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

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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.

Tracking target and distractor processing in visual search: Evidence from human electrophysiology

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-08-20
Abstract: 

The issue of whether salient distractors capture attention has been contentious for over 20 years. According to the salience-driven selection theory, the most salient location in the display is detected preattentively, after which attention is deployed automatically to that location. By other accounts, attentional deployment to the location of an item is contingent upon the task-relevance of that item. In the present work, six experiments employed the event-related potential (ERP) technique to examine the salience-driven selection and other theories of visual search. The experiments adopted additional singleton search, pop-out detection, and attentional-window paradigms. The ERP evidence obtained from the additional-singleton paradigm indicated that although the location of a salient item – whether a target or a distractor – was registered relatively early, the salient distractor did not capture attention consistently. Moreover, when the features of the salient distractor were held constant, observers were occasionally able to suppress the location of the distractor, thereby improving the efficiency of the search. The ERP evidence obtained from a Go/No-Go pop-out detection task indicated that attention was deployed to the location of a pop-out item only when a decision to search was made and, thus, that item was relevant to the observer’s goals. The ERP evidence obtained from the attentional-window paradigm indicated that goal-driven control over stimulus salience could extend to the items located within the observer’s attentional window. The present results suggest that while the locations of a limited number of salient items in the display can be registered on an early salience map, there is some goal-driven control over attentional deployment to the location of salient items or suppression of such locations. Factors that are potentially important in this dynamic control include the task-relevance of the search display, the predictability of distractor features, and inter-trial changes in target and distractor features and their task-relevance.

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

Associations among Chronotype, Social Jetlag and Academic Performance

Date created: 
2014-08-05
Abstract: 

Individual circadian rhythms are integral to performance in daily life; particularly in societies dominated by imposed social clocks. Evening types, despite delayed circadian phase are forced to wake early for social obligations, putting them at risk for chronic sleep restriction, and asynchrony in phase of learning. The present study recruited 1800+ university students to complete the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire, Munich Chronotype Questionnaire and/or sleep diaries. Evening types showed the highest levels of social jetlag and greatest percentage of sleep lost on work days. Assessments of chronotype by MEQ and MCTQ remained consistent over multiple measurements regardless of keeping a sleep diary; however chronotype assessment did change based on season, with the latest midsleep times occurring in the summer semester. Later midsleep time on free days (MCTQ MSF) was predictive of lower GPA in females; this relationship was not mediated by social jetlag. Considerations regarding measures of chronotype are discussed.

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

Examining the utility of strengths and protective factors in violence risk assessment measures in a tertiary civil psychiatric population

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-07-25
Abstract: 

Research on risk assessments utilizing protective factors with civil psychiatric populations remains limited. Additionally, there has been some debate regarding the generalizability of risk assessment measures to female populations given that many of these measures were developed with male populations. Yet, no known studies exist that have made direct comparisons between male and female civil psychiatric patients on protective factors and violence prediction. The Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for Violence Risk (SAPROF; de Vogel et al., 2008) is a structured professional judgment risk assessment measure intended to be used in conjunction with a measure of risk factors, (i.e., HCR-20, Webster et al., 1997). The Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability (START; Webster et al., 2004) is a multidisciplinary tool that is intended for use in inpatient and community settings and for which clinicians code the measure by considering a client’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Until now there has been no empirical comparison of the START and SAPROF. To address these gaps in the current body of knowledge on the utility of protective factors in violence risk assessment, we conducted a prospective study, utilizing interview and file review to investigate strength based risk assessments in a male and female civil psychiatric population. Participants included 102 civil psychiatric patients residing at a large tertiary psychiatric hospital who were being transferred to community-based tertiary inpatient settings. Baseline file reviews and interview-based assessments were conducted prior to patient transfer to community based treatment facilities. Outcome data (i.e., verbal, sexual, and physical aggression) was collected every 6 months over a 12-month period. We found evidence that supports the use of strength based risk assessments with civil psychiatric populations. On the whole, the psychometric properties for all the measures included were good. Protective factors demonstrated incremental validity over the risk factors alone, as did summary risk judgments over actuarial assessments. We found a number of potentially interesting gender differences in the predictive validity of all the risk measures included. Generally, these measures performed better with the males when predicting physical and verbal aggression, and better with the females when predicting sexual aggression.

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

Health Literacy and Medication Adherence in Kidney Transplant Recipients

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-18
Abstract: 

Poorer health literacy, defined as patients’ ability to access, process, and understand health-based information in order to make medically related decisions, is linked to adverse self-care and disease management outcomes in a variety of medical populations. We investigated the relationship between health literacy, other aspects of cognition, and medication adherence in adult kidney transplant recipients (N= 96). Our results indicated that poorer health literacy, as assessed by a novel measure that is in line with the field’s contemporary understanding of health literacy, is a risk factor for poorer medication adherence even after controlling for the effect of male gender, verbal intelligence, neuropsychological abilities, and everyday problem solving. In contrast, standard measures of health literacy (REALM-T and NVS) were not associated with medication adherence and showed significant associations with verbal intelligence and other aspects of cognition. These findings demonstrate the importance of considering health literacy for medication adherence in kidney transplant recipients.

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

Who is sensitive to religious priming, and how? Factoring context and participant background into the effects of priming on prosocial behavior.

