Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • THE EFFECTS OF BEHAVIORAL-OBSERVATION TRAINING ON CORRECT IMPLEMENTATION OF GUIDED COMPLIANCE AND CHORE COMPLIANCE IN CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

    Author:
    Michael Marroquin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Sturmey
    Abstract:

    Child noncompliance with caregiver requests is a problem for children with and without disabilities. Caregivers would benefit from learning effective procedures for increasing compliance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a procedure that involved training three caregivers to observe and score video models, in order to learn to use a least-to-most prompting procedure (LTMPP) to teach their children to complete two chores. In instructions-only training, a trainer gave caregivers written instructions on how to implement the LTMPP. In behavioral-observation training, a trainer taught caregivers to observe and score the behavior of a video model demonstrating a LTMPP. After each form of training, the caregivers practiced using the LTMPP to teach their child to complete chores. Following behavioral-observation training, two of three caregivers increased correct use of the LTMPP and the children in both of these dyads demonstrated increased compliance relative to instruction-only training. For the third dyad, behavioral-observation training alone did not increase caregiver correct use of the LTMPP to mastery. For this dyad, remedial feedback increased caregiver correct use of the LTMPP and child compliance. A systematic demonstration of behavior change across all three caregivers did not occur resulting in a loss of experimental control, demonstrating that behavioral-observation training was effective for some but not all caregivers. Social validity measures indicated that caregivers found the need to increase chore compliance to be acceptable, the procedure to be acceptable, and effective.

  • Estradiol Decreases Inflammatory Responses by Dampening Glial Cell Activation

    Author:
    Tina Mathew
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Vanya Quinones-Jenab
    Abstract:

    Important sex differences in the development and perception of pain have been found by numerous epidemiological studies. This dimorphic response to pain is attributed to distinct endocrinological profiles in males and females. For example, in females, 17 beta-estradiol has been shown to diminish behavioral responses to nociception induced by inflammation in various pain models. However, estrogen's anti-hyperalgesic mechanism during the nervous system's inflammatory response is yet to be clearly defined. Glial cells, in particular microglia and astrocytes, have been shown to play an influential role in the establishment of pain states. The objective of this study is to determine if estrogen exerts its anti-hyperalgesic effects by reducing glial cell responses in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and/or immune cell responses at the injury site, and how this in turn influences intracellular signaling pathways that regulate pro-inflammatory events. To this end, the Cg model of inflammatory pain was used with eight-week old ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley female rats that were subcutaneously implanted with a silastic capsule containing either 20% 17 beta-estradiol or cholesterol (vehicle), and at varying time periods, they received an injection of either carrageenan or saline (vehicle). Hindpaw withdrawal latencies in response to different heat stimuli (4.5 mV, 4.9 mV, and 5.3 mV) were measured using the Hargreaves Paw Thermal Stimulator. The rats were then sacrificed, spinal cords were dissected, and immunohistochemistry was performed on paws to observe CD68 macrophage activity and on spinal cord sections to observe glial cell responses and IL-1 beta cytokine activity. Additionally, glial activation was correlation with levels of intracellular markers using Western blot analyses. Results reveal significantly dampened behavioral responses coupled with reduced glial activation in animals that received the estradiol treatment compared to animals that received the vehicle treatment. Additionally, estradiol treatment significantly reduced CD68 macrophage activity and IL-1 beta cytokine activity colocalized with glial activation. Correlations with intracellular markers did not reveal significant relationships with glial activity, but both the MAPK/ERK and JAK/STAT pathways were implicated in the estradiol-mediated inflammatory response in behavioral correlations. Taken together, our results suggest that estradiol's anti-inflammatory effects are mediated through the reduction of glial cell activity and consequent down-regulation of inflammatory mediators at the injury site and in the central nervous system.

