Psychology, Department of

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Component Processes of Decision Making in a Community Sample of Precariously Housed Persons: Associations With Learning and Memory, and Health-Risk Behaviors

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-07-02
Abstract: 

The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is a widely used measure of decision making, but its value in signifying behaviors associated with adverse, “real-world” consequences has not been consistently demonstrated in persons who are precariously housed or homeless. Studies evaluating the ecological validity of the IGT have primarily relied on traditional IGT scores. However, computational modeling derives underlying component processes of the IGT, which capture specific facets of decision making that may be more closely related to engagement in behaviors associated with negative consequences. This study employed the Prospect Valence Learning (PVL) model to decompose IGT performance into component processes in 294 precariously housed community residents with substance use disorders. Results revealed a predominant focus on gains and a lack of sensitivity to losses in these vulnerable community residents. Hypothesized associations were not detected between component processes and self-reported health-risk behaviors. These findings provide insight into the processes underlying decision making in a vulnerable substance-using population and highlight the challenge of linking specific decision making processes to “real-world” behaviors.

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Article
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Do Structured Risk Assessments Predict Violent, Any, and Sexual Offending Better Than Unstructured Judgment? An Umbrella Review

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-02
Abstract: 

Although it is widely believed that risk assessment tools lead to more accurate estimates of risk of violence and offending than unstructured clinical judgments, the nature and quality of evidence that supports this view is unclear. As such, we conducted an umbrella review of systematic reviews. Through a search of 15 databases, we identified nine systematic reviews, including six meta-analyses and three narrative systematic reviews, that compared unstructured and structured risk judgments for any, violent, and sexual offending. Each review was independently coded by two raters. Raters also coded the 46 primary studies on unstructured judgment included in these reviews. Although the reviews concluded that structured risk judgments are superior to unstructured judgments, the data supporting these conclusions have limitations. None of the systematic reviews directly compared risk assessment tools with unstructured judgments. In addition, two thirds of the primary studies included in the systematic reviews were from the 1980s or earlier, and 89% had serious methodological limitations that created a high risk of bias. In many cases, the primary studies did not examine unstructured judgments per se but instead used proxies such as legal and administrative decisions. As such, there is a pressing need for an updated systematic review that focuses on direct comparison studies and carefully addresses study limitations. To address this gap, we have initiated a preregistered systematic review.

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Article
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Data Sets for Alerting Does not Occur in Compound Search Tasks

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-06-06
Abstract: 

In simple visual search, a target (e.g., a square shape) must be singled out as a unique item from distractors (e.g., ring shapes). Generally, two effects are known to facilitate search performance: "alerting" (e.g., briefly brightening the screen before display onset) and "priming" (e.g., repeating the unique item on successive trials). Unlike simple search, compound search has two steps. For example: (a) locate the unique object in the display and (b) identify the tilt of a line inside that object. In the present work we examined the joint effects of alerting and priming in compound search. We found that alerting does occur in simple search but not in compound search, unless conditions allow the compound search to be performed as a simple search.

Document type: 
Dataset

Does Helping Promote Well-being in At-risk Youth and Ex-offender Samples?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-11-15
Abstract: 

Numerous theories attempt to explain humans' extraordinary prosociality, but predictions are rarely tested among antisocial individuals, whose dampened concern for others offers a particularly strong test of generalizability for prosocial action. To build upon past research demonstrating the emotional benefits of prosociality among non-offending populations and broaden our understanding of how far this relationship may extend, we examined whether the emotional benefits of prosocial spending are detectable in samples of delinquent youth and recent criminal offenders reporting elevated antisocial tendencies and psychopathic personality features. Findings reveal that, controlling for baseline happiness, ex-offenders (N = 501) report greater positive affect after recalling a time they spent money on others than after recalling a time they spent money on themselves. Similarly, delinquent youth (N = 64) and ex-offenders (N = 777) randomly assigned to purchase an item for a needy child reported greater positive affect than those who purchased an item for themselves. Finally, a large pre-registered replication (N = 1295) suggests the immediate emotional benefits of prosocial spending are detectable among ex-offenders when controlling for baseline happiness. Together, these findings demonstrate the emotional rewards of recalled and immediate acts of giving in a new and theoretically relevant population.

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Article
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Impact of Covid-19 Social-distancing on Sleep Timing and Duration During a University Semester

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-04-26
Abstract: 

Social-distancing directives to contain community transmission of the COVID-19 virus can be expected to affect sleep timing, duration or quality. Remote work or school may increase time available for sleep, with benefits for immune function and mental health, particularly in those individuals who obtain less sleep than age-adjusted recommendations. Young adults are thought to regularly carry significant sleep debt related in part to misalignment between endogenous circadian clock time and social time. We examined the impact of social-distancing measures on sleep in young adults by comparing sleep self-studies submitted by students enrolled in a university course during the 2020 summer session (entirely remote instruction, N = 80) with self-studies submitted by students enrolled in the same course during previous summer semesters (on-campus instruction, N = 452; cross-sectional study design). Self-studies included 2–8 week sleep diaries, two chronotype questionnaires, written reports, and sleep tracker (Fitbit) data from a subsample. Students in the 2020 remote instruction semester slept later, less efficiently, less at night and more in the day, but did not sleep more overall despite online, asynchronous classes and ~44% fewer work days compared to students in previous summers. Subjectively, the net impact on sleep was judged as positive or negative in equal numbers of students, with students identifying as evening types significantly more likely to report a positive impact, and morning types a negative impact. Several features of the data suggest that the average amount of sleep reported by students in this summer course, historically and during the 2020 remote school semester, represents a homeostatic balance, rather than a chronic deficit. Regardless of the interpretation, the results provide additional evidence that social-distancing measures affect sleep in heterogeneous ways.

