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

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An evaluation of the reliability and quality of expert and novice forensic case formulations

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-13
Abstract: 

Forensic case formulation is an under-studied and growing area within the violence risk assessment literature. The current study aimed to address gaps in the literature by examining the interrater reliability (IRR) and quality of forensic case formulations by comparing Expert and Novice raters. N = 50 intimate partner violence offender files were accessed. Four raters (n = 2 Experts, n = 2 Novices) rated each file using all steps of Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide-Version 3 (SARA-V3; Kropp & Hart, 2015). Cases were formulated using a Decision Theory approach in which motivating, disinhibiting, and destabilizing mechanisms were identified. The distribution of ratings for these mechanisms was presented. IRR was examined using a novel coefficient, Gwet’s AC. Raters also completed narrative case formulations. Then a Within Case and Across Case paired case design involving n = 143 narrative formulation pairs was conducted with three new raters. The similarity of paired formulations was evaluated. Raters also assessed the quality of formulations using the Case Formulation Quality Checklist-Revised (CFQC-R; McMurran & Bruford, 2016). For most formulation mechanisms, distribution of Presence ratings was skewed. Overall, across Experts and Novices, the IRR of formulation mechanisms ranged from poor to almost perfect (AC2 = .10. - .98), with most coefficients falling between the moderate and almost perfect ranges. The similarity of formulations was established; Within Case paired formulations were judged as more similar than Across Case paired formulations. Finally, formulations were high in quality; Experts produced higher quality formulations than Novices.

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

Negative affect and self agency’s association with medication adherence in adult organ transplant recipients: A meta-analytic study

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-09
Abstract: 

Objective: In organ transplant, prevalence estimates of negative affect (e.g., depressive symptoms) are higher than in the general population and self-agency is required for successful medication regimen self-management. Nonetheless, the roles of these psychological factors for immunosuppressant adherence in the organ transplant population remain unclear. Methods: Meta-analytic techniques were used to determine the associations between negative affect and self-agency with immunosuppressant adherence and to identify theoretically derived and methodological moderators of these associational effect sizes (ES). Results: Across 50 studies and 46,106 adult organ recipients, the findings demonstrate that there is a small negative association between negative affect and adherence [mean weighted effect size: r= -.14, p= .00; 95% CI= -.175, -.096] and a small positive association between self-agency and adherence [ES: r= .17, p= .00; 95% CI= .094, .251]. Studies conducted outside of Europe and North America, assessing illness-specific negative affect and utilizing questionnaire adherence measures, and studies of better quality were associated with a larger effect size for the association between negative affect and adherence, and together they explained 54% of the heterogeneity in the effect sizes. For the association between self-agency and adherence, a higher percentage of females and medication-specific self-agency were associated with a larger effect size, explaining 34% of the heterogeneity in the effect sizes. Conclusions: By elucidating overlooked trends in the existing literature for the associations between negative affect and self-agency with immunosuppressant adherence, the current meta-analyses clarify previously contradicting findings in organ transplant and demonstrate that higher negative affect and lower self-agency are each associated with poorer adherence to immunosuppressants in organ transplant. The findings also shed light on six factors contributing to the existing variability in effects and highlight the importance of careful consideration of study methodology in studies of adherence to immunosuppressants post organ transplant.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Wendy Thornton
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The context of and motivations for discussing relationship boundaries in long-distance relationships

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-16
Abstract: 

Having explicit discussions regarding the emotional and sexual boundaries in a relationship often benefits couples’ relational and sexual health; however, not all couples benefit. This is perhaps because partners’ motives for discussing boundaries and their perceptions of discussion quality vary widely. Thus, the degree to which partners engage in boundary discussions to gain a desired outcome (i.e., approach motive) versus to avoid an aversive outcome (i.e., avoidance motive) may play a role in the quality of their discussions, and subsequently affect long-term relational outcomes. I predicted that individuals’ discussion quality would mediate the associations between individuals’ approach and avoidance motives and individuals’ and partners’ relationship satisfaction, commitment, and jealousy on average over six months in a sample of mixed-sex long-distance couples (N = 71). Unexpectedly, both approach and avoidance motives were negatively associated with relational outcomes via discussion quality, which may indicate that even theoretically beneficial variables (i.e., approach motives) may depend on the relationship context in which they are enacted. Men’s discussion quality was also more consistently associated with relational outcomes, which suggests that the degree to which men feel comfortable discussing relationship boundaries and feel confident about their relationship following the discussion are especially salient for understanding changes in couples’ relationship quality over time.

