Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • Physiological Correlates of Emotion Regulation in Depersonalization Disorder

    Author:
    Kai-Mosadi Monde
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Victoria Luine
    Abstract:

    Depersonalization disorder (DPD), is an often debilitating DSM V psychiatric disorder characterized by feelings of detachment from the self or others as well as emotional blunting or numbness. Subjective and physiological evidence of decreased emotional arousal may suggest impaired emotion regulation abilities. Deficits in emotional processing of DPD may be the result of dysregulated cortisol and oxytocin levels, however oxytocin levels have never been assessed in DPD. In this series of studies, we aimed to investigate the physiological correlates of emotion regulation in depersonalization disorder. In experiment 1, DPD patients and a normal control group subjectively enhanced and suppressed emotion to affective pictures. Compared to the control group, the DPD group tended to be better at suppressing emotion to unpleasant pictures and tended to modulate subjective arousal less effectively. In experiment 2, we measured heart rate and skin conductance response while DPD patients and a healthy control group enhanced and suppressed emotion to affective stimuli. DPD patients were better able to suppress and less able to enhance emotion (heart rate). In experiment 3, we investigated the relationship between cortisol and oxytocin responsivity during the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) in DPD. The TSST induced subjective stress in the normal control group but not in the DPD group. The control group also demonstrated a positive association between post-stress cortisol and decrease in oxytocin during the 20 minute stress recovery period, an association not found for the DPD group. However, the DPD group had higher overall cortisol levels and tended toward higher oxytocin levels. In experiment 4, we explored the relationship between cortisol, oxytocin, and depersonalization during recall of a personally relevant stressful event by Psychology 100 course students. Consistent with experiment 4, post-stress cortisol was associated with a decrease in oxytocin during stress recovery. However, depersonalization was associated with less decrease in oxytocin during stress recovery. Taken together, these results suggest emotional blunting in DPD is accompanied by a superior ability to suppress emotion and dysregulated hormonal responses. DPD patients may benefit from pharmacological interventions that regulate cortisol and oxytocin levels and therapeutic interventions that support enhancing emotion subjectively and physiologically.

  • Developments in Diachronic Thinking, Temporal Cognition, and Episodic Memory in 5- to 10 Year Old Children

    Author:
    Brandy Moore
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Brooks
    Abstract:

    The current study investigated the relationship between developments in diachronic thinking, temporal cognition, and episodic memory. Children (n=90, 5;0-10;10) divided into younger (i.e., ages 5, 6, and 7) (n=44, M age = 6;7) and older (i.e., ages 8, 9, and 10) (n=46, M = 9;5) groups completed a battery of tasks evaluating different components of diachronic thinking (tendency, transformation, and synthesis), temporal cognition (forward, backward, and relative ordering of events; using space to conceptualize distances in time, labeling time concepts), and episodic memory. We evaluated the extent to which these measures were inter-correlated and related to measures of nonverbal and verbal intelligence evaluated factors underlying diachronic thinking, temporal cognition, and episodic memory, with a principal-components analysis yielding two factors. The first factor was positively associated with all measures, including verbal and nonverbal intelligence. The second factor was positively related to measures of diachronic thinking, but negatively related to episodic memory and most measures of temporal cognition. This second factor most strongly distinguished performance on the synthesis and labeling time concepts tasks, and was independent of age and verbal and nonverbal intelligence. Regression analysis showed children's ability to label time concepts to be predictive of performance on all other temporal cognition tasks, over and above the effects of verbal and nonverbal intelligence. Synthesis, a measure of diachronic thinking, was predictive only of measures of temporal ordering. Episodic memory was strongly predicted by verbal intelligence, and marginally by labeling of temporal concepts. Episodic memory failed to predict performance on any of the diachronic thinking and temporal cognition tasks over and above the effects of verbal and nonverbal intelligence. Thus, it appears that the multiple measures of time travel ability in children tap into somewhat different ways of keeping track of time. The results provide support for the view that diachronic thinking and temporal cognition are overlapping, but distinct abilities, with the latter more closely related to developments in episodic memory.

  • Nodal distance and nodal structure effects on the relatedness of stimuli in equivalence classes

    Author:
    Patricia Moss
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Lanny Fields
    Abstract:

    Three experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of nodal distance using within-class-preference tests. In Experiment 1, two 2-node 4-member equivalence classes were established using the simultaneous protocol. In this procedure all of the baseline relations were trained together, after which all emergent relations probes were presented together. During equivalence class training and testing, trials were presented using match-to-sample trials that contained two comparisons. After class formation, the effects of nodal distance were evaluated using within-class preference tests which yielded inconsistent test performances. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 with one exception. A third comparison was used in the establishment of the two equivalence classes under the simultaneous protocol. The subsequent within-class probes then produced the immediate emergence of performances that were consistent with the predicted effects of nodal distance. Experiment 3 was conducted to test for the generality of the findings observed in Experiment 2. The participants formed two 3-node 5-member classes under the simultaneous protocol, and once again demonstrated the effects of nodal distance using probes that assessed larger nodal spreads than those found in 4-member classes.

