Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG ATTENTION, DAILY BEHAVIOR AND DISEASE SEVERITY IN PATIENTS WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

    Author:
    Lillian Kaplan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Foldi
    Abstract:

    Introduction: Complex instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and basic activities of daily living (BADL) are typically impaired in Alzheimer disease (AD). It is unclear, however, how attention versus global cognitive impairments selectively impact functional decline. We hypothesized that performance on attention tasks would predict functional impairment, and specifically be predictive of IADL. Method: Twenty-seven newly-diagnosed participants with AD were assessed on (1) global cognition: Mattis Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2); (2) attention: a) RT on simple detection, b) covert orienting, c) speed and errors on executive attention, D-KEFS Trail Making Test (TMT) Condition-4; (3) a) caregiver ratings of IADL/BADL: Modified Lawton-Brody, Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI). Results: Forty eight percent of the participants had only IADL impairment, while the remaining participants had both IADL and BADL deficits. There were no differences in demographics or cognitive status between those with and without BADL deficits. Hierarchical regression revealed that errors on the TMT Condition- 4 accounted for the majority of IADL variability. After accounting for the TMT Condition-4 errors, the changes in variability of IADL associated with DRS-2 and NPI were minimal. Neither global cognitive scores nor attentional measures predicted BADL performance. Conclusions: IADL impairments are primary deficits at the time of diagnosis of AD, and as hypothesized, a measure of executive attention best predicted the variable daily demands of IADL. As global cognitive scores did not predict the more variable IADL impairment, these findings suggest that measures of higher executive attention are more sensitive to IADL, and may better inform clinicians and caregivers of potential difficulty with daily tasks faced by patients with early AD.

  • The Impact of Trial Consultants on Perceptions of Procedural Justice and Juror Verdicts: An Empirical Investigation

    Author:
    Jennifer Katz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Harold Goldstein
    Abstract:

    Despite the proliferation of the trial consulting industry in recent years, we know virtually nothing about the impact that the use of a trial consultant may have on a jury. This laboratory study seeks to fill some of the gaps in the trial consulting literature by using the principles of procedural justice to explore what, if any, impact the use of a trial consultant can have on the outcome of a criminal jury trial, as well as the possibility that perceptions of fairness mediate the relationship between the balance of trial consultants and juror verdicts in cases where the evidence is ambiguous. Two hundred fifty-five jury-eligible individuals recruited from the participant pool of the psychology and management departments at Baruch College were asked to complete three questionnaires following the random assignment to a case summary that had been manipulated with respect to evidence strength (SOE) and use of a trial consultant. Hypotheses predicted that (a) a trial would be perceived as being higher in neutrality and global fairness if both the prosecution and defense used a trial consultant than if only one party used a trial consultant, (b) the likelihood of conviction would be highest when the evidence favored the prosecution, moderate when the evidence was ambiguous, and lowest when the evidence favored the defense, (c) the likelihood of conviction would be impacted by an interaction between SOE and balance of trial consultants such that when the evidence is ambiguous and both sides use a trial consultant, the likelihood of conviction would be higher than when the prosecution alone used a trial consultant but lower than when the defendant alone used a trial consultant, and (d) the relationship between the balance of trial consultants and likelihood of conviction would be mediated by perceptions of neutrality and global fairness when the evidence was ambiguous. Results supported the hypothesized relationship between SOE and likelihood of conviction, but there was only weak to moderate support for the relationship between the balance of trial consultants and perceptions of fairness. No significant interaction or mediation was found among the variables. Implications for the fields of procedural justice and trial consulting are discussed.

  • The Ventral Tegmental Area and Nucleus Accumbens Shell as a Distributed Brain Network for Feeding Elicited by GABA-B Receptor Agonists: Modulatory Roles of GABA and Opioid Receptor Subtypes in Rats

    Author:
    Patricia Kavanagh-Miner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Richard Bodnar
    Abstract:

