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

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A longitudinal bidirectional analysis of early school age anxiety and maternal warmth and the prediction of internalizing symptoms in late childhood and adolescence

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-19
Abstract: 

The purpose of this study was to extend previous research on the bidirectional relationship between parental warmth and child anxiety, and to further examine the predictive utility of parental warmth on later child anxiety and depressive disorder outcomes. Parental warmth has previously been identified as a contributing factor to child anxiety (e.g., McLeod et al., 2007b, Yap et al., 2014; Yap & Jorm, 2015); however, the bidirectionality of these constructs has only once been measured in a population of children at early school-age (Gouze, Hopkins, Bryant, & Lavigne, 2017), and has not before been measured both longitudinally and observationally. The results of this study extend previous research suggesting that child psychopathology may result in increasing negative parenting behaviours over time. Conversely, a parent-effect was not found; low maternal warmth was not shown to significantly predict subsequent increases in child anxiety at early school-age. This study did not find main effects of early school-age maternal warmth on anxiety and depressive disorder criterion counts in middle childhood through adolescence. However, findings indicated that maternal warmth negatively predicted generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) criterion counts among those with low SES in grade 12, and positively predicted GAD and depressive disorder criterion counts among those with moderate-to-high SES in grade 12 and grade 6, respectively. These results are understood within a larger discussion of risk factors associated with low SES as well as by examining the directionality of effects. It is strongly recommended that future researchers measure anxiety and depression longitudinally across the early developmental lifespan alongside observed parental warmth to disentangle the complex relationship between these constructs. The utmost goal is to identify a profile of risk that includes both early internalizing problems and parenting factors in order to positively benefit healthy outcomes among children and families. This study contributes towards a better understanding of these relationships, and towards the appropriate design of interventions to prevent the onset of anxiety, depression, and associated deleterious outcomes among children and youth.

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

A long-term look at "early starters" : Predicting adult psychosocial outcomes from childhood conduct problem trajectories

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-14
Abstract: 

Current evidence suggests that multiple pathways of “early-starting” conduct problems exist, including persisting and declining trajectories. Since little is known about the early-onset-declining pathway, this study examined the long-term outcomes of different childhood conduct problem trajectories in a disproportionately high-risk sample (n = 754). Parents reported on children’s conduct problems at six time points (kindergarten to grade 7). At age 25, a broad range of psychosocial outcomes was assessed. Four childhood conduct problem trajectories were identified: low-decreasing (LD), moderate-decreasing (MD), high-stable (HS), and extremely-high-increasing (EHI). The EHI and HS groups displayed the poorest psychosocial functioning at age 25, whereas the LD group exhibited the most positive adjustment. Although individuals in the MD group displayed relatively positive adjustment on some outcomes, they displayed more psychopathology, more risky sexual behaviour, and lower well-being in adulthood than the LD group. These findings suggest that all early starters are at risk for later maladjustment.

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

Proximal factors associated with non-suicidal self-injury in daily life

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-11
Abstract: 

The primary objective of this research was to examine factors that predict urges for non- suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and the transition from urges to NSSI behaviour. Specifically, I examined the types of stressful events, negative emotions, and cognitive appraisals that increase or decrease the likelihood of NSSI urges and behaviours. Participants who reported NSSI at least twice in the last month (N = 55) completed online daily diaries to report on their experiences, emotions, and thoughts over 14 days. Interpersonal stressors were more strongly associated with NSSI urges than were non-interpersonal stressors. Contrary to hypotheses, low and high-arousal negative emotions did not significantly differ in their association with NSSI urges and behaviours. Maladaptive cognitive patterns such as rumination, catastrophizing, and self-blame were all positively associated with NSSI urges, and rumination and catastrophizing were also positively associated with NSSI behaviours. Conversely, distress tolerance and emotion- regulation self-efficacy were negatively associated with NSSI urges and behaviours. Furthermore, emotion regulation self-efficacy was the only factor significantly associated with lower likelihood of NSSI behaviours on days when NSSI urges were present. These findings suggest the importance of specific contextual, emotional, and cognitive factors in future research aiming to better understand NSSI risk and suggests particular targets for consideration in efforts to refine and improve treatment.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.