Senior Abstracts for 2011
As is true for most majors at Bates, all psychology seniors must complete a senior thesis. This archive lists the name, title and a brief summary (abstract) of the projects of select seniors who graduated in December 2010 or May 2011.
Please check out our complete Senior Thesis Archive.
Note: indicates an empirical thesis project and indicates a community-based learning thesis project.
Click a name to view that student’s abstract, or scroll down to view all students.
Katherine Wade Brodoff
Rachel A. DiStefano
Sebastian Farach Aldana
Katelyn C. Gilardi
Tracy B. Glazier
Monthe N. Kofos
Timothy Taizo Ohashi
Chelsea E. Pennucci
Nicolette Karina Robbins
Elizabeth Luther Stadtmueller
Katherine Wade Brodoff
The Manifestation of Trait Self-Control on Social Networking Websites
The present study seeks to examine how trait self-control is revealed on social networking sites’specifically, Facebook. Participants were undergraduates at Bates College who first filled out self-report measures of self-control, narcissism (as a control variable) and Facebook use. Their Facebook profiles were then saved by the experimenter. A content analysis of the profiles was conducted coding for seven indices of self-control. I hypothesized that based on the content analysis of profiles, Facebook users lower in self-control would tend to be rated as displaying a.) more problematic content (i.e., substance abuse, sexual disclosure, and antisocial behavior), b.) more general impulsivity or nondeliberateness, c.) more egotistical or self-promoting content, d.) less content suggesting a strong work ethic, and d.) less content suggesting interpersonal success. I also predicted that based on the Facebook use questionnaire, users lower in self-control would reportedly filter out less problematic content and use Facebook’s privacy settings less. The results only found significant evidence for interpersonal success as evidence for self-control on Facebook profiles. Study limitations as well as the implications relating to the accuracy of perceiving personality characteristics through online social networking profiles are discussed.
Awareness: Do Measures of Implicit High Standards Predict Subjective Happiness Above and Beyond Measures of Explicit High Standards?
Abstract Previous research suggests that we have high standards without awareness. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether it is possible to measure implicit high standards. Furthermore it was explored whether implicit measures of high standards are better predictors of happiness than explicit measures. One hundred and thirty four participants completed self report measures of maximizing (high standards, alternative search and decision difficulty), subjective happiness, regret and demographics before completing a personalized Implicit Associations Task (IAT) which paired words ‘I need,’ ‘I don’t need,’ ‘best,’ and ‘good’ in different orders with one another. Results show a significant IAT effect but no correlation between the maximization scale and the IAT. The IAT did not predict happiness alone or when combined with the scores of the maximization scale. Either the IAT designed does not measure implicit high standards or it measures an aspect of having high standards that is uncorrelated with explicitly endorsed high standards. Keywords: implicit, high standards, awareness, happiness
Rachel A. DiStefano
Selective Attention, Memory, and Alexithymia: Performances on an Emotional Stroop Task and WMS-III Subtests
Alexithymia, a personality construct in which an individual has difficulty processing and regulating emotions, results in a wide range of impairments. This pattern of dysfunction may be explained, in part, by a deficit in selective attention for emotional information, which may then lead to an impaired memory for emotional information. Currently, the role of attention and memory in alexithymia is unclear. In Study 1, participants (N = 72) completed self-report measures of alexithymia (TAS-20, MAS, TMMS), an emotional Stroop task, and an incidental memory task. Contrary to hypothesis, individuals who were more alexithymic responded more quickly when the eStroop stimulus was positive (but not negative) than when the stimulus was neutral. Principal components analysis produced two factors relevant to alexithymia: Emotional Monitoring (EM) and Emotional Clarity (EC). With regard to eStroop, high-EM individuals took longer to respond and made more errors than low-EM individuals, regardless of word type. With regard to incidental memory, high-EC individuals were better at disregarding negative distracters, but less proficient at recognizing negative targets than low-EC individuals. In Study 2, extreme groups formed using TAS-20 scores from a previous study (N = 101) underwent a neuropsychological assessment of memory (WMS-III). High-alexithymics (n = 12) and low-alexithymics (n = 12) performed equivalently on verbal subtests, offering evidence against an underlying verbal deficit. As compared to low-alexithymics, high-alexithymics demonstrated a deficit for a pair of visual subtests that involved remembering pictures of people in social situations. However, working memory represented an unexpected strength for high-alexithymics both within and between groups. Implications and ideas for future research are discussed.
