Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Towards a new model of intervention with Latino families surviving domestic violence

    Author:
    Claudia Garcia-Leeds
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Paul Wachtel
    Abstract:

    Attempts to understand and explain domestic violence have traditionally focused on biological, psychological and sociological models. These multi-modal perspectives have not completely succeeded in providing a truly integrated perspective of Latino families struggling with domestic violence, as they often fail to adequately acknowledge the impact of language, poverty, and undocumented status on the survivors' ability to overcome domestic violence. The goal of this study was to attempt to create a more effective treatment model by leveraging the knowledge and skill sets of those who work most closely with these families in crisis: the direct care workers. The participants, which consisted of the direct care staff of the Latino Domestic Violence Program (LDVP), were interviewed individually, and the data was analyzed in accordance with grounded theory methodology. The participants' responses were not only informative and moving, but also served to bring to the fore a number of important issues that might otherwise have been overlooked. The participants helped identify two main elements that needed to be part of an ideal program. First, the program must be equipped to address all the biopsychosocial needs experienced by the family. These include financial, occupational, educational and mental health needs. Undocumented and non-English speaking clients' needs must be also considered when developing a program for Latino families. Second, it is important that the staff be trained in various theories/models which include an in depth understanding of the clients' culture and where there may be a clash between the values and assumptions of these culture and mainstream America.

  • Towards a new model of intervention with Latino families surviving domestic violence

    Author:
    Claudia Garcia-Leeds
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Paul Wachtel
    Abstract:

    Attempts to understand and explain domestic violence have traditionally focused on biological, psychological and sociological models. These multi-modal perspectives have not completely succeeded in providing a truly integrated perspective of Latino families struggling with domestic violence, as they often fail to adequately acknowledge the impact of language, poverty, and undocumented status on the survivors' ability to overcome domestic violence. The goal of this study was to attempt to create a more effective treatment model by leveraging the knowledge and skill sets of those who work most closely with these families in crisis: the direct care workers. The participants, which consisted of the direct care staff of the Latino Domestic Violence Program (LDVP), were interviewed individually, and the data was analyzed in accordance with grounded theory methodology. The participants' responses were not only informative and moving, but also served to bring to the fore a number of important issues that might otherwise have been overlooked. The participants helped identify two main elements that needed to be part of an ideal program. First, the program must be equipped to address all the biopsychosocial needs experienced by the family. These include financial, occupational, educational and mental health needs. Undocumented and non-English speaking clients' needs must be also considered when developing a program for Latino families. Second, it is important that the staff be trained in various theories/models which include an in depth understanding of the clients' culture and where there may be a clash between the values and assumptions of these culture and mainstream America.

  • The Effects of Prompt Fading and Differential Reinforcement on Selection of Novel Activities by Children with Autism

    Author:
    Michelle Garruto
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Hemmes
    Abstract:

    Individuals with autism often show limited variability in selecting leisure activities. Repeatedly engaging in only one or a few activities may lead to decreased opportunities for social interaction and leisure skill development. The current study evaluated the effects of prompt fading and differential reinforcement on selection of novel activities (activities which had not yet been chosen during a given session), activity engagement, frequency of activity selection, and trials on which each activity was selected, in three students with autism. Prompting consisted of placing a small sticker dot below activities (or on their pictorial representations) that had already been selected during a session. Sticker size was faded systematically. The results show that the use of prompt fading and differential reinforcement for selecting novel activities increased selection of novel activities. Engagement in the activities selected was initially high for each of the three participants, and remained high throughout the study. Although the frequency of selection for each activity became more similar across activities in the post-baseline conditions for all participants, the activity with the highest average frequency of selection in baseline remained the highest throughout the study for two participants. The third participant equalized his selections so that the activity with the highest frequency of selection in baseline had the same average frequency as two other activities in all post-baseline conditions, with those having the highest overall frequency of selection. With respect to the trials on which each activity was selected, the activity chosen on the first trials in baseline continued to be chosen on the first trials throughout the study for one participant. The remaining two participants did show some shift in the activities chosen on the initial trials. This study then, demonstrates the efficacy of a treatment package in increasing the selection of activities not yet chosen in a session. The implications of these findings are discussed with regard to social validity and stimulus control of novel selection behavior.

