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Between sites: Critical convergences at the personal, interpersonal, and institutional levels in a service learning course
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Set within the context of the increasing emphasis on civic engagement and transformative education, this work addresses service learning as a form of civic engagement that holds both the risks of acriticality and critical potential. This study examines the capacity for the critical consciousness and relationality that define the primary commitments of critical service learning (see Kinefuchi, 2010). Thus, this study is grounded in the ways that the circuits of privilege and dispossession were breached in a service learning course where college students travelled to mentor adolescent girls who were in a secure residential facility. The narratives of former service learning students were analyzed to excavate the service learning experience at three sites which contextualize moments of critical dialogue: the personal, the interpersonal, and the institutional level. Three themes emerged from the analysis: (1) the position of the mentor between being an agent and recipient of transformation; (2) the discourses of sameness and difference deployed to forge solidarities; and, (3) the negotiation of the boundary between the inside and outside as a marker of the personal-societal dispossession of the service learning site and those within it. The findings indicated that people blur the line that separates self/other as they acknowledge mutual impact, implicate themselves in constructing a vision of girls' well-being, and grapple with counter/representations of the facility and the girls from their temporary position as `insiders' within the facility. These findings are held in tension by participants' intermittent recognition of the facility as a space of dispossession, however, and their resistance to writing themselves into it. The findings suggest that the positions, discourses, and critical meanings are moments across this service learning experience that can be `visual aids' for intergroup processes. The future directions based on this work suggest intentionally deploying these moments in order to explore the flows of comfort, connection, remembrance, trauma, loss, and disintegration on which circuits of dispossession and privilege run (Ayala & Galletta, 2012; Fine & Ruglis, 2009).
The Role of Homophobia and Gender Role Beliefs in Judgments of Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence
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The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether straight and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals differ in their perceptions of same-sex and opposite-sex IPV, and whether gender-role beliefs and homophobia can help explain any differences. We were also interested in whether factors such as the type of violence depicted and participants' gender moderated perceptions of intimate partner violence. Using a 2 (type of violence: situational couple violence vs. intimate terrorism) x 2 (gender of batterer: male vs. female) x 2 (gender of victim: male vs. female) between-groups design, 240 straight and 240 LGBT participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition and asked to read a vignette of a domestic altercation. Participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess how they perceived the batterer's and victim's responsibility for the situation, the seriousness of the situation, how likely the abusive behavior was to reoccur, and how likely the abusive behavior would get worse over time. Participants also completed a demographics survey and measures of gender role beliefs and homophobia / internalized homophobia. Overall, both straight and LGBT participants attributed less blame to batterers and more blame to victims, and perceived the abuse as less serious, when the scenario involved a same-sex couple. However, contrary to our hypotheses, participants' gender role beliefs and homophobia / internalized homophobia did not fully account for these findings. Participants' gender and the type of violence depicted were significant moderators for several of the relationships examined; however, these effects were relatively small and inconsistent. Social, clinical and legal implications of these findings are discussed - along with directions for future research.
Factors that Affect Treatment Compliance among Individuals with Mental Illness
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Approximately 6% of the American population suffers from a severe mental illness such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Treatment compliance in individuals with severe mental illness is imperative as without treatment these individuals may experience homelessness, unemployment, and a decreased life expectancy of up to 34 years. Consequently, researchers have increasingly examined factors that may affect overall compliance among these individuals, such as insight, social support, symptom severity, and substance abuse. However, many of these studies focus on compliance with prescribed medications and few examine compliance with recommended psychological treatment. The current study examined the effects of the aforementioned factors on treatment compliance among individuals with severe mental illness and substance use diagnoses. Defendants in an alternative-to-jail program were asked to complete a brief clinical interview and several self-report measures examining insight, perceived social support, psychiatric symptom severity, and substance use. Each individual's record was then examined at 3- and 6-month follow-up periods to determine the number of re-arrests, re-hospitalizations, and program removals they had experienced. Alcohol addiction severity and social support at intake were found to be significant predictors of treatment adherence at six-month follow-up. These findings will be discussed as they pertain to the implications for identifying and understanding the nature of the relationship between the client-centered factors that most directly impact treatment compliance among individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.
