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

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Validation of the Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol in Adult Sexual Offenders

Date created: 
2016-08-10
Abstract: 

Sexual violence is a serious societal issue that is associated with victims experiencing a wide range of psychological difficulties. The proper assessment of risk for future sexual violence is critical to the treatment and management of sexual offenders. The Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol (RSVP; Hart et al., 2003) is a set of structured professional guidelines for assessing risk for sexual violence that provides a framework for estimating future risk as well as clinical formulation for treatment and management needs. To date, there has been very little research published on the RSVP even though it is currently being used by forensic professionals (Judge, Quayle, O'Rourke, Russell, & Darjee, 2014). This study examined the psychometric properties of the RSVP vis-à-vis the Sexual Violence Risk-20 (SVR-20; Boer, Hart, Kropp, & Webster, 1997), which is considered a parallel form of the RSVP given the similarity in content between these two sets of structured professional judgement guidelines. This study also examined the psychometric properties of the RSVP vis-à-vis a number of actuarial risk assessment instruments: the Static-99R (Helmus, Thornton, Hanson, & Babchishin, 2012), the Static- 2002R (Helmus et al., 2012), and the Sexual Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG; Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998, 2006; Harris, Rice, Quinsey, & Cormier, 2015). The sample consisted of 100 adult male sexual offenders who had participated in a sex offender treatment program. Sexual recidivism was coded over the follow-up period of approximately 10 years. Overall, the RSVP performed well in terms of interrater reliability, concurrent validity, and predictive validity. The interrater reliability of RSVP total scores and Summary Risk ratings was excellent (ICC2 range = .85 to .96) and was comparable with the interrater reliability of the SVR-20 and actuarial instruments. The RSVP total scores and Case Prioritization ratings demonstrated good concurrent validity with respect to SVR-20 total and domain scores and with the actuarial instruments’ total scores and risk categories, correlations all significant at p < .001. The RSVP total scores and Case Prioritization ratings were moderately and significantly associated with sexual recidivism, as were the SVR-20 total scores and the actuarial instruments’ total scores and risk categories.

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

Perceptions of credibility for a memory report of a single versus repeated event

Date created: 
2016-07-21
Abstract: 

When a person experiences an event that has multiple similar instances (i.e., a repeated event), memories for details that change across instances can be challenging to recall (e.g., Fivush, 1984). We expected that third parties would perceive memory reports of instances of repeated events as less credible than unique (i.e., single) events. Undergraduates participated in a single or repeated event, during which critical details were presented. Participants were asked to recall the session 2-days later, and memory reports were video recorded. New participants then viewed one video and evaluated the credibility of the speaker’s memory report. Despite the reports being equally accurate, repeated-event reports were seen as less credible than single-event reports. Although credibility research in the context of repeated events has focused exclusively on child populations, a range of applications exists for adults (e.g., criminal and industrial eyewitnesses, asylum-seekers); we discussed our findings in these areas.

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

Clarifying the NAP Effect and the Role of Dispositional Factors: Behavioural and Electrophysiological Investigations

Date created: 
2016-05-05
Abstract: 

Researchers using the negative affective priming (NAP) paradigm favour a dispositional argument for the negative ruminatory cycle in depression despite some evidence supporting an affect-based explanation. Additionally, the cognitive mechanisms underlying the task are poorly understood. To examine these questions directly, a modified version of the NAP task, that dissociates the priming effects of positive and negative words, was implemented in two experiments. The first experiment tests the contribution of disposition (as measured by the NEO-PI-R depression subscale) versus symptom severity (as measured by the BDI-II) to NAP scores. Compared to low BDI-II scorers, high BDI-II scorers showed a larger NAP effect for negative words, and a smaller NAP effect for positive words. However, there were no significant differences between high and low scorers on the NEO-PI-R depression subscale. This suggests that current severity of symptoms and not dispositional factors influence the NAP effect more strongly. The second experiment used event related potentials (ERPs) to determine the cognitive processes involved in the NAP task prior to a participant’s response. The results showed that prior presentation of irrelevant emotion words significantly affected the brain response to subsequent task-relevant emotion words. Thus, on ignored repetition (IgnRep) trials positive voltage modulations were observed both early, over frontal scalp (between 190-260ms) and late, primarily over posterior scalp (between 500-700ms). Interestingly, IgnRep trials for negative words were associated with the early frontal effects, suggesting an early, implicit attentional bias to negative material, while IgnRep trials for positive words were associated with the later positivity, indicating more conscious processing of positive material. Results are discussed in terms of current theories of the processes involved in the NAP effect.

