range = 7-12 years): 26 typically developing (TD) children and 24 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). When instructed to teach their child a new skill, parents of TD and ASD children produced similar amounts of non-verbal communicative cues. However, children with ASD appeared to use these cues to adjust their behaviour less than their same-age TD peers. Although children with ASD took longer to learn a novel skill, both when learning from a parent and on their own, children’s learning efficiency (speed of learning) was not related to their use of communicative cues from their parent. Finally, children’s parent-reported social responsiveness (as measured by the Multidimensional Social Competence Scale) was positively related to their use of communicative cues.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tanya Broesch
Grace Iarocci
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Self-compassion and emotional responses to interpersonal rejection in individuals with borderline personality features

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-11-08
Abstract: 

The primary aim of this study was to determine whether a self-compassion manipulation has promise in addressing a core interpersonal vulnerability (sensitivity to social rejection) in borderline personality disorder (BPD). Forty-nine participants with high BP features were randomly assigned to complete a state self-compassion writing induction or a neutral control writing task. Participants then experienced self-relevant interpersonal rejection through receiving feedback on personal profile questions from another (fictional) participant. Emotional state was assessed at baseline, pre-manipulation, and post-rejection. Participants in both conditions demonstrated heightened negative affect, hostility, and irritability and reduced positive affect following the rejection. Contrary to hypotheses, participants in the self-compassion group did not demonstrate significantly different changes in positive affect, negative affect, shame, hostility, or irritability compared to participants in the control group. These results suggest that more intensive self-compassion interventions may be critical in future research on BPD and interpersonal difficulties.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alexander Chapman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Exploring the Process and Maintenance of Desistance from Offending

Date created: 
2017-11-08
Abstract: 

The purpose of the present study was to examine factors connected to periods of unsuccessful, successful, and maintained desistance. To facilitate this goal, the study was structured around a dynamic conceptualization of desistance and examined the subjective perceptions of 20 self-reported official and behavioural desisters (median and mode age of 30 years) who participated in semi-structured interviews based on a life history narrative approach. Interviews lasted an average of 72 minutes and produced a total of 469 single spaced pages of verified transcripts. Themes were generated through a five stage interpretative phenomenological analysis coding procedure, related to the five stages of the offending and desistance cycle. Overall, participants attributed offending to external factors within their environment, but incorporated the ramifications of their offending into their identities. Participants linked unsuccessful desistance periods to external factors such as experiencing external controls (e.g. physical ailments) or having others attempt to force behavioural change. Resurgence in criminal behaviour following unsuccessful desistance periods was often linked to a cascading breakdown of desistance factors after participants experienced an offending trigger, such as losing employment or relapsing into substance use. In contrast, participants linked successful desistance periods to their identity, and experiencing a desire to change that helped motivate them to attain a positive possible future and to positively overcome threats to their desistance. In addition to identity change, maintenance of desistance was attributed to a change in environment, gaining social capital, and a desire to maintain progress in a positive life direction. Notably, participants tended to report first experiencing identity changes, which led to cognitive transformations and the accumulation of social capital, which ultimately supported sustained desistance. However, there is likely no golden rule that can be applied to all offenders to help them desist. Rather it is important to understand and respect the multifaceted, dynamic, complex, and individual nature of desistance from offending.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kathleen Slaney
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Exploring human cognition through multivariate data visualization

Date created: 
2017-11-03
Abstract: 

Entire disciplines are dedicated to separately exploring the relationship between sensation and perception; attention and learning; and information access and decision making. This work aims to bridge these fields though studies of data visualizations and decision making. A data visualization communicates information about synthesized data points for an observer. For graphical communication to work, all parties involved must understand regularities in the representations that are being used. Extracting regularities from observations is in the category learning wheelhouse, and so methods and findings from categorization literature are used to inform this work. Through the following experiments, the perception of multivariate data via visualization is explored. The framework for this exploration is an extension of existing proposals for a science of data visualization. The present work extends existing proposals by adding decision making as a critical element for a science of visualization. It’s great to understand how people can read a graph, but it’s even more informative to understand how that reading influences their actions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Blair
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.