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

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Untangling the Impact of Social Context on Non-suicidal Self-injury

Date created: 
2014-06-20
Abstract: 

Although accumulating research is clarifying the role of negative affect in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), few studies have considered the social context of NSSI. Participants with recent and repeated NSSI (N = 60) completed daily diaries for 14 days assessing perceived support, interpersonal conflict, stress, negative affect, and NSSI thoughts, urges, and acts. Descriptive analyses revealed that, in most cases, others in the participant’s social network (friends, therapists/doctors, family members, romantic partners) were aware of the participant’s history of NSSI. Interpersonal functions of NSSI were less frequently and strongly endorsed than intrapersonal functions. Hierarchical linear models (HLM) examined the temporal associations between NSSI and social context in the daily reports, including a) a contemporaneous model, examining whether support or conflict were concurrently associated with NSSI, b) a prospective model, examining whether support or conflict predicted later NSSI, and c) a subsequent model, examining whether NSSI predicted later changes in support or conflict. Perceived support, particularly from romantic partners, was negatively related to concurrent (same-day) NSSI urges, thoughts, and acts. Perceived support was positively associated with NSSI urges on the following day. Interpersonal conflict was positively associated with concurrent (same-day) NSSI urges but unrelated to next-day NSSI. NSSI that was disclosed to or discovered by others was associated with greater perceived support on the following day, but this was not the case for NSSI that was unknown to others. Negative affect partially mediated the concurrent association between support and NSSI. Further, perceived support moderated the concurrent association of negative affect and NSSI urges, such that greater support buffered the effect of negative affect, whereas lower support exacerbated the effect of negative affect. Together, this research provides important insight into the ways that social context can impact NSSI urges and behaviour.

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

Service use and barriers to care for youth with serious behaviour problems: a longitudinal study

Date created: 
2014-12-03
Abstract: 

The current study examined the longitudinal mental health needs of males and females with serious behaviour problems and their experiences with services. Study One assessed the mental health profiles of youth in adolescence (N = 141; M = 15.28, SD = 1.42) and young adulthood (N = 69; M = 19.85, SD = 1.42). Rates of service use and barriers to care were examined quantitatively in young adulthood. Study Two further explored youths’ experiences with services through an in-depth qualitative interview (N = 19; M = 23.56, SD = 1.52). Study One results demonstrated that mental health problems persisted from adolescence to young adulthood. Approximately half of participants endorsed clinically-elevated externalizing problems (substance dependence, antisocial behaviour, ADHD) and a third endorsed clinically-elevated internalizing problems (depressive and PTSD) in young adulthood. Externalizing problems appeared to be more stable than internalizing problems from adolescence to young adulthood. Despite this need, only 53% of participants in young adulthood accessed services and 43% reported at least one barrier to care. Study Two provided detailed accounts of youths’ life histories, experiences with services and barriers to care. Participants reported experiencing severe child maltreatment, highlighting the need for early intervention services that protect youth from harm. Results pointed to the need for youth-centered services that are strengths-based, flexible, and use a harm-reduction approach. Youth preferred service providers who were empathic, patient, consistent and non-judgmental. The barriers to care themes were complex and occurred at the structural (e.g., lack of availability), familial (e.g., caregivers impacted their ability to access services), and individual (e.g., negative expectation of therapeutic relationship) levels. Findings are interpreted based on youths’ histories of harmful interpersonal relationships and traumatic experiences. Clinical and policy recommendations are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Marlene Moretti
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Early Functions of Pointing: The Importance of Routines in Communicative Development

Date created: 
2014-12-08
Abstract: 

The present longitudinal diary study investigated the development of early functions of pointing within everyday routines in infants between 5 and 22 months of age. Pointing has been studied extensively and there are several theories on how this gesture develops. Most current studies on pointing involve experimental settings and infants who have already mastered communicative pointing. Building on the relational view and, more specifically, the importance of infants’ involvement in everyday routines, the present study analyzed diary observations recorded by parents within everyday routines, focusing on the longitudinal changes in infants’ early pointing behaviour. Results are interpreted in terms of historically important findings and theories on the origins and development of pointing. Findings indicate a tendency to use the index finger for tactile exploration and in imitation, as well as a tendency to point with the whole hand, before infants become aware of the social function of their raised arm and index finger. In addition, results suggest that different functions of pointing might emerge along different developmental pathways.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy Carpendale
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Risk and Protective Factors for Youth Gang Involvement in Canada: An ecological systems analysis

Date created: 
2014-11-26
Abstract: 