Sebastian Farach Aldana
Code Switching and Enhanced Cognitive Control in Bilinguals
Abstract Previous studies have demonstrated a cognitive advantage of bilinguals over monolinguals (Emmorey, Luk, Pyers, & Bialystok, 2008). The necessity to select a language while suppressing another is believed to enhance cognitive control in bilinguals. This study investigates whether bilinguals who code switch frequently (use two languages interchangeably throughout a conversation) differ in their cognitive control functions from bilinguals who do not code switch as often. Ninety-one students, including 60 bilinguals and 31 monolinguals from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, Wellesley College in Wellesley Massachusetts, and a few residents of Boston, Massachusetts participated in this experiment. Frequent code switchers, non-frequent code switchers, and monolinguals (control) were given a set of flanker tests to measure their executive abilities. In addition, bilingual participants were given a survey to determine their code switching frequency, and reason for code switching (intentional vs accidental reasons). Three results were found. First, the findings from Emmorey et al., 2008 were replicated; bilinguals were significantly more accurate in the flanker test than monolinguals. Second, out of all bilingual code switchers, those who code switched often and for accidental reasons, were significantly slower in the flanker test, than bilinguals who code switched often for intentional reasons; there was no difference between accidental and intentional code switchers who did not code switch as often. Last, among the most fluent bilinguals, those who code switched for accidental reasons were significantly slower than fluent bilinguals who code switched for intentional reasons.
Katelyn C. Gilardi
Orbitofrontal Cortex Correlates of Trait Emotional Intelligence
Coping with life’s daily stressors requires a certain degree of skill in the ability to understand and regulate one’s emotions. People who are lacking in these skills are often labeled ‘alexithymic’. Current research implicates frontal lobe abnormality in alexithymia, but it is unclear whether this accurately accounts for brain-related patterns associated with perceived emotional intelligence at the facet level. A recent study found correlations between trait meta-mood facets (ability to attend to, have clarity of, and repair emotions) and gray matter volumes of different regions in the frontal lobe using voxel-based morphometry, a key finding of which was the relationship between Attention to Emotion and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) volume. The present study used manual volumetry, a more conventional neuroimaging method, to examine the relationship between Attention to Emotion and OFC volume. This study used structural MRI scans and Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS) scores from 30 healthy adults who participated in the aforementioned study. This is the first known study to examine OFC correlates (left and right lateral and medial regions) of emotional intelligence using manual volumetry. During manual tracing, considerable variation in anterior OFC volume across participants prompted inclusion of left and right anterior OFC volume as separate variables. Results indicated that the strongest correlations were those between the left and right anterior OFC volume and Attention to Emotion. These results are discussed in the context of functional and structural connectivity between OFC and other brain regions.
Tracy B. Glazier
Standards-Based Success at Searsport District High School: A Case Study of Standards-Based Education in Action
Abstract A case study of standards-based education at Searsport District High School highlights the transformation of a crumbling school, which turned itself into a statewide leader of educational reform. Through grants, leadership, and teacher dedication, Searsport eliminated long time school traditions, such as 0-100 grading, in favor of student-centered practices, such as standards rubrics. Standards-based education is founded on the theory that all students can achieve high goals if provided with the means to reach them. Data were collected from interviews with six participants’students, teachers, and parents’to understand the effects of standards-based education on the school as well as on individual students. The findings show support for standards-based education as a whole, but dispute as to the various dimensions it has affected. While limited statistics are available at this point, SAT data indicate improved scores. This reform holds promising results that could offer better educational opportunities to meet the needs of a wider range of students. The current study is ongoing and will continue to increase understanding of standards-based education and its potential to be replicated in other schools.