  • Acoustic communication and possible use of echolocation by the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

    Author:
    Maria Maust-Mohl
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Diana Reiss
    Abstract:

    Recent genetic, molecular, and fossil evidence provide support of a hippo-whale clade and suggest their ancestors may have been semi-aquatic. This evidence raises questions about the evolution and adaptation of the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) to an aquatic environment. This study sought to examine the amphibious nature of the hippopotamus through investigations of their adaptations, communication, and sensory systems to determine possible connections with their close aquatic relatives, the cetaceans. Audio and video recordings were collected of male and female hippos at Disney's Animal Kingdom®, where the zoological context offered unique and controlled conditions to conduct observational and experimental studies. The goals of this research were to review the literature on the evolution and adaptations of hippos, which revealed adaptations that may represent shared derived characters from the common ancestor of hippos and cetaceans. Measurements and descriptions obtained from a recent dissection of an adult female hippo indicated that their vocal folds were similar in orientation and shape to baleen whales and the fold on their neck did not contain fatty tissue. Research investigating the acoustic and behavioral repertoires of hippos demonstrated three main categories of acoustic signals (burst of air, tonal, and pulsed) that were similar to those recorded from wild hippos. The acoustic parameters and behavioral contexts were reported and analyzed, demonstrating 11 distinct signal types within the three categories. The occurrence of acoustic and behavioral signals during social interactions suggests they mediate dominance and submissive interactions. Observational and experimental approaches used to investigate the potential use of echo-ranging by hippos provided three lines of evidence that support this hypothesis. First, two male hippos produced click trains in non-social contexts while searching for carrot bundles underwater. Second, click trains were associated with obtaining carrot bundles and most were produced prior to chewing. Third, the frequency parameters of clicks could be used to detect objects the size of the carrot bundles underwater. The click trains of hippos resembled clicks produced by young dolphins and may be used to detect larger objects, conspecifics, or for navigation in the murky waters they inhabit

  • Facial Expressivity in Parkinson's Disease: Using the Facial Action Coding System to Evaluate Duchenne Smiling Behavior and the Impact of Voice Treatment upon Global Expressivity Measures at 6-Month Follow-Up

    Author:
    David McCabe
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Joan Borod
    Abstract:

    Nonverbal signals contribute significantly to interpersonal communication. Facial expressivity, a major source of nonverbal information, can be compromised in Parkinson's disease (PD). The resulting disconnect between subjective feeling and objective facial affect can lead people to form negative and inaccurate impressions of people with PD with respect to their personality and intelligence. Previous research (Spielman, Borod, & Ramig, 2003) suggests that the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD; Ramig, Pawlas, et al., 1995) might benefit facial expressivity in PD. To better understand the nature and psychosocial impact of facial expression deficits, a two-component study was conducted. First, the long-term (6-month) efficacy of LSVT LOUD was compared to a second intervention (ARTIC), which targets articulation, in treating facial expressivity changes in PD. Global measures of facial expressivity were used to study 6-month follow-up data and build upon the pre-/post- findings of Dumer (2011). Second, smile behavior was examined at baseline and as a function of treatment condition and time. Smile frequency, intensity, and onset duration data were examined, and Duchenne smiles, commonly thought to reflect spontaneous or "felt" emotion, were distinguished from non-Duchenne smiles. Data were obtained from video footage of healthy controls (age matched; n = 11) and individuals with PD (n = 45). The PD group was comprised of individuals receiving no treatment (n = 17), individuals receiving an articulation-based treatment (Artic; n = 12), and individuals receiving LSVT LOUD (n = 16). Video footage was obtained at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up. Facial expressions were coded using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) developed by Ekman and Friesen (1978). At baseline, Healthy Controls generally exhibited higher levels of facial expressivity as compared to individuals with PD, though gender effects may have contributed to these findings. At 6-month follow-up, global measures of facial expressivity did not significantly differ across treatment groups. Although the LSVT group increased in some measures of smile behavior, LSVT did not generally differ from other treatment conditions in degree of treatment impact over time, as assessed by a nonparametric analysis of change-scores.

  • To Be A Poet

    Author:
    Andrew McCarron
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Suzanne Ouellette
    Abstract:

    This qualitative dissertation will use narrative psychology and biographical methods to explore the role art plays in the processes of living. I will present biographical portraits and critical analyses of three living New York City poets identified with the second generation of the so-called New York School of Poetry. I am interested in (1) the factors surrounding the emergence of artistic identity; (2) the "grammar" of the work produced; and (3) the way of being in the world (Stein, 1926) that the work engenders. I am especially interested in gauging the degree to which writing a certain kind of poem (or kinds of poems) offers the writer psychological utility. Conceptually, I will draw upon the narrative work of Paul Ricoeur, and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who insisted that "to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life." It is hoped that this dissertation will offer research and applied psychology a framework for thinking about the role art can play in the experience of selfhood and identity.

