Filter Dissertations and Theses By:
FATHER ABSENCE, THE MYTHICAL FATHER, AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON AFFECT MATURITY
Year of Dissertation:
This study investigates the influence of father absence on a son's ability to experience emotion in mature, differentiated ways--to show affect maturity. According to Anne Thompson (1986), affect maturity "determines how an individual will experience and cope with his or her feelings" (p. 212). This, according to Thompson (1986), has consequences for tolerating negative affects, reflecting on possible decisions instead of acting impulsively, and reality testing one's emotions. This study was founded upon the notion that the father, whether present or not, is internalized by his son and therefore plays an essential role in identity formation and the regulation of intense affect. Consequently, it was hypothesized that a father's absence would have deleterious affects on his son's attainment of these developmental milestones, and affect maturity. Interviews of young men who responded to Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) cards were quantitatively analyzed using Thompson's (1986) Affect Maturity Scale (which measures affect from the most primitive to the most mature). Additionally, subjects' responses to the TAT, and to questions about their early relational experience with their fathers, were qualitatively analyzed to help understand the father's role in shaping their son's internal world. Contrary to what was predicted, affect maturity scores of young men with regular father contact growing up were significantly lower than those with no father contact growing up. Furthermore, neither subset experienced a loving, nurturing, and supportive father--a good enough father--who could be internalized and then serve as an identification figure and to regulate emotion. However, those with regular father contact appeared to be additionally impaired by the consistently problematic interaction with their father. In this regard, this study's results suggest that it is not simply the father's presence or absence that impacts affect maturity, but the quality of the relationship. Similarly, they suggest that consistent interaction with a benevolent, nurturing father is an important variable in determining a son's affect maturity. The lack of a group in this study with positive father-son interactions, and the possible influence of social class, poverty, and peer groups on the findings limit the certainty that results are due solely to absence of a good-enough father. Nevertheless, the notion that a benevolent and nurturing father is important for healthy development is consistent with existing research and theory and has wide-ranging implications for clinical practice.
THE ROLE OF CLOCK AND MEMORY PROCESSES IN THE TIMING OF FEAR CUES IN HUMANS
Year of Dissertation:
Recent research on the effects of fear on timing has focused on two accounts proposed by Scalar Expectancy Theory (Church, 1984; Gibbon, 1977) for why the durations of fear stimuli are overestimated in comparison to the durations of neutral stimuli. One possibility is that fear serves as an arouser that increases the speed of a hypothetical internal clock. In this account, greater temporal overestimation of fear relative to neutral stimuli is predicted for longer stimulus durations relative to shorter stimulus durations. The other account is that fear increases attention to time, which results in organisms beginning to time fear-evoking stimuli sooner than they do neutral stimuli. In this possibility, the effect of fear does not interact with stimulus duration. Experiment 1 asked which of these two possibilities was the underlying mechanism of temporal overestimation of fear cues by manipulating emotion-evoking pictures (fear-evoking vs. neutral) across multiple duration ranges in the temporal bisection task. Larger effects of fear were observed at the longest duration range in comparison to the shortest duration range, supporting the arousal hypothesis. A related area that has been left relatively unexplored is the role that reference memory may play in the temporal overestimation of fear-evoking stimuli. Penney, Gibbon, and Meck's (2000) memory mixing hypothesis proposes that overestimation is only possible in preparations that allow for recalled reference memories for stimulus durations to be mixed across conditions. Therefore, in the second experiment, we manipulated whether or not fear and neutral cues were presented within the same session, a condition that may be necessary for memory mixing to occur. Fear cues were overestimated relative to neutral cues within the session in which fear and neutral cues were both presented, but no effect of emotion was observed between the two sessions in which fear and neutral cues were presented separately.