The Predictive Validity of the Helpfulness Implicit Association Test
Although individuals are likely to describe themselves as moral and considerate, in many occasions their behavior is inconsistent with their self-descriptions. To determine the effects of explicit and implicit measures on the predictive validity of behavior, a specific subset of the agreeableness personality trait, helpfulness, was assessed in conjunction with conceptions of respect. Fifty-six participants were recruited from Bates College to complete the study. The measures consisted of an explicit questionnaire assessing helpfulness and conceptions of respect, the implicit association test (IAT) for helpfulness, and a behavioral assessment. The results of this data showed no significant correlations between implicit and explicit measures of helpfulness for the prediction of behavior. Significant trends between behavior and themes of respect, such as respect as caring, respect as social power and respect as equality, were found. This demonstrates a greater demand for understanding how and why this interaction occurs and what the greater implications of these findings demonstrate.
Inattentional Blindness: An Examination of Featural, Phonological, and Categorical Processing
The study sought to determine the extent to which background information is processed in an inattentional blindness scenario. Bates students participated in three experiments. The first experiment examined whether stimuli, which are not seen as a result of inattentional blindness, were nonetheless processed for featural-level information. To examine this, participants performed a speeded discrimination task regarding a target line of letters (whether the letters consist of straight or curved lines), and the effects of a flanking background letter were assessed. The second experiment examined whether background stimuli were processed for phonological information. The third experiment examined whether background stimuli were processed for categorical information. Results will help to elucidate whether background stimuli, which are missed as a consequence of inattentional blindness, are nonetheless unconsciously processed.
Monthe N. Kofos
The Miracle of Money: The Effect of Thinking about Money on Ego Depletion
Ego depletion is the state of diminished self-control one enters following a usage of self-control. Research suggests that the idea of money gives people strength and that the promise of money can reverse these effects. The current experiment seeks to examine whether the idea of money will create a sense of strength within individuals which will enable them to counteract the effect of ego depletion in a self-control study using a 2 (depleted: yes, no) by 2 (reminded of money: yes, no) between subjects design. Participants were depleted of self-control or not, and then were either primed with the idea of money or neutral concepts. All participants then completed a Stroop task with the reasoning that ego depletion, if present, would present itself through higher reaction times. As predicted, participants did experience ego depletion following the depletion task relative to the control condition, but the idea of money acted as a counter to these ego depletion effects. Implications for these findings include allowing people to maintain self-control for longer periods of time, thus improving the possibility of reaching various socially and personally desired goals.
Psychological Journey on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage
Abstract A variety of disciplines have identified the motives for and the stages of a pilgrimage, but many of these ideas are speculative. Due to the increasing focus on productivity and busyness, previously researched motivations were reevaluated through a collection of interviews on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Follow-up interviews were conducted to investigate how pilgrims readjusted to home life. The research examined who was walking the pilgrimage, the experiences and motives of the pilgrims, and how their life changed after leaving the Camino. The population was mostly European Deists and the most common motivations were seeking change and answering an inner calling. Pilgrims defined their experience mostly in terms of feeling emotions in the present moment and being changed. The timing of interviews both while walking the trail and after the pilgrimage is unique to this study. The results ultimately indicate that pilgrims reflect highly on their experiences as a source for new knowledge and positive change.
The Effect of a Cognitive Dissonance-Based Education Intervention on College Students’ Attitudes and Behaviors Towards Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Research suggests that most college-aged students have limited prior education and informed awareness of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Previous studies have measured attitude, awareness and education strategies towards NIHL and have resulted in limited intervention success. The current study attempts to determine whether a cognitive dissonance-based education strategy will increase participant awareness, increase hearing protective wear, and reverse negative attitudes and behaviors towards NIHL. Fifty-six students participated in the study; all of whom were undergraduates aged 18-22. Roughly half of the participants completed a pre-test, engaged in a cognitive dissonance-inducing educational intervention and completed a post-test four weeks later; the other half completed a pre-test, read a short passage and completed a post-test four weeks later. Results were consistent with previous research, suggesting minimal success of the dissonance-inducing educational intervention on self-reported attitudes and behaviors. However, participants of the cognitive dissonance group took significantly more free earplugs than those of the control, suggesting short term success of the intervention.
