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

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Latent oppositional defiant disorder symptom classes: Longitudinal evidence for severity-based distinctions in a high-risk sample

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-06
Supervisor(s): 
Robert McMahon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is characterized by disobedience, irritability, and hostility directed toward authority figures. Evidence suggests that there is an important distinction between the behavioural and affective symptoms of the disorder; however, it is currently unclear whether there are distinct subtypes of ODD. Using data from a high-risk, longitudinal sample from the Fast Track Project (n = 446), latent class analysis was used to examine latent classes of youth based on parent-reported ODD symptom criteria, separately at four different time points (grades 3, 6, 9, and 12). Three-class solutions were supported in all grades, with latent classes representing youth with Low (69.55-78.17% across grades), Moderate (14.52-23.24%), and High (3.53-9.03%) probabilities of parent-reported ODD symptoms. Tests of measurement invariance revealed some differences in the structure of latent classes across certain time points. Demographic variables, including race and initial levels of risk for conduct problems, significantly predicted latent class membership. The findings do not support the existence of ODD subtypes and suggest that symptom severity may be more important for distinguishing youth with ODD symptoms. More person-centered research is required to understand how the disorder presents across development.

Document type: 
Thesis

Exploring the comprehensive assessment of psychopathic personality (CAPP) model of psychopathy: Nomological network, generalizability, scope and new directions

File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-01
Supervisor(s): 
Kevin Douglas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

The Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality Disorder (CAPP) is a recently developed conceptual model of psychopathy that has sustained operationalization in numerous modalities (e.g. self-report, institutional ratings). The purpose of this dissertation was to provide an in-depth exploration of the model by situating it in the field via extension of the nomological network, exploring its generalizability across diverse groups, and increasing the scope of research via the introduction of an adapted measure designed to decrease linguistic load for participants. In Study 1, I provide the first examination of the convergence between the CAPP and TriPM in a non-normative sample, drawing attention to theoretical considerations for the field. In Study 2, I assess the performance, psychometric properties and test adequacy of the CAPP Lexical Rating Scale (CAPP-LRS) across gender and ethnicity. Study 3 introduces the CAPP-Basic, a lexically modified version of the CAPP-LRS, designed for use with populations possessing lower levels of reading ability. Study 4 builds on initial validation data from Study 3 to determine the content validity of the CAPP-Basic using prototypicality analysis. Together, the results of this body of work provide a comprehensive evaluation of the CAPP model, and introduce areas in need of further study.

Document type: 
Thesis

Assessing risk for adverse outcomes and clinically meaningful change: An examination of the SAVRY, START:AV, and VRS-YV in an adolescent residential treatment setting

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-09
Supervisor(s): 
Jodi L. Viljoen
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

The following dissertation addresses two important areas of consideration in adolescent risk assessment, namely the assessment of multiple adverse outcomes and the rating and formulation of change in risk for violence. Notwithstanding the strong empirical support for assessing risk for violence and general reoffending among adolescents, examinations of other adverse outcomes common among this age group are limited. To address this gap, the first study examined the predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability (START:AV), and the Violence Risk Scale-Youth Version (VRS-YV) among a sample of 87 male and female adolescents referred to a residential treatment program. Using adverse outcomes coded from file, the SAVRY and VRS-YV achieved larger effects for outcomes related to harming others and rule violations (e.g., violence, non-violent offenses) relative to those involving harm to the adolescent (e.g., non-suicidal self-injury, victimization), whereas the START:AV demonstrated greater consistency in predicting outcomes across both domains. Focusing on violence and suicidal/non-suicidal self-injury, accuracy of the SAVRY, START:AV, and VRS-YV peaked within the first three months, with recurrent event survival analysis revealing that dynamic risk factors were superior in predicting repeated events involving violence relative to static/historical factors, whereas only dynamic factors associated with the START:AV were predictive of repeated events involving suicidal/non-suicidal self-injury. For the second study, two cases were selected for the purpose of conducting a case study and examination of current methods for reassessing risk for violence, with the introduction of a newly developed structured professional judgment framework for rating and formulating change in risk. Methods based on pre-post reliable change indices, stages of change, and the newly developed framework were exemplified using the SAVRY, VRS-YV, and START:AV, respectively. Although the findings of the study illustrate the capacity for each method/tool to detect change in dynamic factors, several meaningful differences emerged. The clinical and research implications of the two studies are discussed, with recommendations for future research being provided.

