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

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Attachment insecurity and sexual communication in cohabiting mixed-sex couples

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-05
Abstract: 

Talking openly and constructively about sexual issues, such as sexual needs and preferences, is critical to the development and maintenance of mutually satisfying sexual relationships (e.g., Cupach & Comstock, 1990). Attachment insecurity (i.e., attachment anxiety and avoidance) may impede individuals’ and their partners’ sexual communication, and thus poor quality sexual communication could mediate negative associations between attachment insecurity and individuals’ and partners’ sexual satisfaction. Using an Actor-Partner Interdependence Mediation Model (APIMeM; Ledermann, Macho, & Kenny, 2011), I tested this mediation model cross-sectionally and longitudinally with a dyadic parallel process latent growth curve model in 125 couples over one year. Contemporaneously, both partners’ perceptions of sexual communication mediated negative indirect effects of attachment anxiety on individuals’ and partners’ sexual satisfaction, and a negative indirect effect of attachment avoidance on individuals’ sexual satisfaction. Unexpectedly, attachment avoidance was positively associated with partners’ perceptions of sexual communication, and there was a positive indirect effect of attachment avoidance on partner sexual satisfaction. Further, attachment anxiety and avoidance were not associated with declines in sexual communication quality or sexual satisfaction over one year, but for women, declines in sexual communication predicted declines in sexual satisfaction. In sum, attachment insecurity was associated with individuals’ and partners’ (for anxiety) contemporaneous perceptions of poorer quality sexual communication and lower sexual satisfaction, and declines in sexual communication eroded sexual satisfaction over time for women. Thus, improving sexual communication may be an important pathway to increasing sexual satisfaction.

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

An examination of children’s memory for instances and the effects of mental context reinstatement

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-02
Abstract: 

Complainants of repeated child sexual abuse (CSA) are often directed to recall a time that was different, the first time, and/or the last time. Mental context reinstatement (MCR) may also be used to facilitate recall of discrete acts. The present research examined the effects of these techniques on children’s recall of instances of a repeated event. Younger (kindergarten/Grade 1; n = 172) and older (Grades 3/4; n = 176) children participated in five magic shows. All shows followed the same general script, with options of details that varied in each show. In the middle show, something surprising occurred (i.e., a deviation). After a one-week delay to the target instance, children were asked to recall one of the following instances: the first time, last time, or a time that was different or surprising. Some children also received MCR. Children recalled the first instance most accurately and recalled the last instance more accurately than the time that was different or surprising. MCR had a negative effect on children’s recall of the first instance such that MCR increased the number of details children reported from non-target instances. A broad definition of accuracy that included all experienced details showed that MCR increased the number of experienced details younger children reported across instances. It appears that MCR may serve to activate children’s memory for the script. Implications to children’s memory for instances of a repeated event and charging repeated CSA as a continuous offense are discussed.

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

Kindness begins with yourself: The role of self-compassion in adolescent body satisfaction and eating pathology

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-04
Abstract: 

A wealth of evidence indicates that self-compassion is linked to positive psychological outcomes; however, little is known about the role of self-compassion in adolescent eating pathology. The primary purpose of this research was to investigate the relationships between self-compassion, psychological distress, body satisfaction, and eating pathology in high school students (Study One, community sample, n = 238; 43.7% male) and female adolescent patients with eating disorders (Study Two, clinical sample, n = 58). All participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL-5), Body Areas Satisfaction Scale (BASS), and Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire - Adolescent Version (EDE-Q) at baseline. The community sample completed the SCL-5, BASS, and EDE-Q four months later. In both studies, self-compassion predicted body satisfaction and/or eating pathology through psychological distress. In comparison to females in the community sample, self-compassion was higher in males and lower in female patients with eating disorders. Altogether, results underscore how self-compassion may be an important factor to target in fostering a positive body image and preventing disordered eating in adolescents.

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

Stalking and violence: A 10-year follow-up of stalking offenders

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-23
Abstract: 

Stalking is a form of targeted violence which most often results in psychological harm, but can also include acts of physical harm, and is associated with victims experiencing a wide range of psychological difficulties. This study examined the psychometric properties of the Guidelines for Stalking Assessment and Management (SAM; Kropp, Hart, & Lyon, 2008), including the interrater reliability, predictive validity, and concurrent validity with the Screening Version of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL:SV; Hart, Cox, & Hare, 1995), and the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG; Quinsey, Rice, Harris, & Cormier, 1998). Another objective of this study was to examine reoffending rates and patterns in time-to-reoffending among a sample of offenders originally convicted of stalking-related offences. The sample consisted of 106 offenders referred to a Canadian forensic psychiatric clinic or hospital for pre-trial or post-sentence assessment or treatment. Recidivism was coded over the follow-up period of approximately 10 years, and was categorized into four types of recidivism (i.e., any new stalking with physical harm, any new stalking, any new violence, & any new recidivism). Overall, the SAM performed well in terms of interrater reliability. The interrater reliability of numerical SAM total and domain scores was good to excellent (ICC2 range = .73 to .75) while Summary Risk rating agreement was fair (ICC2 range = .50 to .57). When examining the concurrent validity of the SAM, the Nature of Stalking, Perpetrator Risk Factor, and SAM Total numerical scores displayed good concurrent validity with the with the PCL:SV and VRAG, as did the Case Prioritization and Risk of Physical Harm ratings, correlations all significant p < .05. The Risk of Continued Stalking rating was significantly correlated with the PCL:SV, p < .05, but not the VRAG. As would be expected, Victim Vulnerability Factors and Reasonableness of Fear Summary Risk rating were not significantly correlated with either measure. In terms of predictive validity, none of the measures (SAM numerical total scores, VRAG scores, PCL:SV scores) were associated with stalking recidivism. The SAM Summary Risk rating, Risk for Continued Stalking, significantly predicted violent recidivism within the first year.

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

Blinded by emotion? The influence of social-affective cues on the attentional blink in borderline personality disorder

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-05
Abstract: 

The primary objective of this study was to examine the influence of socio-emotional stimuli on the attentional blink (AB) in borderline personality disorder (BPD). Evidence suggests the importance of exploring attentional biases in BPD related to social signals. Major hypotheses were that 1) the experimental paradigm would elicit an AB across participants, and 2) individuals with high (versus low) BPD features would identify fewer targets following presentation of negative and neutral stimuli. Participants (N=140) recruited from university and community settings self-reported on BP features and related psychopathology, and then engaged in a modified AB task. Within this task, the first target (T1) at two lags (3 and 7) was alternately replaced by a face expressing three negative (anger, fear, sadness), one ambiguous (neutral), and one positive (happy) emotion, while the second (T2) was a letter embedded within a scrambled face. As expected, there was evidence for an AB across low- medium- and and high- BPD groups. Contrary to prediction, however, BPD features did not significantly affect task performance for any facial emotion. Findings are discussed in the context of study limitations and future directions for attentional bias research in BPD.

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

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.