    Food intake is significantly increased following administration of GABA and opioid agonists into the nucleus accumbens (NAC) shell and ventral tegmental area (VTA) with receptor-selective antagonist pretreatment capable of blocking these responses within sites. To evaluate whether regional VTA and NAC shell interactions occur for GABA-mediated feeding, specifically meal size of chow intake, the first aim examined whether feeding elicited by the GABA-B agonist, baclofen, microinjected into the NAC shell or VTA dose dependently blocked pretreatment with either the GABA-B antagonist, saclofen, or the GABA-A antagonist, bicuculline, into the alternate site, VTA or NAC shell in rats. VTA and NAC shell saclofen dose-dependently and significantly blocked feeding elicited by baclofen injected into the NAC shell and VTA baclofen, respectively. Whereas VTA bicuculline significantly blocked the increased feeding elicited by NAC shell baclofen, NAC shell bicuculline reduced but did not block feeding elicited by VTA baclofen. To evaluate whether regional VTA and NACs feeding interactions occur for opioid receptor modulation of GABA agonist-mediated feeding, the second and third aims examined whether feeding elicited by the GABA-B agonist, baclofen microinjected into the NACs or VTA was dose-dependently blocked by pretreatment with general (naltrexone: NTX), mu (beta-funaltrexamine: BFNA), kappa (nor-binaltorphamine: NBNI) or delta (naltrindole: NTI) opioid antagonists into the alternate site, VTA or NAC shell in rats. VTA NTX significantly reduced NACs baclofen-induced feeding. Correspondingly, NACs NTX significantly reduced VTA baclofen-induced feeding. Whereas, the high VTA BFNA dose reduced NACs baclofen-induced feeding, NACs BFNA failed to affect VTA baclofen-induced feeding. Whereas VTA NBNI at both doses reduced NACs baclofen-induced feeding, only the high NACs NBNI dose significantly reduced VTA baclofen-induced feeding. Whereas VTA NTI transiently reduced NACs baclofen induced feeding, NACs NTI failed to affect VTA baclofen-induced feeding. Therefore, the present series of studies suggest that GABA employs a distributed brain network in mediating its ingestive effects that is dependent upon intact GABA and opioid receptor signaling with kappa opioid receptors more involved than mu and delta opioid receptors underlying these regional effects.

  • Male Rape in Substance Abusing Men who have Sex with Men: Prevalence, Reporting, and Contextual Factors

    Author:
    Ann Marie Kavanagh-Reilly
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Chitra Raghavan
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT MALE RAPE IN SUBSTANCE ABUSING MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN: PREVALENCE, REPORTING, AND CONTEXTUAL FACTORS by Ann Marie Kavanagh Advisor: Professor Chitra Raghavan Studies have shown that male rape and sexual assault, although less prevalent than female rape and sexual assault does occur, and depending on the context can occur at alarmingly high rates. This study examined rates and correlates of sexual assault in a sample of drug abusing males who have sex with men (MSM) in a New York City harm-reduction clinic. Thirty-six of the 148 participants reported being forced to have unwanted sex. When compared and contrasted to their non-assaulted peers, the study found that twice as many men in the sexually assaulted sample reported that they prefer to have sex with men, and are less likely to have sex with women, suggesting that MSM may be at increased risk for sexual assault. In addition, sexually assaulted males were more likely to have had sex with an acquaintance or stranger. Sixty-six percent of the assaulted males and 50% of the non-assaulted males reported daily or weekly drug use. Nearly half (48.6%) of the sexually assaulted males, compared to 21% of the non-assaulted males reported that they had either threatened or tried to commit suicide. Participants who were hit, slapped or punched were 1.64 times more likely to report the assault, and participants who were threatened with a weapon were 19.6 times more likely to report the assault. These findings and others, as well as strengths and limitations of this study are discussed in detail. Suggestions for future studies are also given.

  • Psychological Mechanisms Underlying Race-Based Peremptory Challenges

    Author:
    Julia Kennard
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Margaret Kovera
    Abstract:

    Despite the Supreme Court decision prohibiting race-based peremptory challenges (Batson v. Kentucky; 1986), prosecuting attorneys strike Black venirepersons at higher rates than they strike White venirepersons (Clark, Boccaccini, Caillouet, & Chaplin, 2007; Rose, 1999; Sommers & Norton, 2007). I conducted two studies to explore the psychological mechanisms underlying race-based peremptory challenges. Study One tested the unconscious and conscious psychological influences on attorneys' strike decisions and the circumstances under which racial bias can be reduced. Study Two tested whether attorneys are driven by beliefs in the legal attitudes of Black and White jurors, beliefs in in-group favoritism between jurors and defendants, or both. Venireperson race influenced attorneys' strike decisions; however, contrary to past research, the racial bias in attorneys' decisions was directed at the White venireperson. Venireperson race was less likely to affect attorneys' strike decisions when they were warned explicitly about the Batson restrictions. There was some evidence that endorsement of stereotypes about the legal attitudes of Black and White jurors was related to attorneys' decisions but there was no evidence that beliefs about in-group/out-group bias influenced their decisions. Possible explanations for the unexpected discrimination against White venirepersons are discussed.