Observing the embers: Analysis of burnout in a pediatric behavioral intensive out-patient facility
Burnout has become a major issue that researcher have focused on, especially when dealing with pediatric mental health. The most common definition of burn out is Maslach’s definition (1981) which describes burnout as a syndrome that involves Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and a lack of Personal Accomplishment. Burnout can affect the physical, emotional, attitudinal, behavioral and interpersonal areas of a person’s life as well as negatively impacting the organization as a whole. The causes may be anything from intra-individual issues such as stress management to external issues such as a non-supportive work environment. This study uses Maslach’s theories of burnout and applies them to a pediatric behavioral intensive out-patient facility in Auburn, Maine. In addition, the present study proposes interventions based on the research on treatment of employee burnout.
Effects of Outdoor and Indoor Physical Activity on Self-Esteem
Outdoor versus indoor physical activity was examined in children to determine the effects on self-esteem. Two physical activity groups were studied at the Boys and Girls Club, the geocaching club and the military boot camp. The geocaching physical activity program was indoors, and the military boot camp was outdoors. The two groups’ self-esteem was measured before and after the programs to see if there was a significant increase in self-esteem from any programs. The means of self-esteem did increase, with the geocaching program having a larger increase than the bootcamp program. However the quantitative results showed that neither programs were found to have a significant increase in self-esteem. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem test was found to be unreliable after testing occurred, so the quantitative results are unreliable as well. The qualitative results, through the interviews and the focus groups, suggested that outdoor physical activity improved children’s self-esteem more than indoor activity.
The Value of Wealth as a Moderating Effect for Risky Choices
Risky choice framing suggests that gain frames will produce risk aversive behaviors whereas loss frames will create risk-seeking behaviors and these behaviors are amplified when an item of value is present. Previous research suggests that males actively seeking a mate tend to value wealth more than a male not seeking a mate. Given this information, it is hypothesized that men primed to think about searching for a mate will show stronger framing effects than men in a control condition. The purpose of this study is to determine if men looking for a mate are risk averse or risk-seeking during a fictitious gambling game. Participants, 284 males recruited via Cotterweb, were randomly assigned to a mate search prime or control condition and responded to a hypothetical gambling scenario in which the outcomes were either framed as gains or losses. This tested whether mate search priming moderated risky choice framing.
Intercultural Programs for Bates College: Intergroup Contact and Race Conversations
Due to increased diversity, young Americans must be competent in their ability to interact with individuals of different ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds. In their mission to produce future leaders, colleges and universities must equip students with the skills necessary for positive and productive intercultural interactions. Pilot sessions of two programs designed for this purpose, Breaking Bread and Campus Conversations on Race (CCOR), were conducted to test their desirability and efficacy for Bates students. Specifically 146 students took part in this research, either through program participation or the completion of an online questionnaire. Findings indicate student interest in the proposed programming, and support the efficacy of CCOR, particularly among students with a moderate amount of prior contact with peers from a background different than their own. Given that students would welcome both programs, Breaking Bread and CCOR are recommended to Bates College Office of Intercultural Education for future planning
Resettlement can Affect Parenting Style in Somali Mothers Participating in a Nurturing Parenting Program
Due to the large influx of Somalis resettling in the United States and the assets they bring with them, it is vital to gain a better understanding of how acculturation, mental health issues, and challenges of living in a new country can influence their parenting behaviors. Not only is there an enormous amount of stress associated with resettlement, families who resettled in the United States are forced to transition to a new culture of family and parenting style, different from their home culture. In this study, during the fall, the tool to measure parenting self-efficacy (TOPSE) and adult adolescent parenting inventory-version 2 (AAPI-2) were administered to the participants of the Nurturing Parenting Program for the Somali Population (NNPSP). In the spring, I interviewed the Somali women (N=4) participating in the Nurturing Program on their parenting styles. Scores on the TOPSE and AAPI-2 were low and it did not exceed the average range. These low scores may be attributed to the stress associated with the resettlement process and the expectations of proper child-rearing practices in the United States.