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

Component processes of decision making in persons with substance use disorders

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-07-15
Abstract: 

The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is a widely used measure of decision making ability, but its ecological utility in signifying behaviours associated with adverse, “real world” consequences has not been reliably demonstrated in persons with substance use disorders. Past studies evaluating the ecological validity of the IGT have primarily relied on traditional IGT scores; however, the underlying component processes of decision making derived from computational modeling might be more closely related to engagement in behaviours associated with adverse consequences, especially in more vulnerable populations. This study employed the Prospect Valence Learning (PVL) model to decompose IGT performance into component processes in 294 marginally housed persons with substance use disorders (MHP-SUD). Additionally, we modeled performance of 136 healthy participants to ensure parameter robustness. Application of the PVL model revealed an exclusive focus on gains and a universal lack of sensitivity to losses among MHP-SUD. Further, select associations were detected between component processes and self-reported behaviours that have a high likelihood for adverse outcomes in the MHP-SUD. Specifically, lower attention to losses was modestly associated with more behaviours that are apt to adversely impact health, and lower attention to the magnitude of outcomes was modestly associated with more behaviours that are apt to adversely impact others. Delineation of specific processes that underlie decision making and their ecological associations contributes to a deeper and more nuanced understanding of some of the neurocognitive contributors to decision making in a vulnerable population that faces many personal, social, and economic challenges.

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

Self-Expansion and Knowledge Sharing in Cross-Group Interactions

Date created: 
2016-07-14
Abstract: 

This research considers the role of self-expansion motivation and knowledge sharing orientation on the effects of cross-ethnic interactions. Study 1, a correlational study, showed that a higher level of self-expansion motivation prior to an actual cross-group interaction was associated with higher levels of the more specific desire to acquire knowledge from a cross-group partner, which in turn was associated with more positive cross-group interaction experiences, which were associated with higher levels of reported self-change as well as more support for multiculturalism and support for action for intergroup equality. Study 2, using an imagined contact scenario, partially replicated these findings, showing that a high knowledge-sharing orientation (knowledge acquisition and knowledge provision orientation) during an imagined cross-group interaction was associated with a more positive imaged cross-group experience and this was associated with more reported self-change, and more positive intergroup feelings and a greater interest in future contact with the target outgroup.

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

The psychological benefits of risk taking in individuals with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A phenomenological case study of skydiving

Date created: 
2016-05-26
Abstract: 

This study explored the psychological experience of risk taking among experienced skydivers, with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A novel multi-perspectival (2-group), multi-case qualitative design was employed using a 3-interview series model of semi-structured interviews. Interviews explored the participants’ personal history leading up to their experience in skydiving, their experience of skydiving, and the meanings that skydiving had in the participants’ lives. Themes were analyzed and compared between sample groups from a critical phenomenological perspective using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Achievement, Self-Esteem, Thrill and Adventure Seeking, and Status were emergent themes common to both the ADHD and non-ADHD group participants. ADHD group participants more heavily endorsed themes of Identity, Social Context, Risk Taking, Boredom Susceptibility, Disinhibition, Experience Seeking, Sense of Well-Being, Experience and Management of Stress, and Psychological Dialectic, which refer to simultaneous but opposing psychological experiences. Non-ADHD group participants more heavily endorsed themes of Risk Management and Control. The constellations of emergent themes suggest that ADHD group participants are motivated by the experience of a sense of well-being that results from the integration of risk taking into identity while non-ADHD group participants are motivated more by a sense of achievement. The findings in this study offer a rich exploration of the subjective lived experience of risk taking in the sport of skydiving.

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

Cross-cultural Generalizability of Psychopathic Personality Disorder: Differences Between Individualistic Versus Collectivistic Cultures

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-04-04
Abstract: 

Research on Psychopathic Personality Disorder (PPD) has hitherto focused predominantly on White North Americans. The extent to which the current conceptualization of PPD can be extrapolated to other cultures remains a question. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the generalizability of the construct of PPD, as defined using the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality (CAPP; see Cooke, Hart, Logan, & Michie, 2013), across individualistic versus collectivistic (IND-COL) cultures. Specifically, the measurement equivalence of CAPP self-ratings across IND-COL cultures was examined using Means and Covariance Structure (MACS) analysis in a sample of 775 undergraduates. IND-COL was measured four ways at three levels: the individual cultural orientation level, the perceived cultural context, and the syndromal levels of nationality and ethnicity. Results showed general configural invariance for a 3-factor solution for the CAPP, indicating the construct of PPD was conceptually similar across IND-COL groups. There was, however, some indication of a lack of metric and scalar invariance, depending on how IND-COL was operationalized. Implications for understanding the pan-cultural core of PPD and future cross-cultural research on PPD are discussed.