  • EVALUATION OF CONFESSION EVIDENCE AND EXPERT TESTIMONY IN ADVERSARIAL AND INQUISITORIAL TRIALS IN THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTH KOREA

    Author:
    Min Kim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Steven Penrod
    Abstract:

    There have been many attempts to determine the "better" legal system between inquisitorial and adversarial, but some legal scholars argue that a direct comparison of different justice systems is impossible because every system is distinctive. Based on van Koppen and Penrod (2003)'s argument that the trial system with fewer wrongful convictions should be considered as the "better" justice system, this dissertation compared the inquisitorial and adversarial trials by evaluating the quality of legal decision-making between legal professionals and lay people on the assessment of trial evidence and their verdicts in South Korea and the United States. This study examines how coerced confession evidence and expert testimony influence the legal decisions when the evidence is introduced in an adversarial or in an inquisitorial trial and whether the two forms of trial yield the same types of biases and errors. The results indicate that inquisitorial trials yield higher guilt probabilities and produce more guilty verdicts than adversarial trials. The presence of confession evidence significantly increases guilt probability ratings and guilty verdicts. The introduction of expert testimony on confession evidence reduces the damaging effects of the confession evidence to a certain degree, but only lay persons are able to utilize expert testimony to critically evaluate the evidence. Koreans in general are more likely to perceive that the defendant's confession was coerced than Americans and give lower guilt probability ratings and guilty verdicts. When confession evidence and expert testimony are introduced in an adversarial trial, only lay persons are able to utilize the expert testimony information, give lower guilt probability ratings and were less likely to produce guilty verdicts. Americans' verdicts are more likely to be influenced by the trial type than Koreans. Americans in inquisitorial trials are more likely to vote guilty than Americans in adversarial trials. Furthermore, path analysis indicates that legal professionals and lay persons evaluate and weigh evidence differently, but legal professional-lay agreement rates indicated that the performance of lay persons is comparable to the performance of legal professionals. Korean legal professional-lay person agreement rates are also comparable to the American legal professional-lay person agreement rates. Implications for the Korean lay participation system are discussed.

  • The Effect of Emotional Intelligence on Emotional Competence and Transformational Leadership

    Author:
    Kristen Kirkland
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Harold Goldstein
    Abstract:

    Transformational leadership is often characterized as a form of leadership that is based on trust, admiration, and an emotional connection between the leader and the followers. Therefore, it is not surprising that many researchers have examined and expected to find a positive relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership. However, the results of that research have revealed inconsistent findings. Several researchers have suggested that the inconsistencies are due to problems with the definition of emotional intelligence and a lack of clear mediating variables between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership. One potential mediating variable that has been suggested, but never tested, is that of emotional competence. Therefore, the current studies examined the effect of emotional intelligence on emotional competence and transformational leadership. In two studies, participants completed measures of emotional intelligence, emotional competence, and transformational leadership. It was predicted that higher levels of emotional intelligence predict emotional competence, which in turn predict transformational leadership. The data did not provide support for emotional competence as a mediator, and there was mixed support for the predicted relationships between emotional intelligence and emotional competence and between emotional competence and transformational leadership. In addition to the hypothesis testing, factor structure support was obtained for the newly developed emotional, intellectual, and managerial competence measures. However, the factor structures of the new behavioral measures of transformational leadership were not supported. Future research suggestions, limitations of the current studies, and applied implications are discussed.