  • "When I Heard about the March": Testimonies and Participatory Archiving in Peacebuilding

    Author:
    Carolina Muñoz Proto
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michelle Fine
    Abstract:

    This dissertation studies the Memoscopio archive and its collection of testimonies about the 2009 World March for Peace and Nonviolence (the March). This collection came into existence during 2009 and 2010 through a participatory archiving project carried out by a team of peace advocates and researchers in collaboration with March participants. The March was a transnational and decentralized campaign that promoted peace, nonviolence, and justice through activities in 600 cities, social media, and a three-month march around the world. Through the case of Memoscopio and the March, this dissertation explores the personal and cultural meanings of transnational peace marchers in a globalized and digital world. In addition, it analyzes the transformatory uses of testimonies, and the ways in which March participants rejected normalized violence and injustice through accounts that release their memories and imaginations about themselves, peace marches, and peacebuilding. The analysis suggests that the psychological dimensions of peace marches, which remain under-studied, go well beyond the collective locomotion of people who oppose war. In this sense, transnational peace marches can be productive sites for research on the evolving meanings of protest and peacebuilding in the 21st century. Methodologically, the dissertation explores, and reflects on, participatory archiving as an approach to producing critical, relevant, and collectively owned knowledge.

  • Assessing Functional Connectivity in a Putative Response Inhibition Network in People with Schizophrenia

    Author:
    Sangeeta Nair-Collins
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Matthew Hoptman
    Abstract:

    Schizophrenia (SZ) is a psychotic disorder that results in, among other deficits, cognitive impairments that may affect a person's inability to integrate meaningfully into society, maintain interpersonal skills, and remain employed. Pervasiveness of cognitive impairments is recognized as a primary predictor of poor global outcome and chronic and is linked to long-term functioning. One of these impairments is response inhibition, the ability to withhold a prepotent response. Researchers have attempted to study this deficit by assessing response inhibition during performance of the stop signal task. The dysconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia suggests that the symptoms of schizophrenia may result from impaired functional connectivity among neural structures. To examine this hypothesis, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess functional connectvity among distinct neural structures involved in response inhibition. Subjects also were tested with a stop signal task. Our studies revealed the following: First, we observed large effect size deficits (ranging from 0.44 to 0.55) in functional connectivity at rest among structures involved in response inhibition and this deficit was increased among the inpatient population. Second, we found evidence of continued functional dysconnectivity among regions during task performance among the inpatient population, a finding absent among the outpatient population. Additionally, behavioral results mimicked this pattern of deficit among the inpatient population. Third, as expected we observed a temporal stability of the resting state functional connectivity among controls. Interestingly, although outpatients initially exhibited decreased connectivity patterns at rest, these patterns normalized during the course of task performance as well as during the rest period following task performance. This pattern was not observed in the inpatient population. Taken together, these findings suggest that people with schizophrenia exhibit impaired connectivity among structures in the response inhibition network at rest and during task and these deficits may be related to an impaired ability to control motor action, thus leading to undesirable behavior. In addition, the observed post-task normalization of the network among outpatients may suggest that they are able to better recruit these regions during task performance and may be reflective of improved symptomatology.

  • Conditional Discriminative Functions of Meaningful Stimuli and Enhanced Equivalence Class Formation

    Author:
    Roxana Nedelcu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Lanny Fields
    Abstract:

    Two experiments explored how the formation of two 3-node, 5- member equivalence classes by college students was influenced by the prior acquisition of conditional discriminative functions by one of the abstract stimuli, designated as C, in the class. In Experiment 1, participants in the GR-0, GR-1, and GR-5 groups attempted to form classes after mastering 0, 1 or 5 conditional relations between C and abstract stimuli that were not included in the to-be-formed classes. Participants in the GR-many group attempted to form classes that contained four abstract stimuli and one meaningful, familiar picture that served as the C stimulus. In Experiment 1, the percentage of participants who formed classes in the GR-0, -1, and -5 groups was a direct function of the number of conditional relations that C formed with other stimuli in preliminary training, with the GR-5 group producing a yield similar to that produced when a meaningful picture was the C stimulus (i.e., in the GR-many condition). Two factors differentiated GR-1 and GR-5 pre-training: the number of conditional relations trained to C, and the number of training trials in the presence of the C stimuli. Experiment 2 found that the increase in yield produced by GR-5 was due to number of trained C-based relations and not to the amount of training. Furthermore, Experiment 2 showed that enhancement of class formation after GR-1 pre-training is not improved by linking the C stimulus with a meaningful picture instead of a meaningless stimulus. These results along with recently published research support the view that the class enhancing effect of meaningful stimuli can be attributed to their acquired conditional discriminative and simple discriminative functions, in addition to their connotative and denotative functions.