Unexpected Work Intrusions into Employees' Personal Lives: Investigation, Measure Development, and Exploration of Causes and Consequences
Year of Dissertation:
The present research explored unplanned work performed during employees' nonwork hours in response to unexpected work intrusions. Three studies were conducted to achieve four goals: 1) better understand the nature of switching from nonwork roles to the work role in response to work intrusions during nonwork hours, 2) help distinguish unplanned role switching from planned role transitions (e.g., bringing work home), 3) develop and validate new episodic measures of work intrusions and three aspects of unplanned nonwork-to-work role switching (frequency, mental difficulty, and physical effort), and 4) begin developing a nomological net of antecedent and outcomes variables surrounding the construct. In Study 1 I conducted employee interviews using the critical incident technique to clarify the nature of unplanned role switching and how it differs from planned role transitions. Analysis of rich qualitative data revealed important characteristics of unplanned role switching that help differentiate it from planned role transitions. The qualitative data also helped in developing episodic measures of work intrusions and unplanned role switching. In Study 2, the new measures were refined based on feedback from subject matters experts and interviewees from Study 1. Study 3 was a repeated measures design in which the refined measures from Study 2 were administered during a 10-day daily study period to assess employees' responses to discrete work intrusions during a typical workweek. Antecedents (individual differences and job characteristics) and outcomes (work interference with nonwork, burnout, and poor physical health symptoms) were examined using HLM. Results indicated that the antecedents differed for the three aspects of unplanned role switching. However, exploratory results demonstrated the importance of work intrusion characteristics in predicting all three aspects of unplanned role switching. Additionally, Study 3 results underscored the importance of examining intrusions and unplanned role switching, as both were related to negative employee outcomes, such as poor physical healthy symptoms. Also, the outcomes differed for the three aspects of unplanned role switching, indicating that it is a complex construct with distinct psychological and physical processes. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, as well as ideas for future research.
MODIFYING THE CRIMINALIZATION HYPOTHESIS: PREDICTING JAIL DIVERSION OUTCOME WITH CLINICAL, CRIMINOLOGICAL, AND PERSONALITY FACTORS
Year of Dissertation:
There are a disproportionate number of individuals with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system, compared to the general population. Mental health courts and jail diversion programs were developed to divert individuals with mental illness out of jails into community treatment to ease the overburden of treating psychiatric disorders in the criminal justice system. These programs have become increasing popular, but little is known about the characteristics of the diverted individuals that result in successful outcomes. The purpose of this study is to test different causal models of noncompliance as predicted by clinical, criminological, and personality variables, and examine the incremental validity of widely used clinical and risk assessment instruments over the screening instrument currently employed by diversion programs. Cox regression models do not support the strict interpretation of the criminalization hypothesis that treatment noncompliance is a result of clinical symptoms alone. Rather, treatment noncompliance is predicted by personality variables. Neither the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) nor the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) demonstrated incremental validity over the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) for predicting noncompliance. In addition, the PAI personality features, substance abuse, and aggression scales, were associated with all forms of treatment noncompliance.
Neuropsychological and Neuropsychiatric Prediction of Cognitive Functioning and Cognitive Decline: A Cross-Cultural Perspective
Elizabeth Guerrero Berroa
Year of Dissertation:
The goal of this study was to examine whether seven neuropsychological tests and three depression measures were associated with cognitive functioning among Hispanic elderly, and to assess whether they operated differently for Hispanic and White ethnic groups. Participants were 89 community-dwelling elderly Hispanics and 89 Whites matched on clinical and demographic characteristics, all followed longitudinally at the NYU Alzheimer's Disease Center (NYUADC). Their cognitive functioning ranged from normal to moderate dementia. Although a large proportion of the measures evidenced an association with cognitive status, hierarchical regression analyses showed that the initial recall of the NYU-Paragraph Test and the Retardation measure (especially for Spanish-speaking Hispanics), as well as WAIS-Digit Symbol (especially for English-speaking Hispanics) were most strongly associated with cognitive status after controlling for demographic and other cognitive measures. Retardation (for the entire Hispanic group) and the total score of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS; for the entire White group) differentiated between normal cognition and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). For the full range of cognitive status, the combined predictive usefulness of the 10 measures differed significantly between Hispanics and Whites; this difference was especially driven by the Retardation measure. For nondemented participants, only the depression measures predicted differently between the two ethnic groups. When the analyses examined the primary language of the participants, the predictive usefulness of neuropsychological and depression measures differed between Spanish-speaking Hispanics and their matched Whites, but no differences were found between English-speaking Hispanics and their White counterparts. Subsequent analyses showed that, for Hispanics, the usefulness of the 21-item HDRS-total score reflected the contributions of Work and Activities and Retardation, but not the other 19 items. The WAIS-Digit Symbol lacked specificity for Spanish-speaking Hispanics. Preliminary longitudinal analysis showed that the delayed recall of the NYU-Paragraph Test predicted cognitive decline among Spanish-speaking Hispanics. These results suggest that the NYU-Paragraph Test and Retardation may improve diagnostic accuracy and prediction of decline among Spanish-speaking Hispanics.