  • INTER-SUBJECTIVITY AND COLLABORATIVE COMPLEXITY: EFFECTS OF PEER INTERACTION AND CONTEXT IN HEAD START CLASSROOMS

    Author:
    Rebecca Garte
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Anna Stetsenko
    Abstract:

    This study provides an assessment paradigm for examining the quality of children's experiences in preschool. In particular, it focused on peer interactions, as assessed by two measures: peer inter-subjectivity and collaborative complexity. To further understand the relationship between these measures peer interactions were analyzed as nested in activity areas through hierarchical linear modeling. Teacher interactions with the peer group and environmental flexibility of the activity area were also used to explain the relationship between the peer interaction measures. Results showed that the construct of inter-subjectivity was multi-dimensional for this population and sensitive to the immediate social and material context. Higher levels of peer inter-subjectivity were found to predict longer play interactions and greater collaborative complexity. The HLM models also showed that peer interactions varied as a function of activity area, and that environmental flexibility explained some of these differences. In addition, it was found that teacher interactions moderated the relationship between inter-subjectivity and collaborative complexity. In the majority of cases teacher intervention weakened this relationship and had a negative effect on inter-subjectivity levels. In conclusion these results show the theoretical concept of inter-subjectivity to be a valid and useful measurement construct for assessing preschool peer interactions. In addition, the results show that assessments of early childhood education may want to pay more attention to the micro-contexts of the preschool day in order to capture those aspects most salient for children's development. Given that this study was done with a low income sample, it is interesting to note that many of the same findings regarding middle class preschoolers in terms of peer interactions and play were replicated. Future research may want to explore different populations of preschoolers to determine whether the same dimensions of inter-subjectivity are found. In addition, it would be useful to see whether the social skills assessed in this study are linked to concurrent or longitudinal outcomes in related domains of development.

  • INTER-SUBJECTIVITY AND COLLABORATIVE COMPLEXITY: EFFECTS OF PEER INTERACTION AND CONTEXT IN HEAD START CLASSROOMS

    Author:
    Rebecca Garte
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Anna Stetsenko
    Abstract:

    This study provides an assessment paradigm for examining the quality of children's experiences in preschool. In particular, it focused on peer interactions, as assessed by two measures: peer inter-subjectivity and collaborative complexity. To further understand the relationship between these measures peer interactions were analyzed as nested in activity areas through hierarchical linear modeling. Teacher interactions with the peer group and environmental flexibility of the activity area were also used to explain the relationship between the peer interaction measures. Results showed that the construct of inter-subjectivity was multi-dimensional for this population and sensitive to the immediate social and material context. Higher levels of peer inter-subjectivity were found to predict longer play interactions and greater collaborative complexity. The HLM models also showed that peer interactions varied as a function of activity area, and that environmental flexibility explained some of these differences. In addition, it was found that teacher interactions moderated the relationship between inter-subjectivity and collaborative complexity. In the majority of cases teacher intervention weakened this relationship and had a negative effect on inter-subjectivity levels. In conclusion these results show the theoretical concept of inter-subjectivity to be a valid and useful measurement construct for assessing preschool peer interactions. In addition, the results show that assessments of early childhood education may want to pay more attention to the micro-contexts of the preschool day in order to capture those aspects most salient for children's development. Given that this study was done with a low income sample, it is interesting to note that many of the same findings regarding middle class preschoolers in terms of peer interactions and play were replicated. Future research may want to explore different populations of preschoolers to determine whether the same dimensions of inter-subjectivity are found. In addition, it would be useful to see whether the social skills assessed in this study are linked to concurrent or longitudinal outcomes in related domains of development.