Orientation on Orientation: The Effects of Inversion on Judgments of Males’ Sexual Orientation
Research has shown that participants can accurately judge sexual orientation from limited exposure to an image of a stranger’s face (Rule & Ambady, 2008). The purpose of this present study is to distinguish whether configural or component based processing is used to make this judgment. During configural processing, the face is interpreted as a set of relationships and configurations between the different parts. During component processing, information comes from distinct, separate aspects of the face, such as the shape of the eyes, or the size of the nose. Studies have demonstrated that when faces are inverted configural processing abilities are severely hindered, but component processing abilities remain (Cloutier, Mason, & Macrae, 2005). To determine what role, if any, configural processing plays in rapid judgments of sexual orientation, this experiment investigates the ability of participants (N = 96) to judge the sexual orientation of males’ faces from upright and inverted pictures, with exposures of 33 ms, 6500 ms, and self-paced judgments. It was found that there was no significant difference in participants’ ability to judge upright and inverted photos, indicating that configural processing was not an effective means of judging orientation.
Timothy Taizo Ohashi
Differences in Predictions of Study Habits Between Individualistic and Collectivistic People
Research shows that collectivists are better than individualists at predicting future behavior in scenarios that have moral relevance (Balcetis, Dunning, & Miller, 2008). The current study examined whether collectivists are better at predicting behaviors when they are unrelated to moralistic values by measuring predicted studying. Fifty two undergraduate participants predicted how much time they would spend studying for an exam and how much time their peers would spend studying, which were compared to actual reported behaviors. Overall, differences between collectivists and individualists only approached significance, but pairwise comparisons showed that individualists tend to self-enhance self-predictions compared to others. Significance in both directions was found for self-predictions versus actual time studied. Discussion focuses on limitations of the study and future research.
Chelsea E. Pennucci
Beyond the Patient: Exploring the Psychosocial Effects on Adolescents Impacted by Cancer
At some point in their lives, cancer will affect nearly half of all men and a third of all women in the United States. This statistic, however, will impact far more than those diagnosed with the actual disease. The increased cognitive and emotional capacities of adolescents compared to younger children make them more aware and able to understand the parent’s physical and emotional pain, as well as the potential loss of that parent. Because adolescents are at a point in their lives where they are looking to establish an identity separate from their family, a loved one’s cancer diagnosis can be particularly difficult to cope with, as it pulls the adolescent back into the family system. The current research explores the psychosocial impact on adolescents affected by cancer. Four focus groups were conducted as a way for students impacted by cancer during adolescence to discuss their experiences, how they have coped with the illness, and what kinds of support programming they feel would benefit adolescents. Common themes mentioned in the focus groups were: (a) changes in family dynamics and communication as a result of the diagnosis, (b) altered adolescent roles within the family, and (c) increased feelings of anxiety, pessimism, and resentment post-diagnosis. Reasons for lack of teen participation in support programming and suggestions for more meaningful programming designed specifically for adolescents are discussed.
Enhancing Executive Functioning in Preschool Children through Sociodramatic Play
Abstract Preschool programs can teach a number of school readiness skills that can have effects on a child’s academic achievement. Executive functioning skills such as self-regulation, problem-solving, planning, and goal-oriented thinking have proven to be important factors in determining school readiness. Sociodramatic play has been shown to improve executive functioning. The present study is a continuation of a prior study that aimed to improve school readiness in preschool children. This study applied a play intervention over the course of seven weeks that involved guiding a group of four students at a time through a variety of role-playing scenarios for 15-20 minute periods. The students were led through planning, doing, and reviewing their actions during the play period, as a way to enhance the benefits of play. The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version (BRIEF-P) was completed by the head classroom teacher before and after the intervention to measure the effectiveness of the intervention on executive functioning. Results indicated that seven out of the nine BRIEF-P scales moved in the right direction, signifying an improvement in the children’s executive functioning skills. In addition, three of the nine scales were statistically significant. Further analyses separating developmentally delayed students determined that two of the executive function scales improved significantly in these students alone. These findings suggest that sociodramatic play interventions have positive effects on preschool children’s executive function skills as well as their social interaction and general play.