  • The Effects of Pyramidal Training on Staff Behavior and Manding in Children with Autism

    Author:
    Darlene Nigro-Bruzzi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Sturmey
    Abstract:

    The population of children with autism in the public school system is consistently growing yet there is a lack of staff qualified to teach them. Efficient staff training in schools and in the home is necessary to maximize the number of clinicians who can effectively produce child behavior change, while minimizing cost and time to train the staff members. This study evaluated the effects of pyramidal staff training, a train-the-trainer procedure, using behavioral skills training, comprised of instructions, modeling, rehearsal and feedback on 3 supervisors' percentage of staff-training responses, percentage of 3 teacher assistants' teaching responses and percentage of unprompted mands in 6 children with autism spectrum disorders. Behavioral skills training was effective in training 3 supervisors to increase the percentage of correct teacher assistant mand training responses and child unprompted mands. The teacher assistant teaching responses generalized across children. Further, 2 of the 3 children generalized responding to untrained stimuli. One teacher assistant required an additional session of feedback to increase her percentage of teaching responses during post training. Pyramidal staff training combined with behavioral skills training was an effective procedure for training staff to teach children with an autism spectrum disorder to mand independently.

  • Disorientation In Alzheimer Disease: Allocentric and Egocentric Mechanisms

    Author:
    Olga Nikelshpur
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Foldi
    Abstract:

    Introduction: Spatial disorientation is a common symptom of Alzheimer Disease (AD). The cognitive mechanisms of this difficulty have not been explored in this population. It is unclear which commonly used standard measures of neuropsychological function are more predictive of the risk of getting lost or disoriented. Ability to use allocentric and egocentric reference frames in AD has received little attention in research. We hypothesized that patients with AD will be more impaired on tasks of allocentric function than egocentric function and that this impairment will be more pronounced in AD sample compared to the healthy age-matched controls. Relative contributions of allocentric and egocentric functions to reports of orientation and wayfinding ability were explored. Method: Thirty-five participants (22 controls, 13 AD) were assessed with computer-based Allocentric-Egocentric Test, standardized measures of attention and executive function, and a self-report (controls) or caregiver-report (AD group) measure of daily wayfinding ability. Results: Participants with AD performed significantly worse than age-matched controls on all spatial tasks. Once the effects of interference that confounded performance on the Egocentric-I condition were controlled for (Egocentric-NI condition), participants with AD were more affected on the allocentric than the egocentric task. Participants with AD performed significantly worse on the allocentric task than age-matched controls, but performance on the egocentric task (Egocentric-NI) was not significantly different between the groups. Neuropsychological data revealed that attention and executive function together were highly predictive of all tests of spatial function regardless of frame of reference. However, only attention alone contributed significantly to the models on both egocentric tasks, and not on allocentric task. Executive function alone did not contribute significantly to any of the models. Performance on the allocentric and the two types of egocentric tasks together was highly predictive of reports of daily wayfinding ability, but none of these alone contributed significantly to the model. Conclusions: Allocentric functioning is differentially affected by the AD process compared to the egocentric functioning. Attention, but not executive function, is an important cognitive mechanism of egocentric, but not allocentric orientation. In our sample, ability to use either frame of reference alone did not explain daily wayfinding ability.

  • Changing the Subject: Human Resource Management in Post-socialist Workplaces

    Author:
    Maja Ninkovic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Colette Daiute
    Abstract:

    In the last decade, Serbia has undergone radical changes in its social, political and economic systems. As one of the consequences of these changes, Serbia experienced a significant influx of foreign capital, resulting in an increasing presence of multinational corporations and their local subsidiaries. The purpose of the present study is to explore these new workplaces as sites of emergence of some new social values, i.e., new ways of thinking, feeling, acting and relating to oneself and others in response to the changing socio-historical circumstances (Daiute, Stern, & Lelutiu-Weinberger, 2003), and their role in mediating the processes of `regulated' subjectivity development of their employees. In the present study, I foreground the notion of subjectivities as the possible ways of being and understandings of oneself and others (e.g., Weedon, 1987) and theorize individual subjectivity development as the continuous, dynamic and precarious process of negotiation - acceptance, rejection and/or transformation - of the institutional discourses (i.e., set of institutional knowledges and practices) which encode certain values as normative and/or desirable (e.g., Daiute et al, 2003). This socio-cultural and discursive perspective to human development is complemented in the present study with the governmentality approach which highlights the role of institutional practices in `conducting the conduct' of individuals towards some specific or normative set of values (e.g., Foucault, 1977; Rose, 1989). The methodological approach and design of the study were informed by these theoretical considerations. The methodology entailed a fine-grained examination of the institutional human resource discourses for the presence of different sets of social values and regulation practices that construe specific normative visions of selves at work. To explore how local HR practitioners engage with power relations embedded in the (global) institutional HR knowledge and practices, I have also conducted semi-structured interviews with local HR professionals. Importantly, the interviews have been designed in such a way as to elicit different social-relational stances (Daiute, 2011), illustrating the dialogical nature of `selves-in-the-making' as well as the dynamic, context-sensitive and often precarious nature of participants' enactments of institutional values. As the analyses of the institutional discourses and participants' interviews reveal, the participants' engaged in different patterns of enactments, contestations and transformations of the `flexible enterprise', a form of subjectivity constructed and regulated as normative in the global institutional discourses of the nine corporations in the sample. The findings indicate that the professional and autobiographical narrating afforded the emergence of perspectives which were predominantly consistent with the institutional values, such as being dynamic, personally responsible and self-regulating, striving for excellence and re-framing work as a means of self-actualization and self-fulfillment. On the other hand, engaging participants in a more `private' social-relational sphere of friendships allowed for the emergence of more critical engagements with the institutional values. These complex and dynamic patterns of negotiation of institutional discourses were contingent on both the immediate dialogical context as well as the scope and consistency of local implementation of HR initiatives and the associated `technologies of governance' (Foucault, 1977; Rose, 1989), as a set of local HR practices aimed at regulating - directing, channeling or otherwise mobilizing - individuals' identification with the values and objectives of these multinational corporations. Additionally, the results point to the importance of more distal contexts, such as local practitioners' (lack of) commitments to the discourse of `flexible enterprise' as HR experts and professionals, as well as citizens of the wider post-socialist transition culture. Finally, in the light of the emergence of participants' perspectives that critically engage with the enterprising values - such as suppression of individuals' non-work interests (e.g., leisure activities) or identities (e.g., as mothers), over-involvement in work and struggles over moral agency as professionals, the emancipatory rhetoric of global human resource management discourses is questioned.

  • Relational Motivation in Prejudice and Discrimination: The Case of Social Exclusion

    Author:
    Steven Noel
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Curtis Hardin
    Abstract:

    Research on rejection has focused almost exclusively on rejection at the hands of unimportant others, and generally yielded findings that rejection is met with rejection. This research was designed to test the hypothesis that rejection from important others is not so easily dismissed, and may instead be met with attempts to reconcile along lines implicated by shared reality theory (Hardin & Higgins, 1996). Under situations of interpersonal threat like rejection, people may be motivated to act in ways that preserve an important relationship, including aligning their attitudes and behavior toward the views of the rejecter. Three experiments tested this hypothesis by assessing prejudicial behavior and attitudes as a function of rejection and relationship motivation manipulations. Following a computer-mediated ball tossing game (Williams et al., 2000)--in which participants were either included or excluded by fellow players who were ostensibly anti-gay (Experiment 1) or anti-black (Experiment 2 and 3)--participant behavior and attitudes toward homosexuals and African Americans, respectively, were assessed. Relational motivation was manipulated by telling participants that they either shared or did not share the same birthday and favorite food with their partners, and that they would interact (or not) after the game. Across all three experiments, relational motivation eliminated or reversed the standard exclusion effect. Under conditions of low relationship motivation, exclusion induced anti-tuning of relationship-relevant attitudes, replicating the common finding that rejection elicits reciprocal rejection. In contrast, under conditions in which relational motivation was just minimally greater--i.e., when participants were connected to their partners through a shared birthday or favorite food--exclusion elicited greater social tuning both behaviorally and attitudinally. Social tuning was especially strong for low self-esteem individuals, who are known to be especially anxious about social rejection and hypervigilant in the face of interpersonal threat. This research suggests that when the relationship is even minimally important, people may attempt reconciliation with their rejecters through social tuning, even when doing so means endorsing prejudice and discrimination.