Children's Tolerance of Word-form Variation
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This study compared children's (N=96, mean age 4;1, range 2;8-5;3) and adults' (N=96, mean age 21 years) tolerance of word-onset modifications (e.g., wabbit and warabbit) and pseudo affixes (e.g., kocat and catko) in a label extension task. Trials comprised an introductory phase where children saw a picture of an animal and were told its name, and a test phase where they were shown the same picture along with one of a different animal. For `similar-name' trials, participants heard a word-form modification of the previously introduced name (e.g., introduced to a dib, they were asked, `which animal is a wib?'). For `dissimilar-name' trials, participants heard an entirely new word (e.g., introduced to a dib, they were asked, `which animal is a wuz?'). Specific types of modifications were repeated within each experiment to establish productive inflectional patterns. Across all experiments, children and adults exhibited similar strategies: They were more tolerant of prefixes than onset-modifications involving substitutions of initial consonants, and they were more tolerant of suffixes than prefixes, which may reflect a statistical tendency for inflections to adhere to the ends of words. Additionally, participants parsed novel productive inflections from stems when choosing targets. These findings point to word learning strategies as being flexible and adaptive to morphological patterns in languages.
The Effects of Social Influence, Power, and Tangible Rewards on Need-Fulfillment, Coworker Attraction and Helping Behaviors
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Dr. Kristin Sommer
Much of the research on influence in the workplace has focused on identifying strategies to obtain compliance from coworkers and the effectiveness of such strategies. Little is known about why people want to influence others. Recent theory and research suggest a link between influence and need-fulfillment, interpersonal attraction, and helping behavior. Three studies were designed to examine these links and to observe how common workplace elements, specifically power and rewards, impact the psychological and interpersonal benefits of successfully influencing coworkers. Studies 1 and 2 examined how the possession of power by either the source or target of influence moderates the outcomes of having influence. In Study 1, participants attempted to persuade a subordinate in a simulated fund-raising task using either harsh or soft forms of power. In Study 2, participants attempted to persuade either a leader or a peer to change his or her stance on mandatory comprehensive exams. In Study 3, participants either received a reward for attempting to influence a peer, regardless of the outcome (engagement-contingent), were rewarded only if they successfully influenced a peer (performance-contingent), or were asked to influence a peer without any expectation of rewards. Participants in all three studies were given false feedback indicating whether their influence attempts were successful. Following the manipulations, participants' need-fulfillment, liking for the target and willingness to help the coworker were assessed. Across studies, participants in the successful compared to unsuccessful influence conditions reported greater attraction to and willingness to help the target of influence and higher task satisfaction. Contrary to expectations, no reliable effects were found for need fulfillment. Perceptions of similarity and task satisfaction partially mediated the effects of influence on interpersonal attraction. Finally, the results indicated that influencing someone using soft power tactics (Study 1), or in conjunction with a performance-contingent reward (Study 3), was associated with the highest willingness to help. The helping effects were not mediated by similarity, reciprocity, need fulfillment or voluntariness. The theoretical and organizational implications of the findings and ideas for future research are discussed.