Body Image, Athletic Identity, Dissonance in Figure Skating
Previous research has found that girls in weight-related sports were more likely to report disordered eating behavior compared to girls not in weight related sports. Participation in sports that promote leanness for aesthetic reasons, such as diving, gymnastics, dance and figure skating was associated with increased weight concern, body dissatisfaction, and excessive dieting. Those who identify themselves as figure skaters are more likely to be affected by the pressures regarding weight and body image. Participants (N=82) completed surveys to find relationships between body image and athletic identity. The measures looked at the Body Appreciation Scale (BAS), Drive for Leanness (DL), Drive for Thinness(DT), as well as Skater and Athlete Identity Measures (Skims, SkaterAthlete Scale). The second part of the study attempted to determine whether a cognitive dissonance intervention could alter a sample competitive female figure skaters (N=29) attitudes on body image and athletic identity. Participants randomized into the experimental group completed a pre-test survey that included a cognitive dissonance essay, while participants in the control group completed a neutral essay. Both groups completed a post-survey one week later. Significant results indicated that self-identified figure skaters had relatively high drives for leanness and thinness. Mean scores showed that drives for leanness were greater than drives for thinness. The brief dissonance writing task did not positively alter body appreciation. For more significant results, future research could use a bigger and more diverse sample, as well as a more controlled intervention.
The Teachers’ Perspective: A Local Study of School-Based Mental Health Services
Research shows that a great percentage of youth needs mental health services. Of those youth who are currently benefiting from services, about 75% receive these services in school (Rones & Hoagwood, 2000). With the knowledge that emotional and behavioral mental health problems provide a significant barrier to learning and academic success, school-based Health Servicess have been designed to address both physical and mental health needs of students at school. The Lewiston-Auburn School-Based Health Servicess are operated by Community Clinical Services, a Federally Qualified Health Services, affiliated with St. Mary’s Health System. These Health Servicess currently run in the middle and high schools, and work to help children succeed in school by keeping them healthy in all respects. Last fall a new school-based Health Services was initiated at Longley Elementary, with the goals of addressing mental health issues in the students as well as enlisting families and the community in supporting their children’s mental health. The proposed study seeks to investigate initial perceptions of the school-based Health Services through teacher interviews. The hope is to determine teacher responses and satisfaction with the program and to address any difficulties. This research will demonstrate how mental health services are carried out in schools and the processes involved in the beginning stages of such a program.
Identifying Ways to Increase Utilization of the Bates College Employee Assistance Program
Rising health insurance premium payments are driving employers to search for ways to reduce costs. Mental illness poses two different costs to employers: negative impacts on productivity, and costly treatment through the insurance. Increasingly more employers are offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which provide alternative mental health treatment in the workplace. Data on the insurance claims for Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, show a high demand for mental health treatment among the employee population, but it is expected that many do not know of, or use the EAP services. This study uses focus groups and an Internet survey to measure employee mental health understandings, perceptions of the EAP, and interests in ways to improve the program. Survey opinions were gathered from a diverse sample of 67 employees, and a focus group discussion was conducted with 11 employee participants. Results from this study can be used by Bates College in designing a new framework for its Employee Assistance Program to increase its utilization.
Nicolette Karina Robbins
The Development of a Measure for Asexuality: the Asexuality Questionnaire — Recipient of the Drake Bradley Award in Statistics
A number of conceptual and methodological obstacles have prevented researchers from drawing definitive conclusions regarding the definition, prevalence, and correlates of asexuality, commonly defined as a lack of sexual attraction. Due to these limitations, it has not been possible to compare results across studies. Additionally, the specific dimensions of asexuality remain unclear as no researcher has proposed an objective measure of the construct. The current study aims to: 1) develop a psychometrically sound measure of asexuality; 2) explore the relationship between asexuality, sexual aversion, and sexual desire; and 3) gain a better understanding of the ‘coming out’ experience for asexuals. Participants were recruited from an undergraduate institution as well as from three online asexual communities. Data was collected using a multi-dimensional asexuality measure that drew upon existing scales of sexuality and the available qualitative data on asexuality. Based on factor analyses, sensitivity, specificity, and the psychometric properties of the instrument, the Asexuality Questionnaire could reliably distinguish between asexual individuals and non-asexual individuals. Although factor analysis did not yield the originally proposed dimensions of asexuality, asexuality did appear to be a multidimensional construct related to sexual cognition, romantic attraction, and sexual desire. Statistical analyses determined that the developed asexuality measure had high internal consistency and acceptable specificity and sensitivity. Limitations include poor phrasing of certain items and questions that presuppose sexual experiences or lead to ambiguous responses. Future research should explore the heterogeneity of the asexual population using a more qualitative approach.