Nepantla and Ubuntu Ethics Para Nosotros: Beyond Scrupulous Adherence Toward Threshold Perspectives of Participatory/Collaborative Research Ethics
Year of Dissertation:
Participatory Action Research (PAR) refers less to a method and more to a continuum of approaches to collaborative inquiry. Within PAR, ideally, some phenomenon has been identified as a mutual area of concern to researchers and community members; working together they design, conduct, analyze, and disseminate the findings of a shared piece of research and coordinate action(s) aimed at using research to redress injustice. If PAR is embraced holistically boundaries inevitably blur as research team members become enmeshed in each other's lives. This blurring while momentous can give rise to ethical quandaries that IRB centered research ethics are inadequate to engage or provide parameters for the conduct of ethical participatory research. Borrowing from Borderlands scholarship I conceptualized PAR stakeholders as nepantleras. PAR researchers and their community partners are nepantleras because their work is about unremittingly trying to co-create and co-nurture counter-hegemonic research relationships bridging racial, ethnic, cultural, and social class boundaries within their collaborations. Nepantla perspectives give rise to Ubuntu ethical stances. Ubuntu ethics involves evaluation(s) of how our PAR builds capacity, sustains transparency of project aims, gauges accountability, assesses inclusivity, demonstrates trustworthiness, and the preservation of dignity at each stage of the research process. Using individual interviews and a longitudinal de-colonial ethnography of a community based ethical review board this dissertation attempted to understand how different nepantleras define the parameters of ethical conduct in research. In some ways I have accomplished this aim. I am in other respects left with the sobering realization that conducting ethical participatory research that embraces nepantla and Ubuntu ethics while working within the confines of conventional ethics is more difficult to conduct than I could have possibly imagined.
Repetition: From Compulsion to Structure
Year of Dissertation:
This work studied the different functions of repetition in the course of a long-term psychoanalysis. In empirical psychoanalytic research, repetition has been viewed as a maladaptive behavioral structure or speech disfluency. However, it was argued that repetition is a unique function of the mind that has various uses. Repetition can manifest as dominance of inertia; it can also be associated with traumatic anxiety and help develop a structure to alleviate the impact of trauma. In addition, some repetitions are in the service of difference where they modify and enrich the psyche. In an effort to study the linguistic expressions of these different kinds of repetitive phenomena, this study identified the patient's use of fixed repetitions, where the same words were used over and over again to narrate an experience. It was proposed that an increase in the use of such fixed repetitions would point to an inability to create new meaning. In contrast, when the patient is able to reach an evocative, vivid and specific representation, the use of fixed repetitions was expected to decrease. A further goal of the study was to explore the relationship between repetition and defensive processes. It was expected that an increase in the use of fixed repetitions bespeaks of a failure in defensive strategies. With these multiple objectives in mind, the transcripts of ten audio-taped psychoanalytic sessions were coded for the exact repetition of verbs. The language of verbs was expected to capture repetitions used with intention. Computerized linguistic measures of referential activity, which is a measure of imagistic language, as well as computerized linguistic measures of intellectualization and negation were used in order to capture patient's representational language and defensive processes. As expected, the results showed a general negative correlation between fixed repetitions and representational speech. No consistent pattern was found between repetition and the measured defensive processes. The results were discussed through a clinical qualitative analysis. The study marked repetition as a significant measure that is able differentiate between sessions in terms of their affective and symbolic qualities.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in Couples Facing Multiple Sclerosis: Impact on Self Reported Anxiety and Uncertainty
Year of Dissertation:
Nearly 2.5 million people in the world have MS (The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, 2007). MS is an auto-immune disorder, involving the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary and can come and go, appear in any combination, and may be mild, moderate, or severe. The prognosis and time-course of the disease is often unclear. The disease can create a great deal of uncertainty, particularly in newly diagnosed patients (Noseworthy et al., 2000). Approximately 50% of patients and partners showed significant levels of either anxiety or distress (Pakenham, 1998). Additionally, patients who reported their spouses to be more encouraging have been shown to be significantly less depressed (Schwartz & Kraft, 1996). Thus, couples "react to disease as a unit" (Pakenham, 1998, p. 269). Rolland (1985) concurs that "the well spouse faces many of the same dilemmas" (p. 240). Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an eight-week course incorporating yoga, meditation, and mind-body awareness, is a skills training technique which has successfully combated many physical and emotional ailments. This study evaluated the effect of MBSR on the uncertainty and resulting anxiety of each partner, as well as on the relationship. Twenty-five couples were recruited into two MBSR groups, with one couple partner diagnosed with Relapse-Remitting MS. Quantitative self report measures assess physical symptoms, anxiety, relationship satisfaction, perceived illness uncertainty, and intolerance of uncertainty. Data was collected before and immediately after the intervention. Results indicated a positive change in patient and partners levels of anxiety and uncertainty as well as in their relationship satisfaction. Results from this study contribute to the field of available interventions for couples dealing with chronic illness, and specifically MS. Additionally, it illuminates an important and yet undiscovered element of mindfulness meditation as a tool in coping with family illness.