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

Positive illusions about dyadic perspective taking as a moderator of the association between attachment insecurity and marital satisfaction

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-21
Abstract: 

Attachment insecurity (i.e., attachment anxiety or avoidance) puts people at risk for dissatisfying relationships, but positive illusions may buffer against insecurities. In 196 mixed-sexed newlywed couples, I investigated whether spouses’ positive illusions about partner’s dyadic perspective taking moderated the association between spouses’ attachment insecurity and both partners’ marital satisfaction over two years. Multilevel modeling indicated that wives’ positive illusions buffered the contemporaneous negative association between wives’ attachment anxiety and wives’ marital satisfaction, and husbands’ positive illusions buffered the negative associations between husband’s attachment avoidance and both partners’ marital satisfaction. Husbands’ positive illusions also buffered the negative association between husbands’ attachment avoidance and husbands’ subsequent marital satisfaction. Despite this evidence for buffering, there was also evidence for potentiation; husbands’ positive illusions potentiated the negative association between attachment anxiety and subsequent marital satisfaction, and wives’ positive illusions potentiated the negative association between wives’ attachment avoidance and subsequent marital satisfaction. Thus, in the moment, positive illusions may allow spouses to feel happy in their relationship despite insecurities, but positive illusions may not sustain marital satisfaction over time and may even be harmful in the face of insecurity.

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

Neurocognitive functioning and associated symptoms of psychosis in homeless and precariously housed adults with multimorbidity

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-24
Abstract: 

It has been fairly well-established that discrete psychiatric symptoms, such as the positive, negative, and general symptoms of psychosis, are differentially related to distinct deficits in neurocognition. Less well-known are the relationships between symptoms of psychosis and profiles of neurocognitive strengths and weaknesses and no previous study has delineated these relationships in homeless and precariously housed persons living with multimorbidity. Using a unique three-factorial solution on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale in a large sample of marginalized persons living in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, Canada, we examined the relationships between neurocognitive profiles derived by Latent Profile Analysis and symptoms of psychosis and other psychiatric and psychosocial variables. A three-class solution was found to be of optimal fit, consisting of a comparatively cognitively higher-functioning subgroup, with a relative strength in fluid reasoning (Class 1), and two comparatively cognitively impaired subgroups: one subgroup displaying the same profile of relative strength as Class 1 (Class 2), and a selectively severely cognitively impaired subgroup with a relative strength in attentional control, processing speed, and encoding and retrieval (Class 3). Subsequent between-group comparisons revealed that the two cognitively impaired subgroups overall suffered from more severe symptoms of psychosis and worse psychosocial and adaptive functioning. Our findings contrast the links between cognitive profiles and symptoms of psychosis detected in clinical samples featuring patients with schizophrenia, underscoring the importance of considering the unique interrelationships between neurocognition and psychosis that exist in marginalized persons with multimorbid conditions when implementing targeted intervention strategies.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Allen Thornton
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Perceptions of inconsistent reports of long-term autobiographical memory

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-29
Abstract: 

Delayed criminal cases are prevalent in Canada, but how these delayed reports are perceived has not yet been investigated. The present study examined perceptions of delayed and inconsistent reports of autobiographical memory. Participants viewed a witness making a statement that was either consistent or inconsistent with a previous report about a crime that took place 1-day, 2-years, or 15-years ago. Participants were asked to rate the witness’ credibility, make verdict decisions, and recommend a sentence length. Participants found an inconsistent witness to be less cognitively competent, honest, and more suggestible. Perceived credibility was not impacted by delay but verdict decisions were. This finding may have implications for the justice system if triers of fact do not consider the possibility that witnesses testifying after a long delay may recall fewer, and potentially different, details, and that inconsistencies across repeated interviews may not always be indicative of a completely inaccurate report.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Deborah Connolly
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Do adolescent risk assessment tools capture self-reported reasons for desistance? An examination of the content validity of protective factors

Date created: 
2020-08-11
Abstract: 

Although prior research has examined the predictive validity of risk assessment tools, research on their content validity is limited. The present study used a novel approach to assess evidence for the content validity of three adolescent risk assessment tools that include protective factors: the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY; Borum et al., 2006), the Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for Violence Risk – Youth Version (SAPROF-YV; de Vries Robbé et al., 2015), and the Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability: Adolescent Version (START:AV; Viljoen et al., 2014). This study investigated whether the protective factors included on these tools captured information that people with a history of adolescent offending (n = 103) described as relevant to their desistance from offending. Desistance criteria followed previous qualitative research and included self-reported desistance for a period of at least two years. Data was collected from two samples, through an in-person interview study and an online survey study. Participants were asked open-ended questions about their desistance, followed by direct questions based on the specific protective factors on the tools. Responses were coded using qualitative directed content analyses based on the tools’ operational definitions for each item. Findings generally provided support for the content validity of the tools. Responses were also coded inductively to identify additional reasons for desistance that were not captured by the tools. Although four other themes emerged, they may be partially captured under existing items or may be included as case-specific factors. Due to the debate about the distinctiveness of protective and risk factors, this study also examined whether factors are described in terms of the presence of a protective factor or in terms of the removal of a risk factor. Reasons for desistance were primarily discussed in terms of the presence of protective factors. Overall the findings provide evidence to support the item content included on the SAVRY, SAPROF-YV, and START:AV, and highlight the value of considering client/patient perspectives in risk assessment research.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jodi Viljoen
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Nonsuicidal self-injury-relief associations over the course of dialectical behaviour therapy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-17
Abstract: 