  • The Interaction of Intensity and Deviance on Auditory Event-Related Potentials: Findings Using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of Current Source Densities (CSDs)

    Author:
    Nathan Gates
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Gerard Bruder
    Abstract:

    Mismatch negativity (MMN) studies provide insights into the brain's ability to perceive and/or detect deviations from established sensory patterns. Clinical studies investigating the loudness-dependency of auditory evoked potential (LDAEP) have shown a relationship between the intensity of an auditory stimulus and neuro-physiological or -chemical activity of the primary auditory cortex. Unfortunately, these two bodies of literature remain disjointed. The present study integrates elements of each body of literature to a) investigate the impact of varying levels of intensity deviance on N1/P2 with a standard set of intensities used in LDAEP paradigms, and b) assess the extent to which deviance-related processes (indexed by MMN) are affected by louder or softer tones. A passive MMN-paradigm used the same stimuli as deviants and standards in order to separate deviance- from stimulus-specific N1/P2 processes. A CSD-PCA approach was used to identify and quantify reference-independent patterns of activity underlying the ERP. Results show that the intensity dependence of N1/P2 is largely dependent on the context in which a given intensity was cast. Namely, a high rate of repetitions of standard intensities produce significant reductions (adaptations) in N1/P2, while N1/P2 enhancement occurred for louder, but not softer deviants. Moreover, MMN amplitude paralleled intensity disparity; however, louder deviants produced greater MMN activity than softer deviants, Intensity Modulation of N1 and MMN presumably reflecting an attentional modulation of sensory processing. A P3a-like vertex source was elicited by the loudest intensity (100 dB), but was absent for all other intensities. Insights gained from this study have direct implications for both clinical LDAEP and MMN studies. LDAEP studies should consider how overlapping or dynamic processes (e.g., adaptation of N1/P2 or elicitation of MMN) influence the amplitudes of N1 and P2. MMN studies should a) consider how attention may interact with intensity to produce distinctly different MMN responses independent of actual deviance-related processes, b) consider how P3a activity reflects a wider range of functions other than `attentional signaling,' such as response inhibition or startle-related processes, and c) consider other physiologically plausible and parsimonious explanations of MMN (e.g., sensory adaptation) when interpreting findings.

  • Sources of dual-task interference in visuomotor tracking assessed with behavioral and fMRI analyses

    Author:
    Yunglin Gazes
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Daniel Kurylo
    Abstract:

    Compensatory tracking was studied alone and simultaneous with a speeded go-no-go task using behavioral and neuroimaging with BOLD fMRI. In the dual-task condition, subjects used their right hand to track while making button presses with their left hand to respond to the secondary task. The study was replicated in two experiments. Replication was tested both behaviorally and with neuroimaging analyses using multivariate linear modeling. Tracking error and joystick velocity were binned into 640 ms and 100 ms intervals centered at secondary task stimulus onset and response in separate analyses to locate the time points at which the tracking behavior showed an interference effect due to the secondary task. Neuroimaging analyses located brain regions associated with compensatory tracking and with dual-task coordination. The binned time-series analyses revealed interference effect in joystick velocity about 200 ms before secondary task response. This finding combined with decreased activation in the left motor cortex during left hand response to a secondary task demonstrated that dual-task interference occurred in the motor preparation stage.