Assessing Community Engagement and Vandalism in Lewiston, Maine’s Community Gardens: A Year-long Community Based Research Project with Lots to Gardens
Vandalism has been a pervasive issue for the community gardeners in Lots to Gardens’ summer gardening program. Previous research indicates that increasing participation and awareness of programming in the surrounding community significantly reduce instances of vandalism. Two studies were conducted as a way to better understand community engagement and vandalism in Lewiston, Maine. The first study gauged basic community awareness of Lots to Gardens’ programming and assessed individual motivations and barriers to program participation; the second study detailed the profile of vandalism in Lewiston community gardens and the effect of vandalism on long-time gardeners. Community awareness of programming was average, with 60% of nonparticipating community members having heard about Lots to Gardens or the Nutrition Center. Both gardeners and non-gardeners were primarily motivated to participate in programs that enhanced personal gain. Results profiling vandalism in Lewiston gardens found that it had a negative effect on gardeners’ attitudes. Together, these studies provide Lots to Gardens with tools to address the issue of vandalism in Lewiston community gardening programs.
Does Semantic Activation Occur in a Capacity-Free Manner?
Abstract A considerable amount of research has been conducted examining the processes involved in word reading, but very little research has examined whether word reading occurs in a stimulus-driven capacity-free manner, which some claim are criteria for automaticity (Neely & Kahan, 2001). The following experiment examined this issue. The ‘task-choice procedure’ developed by Besner and Care (2003) was employed to determine whether semantic codes are automatically activated from words. Findings suggest some, but not full, concurrent processing; for both the orthographic and semantic decision conditions in the accuracy data, the effect of target clarity was absorbed into the time needed for cue interpretation when the task cue and target were presented simultaneously. But, this was not the case in the reaction time data. Interpretations of the interaction between task condition, cue-target SOA, and target clarity are offered for both the reaction time and accuracy data. The results of this study further our understanding of word reading and contribute more information to the debate on automatic SA. Future research should consider increasing the cue-target SOA to allow for sufficient time to process the task cue prior to target presentation.
Elizabeth Luther Stadtmueller
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Veteran PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) Pre- and Post-Treatment Differences Based on Military Era and Age
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that affects millions of Americans. A subset of the population greatly impacted by PTSD is combat veterans. At this time, two behavioral treatments for this disorder are empirically supported: cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure. Unfortunately, treatments utilizing these therapies can be time consuming and result in high attrition rates. One possible solution to reducing the number of veterans with untreated PTSD is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999), a third-wave cognitive behavioral therapy based on mindfulness. The main goal of ACT is to help patients move towards a life of less struggling with suffering and increased valued living. This goal is achieved by reducing experiential avoidance while simultaneously increasing psychological flexibility. The current study explored the efficacy of a five-day intensive outpatient program based on ACT for the treatment of PTSD offered at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New England. Results of the study indicate that ACT is effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD as measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), with program efficacy not dependent on veteran military era or age. However, a limitation of the study is the absence of a randomized control group.
Out of the Closet and Into the Classroom: Examining LGBTQ Issues in High School
Compared to their heterosexual peers, LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied and feel unsafe at school. One attempt to reduce bullying has been through the creation of in-school support systems such as a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). The current study used focus groups as a means to investigate individuals’ high school experiences as either a member of the LGBTQ community or as an ally. Some participants had either graduated or dropped out of high school, while other participants were currently enrolled in high school. Participants were asked questions about their high school climate, coming out in high school, and support systems for LGBTQ students, including GSAs. Themes that emerged from the current study included (a) the need for more than one support system, (b) the stigma attached to being LGBTQ in high school and (c) the possibility for an improved climate. Details and implications of the themes are discussed.