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

Elucidating the neural mechanisms underlying the contingent attention cueing paradigm

Date created: 
2016-03-03
Abstract: 

Researchers have studied contingent attentional capture for over two decades, and have characterized the behavioural effects; but a complete understanding of the neural mechanisms involved has yet to be developed. This thesis investigated the neural underpinnings of the cue-validity effect in the contingent capture paradigm. Recent research purported to show that observers inadvertently attend to irrelevant cue items that possess a task relevant feature (indexed by the ERP component, the N2pc), and then suppress the location of that cue item in order to respond to the target (indicated by the ERP component the PD, believed to index suppression). Experiment 1 determined whether the attended cue was in actuality suppressed; whereas, Experiment 2 determined how selection of the cue item affects higher stages of visual processing. Results showed that reaction time costs were due to extraneously cued nontarget information entering working memory, thus delaying target processing on invalid trials.

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

Visual Speed of Processing and Publically Observable Feedback in Video-Game Players

Date created: 
2016-01-29
Abstract: 

Time spent playing action-oriented video-games has been proposed to improve the functioning of visual attention and perception in a number of areas. These benefits are not always consistently reported, however. It was hypothesized that an improvement to visual Speed of Processing (SOP) in action-oriented Video-Game Players (VGPs) underlies many of the benefits of action video-game play, and furthermore the expression of this improvement was modulated by a Hawthorne effect (individuals behaving differently when they believe they are under observation), resulting in the inconsistent results in the extant literature. This hypothesis was tested in three experiments which measured SOP in VGPs and controls in no feedback, public feedback, and private feedback conditions. Analyses showed that VGPs differed from controls only in the publically observable feedback condition, where VGPs demonstrated a superior SOP to the other two conditions, whereas controls did not differ significantly between experiments.

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

Guiding clinical judgment and management: An evaluation of a screening tool for short-term inpatient violence

Date created: 
2015-11-19
Abstract: 

Historically, the focus on inpatient units has not been the prevention or management of violence risk, but reacting to the violence after an incident. Violence on these units leads to physical, emotional, and economic consequences for perpetrators, victims, and the mental health system. Although short-term risk assessments have been developed to specifically address the risk for inpatient violence, these measures have only been implemented on the inpatient units and not in the Emergency Department (ED), which is often the first point of contact for the mentally ill. The purpose of the present study was to determine if a framework that uses structured professional judgment (SPJ) principles in the Emergency Department (ED) could predict violence within an inpatient unit. The Inpatient Violence Screening Tool (IPVST) SPJ framework was comprised of several pre-existing measures and four additional items culled from a literature review. These measures include the Brøset Violence Checklist (BVC; Almvik & Woods, 1998) and the Dynamic Appraisal of Situational Aggression (DASA-IV; Ogloff & Daffern, 2006a). A third short-term risk assessment, the McNiel Violence Checklist Revised (VSC and VSC-R; McNiel & Binder 1994), was coded based on files. Participants were 697 individuals who presented to the psychiatric ED at a general hospital and were interviewed by the Psychiatric Triage Nurses (PTNs). The follow-up sample was 207 patients who were subsequently admitted to an inpatient unit. The IPVST was completed by the PTNs after their interview; the VSC, VSC-R and outcome data were collected from files of the follow-up sample. The results of this study partially supported the use of the IPVST as a risk assessment framework in the ED to prevent inpatient violence. There was consistency in SPJ ratings amongst the majority of the PTNs. The IPVST total score and SPJ rating were significantly related to management strategies as well as significantly related to inpatient violence. The AUCs of the total scores of the IPVST and the individual measures were between .62-.65, except for the BVC, which was not a significant predictor of inpatient violence. The AUCs for the categorical risk rating of the BVC, DASA, VSC, and VSC-R were between .54-.64. Implications for risk assessment and management are discussed.

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