Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Exploring the Relationship Between Working Mothers and their Nannies

    Author:
    Aaryn Gottesfeld
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Fraenkel
    Abstract:

    This qualitative study explores working mothers' relationship with their child(ren)'s nannies (paid domestic caregivers who care for the child in the family home). The purpose of this study was as follows: 1) to shed light on aspects of the mother-nanny relationship that have not yet been explored in the existing literature; 2) to discern important issues regarding this relationship to inform clinicians who work with this population; 3) to illustrate salient themes that will inform further research with working mothers like those interviewed for this study. The participants included 11 women between the ages of 31 and 40 who worked full-time (at least 40 hours per week) and had at least one child less than 12 months old being cared for at home by a nanny. Data was collected through an in-depth, semi-structured interview that averaged 52 minutes in length. The instrument was developed to focus on the experience of working mothers along four domains: (1) What is a mother's conception of herself as a mother and as a professional, and how does this affect the relationship with her nanny? (2) What is the nature of mothers' relationships with their nannies and how and why do mothers maintain these relationships? (3) What is the relationship between each mother and her own mother, and how does the nature of this relationship affect the mother's relationship with nanny? (4) What is mother's understanding of nanny's relationship with the child and how does this impact the mom and her relationship with her nanny? In addition, a demographics questionnaire was administered. The interview was designed to elicit information regarding women's thoughts and feelings about their relationship with their nannies. Topics regarding women's professional lives and their relationships with their own mothers were also explored. Using grounded theory, major themes regarding aspects of the mother-nanny relationship were derived from close examination of the interview transcripts. These themes were organized around the four domains described previously. Discussion centers on describing prominent issues in the mother-nanny relationship and how these relate to the caregiving behavioral system, the mother's relationship with her mother, as well as cultural considerations. The small sample size and homogeneity of participants limits the application of these findings to the broader population of working mothers. However, this research suggests new ways of thinking about women's struggle to balance work and family both practically and intrapsychically. It looks at the mother-nanny relationship as it relates to theories of attachment, points out possible gaps in the literature regarding motherhood, and suggests areas for future research.

  • AFFECT MATURITY IN A SAMPLE OF CHILDREN WITH LANGUAGE AND ATTENTION SYMPTOMATOLOGY

    Author:
    Nora Goudsmit
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Steve Tuber
    Abstract:

    The present study examines the phenomenological affective (or emotional) worlds of children co-diagnosed with ADHD and Language Impairment. Children (n = 64) were grouped into four diagnostic categories: "ADHD + Language Impairment," "ADHD only," "Language Impairment only," and "Non-Clinical." Children were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Thompson Scale of Affect Maturity on the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) across diagnostic classifications. The results of this investigation indicate that there are important differences between diagnostic classifications on the CBCL. Children with ADHD + Language Impairment and ADHD only diagnoses demonstrated more behaviorally based symptomatology when compared the Language only and Non-Clinical groups. Additionally, children co-diagnosed with ADHD and Language Impairment had the lowest levels of affect maturity. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed. Additionally, children codiagnosed with Language Impairment and ADHD, and the ADHD only group, exhibit a specific pattern of affect maturity when presented with aggressive and depressive content on the TAT that children with Language Impairment only did not demonstrate.

  • AFFECT MATURITY IN A SAMPLE OF CHILDREN WITH LANGUAGE AND ATTENTION SYMPTOMATOLOGY

    Author:
    Nora Goudsmit
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Steve Tuber
    Abstract:

    The present study examines the phenomenological affective (or emotional) worlds of children co-diagnosed with ADHD and Language Impairment. Children (n = 64) were grouped into four diagnostic categories: "ADHD + Language Impairment," "ADHD only," "Language Impairment only," and "Non-Clinical." Children were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Thompson Scale of Affect Maturity on the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) across diagnostic classifications. The results of this investigation indicate that there are important differences between diagnostic classifications on the CBCL. Children with ADHD + Language Impairment and ADHD only diagnoses demonstrated more behaviorally based symptomatology when compared the Language only and Non-Clinical groups. Additionally, children co-diagnosed with ADHD and Language Impairment had the lowest levels of affect maturity. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed. Additionally, children codiagnosed with Language Impairment and ADHD, and the ADHD only group, exhibit a specific pattern of affect maturity when presented with aggressive and depressive content on the TAT that children with Language Impairment only did not demonstrate.