I examined the relationship between the strength of a cognitive nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI)-relief association and NSSI over time in the context of dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) among individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Self-injuring individuals with BPD were assessed for BPD and NSSI and randomly assigned to 6 or 12 months of comprehensive, standard DBT. Participants were re-assessed for NSSI every 3 months from the start of therapy for 24 months. The NSSI-relief association was assessed at baseline and again at 6 and 12 months after the start of therapy via the deliberate self-harm implicit association test (DSH IAT; Gratz et al., 2016). At baseline, participants also completed a measure of their motives for NSSI. Hypothesis 1 was that, at baseline, lifetime NSSI would be positively associated with the NSSI-relief association beyond self-reported emotion relief motives. Hypothesis 2 was that the NSSI-relief association would weaken over the course of one year after treatment began. Hypothesis 3 was that the NSSI-relief association at baseline would predict the rate of change of NSSI from baseline to the end of one year, such that a stronger NSSI-relief association would predict a slower rate. Hypothesis 3a was that the rate of change of NSSI from baseline to the end of one year would predict the rate of change of the NSSI-relief association from baseline to the end of one year, such that a greater rate of change of NSSI would predict a greater rate of change of the NSSI-relief association. Analyses revealed that lifetime NSSI was not associated with the NSSI-relief association beyond self-reported emotion relief motives. As well, the NSSI-relief association did not weaken over the course of one year. Finally, findings from parallel linear growth curve models did not support hypothesis 3 or 3a. These results suggest that the DSH IAT might not be sensitive to treatment effects in DBT for individuals with BPD in clinical populations. Findings also suggest that future research should investigate change in other processes that maintain NSSI, the association between DSH IAT D scores and NSSI consequences, and the relationship between NSSI and relief over time.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Alexander Chapman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Adolescent intimate partner violence: The case for outcome-specific and developmentally informed guidelines to evaluate and manage risk

Date created: 
2020-07-23
Abstract: 

Intimate partner violence (IPV) among adolescents, which can be defined as any actual, attempted, or threatened physical or sexual harm between intimate partners aged 12 to 17, is an ongoing, serious, and global problem. Although structured decision-making tools have been developed to evaluate an adolescent’s risk to engage in general violence and offending, it is unclear whether these tools can be used to evaluate risk to perpetrate IPV. In addition, although tools have been developed to evaluate IPV risk among adults, these tools were not intended for use with adolescents and thus may be inappropriate. In this dissertation, the utility of four widely used risk assessment tools for evaluating adolescent IPV risk was examined. First, the predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI), and Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV) were examined for IPV perpetration and any violent and any reoffending in a sample of 156 young offenders on probation in Western Canada. Results indicated that total scores and summary risk ratings on the SAVRY and YLS/CMI and total scores on the PCL:YV were significantly predictive of any violent and any reoffending with moderate to large effect sizes over a 2-year follow-up period but were modestly and non-significantly associated with the perpetration of IPV. Second, a systematic review was conducted to evaluate the applicability of items on an adult IPV tool, the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide - Version 3 (SARA-V3), to adolescents. A total of 71 articles (N = 45,202 adolescents) that address risk and/or protective factors associated with adolescent IPV perpetration or victimization were examined. Most SARA-V3 items were found to have empirical support among adolescents. However, results also indicate that several factors should be added, removed, or altered to better reflect developmental considerations among this age group. These findings suggest that the field would benefit from the development of a specialized adolescent IPV risk assessment and management tool. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the steps being taken to adapt the SARA-V3 for use with adolescents and implications for research, policy, and practice.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kevin Douglas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

An investigation of profiles of polysubstance use in homeless & precariously housed individuals

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-02
Abstract: 

Despite the prevalence of polysubstance use among homeless and precariously housed persons, the cognitive and functional consequences of substance use patterns are poorly understood. This may be due in part to the limitations of existing work that attempts to isolate substances (e.g. methodologically or statistically) or lacks granularity (e.g. cross-sectional or lacking frequency of use). As such, this study aimed to improve upon past work by evaluating naturally occurring patterns of polysubstance use longitudinally. Using cluster analysis, this study revealed three validated substance use profiles: Frequent Heroin with Moderate Methamphetamine Use, Frequent Cannabis Use, and Infrequent to Moderate Polysubstance Use. Mixed general linear models indicated that the use profiles were not associated with differences in cognitive trajectory or capacity, however, persons engaged in frequent use showed poorer social and occupational functioning compared to a moderate use group. Implications are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Allen Thornton
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.