Date created: 
2014-07-28
Abstract: 

Research demonstrating religious concepts' influence on behavior through priming leaves open questions of who is sensitive to this priming. Though religious participants respond more reliably, nonreligious participants in university samples have responded to primes (Randolph-Seng & Neilsen 2007, Shariff & Norenzayan 2007). Further questions include whether religious priming is a special case and how diverse are the effects of religious concepts. This study tests for effects of primes drawn from three religious narratives, replicating one and testing two new behavioral measures, and includes as predictors not only personal religious affiliation but also experience with religious caretakers. Results fail to replicate the increased fairness of Shariff & Norenzayan (2007), but do show effects of a Paradise-based priming condition consistent with their predictions (2008, Shariff & Rhemtulla 2011). This failure to replicate may be evidence of an interaction with context or of an “unpriming” effect like that described by Sparrow & Wegner (2006).

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

Attachment Hierarchies Among At Risk Teens and Psychological Adjustment

Date created: 
2014-07-31
Abstract: 

The study examined the degree to which teens at high risk for behaviour problems rely on friends and romantic partners rather than parents to meet attachment needs and whether this affected their psychological adjustment. Participants were 158 adolescents recruited from youth custody settings and a mental health facility. Attachment functions shifted from parents to peers much earlier compared to previously published results based on normative samples. Only 9% of participants preferred their parents for proximity seeking, 18% for safe haven, 23% for secure base, and 17% reported separation distress. Males reported experiencing greater separation distress in relation to their parents than females. No other gender differences were found. For all attachment functions, adolescents who turned more to their romantic partners than to their friends or parents reported higher levels of internalizing symptoms. No significant differences were found for externalizing symptoms. Clinical implications were discussed including the necessity of attachment-based interventions.

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

Gender-sensitive violence risk assessment: a preliminary investigation into the predictive accuracy and clinical utility of the Female Additional Manual

Date created: 
2014-07-30
Abstract: 

Most violence risk assessment measures were developed using male samples. Few measures consider gender in the assessment of risk. Nevertheless, research indicates that tools like the Historical-Clinical-Risk Management-20 (HCR-20) perform as well for women as men. However, some studies reveal poorer predictive accuracy for women. The Female Additional Manual (FAM) was developed to improve upon the accuracy of the HCR-20 for women; however, very little research with the tool has been conducted. This present prospective, longitudinal study compared the predictive accuracies of the HCR-20 and FAM in 62 male and 41 female chronically ill civil psychiatric patients. Data collection involved file review, and patient and treatment staff interviews across three time points. Results showed no gender differences in violent behaviours. Unexpectedly, few HCR-20 variables showed satisfactory predictive accuracy. Certain FAM variables showed better accuracy. This study is among the first to examine the validity of the FAM.

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

The Intensive Support and Supervision Program: A best practice file evaluation of implementation and outcomes

Date created: 
2014-08-11
Abstract: 

The Youth Justice Intensive Support and Supervision Program (ISSP) is offered to high-risk, justice-involved youth as an alternative to custody or as a means of facilitating community re-entry after a period of custody. The aim of ISSP is to reduce recidivism by increasing supervision and supporting activities to reduce participants’ criminogenic needs. Research on similar programs has yielded mixed findings for reductions in recidivism, although the way programs are delivered appears to be a key factor influencing their effectiveness. For the current study, an evidence-based evaluation framework of best practices was developed for ISSP from the research literature on similar and general youth justice programs. File data for 176 ISSP participants were used to evaluate the program’s delivery against the best practice framework as well as ISSP’s program guidelines to determine how well the program was implemented and whether a better-implemented program led to better outcomes. A questionnaire study was also conducted with Youth Probation Officers. Adherence to individual program guidelines and best practices varied from 11% to 92% of youth, while the mean of overall best practices implemented was approximately 50%. An implementation composite of best practices was associated with marginal reductions in multiple recidivism outcomes and the positive relationships with intermediate targets such as school and employment outcomes approached significance. Moreover, the relationship between ISSP implementation and recidivism was strongest for younger, for Aboriginal, and for higher-risk participants. An index of level of engagement in ISSP also predicted reductions in recidivism in the year following ISSP. The quality of the ISSP documentation on the files limited the interpretation of the study findings. Several recommendations are offered to support and improve current practice.

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

The Psychophysiological Correlates of Emotion Processing in Dysphoria

Date created: 
2014-07-10
Abstract: 

The most recent extension of the cognitive vulnerability model of depression suggests that people with mild symptoms of depression (i.e. dysphoria) will show cognitive biases primarily at early information-processing stages, while people with severe symptoms of depression (i.e. clinical depression) will show cognitive biases at late information-processing stages. To date, however, few studies have empirically explored early cognitive biases in dysphoric samples. Here, I manipulated task-relevance to functionally dissociate implicit and explicit emotional processing and used scalp electroencephalograms (EEG) to look at information-processing stages in dysphoric participants. High-density EEG was recorded during the traditional task used to study cognitive biases, the emotional Stroop task (experiment 1), and an emotional word categorization task (experiment 2). Then, in my analyses, unlike previous studies, I focused particularly on early (< 300 ms) frontal ERP effects that differentiated a group with dysphoria from a comparison group with few depression symptoms. I found that early ERP components over frontal scalp were significantly amplified in the dysphoric group, while common measures of late stage processing, such as the emotion-related late posterior positivity (LPP) and reaction time, did not differentiate groups, regardless of task. Next, to show that these effects could be replicated with non-word stimuli, I used emotional faces. Emotional faces are commonly used in ERP studies of attention and emotion, and are the most common stimuli used in neuroimaging studies of depression. As such, by using LORETA source analyses, I was able to tie my ERP findings into a wider literature. This work therefore lends support to the recent extension of the cognitive vulnerability model of depression, and contextualizes the previous cognitive bias results in the wider attention, emotion and depression literatures. This dissertation concludes with a suggestion that future studies carefully differentiate between-group and within-group effects, use different paradigms to dissociate “fast” vs. “slow” effects, and address the usefulness of early biases to predict the onset of depression through longitudinal studies.

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