"Who do you think you are?": A multidimensional analysis of the impact of disparities in higher educational attainment within families of first-generation college graduates
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This project explores the impact of disparate educational attainment between first-generation college graduates and their family members. This is a conscious shifting of the unit of analysis, from the changing social position and power of an individual student/graduate, to the relational capacity, tensions, and strategies of the family unit that is inclusive of the graduate. This shift in the unit of analysis, from the individual to the family, interrogates the function of higher education by broadening the range of outcomes associated with post-secondary education and credentialing beyond the economic advancement of the graduate. There are currently very few studies of this population that investigate post-degree attitudes and experiences and none of which ask questions about family relationships. Few if any studies have addressed how educational disparities within the family are perceived by other family members, particularly parents and siblings. This work investigates the nature of this affect/effect, primarily from the perspective of the graduate, but also reaching toward a greater understanding of the perspective of family members as well. Three broad areas of inquiry guide this exploratory first investigation of family narratives surrounding the higher educational attainment of first-generation college graduates: In what ways are educational values and justice beliefs (e.g., support of meritocracy), affected by the higher educational successes of one (or some) member(s) of the family? 2) How are family relations and power dynamics impacted by disparate levels of educational attainment within the family? and 3) What are the ideological dilemmas (Billig et al., 1988) of first-generation college graduates and family members, and how are these dilemmas negotiated? A mixed-method design was employed, consisting of a narrative analysis of interviews with first-generation college graduates' (N=13) and family members' (N=5) and an anonymous web-based survey (N=340) broadly assessing first-generation college graduate attitudes about their college experiences, post-college family relationships, current educational values and ideological dilemmas related to educational differences within the family of origin. A principal components analysis of survey items, and bivariate analyses were conducted to test relationships between factors and independent variables; a grounded theory approach was taken in the analysis of open-ended survey items.
THE EFFECTS OF PERSONALITY DISORDER TRAITS ON INDIVIDUAL THERAPY OUTCOMES IN INDIVIDUALS AT CLINICAL HIGH RISK FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA
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Despite a high prevalence of comorbid personality disorder traits in those considered to be high risk (or prodromal) for schizophrenia (Woods et al., 2009), and the known negative effects of personality disorders on treatment in schizophrenia (e.g., Tyrer et al., 2000), little is known regarding the effect of personality disorder traits on the treatment of prodromal individuals. Using a ten-year sample from the Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, this dissertation used retrospective, naturalistic methods to investigate personality disorder traits and the ways in which these traits affected both the assessment and the treatment of prodromal symptoms. Results did not support that personality disorder traits moderated treatment outcomes, but did support that particular treatment techniques were used more often with certain personality traits (e.g., borderline personality disorder) or symptom severities. In addition, it was found that, overall, particular treatment techniques were associated with reductions in negative symptoms, but not with positive symptom or global functioning changes. Results also indicated that aspects of the suspiciousness and hallucinations scales from the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS) were associated with personality traits and not predictive of transition to psychosis. These results suggest that treatment planning could use symptom presentation on intake to determine the most effective treatment techniques. Further research is required to further the diagnostic and predictive ability of assessment measures, including the important determination of whether currently considered prodromal symptoms may be better accounted for by personality traits.
Adjustment and Change Among Bisexual Women: A Longitudinal Analysis
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Higher levels of psychological distress have been found among representative samples of bisexual adults than among comparable samples of gay, lesbian, or heterosexual adults, yet significant variability in mental health outcomes has also been found between bisexual individuals. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study (Time 1 N=50, Time 2 N=40) aimed to examine why bisexual women may be at heightened risk for distress, and also to identify factors associated with psychological adjustment among this population. Theories that associate bisexuality with cognitive dissonance and identity diffusion were reviewed and critiqued, and an alternative model of identity integration for bisexuals, built around toleration of multiplicity and paradox within one's self and one's relationships with others, was proposed. It was hypothesized that the capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality would be predicted by personality organization, differentiation-relatedness, and attachment. Further, it was hypothesized that mental health outcomes among this population would be predicted by the following factors: 1) capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality, 2) experiences of internally- and externally-imposed pressure to "resolve" one's bisexuality into a binary model, 3) experiences of community support for and stigma against bisexuality, 4) experiences of emotional attachment and sexual excitement as integrated versus split in romantic relationships, and 5) need for cognitive closure. The interaction between capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality and degree of change over time in sexual attractions, behaviors and/or self-identifications was also hypothesized to predict mental health outcomes. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to examine relations between hypothesized predictors and outcomes, controlling for socio-demographic covariates. Qualitative data were then revisited to elaborate on patterns identified through quantitative analyses, and to illuminate additional dynamics from the focused interviews. In particular, qualitative analyses were used to examine the ways in which change over time in sexual attractions and self-identifications were understood by participants and integrated into their self-concepts; to understand the extent to which different participants experienced emotional and erotic aspects of relationships as integrated or split with male versus female partners; and to consider the ways in which participants' attempts to negotiate these dynamics were shaped by internal, relational and environmental factors.
