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

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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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
Kevin Douglas
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

History of foster care as a risk factor for recidivism in justice involved youth

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-11-24
Abstract: 

Although prior research suggests that history of foster care is linked to an increased risk for recidivism, few studies have examined this relationship. The current study examined the association between foster care and reoffending at a 3.94-year follow-up in a sample of Canadian juvenile offenders on probation (n = 156). Findings indicate that among youth with a history of foster care, number of placements and age of first placement did not predict any or violent recidivism. Hierarchical logistic regression models revealed that over and above gender, Aboriginal ethnicity, well-established risk factors and abuse, having a history of foster care significantly increased risk for any recidivism, but not for violent recidivism. Also, survival analysis revealed that youth with a history of foster care reoffend faster. Thus, although many believe that removing children from unsafe environments will reduce recidivism, this assumption appears incorrect. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.

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

Maternal Predictors of 5- to 8-year-old Children’s Understanding of Interpretation and Mixed Emotions

Date created: 
2015-09-15
Abstract: 

The current study examined the concurrent relations between various maternal parenting variables and 5-to 8-year-old children’s understanding of interpretation and mixed emotions. Mothers’ self-reported parenting styles, use of mental state words, parent-interaction quality (engagement, responsiveness and sensitivity of control) and complexity of epistemological beliefs were assessed. Regression analyses were used to test the hypothesis that higher quality maternal parenting practices would explain significant variability in children’s social understanding. Results found that the maternal variables were associated with each other in a theoretically consistent manner but did not explain significant variability in either children’s understanding of interpretation or mixed emotions. The only significant predictor of children’s social understanding was child age, such that older children performed better on both social cognitive tasks. Results are discussed in light of previous research linking various parenting practices and social understanding abilities in children.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jeremy I.M. Carpendale
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Body Satisfaction During Pregnancy: The Role of Health-Related Habit Strength

Date created: 
2015-07-16
Abstract: 

Body satisfaction during pregnancy is an important determinant of maternal and fetal health outcomes. It is therefore critical to investigate factors related to changes in body satisfaction and to elucidate how body satisfaction changes over time in pregnant women. I examined the relation between two novel factors (i.e., healthy eating and physical activity habit strength) and body satisfaction in 67 pregnant North American women from the beginning of their second trimester (T1) until the end of pregnancy. Strength of healthy eating and physical activity habits remained stable over time, body satisfaction decreased over time, and healthy eating habit strength at T1 predicted increases in body satisfaction from the second trimester to the end of pregnancy, even when controlling for gestational weight gain. Results highlight how increasing health-related habit strength in women of reproductive age may offer protection against low levels of body satisfaction during pregnancy.

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

Treatment outcomes of an attachment-based parenting program for biological mothers versus fathers

Date created: 
2015-07-13
Abstract: 

Mothers rather than fathers typically attend parenting interventions. Consequently, research investigating outcomes of parenting programs generally reflect outcomes for mothers only and relatively little is known about engagement of and outcomes for fathers. The present study focused on investigating outcomes of an attachment-based parenting intervention for biological mothers (n = 630) and fathers (n = 149). Outcomes for parents attending together were also investigated. Findings suggest that mothers and fathers, regardless of whether they attended together or alone, benefited similarly from participating in the intervention. These included benefits in youth affect regulation, parental satisfaction and efficacy, and reductions of parental-child aggressive behaviour. In contrast to these three consistent findings for fathers and mothers, participating biological mothers benefited more frequently than biological fathers across all other youth and parental outcomes investigated. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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

Identity formation and well-being in youth with and without autism spectrum disorder

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-09-23
Abstract: 

Identity formation is a core developmental task during adolescence and young adulthood. Our understanding of how youth with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) accomplish this task is scarce (Hobson, 2010). A sample of 71 participants (age 13-21 years) with HFASD and 71 typically developing (TD) peers, matched on gender and age, including their parents participated. Youth completed questionnaires on identity formation as well as their quality of life regarding their physical, emotional, social, and work/school functioning. In addition, interviews were conducted with a subsample of individuals with HFASD about their identity formation across several life domains (e.g., occupation, friendships). Parents filled out measures on core ASD difficulties, degree of social impairment, peer acceptance, and behavioral problems. Results indicated that the HFASD sample could be grouped into 4 identity clusters (i.e., achievement, foreclosure, moratorium, and carefree diffusion) similar to those found in the TD sample with the exception of an additional cluster in the TD sample (diffused diffusion). These identity clusters showed different associations to the outcome variables in the HFASD sample compared with the TD sample. In the TD sample, both achievement and foreclosure clusters were associated with better emotional, social, work/school functioning, as well as peer acceptance. In the HFASD sample, participants in the moratorium cluster were oldest and reported the lowest level of emotional functioning. Foreclosure cluster was associated with young age and the highest level of emotional functioning. Youth with HFASD were found to engage more in ruminative exploration, a known maladaptive identity process, and presented more frequently in the moratorium cluster compared to their TD peers. Exploratory analyses of the identity interviews suggested that individuals with HFASD may have most difficulty forming a sense of identity in the friendship and dating domains.

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

Evolutionary Explanation in Psychology and the Development of Joint Attentional Capacities

Date created: 
2015-05-19
Abstract: 

Many psychologists are interested in the development and evolution of psychological capacities. The neo-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm serves as a metatheory in psychology, structuring evolutionary and developmental claims. These claims are often adaptationist claims, meaning psychological capacities are seen as naturally-selected adaptations and their development in individuals is causally connected to these adaptations. After Lewontin and Gould’s (1979) well-known critique of adaptationism, the problematic “strong” adaptationist explanations in the biological sciences all but disappeared. In this dissertation, I argue that evolutionary explanations in psychology are still of this problematic “strong” variety. In the following I review the claims of psychologists who study the development of early social understanding and argue that a strong adaptationist stance misconstrues the nature of psychological capacities and their development. Few psychologists recognize that the Modern Synthesis lacks a model of development, hence, problems arise when a non-developmental evolutionary metatheory inappropriately informs developmental models in psychology. I argue developmental psychologists, in spite of the current non-developmental evolutionary metatheory, can improve upon their research by shedding adaptationist assumptions and adopting a pluralistic perspective on evolutionary explanation. Joint attention is an important capacity that is often thought to be an adaptation important for the development of uniquely human capacities. I argue adaptationist-oriented researchers have insufficiently accounted for its development. I thus present two studies that examine the development of pointing and point following, two important joint attentional capacities, in human infants. In Study 1, I use parental diary data to examine the development of pointing in infants and present an account of its development which contrasts greatly with the adaptationist accounts of other joint attention researchers. In Study 2, I examine the development of point following in 9- to 12-month-old infants. I found that infants improved in point following at a steady rate and that mothers’ verbally directing infants’ attention at 9 months was predictive of infants’ point following ability between 9 and 12 months and infant language production at 12 months.

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