Document type: 
Thesis

Risk state and purportedly dynamic risk factors: An examination of change in violence risk across multiple assessments

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-13
Supervisor(s): 
Kevin Douglas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Professionals have increasingly stressed the dynamic nature of violence risk. To be effective at preventing violence, it is essential to reliably and validly measure dynamic risk factors that can alter an individual’s risk state. It is imperative to understand the changeability of dynamic risk factors and global ratings of risk state more completely. There is limited, but promising, research to date that has investigated the ability of dynamic factors on structured risk assessment instruments to change over time (internal responsiveness) and even less research has investigated the extent to which this change is associated with violence (external responsiveness). The current study aimed to add to the existing knowledge concerning the responsiveness of dynamic ratings using the HCR-20 and START. With a combined sample of offenders and civil psychiatric patients, participants were assessed approximately monthly for up to six assessments. The first research question addressed internal responsiveness. Although most ratings did not change across assessments, intraindividual change was not uncommon. It was more common for participants to change at least once across all six assessments on nearly all ratings. Aggregate-level change was also observed for most dynamic ratings on both instruments. In contrast to raw score change, reliable change was relatively rare. The second research question addressed external responsiveness. Many of the dynamic ratings were predictive of violence across assessments when controlling for the respective baseline scores, and when controlling for the Historical scale scores. In contrast, when change scores were analyzed, very few items were predictive of violence. Overall, the current study added to the growing body of empirical research supporting the responsiveness of dynamic ratings on the HCR-20 and START. As such, there is accumulating evidence that supports these items as meeting all the criteria for dynamic risk factors. Repeated assessments of dynamic risk factors and risk state aid in identifying targeted management strategies, monitoring the effectiveness of these strategies, and altering the intensity or target of these strategies.

Document type: 
Thesis

Comparing psychometrics of baseline symptom scores on the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 5th and 3rd Edition Symptom Evaluation over one week

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-17
Supervisor(s): 
Rachel Fouladi
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

In sports, baseline assessment of self-reported concussion-related symptoms with the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) is often implemented as part of sports-related concussion protocols. However, changes in baseline instructions for symptom reporting on the Symptom Evaluation of the SCAT 5th Edition (SCAT5: "how he/she typically feels") from the SCAT 3rd Edition (SCAT3: “how you feel now”) have yet to be comprehensively studied. The present study used a within-subjects design over a one-week test-retest period to compare baseline distributional characteristics, within-individual reporting patterns, and test-retest reliability correlations in a sample of 395 undergraduate students. Results indicated higher baseline symptom reporting on the symptom scale of the SCAT5 than the SCAT3, at Time 1 than Time 2, and in females than males; there were no statistically significant interaction effects. Baseline within-individual reporting patterns were similar in males and females for the most part, though males more often endorsed the same level of symptoms across the SCAT5 and SCAT3 symptom scales. Comparisons of baseline test-retest reliability coefficients demonstrated mixed findings, but significant results consistently showed higher test-retest reliability for symptom variables on the symptom scale of the SCAT5 than the SCAT3. These findings provide important considerations for clinicians when using the SCAT5 Symptom Evaluation to assess baseline concussion-related symptoms.

Document type: 
Thesis

Considering data on a patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) for Chinese patients with thyroid diseases who speak Mandarin in China

File(s): 
Date created: 
2022-01-17
Supervisor(s): 
Rachel Fouladi
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

The current study examined a newly-translated Simplified Chinese version of the Thyroid-Specific Patient-Reported Outcome Short Form (SC ThyPRO-39) among 179 thyroid patients in Mainland China. This study investigated whether the ceiling/floor effect (CFE) is present in responses to the SC ThyPRO-39. The appropriateness of regression modelling strategies for data with and without CFE were considered for a variety of predictor sets, and models were compared among six distributional models. With different predictor sets, the effect of gender and mode of administration (electronic interview versus self-administration) were of particular interest. Results suggested the use of Negative Binomial or Zero-inflated Negative Binomial as modelling strategies to fit the data with significant floor effect. There were also gender and mode effects on the scale scores. Findings indicated that overall, the SC ThyPRO-39 can be used as a patient-reported outcome measure among thyroid patients who speak Mandarin or read Simplified Chinese in China.

Document type: 
Thesis

A pilot investigation of the utility of case formulation and scenario planning in structured professional judgment using the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide – Version 3 (SARA-V3)

File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-20
Supervisor(s): 
Stephen D. Hart
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

Although case formulation and scenario planning are elements included in many structured professional judgment (SPJ) decision support aids, the utility of these steps in the development of risk management plans have been understudied. This pilot study examined whether the inclusion of case formulation and scenarios in risk assessment reports prepared according to the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide – Version 3 (SARA-V3) helped evaluators provide risk management recommendations and Conclusory Opinions that were in greater agreement with gold standard ratings. Mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, and victim service workers (N = 106) involved in the assessment and management of intimate partner violence cases were randomly assigned one of ten intimate partner violence case summaries and to one of two conditions: (1) a risk assessment report including a description of the present and relevant risk factors, and (2) a risk assessment report including a description of the present and relevant risk factors, a case formulation, and scenarios of future violence. Evaluators were asked to make risk management decisions about the case they reviewed and indicate how confident they felt about their risk management judgments. Results showed minimal differences between evaluators in the two study conditions. Directions for future research on case formulation, scenario planning, and risk management are discussed, with an emphasis on the need for more qualitative research on the process of violence risk assessment and management.