The Relationship of Impulsive and Dysregulated Behaviors to Substance Use
Year of Dissertation:
Longitudinal studies indicate that individuals diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) exhibit elevated rates of substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs). The development of substance use in individuals with ADHD has been found to be largely impacted by the presence of comorbid conduct disorder (CD). Several studies have shown an association between ADHD and increased substance use over the risk posed by CD whereas others have suggested that CD mediates the relationship between ADHD and later substance misuse. The diagnostic criteria for CD, ADHD, and SUD are notable for the presence of impulsive behaviors. One of the most robust predictors of maladaptive substance use is a persistent pattern of impulsive behavior. This series of studies investigated the relationship between substance use and impulsive behavior using animal models of impulsivity and longitudinal studies of youth with ADHD. Study I employed animals and measured the degree to which impulsive behavior was impacted after chronic drug (heroin) administration. Studies II and III characterized substance use outcomes as a function of impulsive and dysregulated behaviors and psychostimulant treatment in a large sample of ethnically diverse, lower SES urban youth diagnosed with ADHD. Study II examined late adolescent substance use outcomes in relation to childhood CD and psychostimulant treatment in youth diagnosed with ADHD in childhood and Study III examined the degree to which ratings of aggression, delinquency and attention are differentially related to adolescent substance use outcomes. These results further clarify the relations between impulsive behaviors and maladaptive substance use. Study I did not provide support for the idea that impulsivity is caused by drug use. Study II reported robust findings indicating that dysregulated behaviors associated with childhood diagnoses of CD, and not ADHD, portend both greater substance use severity and impairment. Further, a diagnosis of CD is characterized by both delinquent and aggressive behaviors and Study III provided evidence that delinquency is the most robust predictor of adolescent substance use outcome. These findings have important implications regarding delinquent behaviors and substance use outcomes. Identifying impulsive behaviors related to the delinquency may be a focus of continued efforts in the areas of preventative treatments.
Employee Environmentally Friendly Behaviors in and out of Organizations and across Cultures
Year of Dissertation:
A rising number of organizations are making changes to minimize their impact on the environment. In order to successfully implement such changes for the long term it is important for organizations to not only address operational, structural and process factors, but also their employees' environmentally significant behaviors (e.g., Siero et al., 1996). Unfortunately, there remains a general lack of understanding of factors affecting employees' environmentally friendly behaviors. In an effort to reduce this gap, the present study employed the Values Beliefs Norms theory (Stern et al., 1999, Stern, 2000) to gain a comprehensive understanding of individuals' environmentally friendly behaviors in organizations as well as at home. The study used an archival dataset from a Fortune 50 global organization to investigate the factors influencing individuals' environmentally friendly behaviors in an organization, at home, and how they vary across cultures. The results confirmed the applicability of VBN theory to different spheres of life: private - at home and public - in an organization. The study further provided support for extending the theory to include perceived ability of an organization to reduce the threat to the environment (Organizational AR), organization's motivation for sustainability efforts, and social norms. The study failed to find any support for variance in the results across difference cultures. Future studies including more than one organization with varying commitment to environmental sustainability efforts will be necessary to investigate the role of culture.