  • Sources of dual-task interference in visuomotor tracking assessed with behavioral and fMRI analyses

    Author:
    Yunglin Gazes
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Daniel Kurylo
    Abstract:

    Compensatory tracking was studied alone and simultaneous with a speeded go-no-go task using behavioral and neuroimaging with BOLD fMRI. In the dual-task condition, subjects used their right hand to track while making button presses with their left hand to respond to the secondary task. The study was replicated in two experiments. Replication was tested both behaviorally and with neuroimaging analyses using multivariate linear modeling. Tracking error and joystick velocity were binned into 640 ms and 100 ms intervals centered at secondary task stimulus onset and response in separate analyses to locate the time points at which the tracking behavior showed an interference effect due to the secondary task. Neuroimaging analyses located brain regions associated with compensatory tracking and with dual-task coordination. The binned time-series analyses revealed interference effect in joystick velocity about 200 ms before secondary task response. This finding combined with decreased activation in the left motor cortex during left hand response to a secondary task demonstrated that dual-task interference occurred in the motor preparation stage.

  • Living in an (In)Visible World: Lesbians' and Queer Women's Spaces and Experiences of Justice and Oppression in New York City, 1983-2008

    Author:
    Jen Gieseking
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Cindi Katz
    Abstract:

    Lesbians and queer women are often labeled "invisible" in and beyond the academy within a politics of visibility used to describe lgbtq people and their movement. This dissertation is a historical geography of contemporary lesbian and queer society, culture, and economies in the lgbtq "mecca" of New York City. This project draws upon 22 focus groups with 47 self-identified lesbians and queer women who came out between 1983 and 2008, as well as almost a year of archival research of documents spanning the same period. From this project, I argue that lesbians' and queer women's productions of urban space take the unique form of constellations, whereby material and imagined places, experiences, and bodies understood as lesbian and/or queer serve as the nodes between which participants draw connections to work around and against patriarchal and heteronormative systems of oppression. This feminist-queer theoretical contribution affords a way to argue against labeling lesbians and queer women as "invisible" while questioning and getting beyond visibility politics as the best solution for securing lgbtq justice and justice for women. Drawing from the needs and desires of participants, I suggest a politics of visibility, recognition, and participation as the next step in promoting more just futures for lesbians and queer women.

  • Ego Identity Status as a Developmental Predictor of Postpartum Depression

    Author:
    Karen Giuliani
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Tracey Revenson
    Abstract:

    Ego identity formation, as proposed by Erikson (1959), is the major psychosocial task of adolescence and young adulthood. Though past research on ego identity has focused on adolescent changes, recently a new question has emerged: Does the initial ego identity formed in adolescence undergo developmental changes or reformulations during adulthood? (Berzonsky & Adams, 1999; Kroger, 1995; Marcia, 2002). This study examined changes in ego identity status (Marcia, 1966) during the transition to motherhood and its relation to the development of postpartum depressive symptoms using a two-wave longitudinal design. The dissertation also examined three potential mediators of this relationship: prenatal commitment to the pregnancy; postpartum commitment to the infant; and parenting self-efficacy. The sample consisted of 78 pregnant women between the ages of 18 to 47. Data were collected through mailed self-report questionnaires during prenatal weeks 20 to 40 (Time 1) and again during postpartum weeks 5 to 22 (Time 2). Measures included the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status-2 (EOMEIS-2; Adams, 1998) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977) at both time points; the Commitment to the Pregnancy scale (Lydon, Dunkel-Schetter & Cohan, 1996) at Time 1 and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS; Beck & Gable, 2002), the Parenting Sense of Competence scale (PSOC; Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978) and the Commitment to the Infant scale (developed by the author) at Time 2. Based on their EOMEIS-2 scores, participants were classified in one of four identity statuses: diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium or achievement during both the late pregnancy and early postpartum periods. There was some evidence of change in ego identity status from the pre-to post-partum period with more women changing to a less rather than a more differentiated ego identity status postpartum. Change in ego identity status was not related to postpartum depressive symptoms. In cross-sectional analyses, postpartum ego identity status was related to depressive symptoms when depressive symptoms were measured by the PDSS. However only one mediational process was identified: commitment to the pregnancy mediated the relationship between prenatal ego identity status and prenatal depressive symptoms. The PDF version of the dissertation is comprised of two separate files: the main text and the supplemental file of landscaped tables.