  • Intimate Justice: Sexual Satisfaction in Young Adults

    Author:
    Sara McClelland
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michelle Fine
    Abstract:

    Sexual satisfaction is an important indicator of individual and relational well-being. Questions remain whether this construct is adequately measured, particularly for women and men who experience limited sexual rights in the socio-political domain due to their gender and/or sexual minority status. The aims of the research were to: 1) develop a theoretical framework that acknowledges social, psychological, and relational antecedents of sexual satisfaction appraisals; 2) examine differences in sexual satisfaction among heterosexual and LGBT women and men; and 3) identify scale anchors and respondents' expectations for satisfaction when making appraisals in order to develop systematic methods for linking construct definitions with subsequent scores. Study 1 analyzed self-report data from 8,595 young adults (ages 18-28) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Multivariate analyses indicated a crossover interaction between gender and sexual minority status: Heterosexual women and sexual minority men reported lower sexual satisfaction than heterosexual men and sexual minority women. Self-esteem and relational reciprocity moderated sexual satisfaction for women, but not for men; moderation effects were not found for sexual minority status. The data demonstrate that person- and relational-level factors affect individuals' sexual appraisals and that the gender of the partner plays an important role in sexual satisfaction. Study 2 investigated how heterosexual and sexual minority young adults defined sexual satisfaction. Students ages 18-28 (n=34) at an urban university completed a card sorting task, paper-and-pencil measures, including self-anchored ladder items (Cantril, 1965), and a semi-structured interview concerning sexual satisfaction. Gender differences were found in the scaling of sexual satisfaction: Women associated the low end of the scale with pain, whereas men associated low satisfaction with the absence of sex or masturbation. Interview data revealed that whereas heterosexual men most frequently defined satisfaction according to their own orgasm, women and LGBT men relied on other benchmarks, including feelings of safety and closeness, and a partner's satisfaction level. The findings from both studies suggest that when researchers study sexual satisfaction, it is critical to build sexual expectations into measures. Expectations for satisfaction are shaped by gender inequity and sexual stigma and these ultimately influence the validity of sexual satisfaction appraisals.

  • Resilience in the Offspring of Mothers with Schizophrenia

    Author:
    Michael McLoughlin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Fraenkel
    Abstract:

    Abstract RESILIENCE IN THE OFFSPRING OF MOTHERS WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA by Michael K. McLoughlin Adviser: Peter Fraenkel Eight adult offspring of mothers with schizophrenia were interviewed about their experience of being raised with a mentally-ill mother. Mean age of offspring was 8.6 years when their mothers first displayed symptoms. All offspring were initially from intact married, two parent families. Majority of mothers were mentally healthy, functional parents during participants` early childhoods. Participants experienced ambiguous loss in regard to losing their “pre-illness mother” to schizophrenia. Offspring reported confusion over mother`s mental status due to lack of family communication. Offspring children typically felt responsible for somehow causing their mother`s illness. Mothers experienced a mean delay of 5.7 years between showing full symptoms and receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Participants noted lack of support from extended family, the community and the mental health system. Offspring described many challenges in getting their emotional needs met and in dealing with stigma from the community. Mother`s emotional withdrawal, religious fanaticism, paranoia and delusions were the symptoms most disruptive to family life. Coping strategies of offspring included compartmentalizing home life from their school and social lives with peers, immersing themselves in school and community activities such as sports and using humor. Main sources of support were identified as “my own drive to succeed” “doing things for others” ,belief in a Higher Power, playing music and relying on fathers, friends and (as adults) spouses/partners. Participants reported experiencing survivor guilt from leaving younger siblings and mother behind when first leaving home. As adults, participants displayed early first marriage (mean =22.2 yrs) compared to general U.S. rates, and decreased mean birth rate of 0.9 children per participant compared to their mothers` mean birth rate of 2.8 children. Participants described not having children as an active choice due to fears that their child or they themselves might later develop schizophrenia (due to genetic risk). For some, being parentified in childhood also contributed to their decision to not have children. The few participants who had their own children considered them an important source of emotional support. Offspring and their families appear to experience the five stages of grief (Kubler-Ross, 1969) in reconciling the loss of mother to mental illness.