Bronfenbrenner’s social ecological model and Lerner’s youth positive development model were used to frame this study to guide the understanding of risk and protective factors associated with youth gang membership in a Canadian-based sample of male juvenile offenders (n = 112). Given the paucity of research on protective factors against gang involvement, attention in the current study was given to exploring whether there was overlap between known protective factors against violence and factors that may protect against youth involvement in gangs. Findings indicated that youth gang involvement was associated with an accumulation of risk factors in individual, peer, family, and community domains and an absence of protective factors in individual and family domains. In addition, some protective factors were found to aggravate the effects of risk factors on gang involvement in youth with psychopathic personality traits. Implications for theory and policy along with recommendations for future research are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kevin Douglas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Interests in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date created: 
2014-10-17
Abstract: 

Although restricted interests have been one of the key components of ASD diagnosis since the criteria were formed, there has been little research into their nature and how they differ from interests typically-developing individuals hold. This mixed-methods study compared interests in a group of adults both with (ASD group) and without ASD (TD-SI group) who held a special interest. Results indicate that in many ways interests are similar between the groups; for both groups interests lasted many years, at times interfered in their lives, and also had many positive effects such as desirable affect and cognitive rewards. Ways in which the groups differed included the ASD group being more motivated by sensory and biological factors, and the TD-SI group being more motivated by connecting with others and achievement. Another difference was that the ASD group pursued their interest in fewer contexts. Results indicate that although restricted interests are a diagnostic criteria for ASD, like other symptoms there is a group of people without ASD who have interests that are very similar. They also indicate that regardless of diagnostic group membership, people’s interests may manifest differently depending on interest content. Interventions targeting changing the content of one’s interest could lead to better developmental outcomes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Grace Iarocci
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Gender Difference in Prejudice Toward Redheads

Date created: 
2014-12-05
Abstract: 

Many stereotypes about persons with red hair are both gender-specific and derogatory. These stereotypes often stand in stark contrast to gender-role stereotypes for men and for women. In three studies, the current research considered if prejudice directed at redheads is, in part, a result of bias against gender-atypical people. In Study 1, participants read about a bullying incident in which the victim was a boy or girl with red hair or another hair colour. Redheads, in general, were seen as less masculine than persons with other hair colours, while boys with red hair were seen as less well-liked than boys with other hair colours, particularly by men. This difference was not found for girls. In Study 2, participants viewed a male or female adult target person with red hair or another hair colour, and completed measures of gender stereotyping, liking, and sexual attraction. Male redheads were seen as less masculine, less gender prototypical, and less sexual than male non-redheads, by both men and women. However, only men liked male redheads less than males with other hair colours—no differences for any variables were found for judgments of female redheads and non-redheads. For male redheads, as expected, gender prototypicality was found to mediate the relationship between hair colour and liking, but only for men. As in Study 2, in the third study participants saw male redheads as less gender prototypical, and less sexual, than male non-redheads. However, red hair on men did not affect how much they were liked in Study 3. Overall, the results of the three studies illustrate that prejudice toward redheads is at least partly about gender atypicality, that this prejudice is mostly directed at boys and men, and that this prejudice is perpetuated by men more than by women.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Michael Schmitt
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Circadian Clocks for all Meal Times: Central and Peripheral Correlates of Anticipation to Multiple Daily Meals in Rats

Date created: 
2013-12-09
Abstract: 

Rodents anticipate a scheduled daily meal using food-entrained circadian oscillator(s) (FEOs). These oscillators are separate from the light-entrained master circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, but their location in the brain or body remains uncertain, despite studies employing lesion, clock gene mapping, and clock gene knockout techniques. Rats and mice can also anticipate two daily meals. Behavioural studies suggest that each bout of anticipation is controlled by a separate FEO, but a single FEO model has not been ruled out. A two-oscillator model predicts that rhythmicity at the tissue level will exhibit bimodality. To determine if anticipation of two daily meals is associated with unimodal or bimodal rhythmicity, we mapped clock gene expression in both the brain (in situ hybridization for bmal1) and periphery (RTPCR for Bmal-1, Rev-erbα, Per1 and Per2) from rats anticipating one or two daily meals provided in the light period (AM) and/or the dark period (PM). AM feeding, relative to PM feeding, inverted the phase of clock genes rhythms in the adrenal gland and stomach, while the 2-meal schedule was associated with unimodal rhythms with an intermediate phase. Similar results were obtained for plasma levels of the adrenal hormone corticosterone and the gastric hormone ghrelin. Within the brain the results were less clear. AM feeding, compared to PM feeding, shifted Bmal-1 rhythms in the olfactory bulb and nucleus accumbens but not in other areas previously reported to exhibited shifting of clock gene rhythms by AM restricted feeding. The 2-meal schedule was again associated with intermediate phases in olfactory bulb and accumbens. In conclusion, assessment of clock gene rhythms in the brain and periphery has provided no definitive evidence for bimodality in rats anticipating two daily meals. Intermediate phases in the two meal group could represent a unique phase of entrainment of one FEO (or population of FEOs), or averaging of two populations of FEOs that are spatially intermingled within the tissues and brain regions examined. Further investigation using a technique that can localize clock gene expression within individual cells will be needed to resolve this issue.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ralph Mistlberger
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Offspring Sex, Dominance, and Mating Behavior: Examining Evolutionary Mechanisms in Men and Women