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Article
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What Are Judges’ Views of Risk Assessments, and How Do Tools Affect Adolescent Dispositions?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-11-30
Abstract: 

Despite the increased presence of risk assessment tools in pre-sentence hearings, their role has been contentious, and the extent to which they influence dispositions is unclear. This study uses a self-report questionnaire to examine judges’ opinions about risk assessment tools, as well as an experimental vignette design to evaluate whether judges’ placement and program recommendations for a high- and low-risk adolescent are affected by the presence of an empirically supported tool and accompanying risk rating. It also assesses the influence of tool presence on judges’ impressions of the adolescent’s treatability and culpability. Participants included 170 judges from 34 American states and two Canadian provinces. The most common advantage of tools highlighted by judges was the additional information they provide, while the most common concern was their potential to obscure bias. Judges’ placement recommendations and impressions of the adolescent were not significantly influenced by tool presence, but their program recommendations were more intensive and consistent for the high-risk adolescent when a tool was present than when it was absent.

Document type: 
Article
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Impact of Risk Assessment Instruments on Rates of Pretrial Detention, Postconviction Placements, and Release: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-01
Abstract: 

Objective: Many agencies use risk assessment instruments to guide decisions about pretrial detention, post-conviction incarceration, and release from custody. Although some policymakers believe that these tools might reduce overincarceration and recidivism rates, others are concerned that they may exacerbate racial and ethnic disparities in placements. The objective of this systematic review was to test these assertions.

 

Hypotheses: It was hypothesized that the adoption of tools might slightly decrease incarceration rates. Impact on disparities might vary by tool and context.

 

Method: Published and unpublished studies were identified by searching 13 databases, reviewing reference lists, and contacting experts. In total, 22 studies met inclusion criteria; these studies included 1,444,499 adolescents and adults who were accused or convicted of a crime. Each study was coded by two independent raters using a data extraction form and a risk of bias tool. Results were aggregated using both a narrative approach and meta-analyses. 

 

Results: The adoption of tools was associated with (1) small overall decreases in restrictive placements (aggregated OR = 0.63, p < .001), particularly for individuals who were low risk and (2) small reductions in any recidivism (OR = 0.85, p = .020). However, after removing studies with a high risk of bias, the results were no longer significant.

 

Conclusions: Although risk assessment tools might help to reduce restrictive placements, the strength of this evidence is low. Furthermore, due to a lack of research, it is unclear how tools impact racial and ethnic disparities in placements. As such, future research is needed.

Document type: 
Article
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Cultural Differences in Infant Spontaneous Behaviour: Evidence From a Small-Scale, Rural Island Society

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-09-28
Abstract: 

We examined infant activity level and attention in 45 eight‐month‐old infants (mean age 8.8, SD = 2.07) living in two diverse socio‐cultural contexts: rural island societies in the South Pacific and urban Western societies in North America. Infants and mothers were observed for 10 minutes in a face‐to‐face interaction and later coded for the frequency of infants' motor movements and gaze shifts. Results indicate that infants in urban North American societies produced more frequent motor movements and gaze shifts compared to infants in rural, island societies in Oceania. We interpret these discrepancies as reflecting differences in social experience, ecological niches as well as physiological experiences. These findings highlight the complex interplay of development and experience early in life.

Document type: 
Article

Bridging Risk Assessments to Case Planning: Development and Evaluation of an Intervention-Planning Tool for Adolescents on Probation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-09-05
Abstract: 

Even though risk assessment tools are often intended to inform case planning, they do not provide much direct guidance. As such, we developed an intervention-planning tool called the Adolescent Risk Reduction and Resilient Outcomes Work-Plan (ARROW) to accompany the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth. The ARROW includes a decision support system, guide, and training, and is one of the first tools of its kind. To evaluate the ARROW, we conducted two studies: (a) a vignette study with 178 professionals and (b) a field study with 320 propensity-score matched adolescents. Most professionals (>98%) rated the ARROW as useful. Moreover, compared with (a) unstructured plans and (b) a simple form, ARROW plans were more likely to include supported interventions, adhere to best practices, and integrate culturally tailored approaches for Indigenous adolescents. Formulations also showed improvements. However, further research is needed on strategies to bridge risk assessment and risk management.

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Do Community Structural Characteristics Moderate the Association Between Mental Health and the Frequency and Severity of Violent-Behavioral Outcomes in Community Respondents?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-12-02
Abstract: 

In this prospective study, we examined the association between three types of mental health symptom clusters (i.e., psychotic, internalizing, and externalizing) and the frequency and severity of violent-behavioral outcomes, and whether community disadvantage, residential instability, and criminogenic facility density moderated these associations. Study data were derived from 258 community-dwelling adults nested in 60 postal forward sortation areas (FSAs) in a large metropolitan area in Western Canada who were assessed twice over a 6-month period. In addition, census and administrative data were obtained on the same areas. Controlling for sociodemographic characteristics (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity, relationship status, and employment status), lifetime history of violent-behavioral outcomes, and community structural characteristics, internalizing and externalizing mental health symptoms were significantly positively associated with the frequency and severity of subsequent violence perpetration and with the severity of subsequent violent victimization. Several significant interactions were observed: internalizing symptoms increased the risk of frequent and severe violence perpetration in FSAs with high but not low disadvantage, and externalizing symptoms increased the risk of frequent violent victimization in FSAs with a high but not low criminogenic facility density. Only the interactive association of internalizing symptoms and community disadvantage with the severity of violence perpetration, however, remained significant after Bonferroni correction was applied. These findings provide tentative support that associations between mental health and violent-behavioral outcomes can vary with community context. The implication of these findings for assessing and managing violent-behavioral outcomes in the community is discussed.

Document type: 
Article
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