  • Finding Nature in the City: A Case Study of Ecological Restoration in an Urban Park

    Author:
    Elizabeth Kocs
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    William Kornblum
    Abstract:

    This dissertation presents a case study of ecological restoration in an urban park, using a mixed-methods methodology that included a survey instrument, open-ended interviews, behavioral and trace observations, and modified grounded theory methodology for data analysis. The purpose of the study was to identify values that users of four ecologically restored areas of Chicago's Lincoln Park associated with their use of the park areas and to determine the extent to which they experienced contact with nature while visiting the areas. The study was conducted within the framework of a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of the restoration projects, the Lincoln Park Evaluation Study in the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, which was commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service. The author, the principal investigator for the POE, developed a set of ten values or benefits associated with park use that were included in the survey instrument and informed the onsite, open-ended interviews with park users--beauty, solitude, tranquility, recreation, health, contact with nature, habitat preservation/restoration, community identity, public life, tourism, and other (to allow respondents to add their own values to the list). The results of the study indicate that users valued contact with nature and habitat restoration most, followed closely by tranquility, solitude, and beauty, with health and recreation next and public life and community identity trailing all others. No new values were added. Data analysis suggested that respondents fell roughly into two camps, those who valued contact with nature most and those who valued habitat restoration most. Respondents who selected tranquility, solitude, or beauty as important values viewed them as secondary to contact with nature or habitat restoration because the former would be unavailable without the latter. The study's results complicates the dichotomy between natural and built environments, as respondents praised the restored areas--arguably built environments--as refuges from the city. A theme that emerged from qualitative data analysis suggests that ecological restoration of urban parks might be related to nature-identities, emotional bonds with types of natural areas, calling for future research to determine the relationship between urban nature and urban residents' nature-identities.

  • WORKING IN THE BUSINESS OF PLEASURE: STIGMA RESISTANCE AND COPING STRATEGIES UTILIZED BY INDEPENDENT FEMALE ESCORTS

    Author:
    Juline Koken
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Jeffrey Parsons
    Abstract:

    The stigma attached to prostitution, as well as the nature of the labor itself, place unique demands on the coping resources of female sex workers. The purpose of this study is to qualitatively identify and explore the strategies used by Internet-based independent female sex workers to manage stigma and the emotional demands of performing sexual and emotional labor, as well as to identify potential relationships between reported coping strategies, demographic characteristics and outcomes on measures of emotional well-being. In-depth interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of 30 female Internet sex workers. Women also completed a measure of burnout, safer sex practices with clients, and demographic information which informed the qualitative analysis. The women in the sample drew on approach and avoidance focused coping strategies to manage the demands of their work as well as work related stigma, and coping strategies were thematically different between women high and low in burnout. Women of color were more likely than white women to meet criteria for burnout and reported confronting racism and discrimination on the job. The majority of the women reported managing the impact of stigma by telling few or no loved ones about their work; many reported feeling socially isolated as a result. Implications: the stigma associated with prostitution impacts the mental health of sex workers and may lead to an increased risk of burnout and social isolation. Women of color face an additional stressor in the form of racism and discrimination on the job. Women lower in burnout expressed greater job satisfaction and enhanced self-efficacy for coping with work related stress; social policy on sex work should attend to the diversity of women's experiences in sex work and the role that venue, race, and class may play in shaping these experiences.

  • DISSIMILARITY FROM MANAGERS AND PEERS: LACK OF EFFECT ON ATTITUDINAL OUTCOMES

    Author:
    Joseph Kovatch
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    HAROLD GOLDSTEIN
    Abstract:

    The study explored whether dissimilarity between employees and managers or from peer to peer influence attitudes towards an organization and postulated mediating variables in an attempt to help explain the connection using responses to survey data collected in 1999. Specifically it considered the effects of gender, ethnicity, tenure and functional differences as independent variables. Proposed mediators include opportunities for skill enhancement, managerial effectiveness, communication, and workgroup cohesion (in the peer condition). Satisfaction and voluntary turnover acted as dependent variables and the measures of attitudes. Some 27,697 respondents contributed to the manager/employee dyad condition and 4,191 responses formed the workgroup condition sample. Large sample size coupled with low correlation magnitudes suggest a lack of support for hypotheses suggesting dissimilarity and heterogeneity would have an influence on attitudinal outcomes. Partialling out the effects of mediating variables from the independent / dependent relationship generally failed to produce a meaningful reduction. Conversely, mediating variables correlated strongly with satisfaction. Conclusions suggest that surface-level dissimilarity and heterogeneity variables may have only a modest and perhaps fleeting influence on the variables proposed as mediators as well as attitudinal outcomes. All four variables proposed as mediators strongly correlated with satisfaction.