Date created: 
2014-09-22
Abstract: 

Several lines of evidence suggest that parental dominance at conception results in male-biased sex ratios, but no studies have investigated the relationship between dominance and mate preferences in altering offspring sex in humans. Thus, the goals of my dissertation were to examine whether: a) dominance behavior, sexual restrictiveness, self-perceived masculinity and femininity, digit ratios, and hormone levels in men and women who had not yet had children were associated with their predicted sexes of future offspring (Studies 1 and 2); b) predictions for future offspring sex affected men and women’s mate preferences for dominance in the opposite-sex (Study 2); c) men and women’s predictions for future offspring sex were detectable in their facial characteristics (Study 3); and d) the sex of first-born offspring in actual parents was related to their dominance behavior, facial characteristics, and mate choice. The results of these studies provide partial evidence for the hypothesis that maternal dominance characteristics are related to the probability of male offspring, and that this is related to preferences for dominant male mates. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of sex determination, parental ability to maximize their reproductive success through offspring, and sexual selection for male dominance and its associated characteristics.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Neil Watson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Quality of life in families of children with autism spectrum disorder: considerations of risk and resilience

Date created: 
2014-09-19
Abstract: 

Having a family member with a neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) has significant implications for family functioning. Overall, research findings demonstrate that families of children with NDDs are less satisfied with their quality of life (QOL), across domains, than families of typically developing children, and that families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are even less so. Although families of children with ASD are significantly at-risk, most research has included families of children with varied conditions, and has not examined predictors of family quality of life (FQOL) within specific NDD populations. This research gap, along with rising ASD awareness and prevalence, provides a strong rationale for devoting attention to this group specifically, and addressing the limitations that exist within this work. This research utilized a mixed-methods design to examine QOL among 84 families of children and adolescents (aged 6-18 years) with ASD living in British Columbia, and addressed three aims. First, the role of child characteristics, including adaptive functioning and behaviour problems, was examined in relation to FQOL. Adaptive functioning, and specifically daily living skills, emerged as a significant predictor of FQOL satisfaction, after accounting for behavioural and demographic characteristics, including child age, gender, perceived disability severity, and behavioural problems, as well as family income. Furthermore, there were significant differences across each domain of FQOL when groups were separated by daily living skill functioning level (‘low,’ ‘moderately low,’ and ‘adequate’). Second, the relation between endorsed family resilience processes, based on Walsh’s (2006, 2012) model, and FQOL satisfaction was examined. This revealed that greater endorsement of the ‘family connectedness’ and ‘family communication and problem solving’ processes significantly predicted FQOL when child and family demographic characteristics were accounted for. Finally, a subset (n = 15) of caregivers, representing both high and low levels of FQOL satisfaction, participated in a qualitative interview, during which they shared their perceptions of FQOL, both generally and in relation to specific topics, elaborated on service delivery experiences, and reflected on sources of family resilience. The findings are discussed in light of previous research, and the associated practice implications, as well as opportunities for future research, are highlighted.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Grace Iarocci
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Great Expectations? Self-Expansion Motivation, Social Self-Efficacy, and Interaction Expectations Affect Interest in Cross-Group Interactions

Date created: 
2014-09-25
Abstract: 

While high motivation to expand the self may lead to interest in cross-ethnic interactions, social self-efficacy may moderate this effect, such that those high in social self-efficacy will show a stronger effect of self-expansion motivation on interest in cross-group interactions. Study 1 failed to show the predicted interaction, but did show that social self-efficacy played a significant role in predicting interest in cross-group interactions. Study 2 extended Study 1, manipulating participants’ expectations about the success of the interaction. The primary interaction emerged: for those with high social self-efficacy, higher self-expansion motivation led to more interest in cross-group interactions. For those low in social self-efficacy, interest in cross-group interactions was uninfluenced by self-expansion motivation. The manipulation of expectations produced only an interaction with social self-efficacy, where higher self-efficacy lead to greater interest in cross-group interactions when expectations were positive, but did not influence interest in cross-group interactions when expectations were ambiguous.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Stephen C. Wright
Michael T. Schmitt
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.