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

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The "error" in psychology: An analysis of quantitative and qualitative approaches in the pursuit of accuracy

Date created: 
2018-10-12
Abstract: 

The concept of “error” is central to the development and use of statistical tools in psychology. Yet, little work has focused on elucidating its conceptual meanings and the potential implications for research practice. I explore the emergence of uses of the “error” concept within the field of psychology through a historical mapping of its uses from early observational astronomy, to the study of social statistics, and subsequently to its adoption under 20th century psychometrics. In so doing, I consider the philosophical foundations on which the concepts “error” and “true score” are built and the relevance of these foundations for its usages in psychology. Given the recent surge in interest in qualitative research methods in psychology, I also investigate whether a notion of “error” is relevant to qualitative research practice. In particular, I conduct a content analysis of usages of the term “reliability” within the qualitative methodological literature as a proxy for the concept of “error” within the qualitative research domain. Finally, I compare my explorations of discourse around quantitative and qualitative methods. I conclude that although researchers using methodological tools from these two traditions may hold opposing views on knowledge and truth, they also share a common aim of accuracy. Implications for research practice and education in psychology are discussed.

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

Group cognitive behaviour therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder and comorbid anxiety: Examining factors that impact outcomes

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-26
Abstract: 

Anxiety is common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; MacNeil, Lopes, & Minnes, 2009; Kim, Szatmari, Bryson, Streiner, & Wilson, 2000; White, Oswald, Ollendick, & Scahill, 2009) and can lead to significant impairment (Farrugia & Hudson, 2006; Kim et al., 2000; van Steensel, Bögels, & Dirksen, 2012). Implementing treatments in real-world environments has been identified as one of the top priorities for researchers in the area of anxiety in youth with ASD (Vasa, Keefer, Reaven, South & White, 2018). The current study examined the effectiveness of a manualized, group-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT; Facing Your Fears (FYF); Reaven, Blakeley‐Smith, Culhane‐Shelburne, & Hepburn, 2012; Reaven, Blakeley-Smith, Nichols, & Hepburn, 2011) with children with ASD without intellectual disability (IQ>70) and their parents at BC Children’s Hospital. The primary goals of this research were to a) measure the effectiveness of the treatment protocol in a community setting with a complex population, and b) examine a selection of possible predictors of treatment outcomes (e.g., amount of homework completion, level of clinician-provided parent support during in vivo exposure practice, parent-child relationship variables, and parent personality variables), and thus contribute to the sparse literature in this regard. Significant decreases in child anxiety were observed from pre- to post-treatment at the levels of a) parent questionnaire ratings (ηp2 = .36), b) clinician severity ratings based on parent interview (d=.98), and c) parent ratings on primary individual exposure targets (last 7 weeks of group; d=1.50). After controlling for baseline child anxiety, variables that were found to significantly predict parent ratings of child anxiety symptoms at post-treatment were a) level of clinician support provided during in vivo exposure practice, b) parent-child communication, and c) self-reported parent trait anxiety. Overall, results from the current study are consistent with previous research demonstrating the effectiveness of the FYF treatment program for children with ASD.

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

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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
Alexander L. Chapman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.