  • The relationship between reflective functioning and severity of agoraphobia in the outcome of a psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder

    Author:
    Elizabeth Graf
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Diana Diamond
    Abstract:

    This study examined the relationship between reflective functioning and severity of agoraphobia in the context of an outcome study investigating psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder. The DSM-IV identifies two subtypes of Panic Disorder: Panic Disorder with and without agoraphobia. The agoraphobic syndrome is associated with the most impaired end of the diagnostic continuum, the poorest prognosis, and lower response rates to existing efficacious treatment. A better understanding of the patients who develop severe agoraphobia is important in guiding interventions. This study involved secondary data analysis drawn from two studies. In the first, Milrod et al. conducted a randomized controlled trial of Panic Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PFPP) v. Applied Relaxation Therapy (ART) for panic disorder. As part of this larger project, Rudden et al. conducted a pilot study of reflective functioning (RF) in patients enrolled in the Milrod's study. The Reflective Functioning Scale is a validated measure of individuals' abilities to understand mental states in themselves and other people and to link mental states to behavior and symptoms. Impairments in reflective functioning have been associated with a range of psychiatric disturbances, and studies have demonstrated that improvements in RF are related to response to psychotherapy in patients with borderline personality disorder. For this reason, an investigation of the relationship between severe agoraphobia and reflective functioning is an important next step in better understanding this group of patients. The study participants were 30 patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia who completed both studies. This project determined that reflective functioning is not related to severity of agoraphobia. Rather, within this population, there is a large range of RF, suggesting that this is a heterogeneous group. As a secondary aim, this study investigated whether baseline panic specific reflective functioning (PSRF) is associated with poorer response to PFPP and ART. While PSRF did not moderate outcome, this study found that patients with severe levels of agoraphobia did significantly better in PFPP than in ART, the first time a psychodynamic treatment has demonstrated effectiveness in treating agoraphobia.

  • The relationship between reflective functioning and severity of agoraphobia in the outcome of a psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder

    Author:
    Elizabeth Graf
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Diana Diamond
    Abstract:

    This study examined the relationship between reflective functioning and severity of agoraphobia in the context of an outcome study investigating psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder. The DSM-IV identifies two subtypes of Panic Disorder: Panic Disorder with and without agoraphobia. The agoraphobic syndrome is associated with the most impaired end of the diagnostic continuum, the poorest prognosis, and lower response rates to existing efficacious treatment. A better understanding of the patients who develop severe agoraphobia is important in guiding interventions. This study involved secondary data analysis drawn from two studies. In the first, Milrod et al. conducted a randomized controlled trial of Panic Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PFPP) v. Applied Relaxation Therapy (ART) for panic disorder. As part of this larger project, Rudden et al. conducted a pilot study of reflective functioning (RF) in patients enrolled in the Milrod's study. The Reflective Functioning Scale is a validated measure of individuals' abilities to understand mental states in themselves and other people and to link mental states to behavior and symptoms. Impairments in reflective functioning have been associated with a range of psychiatric disturbances, and studies have demonstrated that improvements in RF are related to response to psychotherapy in patients with borderline personality disorder. For this reason, an investigation of the relationship between severe agoraphobia and reflective functioning is an important next step in better understanding this group of patients. The study participants were 30 patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia who completed both studies. This project determined that reflective functioning is not related to severity of agoraphobia. Rather, within this population, there is a large range of RF, suggesting that this is a heterogeneous group. As a secondary aim, this study investigated whether baseline panic specific reflective functioning (PSRF) is associated with poorer response to PFPP and ART. While PSRF did not moderate outcome, this study found that patients with severe levels of agoraphobia did significantly better in PFPP than in ART, the first time a psychodynamic treatment has demonstrated effectiveness in treating agoraphobia.

  • Does cross-examination help jurors detect deception?

    Author:
    Sarah Greathouse
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Margaret Bull Kovera
    Abstract:

    Both the Constitution and case law establish cross-examination as a crucial method for eliciting testimony that will assist fact finders in determining the truthfulness of a witness's testimony. Despite the legal system's faith in the efficacy of cross-examination as a safeguard against deceptive witnesses, no studies have tested the assumption that cross-examination will help jurors discriminate between truthful and false testimony. The cross-examination strategies that trial technique manuals advocate are based on commonsense notions of human behavior, but these strategies have not been empirically tested to determine if they help jurors accurately discriminate between truthful and lying witnesses. Although traditional cross-examination techniques have not been empirically studied, psychological research has identified specific strategies that improve laypeople's ability to detect deception when viewing an interrogation of a suspect. The present research examined the effectiveness of currently employed cross-examination techniques in determining the truthfulness of a witness's testimony. In addition, the traditional cross-examination techniques were tested against cross-examination strategies that were based on techniques derived from the deception detection literature. In the first phase, 106 participants either witnessed a confederate steal a wallet or they were not exposed to the theft. In phase II of the experiment, I manipulated participants' motivation to either lie or tell the truth about what they saw. Witnesses' direct and cross-examinations were videotaped in a mock courtroom, and witnesses either underwent a traditional cross-examination, a cross-examination based on deception detection research, or no cross examination. In phase III of the study each of the witnesses' examinations were edited into the larger context of a theft trial. Mock jurors viewed the trial and provided veracity judgments for each of the witnesses and rendered a verdict. Although behavioral differences were observed between deceptive witnesses who underwent a research based cross-examination and deceptive witnesses who underwent a traditional cross-examination, cross-examination type did not influence jurors' evaluations of witness truthfulness. Implications for the legal systems and future research directions are discussed.