NEURAL SUBSTRATES OF VISUAL PROCESSING AND OBJECT RECOGNITION DEFICITS IN SCHIZOPHRENIA
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Mounting evidence has shown that patients with schizophrenia have preferential deficits of the magnocellular versus the parvocellular visual system. Experiment 1 examined this deficit in schizophrenia patients utilizing an electrophysiological paradigm. Patients showed preferential magnocellular deficits in electrophysiological response indicative of impaired contrast gain (response amplification at low contrast) and contrast gain control (inhibition of responses at high contrast), which are used preferentially by this pathway to optimize responses. Patients also displayed deficits in psychophysical contrast sensitivity, further showing deficient contrast gain in the magnocellular pathway. These electrophysiological and psychophysical deficits were associated with neuropsychological and emotion processing deficits, which predicted functional outcome. Experiment 2 utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural underpinnings of the paradigms used in Experiment 1. fMRI responses to magnocellular- and parvocellular-biased contrast stimuli from the electrophysiological paradigm showed that contrast gain (i.e., signal amplification) was related to increases in volume of relatively weak occipital activation, while contrast gain control (i.e., signal inhibition) was related to strong a occipital activation over a smaller volume. Inhibitory contrast gain control was also linked to negative parafoveal activation, which was less apparent for patients. fMRI responses to a contrast sensitivity procedure showed reduced volume of occipital activation to low spatial frequency (LSF), but not high spatial frequency (HSF), stimuli for patients, indicating a general deficit in activation volume for LSF stimuli which are preferentially processed by the magnocellular system. Experiment 3 examined consequences of magnocellular dysfunction for object recognition in schizophrenia. Patients showed deficits in fMRI activation to LSF object stimuli over a widespread cortical network, indicating a loss of early-stage low resolution object information. Patients instead showed an increase in activation to HSF object stimuli in some areas, suggesting compensation for LSF deficits with HSF information. Together, these three experiments further elucidated the neural substrates of preferential magnocellular deficits in schizophrenia, and demonstrated that such deficits may propagate to higher cognitive processes such as object recognition.
HOUSEHOLD DENSITY AND ACADEMIC STANDING AMONG COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS: THE EFFECTS OF TIME ORIENTATION AND SPATIAL SELF-REGULATION
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The purpose of the study was to develop a multifactorial model tracing paths from housing affordances to academic outcomes in higher education. The study sought to connect two areas of psychological research: on one side, the adverse effects of environmental stressors and inadequate self-regulation upon life course prospects and, on the other, the affective, behavioral, and cognitive elements of purposive self-regulation used by college students toward long-term goal attainment. The study design was cross-sectional and used self-reported survey data as well as official academic records for 490 student participants. Three new measures were developed. The first, Housing Inadequacy, gave a subjective assessment of domestic environments by comparing availability of household features with their rated importance to individual students. The second, Perceived Housing Stress, was adapted from the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen & Williamson, 1988), an existing validated measure of global appraised stress, to identify stressors specific to the home setting. The third, Spatial Self-Regulation, introduced a new construct with two components: the ability to recognize whether a setting is conducive to one's goals and the ability to engage or change that setting in order to move toward those goals. In the current study, the affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of Spatial Self-Regulation were measured in both home and campus settings. Two existing measures were used. Temporal factors from the Zimbardo Time Perspectives Inventory (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999) were hypothesized to attenuate or amplify adverse effects of Housing Inadequacy and Perceived Housing Stress in predicting academic motivations and strategies. These motivations and strategies were measured using components of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and McKeachie, 1993), an instrument widely used in higher education assessment. Structural equation modeling was used to refine, integrate, and confirm linkages among the above variables. A statistically significant model linked sub-factors for Housing Inadequacy, Perceived Housing Stress, Spatial Self-Regulation, and Time Orientation with Motivated Strategies for Learning. Since the model reliably predicted GPA, the study presented a new approach to explaining college student academic standing as an outcome of the interaction of person-level variables with environmental factors.