  • Male Gender Role Conflict as Seen Through the Muscularity Concerns of Self-Identified Latino Men

    Author:
    Juan Mejias
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Elliot Jurist
    Abstract:

    The purpose of the proposed research is to contribute to the emerging field of male psychology. Over the last twenty years, as more insight has been made into the challenges that shape female development, some researchers have turned their attention to the study of male psychological development, from childhood to late adulthood. At the heart of this new area of psychology is the contradiction between what is socially sanctioned for men(expectations such as independence, assertiveness, stoicism) and what is often criticized of them (emotionally unavailable or inexpressive, lack of family involvement, fear of intimacy). The result of this contradiction in the socialization of males is called male gender role conflict. Dovetailing with this line of research was an interest in male body image after years of research on women and eating disorders. Researchers found that whereas women strived to be thinner, men often strived to be more muscular. The proposed study seeks to examine the possible connection between male gender role conflict and the importance of muscularity in Latino men raised in the United States. For the current study, two hypotheses were tested. First, using the Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS) and normative data on men of different ethnic groups, the Latino men in the study demonstrated comparable scores with previous research of Latino men. However they did show significantly higher GRC scores than European and African-American men in the "Success, Power, Competition" subscale. Secondly, using the Swansea Muscularity Attitudes Questionnaire (SMAQ), a positive correlation was found between scores on the GRCS and scores on the SMAQ so that as GRCS scores increased, so too did scores on the SMAQ.

  • A psychoanalytic exploration into the memory and aesthetics of everyday life: Photographs, recollections, and encounters with loss

    Author:
    Dimitrios Mellos
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Jeffrey Rosen
    Abstract:

    The project at hand explores some of the psychological functions of photography as both an everyday and an artistic cultural practice from a psychoanalytic perspective. It is proposed that, contrary to commonsensical opinion, photographs are not accurate depositories of memory, but rather function as a functional equivalent of screen memories, thus channeling the subject's memory in ways that are objectively distorted and distorting, but psychologically meaningful and important; moreover, they are a special kind of screen memory in that they are often created pre-emptively and are physically instantiated. Additionally, it is suggested that, by dint of their materiality, photographs achieve a degree of autonomy from the purposes of their creators and viewers, with the result that they can also trigger unwanted and potentially traumatic recollections, along the lines of the Freudian notion of `deferred action'. Specifically, different ways in which photographs can enter into the experiencing and processing of loss are explored. It is proposed that photographs can either facilitate normal mourning or impede it. They can be used to either disavow loss, to repetitively fixate on it in a sadomasochistic manner, or to facilitate the transition to an acceptance of loss and moving on. Parallels are drawn between these various uses of photographs and three types of physical/emotionally charged objects: fetishes, transitional objects, and what I term `masochistic objects'. The paradox of the accrual of aesthetic value on certain photographs and not others is explored next. The attainment of aesthetic value is separated from the conscious intentions of the photographer, and is instead linked to certain underlying psychological parameters, primarily, the acceptance of the depressive position and of the separateness of the libidinal object, as well as the capacity to achieve a controlled surrender to primary-process functioning. These conceptualizations are illustrated by reference to specific photographs (taken by the author, who is also a recognized photographer), as well as through an analysis of several poems of the Greek poet Kiki Dimoula, in whose oeuvre photography is a prominent and recurrent theme.

  • Criminal, Antisocial, and Temporal Patterns in the Histories of Serial and Non-serial Sexual Murderers

    Author:
    Victoria Mesa
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Louis Schlesinger
    Abstract:

    Despite its having been the subject of clinical and scholarly inquiry for more than two centuries, empirical research regarding the phenomenon of sexually-motivated homicide remains limited. In particular, relatively few prior studies have focused on perpetrators' criminal and antisocial backgrounds, and these often examine only the data found in official arrest and conviction records, which frequently provide incomplete accounts of offenders' histories. Even fewer researchers have investigated whether temporal patterns exist in the offense histories of sexual murderers. The current study included data on 46 serial and 93 non-serial perpetrators of sexually-motivated homicide, obtained from a large archive. Data collection and coding methods were selected to allow for the use of comparative and multivariate statistical analyses to determine whether the serial and non-serial offender groups differed significantly on the measured variables. Results indicated that multiple offense types were found more frequently in the backgrounds of serial sexual murderers than in non-serial offenders. Few sexual murderers in either group produced temporal patterns in their offense histories. Subsets of victim, offender, and historical variables were used to develop predictive models that could be helpful in distinguishing serial from non-serial sexual homicide offenders. Implications for clinical practitioners, researchers, and law enforcement agencies are discussed.