  • Does cross-examination help jurors detect deception?

    Author:
    Sarah Greathouse
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Margaret Bull Kovera
    Abstract:

    Both the Constitution and case law establish cross-examination as a crucial method for eliciting testimony that will assist fact finders in determining the truthfulness of a witness's testimony. Despite the legal system's faith in the efficacy of cross-examination as a safeguard against deceptive witnesses, no studies have tested the assumption that cross-examination will help jurors discriminate between truthful and false testimony. The cross-examination strategies that trial technique manuals advocate are based on commonsense notions of human behavior, but these strategies have not been empirically tested to determine if they help jurors accurately discriminate between truthful and lying witnesses. Although traditional cross-examination techniques have not been empirically studied, psychological research has identified specific strategies that improve laypeople's ability to detect deception when viewing an interrogation of a suspect. The present research examined the effectiveness of currently employed cross-examination techniques in determining the truthfulness of a witness's testimony. In addition, the traditional cross-examination techniques were tested against cross-examination strategies that were based on techniques derived from the deception detection literature. In the first phase, 106 participants either witnessed a confederate steal a wallet or they were not exposed to the theft. In phase II of the experiment, I manipulated participants' motivation to either lie or tell the truth about what they saw. Witnesses' direct and cross-examinations were videotaped in a mock courtroom, and witnesses either underwent a traditional cross-examination, a cross-examination based on deception detection research, or no cross examination. In phase III of the study each of the witnesses' examinations were edited into the larger context of a theft trial. Mock jurors viewed the trial and provided veracity judgments for each of the witnesses and rendered a verdict. Although behavioral differences were observed between deceptive witnesses who underwent a research based cross-examination and deceptive witnesses who underwent a traditional cross-examination, cross-examination type did not influence jurors' evaluations of witness truthfulness. Implications for the legal systems and future research directions are discussed.

  • The Situated and Dialogical 'Nature' of (In)Competence: A Socio-Cultural Approach to Informed Consent Treatment Decision-Making Competence in Adults Diagnosed with Intellectual Disability

    Author:
    Lisa Greco-Joseph
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Joseph Glick
    Abstract:

    The Situated and Dialogical 'Nature' of (In)Competence: A Socio-Cultural Approach to Informed Consent Treatment Decision-Making Competence in Adults Diagnosed with Intellectual Disability Assessment of treatment decision-making competence emerges in situations where incompetence is suspected, for example in situations involving adults diagnosed with intellectual disability. Competence Judgments have traditionally been considered a matter of individual intellect. Alternatively, a developmental perspective based within a socio-cultural framework considers competence an interactional process and a matter of dialogical self-other encounters where information is exchanged and perspective taking where the point of view of the 'other' is legitimized as being worthy of consideration. This qualtiative study examined reports of self-other encounters by adults diagnosed with intellectual disability placed in residential agencies and the employees of those agencies. Encompassing a variety of perspectives 44 individuals acros three non profit agencies within New York State participated. Interviews were used to elicit accounts of self-other encounters from 29 adults diagnosed with intellectual disability and 19 employees across a range of positions from direct-care to upper management. Findings revealed that accountability issues were particularly salient for employees with and across agencies tailoring policies, practices and type of encounters with the adults placed. Employee encounters with placed adults were characterized by monological relations; constraining access to necessary social knowledge and information required to demonstrate competence. Autonomy relating to treatment decisions hinged on employee and professional's judgment of placed adults as 'kinds of persons'--competent or incompetent. Incompetence frequently emerged based on their 'placed status' positioning them 'recipients of' rather than 'agents for' services and treatments. Accordingly, many placed adults perceived medical and mental health services and treatments as devoid of choice. Responses to a standardized capacity assessment instrument employing vignettes evidenced their knowledge of the distance between their actual experiences and 'ideal forms' hypothetically constructed. Shifts in judgments allowing them greater autonomy occurred when they articulated legitimate forms of social knowledge in self-other encounters; often not predicted by IQ scores or assessment outcomes. Accessing these legitimate forms came from sources primarily outside of the agencies--through self-other encounters involving dialogical relations (e.g. with pharmacists) or accessing 'tools' self-appropriated through available technology (e.g. Television commercials, computers). Including the perspective and knowledge of adults diagnosed with intellectual disability these findings demonstrate that from an agency point of view, in the context of accountability, incompetence is the default and 'safe' position. Shifting this view rests on increasing inclusive practices--encouraging dialogical relations in self-other encounters between adults diagnosed with intellectual disability and the professionals providing services to them, through which knowledge and information is made accessible. Implications of these findings impact law and policy regarding competency evaluations, guardianship, and rights as these pertain to adults diagnosed with intellectual disability.

  • FATHER ABSENCE, THE MYTHICAL FATHER, AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON AFFECT MATURITY

    Author:
    Daniel Greenspun
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Steven Tuber
    Abstract:

    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

    Author:
    Erich Grommet
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Bruce Brown
    Abstract:

    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.