Document type: 
Thesis

Childhood abuse history among adolescent mothers and their children’s adjustment in elementary school: Examining indirect effects

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-09-16
Supervisor(s): 
Robert J. McMahon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

Existing research is limited regarding intergenerational effects of adolescent mothers’ abuse histories on their children and the pathways by which transmission of risk occurs. The current study examined whether a history of childhood abuse in adolescent mothers is related to offspring adjustment in elementary school. The investigation included a community sample of 115 adolescent mother-child dyads recruited to be part of a longitudinal evaluation of parenting. Mothers reported their abuse history; attachment security was measured using the Strange Situation; child externalizing behaviour was reported by mothers when the children were age 4.5; child adjustment was reported by teachers; academic achievement was assessed using standardized assessments when the children were in grade 3. Path analyses were conducted to: (a) evaluate the direct effects between maternal history of abuse and child adjustment in elementary school; and (b) evaluate the indirect effects of attachment security and child preschool externalizing behaviour on child adjustment. Maternal childhood abuse predicted child internalizing problems and social competence in Grade 3. Mother-infant attachment mediated the relationship between maternal childhood abuse and child externalizing problems as well as social competence. Implications for interventions supporting parents with trauma histories and their children are highlighted.

Document type: 
Thesis

Impact of individual-level characteristics on perceptions of problematic sexual encounters

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-19
Supervisor(s): 
Stephen D. Hart
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Rates of sexual assault remain high across university settings despite increased efforts to combat this phenomenon. This project fills a gap in the existing literature by examining how situation-specific variables (i.e. alcohol consumption by and degree of familiarity between individuals) and individual-level factors (i.e., attitudes regarding sexual instrumentality and permissiveness, rape myths, trait token resistance, history of sexual victimization and sexual perpetration) relate to ongoing third-party perceptions of a sexual scenario. The current study used a vignette methodology to portray the dynamic nature of a sexual interaction between a man and a woman that began innocently but escalated to problematic behavior by the man and finally to sexual assault. At eight points in the interaction, a sample of university students (n = 350) reported their perceptions of comfort, safety, consent, and reportability of scenario. They further indicated the extent to which the scenario represented instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and state-based female token resistance. As the vignette’s sexual interaction became increasingly problematic, participants reported declining perceptions of comfort, safety, and state-based female token resistance, and they were more likely to characterize the interaction as lacking consent, being worthy of reporting, and involving sexual harassment and sexual assault. An analysis of situational variables within the vignette revealed no significant associations between vignette perceptions and alcohol consumption by or degree of familiarity between characters. For individual-level factors, lower rape myth acceptance was associated with identifying the interaction as lacking consent, being worthy of reporting, and as both sexual harassment and sexual assault. Trait token resistance was also related to perceptions of comfort, safety, and state-based female token resistance. These findings add to the growing literature on university sexual assault by demonstrating that third-party perceptions of sexually problematic vignettes manifest differentially among participants based on individual-level factors but not situational variables.

Document type: 
Thesis

Neural mechanisms of visual singleton detection: Evidence from human electrophysiology

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-01-29
Supervisor(s): 
John McDonald
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

It is sometimes necessary to search for visual objects of potential interest that are underspecified (e.g., any illegal item in a suitcase). The search for such an object can be accomplished easily if it possesses a unique feature that makes it stand out from its surrounding. In this case, observers can simply search for the most salient item in the environment (singleton detection). Surprisingly, the neuro-cognitive processes involved in singleton detection are still poorly understood. The overarching aims of this thesis were to reveal neuro-cognitive processes involved in singleton detection using event-related potentials (ERPs) and to address specific questions about the role of attention in singleton-detection tasks. Experiment 1 reexamined the claim that attentional processes associated with an ERP component called the N2pc are absent in singleton detection. The results revealed several ERP components, including the N2pc and a newly discovered component that tracked the time course of singleton detection (the singleton detection positivity; SDP). It was concluded that singleton detection involves some of the same attentional processes as those required for feature-based search. Experiment 2 employed a go/no-go variant of the singleton-detection task to determine whether the attentional processes observed in singleton detection are triggered automatically, as some researchers believe. ERP indices of singleton detection (SDP) and attentional selection (N2pc) were markedly reduced or absent on no-go trials, demonstrating that rapid assessment of task relevancy can prevent salience-driven capture of attention in the singleton-detection task.

Document type: 
Thesis