Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • The Role of Homophobia and Gender Role Beliefs in Judgments of Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence

    Author:
    Michael Brown
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Jennifer Groscup
    Abstract:

    The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether straight and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals differ in their perceptions of same-sex and opposite-sex IPV, and whether gender-role beliefs and homophobia can help explain any differences. We were also interested in whether factors such as the type of violence depicted and participants' gender moderated perceptions of intimate partner violence. Using a 2 (type of violence: situational couple violence vs. intimate terrorism) x 2 (gender of batterer: male vs. female) x 2 (gender of victim: male vs. female) between-groups design, 240 straight and 240 LGBT participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition and asked to read a vignette of a domestic altercation. Participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess how they perceived the batterer's and victim's responsibility for the situation, the seriousness of the situation, how likely the abusive behavior was to reoccur, and how likely the abusive behavior would get worse over time. Participants also completed a demographics survey and measures of gender role beliefs and homophobia / internalized homophobia. Overall, both straight and LGBT participants attributed less blame to batterers and more blame to victims, and perceived the abuse as less serious, when the scenario involved a same-sex couple. However, contrary to our hypotheses, participants' gender role beliefs and homophobia / internalized homophobia did not fully account for these findings. Participants' gender and the type of violence depicted were significant moderators for several of the relationships examined; however, these effects were relatively small and inconsistent. Social, clinical and legal implications of these findings are discussed - along with directions for future research.

  • Children's Tolerance of Word-form Variation

    Author:
    Paul Bruening
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Brooks
    Abstract:

    This study compared children's (N=96, mean age 4;1, range 2;8-5;3) and adults' (N=96, mean age 21 years) tolerance of word-onset modifications (e.g., wabbit and warabbit) and pseudo affixes (e.g., kocat and catko) in a label extension task. Trials comprised an introductory phase where children saw a picture of an animal and were told its name, and a test phase where they were shown the same picture along with one of a different animal. For `similar-name' trials, participants heard a word-form modification of the previously introduced name (e.g., introduced to a dib, they were asked, `which animal is a wib?'). For `dissimilar-name' trials, participants heard an entirely new word (e.g., introduced to a dib, they were asked, `which animal is a wuz?'). Specific types of modifications were repeated within each experiment to establish productive inflectional patterns. Across all experiments, children and adults exhibited similar strategies: They were more tolerant of prefixes than onset-modifications involving substitutions of initial consonants, and they were more tolerant of suffixes than prefixes, which may reflect a statistical tendency for inflections to adhere to the ends of words. Additionally, participants parsed novel productive inflections from stems when choosing targets. These findings point to word learning strategies as being flexible and adaptive to morphological patterns in languages.

  • The Effects of Social Influence, Power, and Tangible Rewards on Need-Fulfillment, Coworker Attraction and Helping Behaviors

    Author:
    Stefanie Bruno
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Dr. Kristin Sommer
    Abstract:

    Much of the research on influence in the workplace has focused on identifying strategies to obtain compliance from coworkers and the effectiveness of such strategies. Little is known about why people want to influence others. Recent theory and research suggest a link between influence and need-fulfillment, interpersonal attraction, and helping behavior. Three studies were designed to examine these links and to observe how common workplace elements, specifically power and rewards, impact the psychological and interpersonal benefits of successfully influencing coworkers. Studies 1 and 2 examined how the possession of power by either the source or target of influence moderates the outcomes of having influence. In Study 1, participants attempted to persuade a subordinate in a simulated fund-raising task using either harsh or soft forms of power. In Study 2, participants attempted to persuade either a leader or a peer to change his or her stance on mandatory comprehensive exams. In Study 3, participants either received a reward for attempting to influence a peer, regardless of the outcome (engagement-contingent), were rewarded only if they successfully influenced a peer (performance-contingent), or were asked to influence a peer without any expectation of rewards. Participants in all three studies were given false feedback indicating whether their influence attempts were successful. Following the manipulations, participants' need-fulfillment, liking for the target and willingness to help the coworker were assessed. Across studies, participants in the successful compared to unsuccessful influence conditions reported greater attraction to and willingness to help the target of influence and higher task satisfaction. Contrary to expectations, no reliable effects were found for need fulfillment. Perceptions of similarity and task satisfaction partially mediated the effects of influence on interpersonal attraction. Finally, the results indicated that influencing someone using soft power tactics (Study 1), or in conjunction with a performance-contingent reward (Study 3), was associated with the highest willingness to help. The helping effects were not mediated by similarity, reciprocity, need fulfillment or voluntariness. The theoretical and organizational implications of the findings and ideas for future research are discussed.

  • "Who do you think you are?": A multidimensional analysis of the impact of disparities in higher educational attainment within families of first-generation college graduates

    Author:
    April Burns
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michelle Fine
    Abstract:

    This project explores the impact of disparate educational attainment between first-generation college graduates and their family members. This is a conscious shifting of the unit of analysis, from the changing social position and power of an individual student/graduate, to the relational capacity, tensions, and strategies of the family unit that is inclusive of the graduate. This shift in the unit of analysis, from the individual to the family, interrogates the function of higher education by broadening the range of outcomes associated with post-secondary education and credentialing beyond the economic advancement of the graduate. There are currently very few studies of this population that investigate post-degree attitudes and experiences and none of which ask questions about family relationships. Few if any studies have addressed how educational disparities within the family are perceived by other family members, particularly parents and siblings. This work investigates the nature of this affect/effect, primarily from the perspective of the graduate, but also reaching toward a greater understanding of the perspective of family members as well. Three broad areas of inquiry guide this exploratory first investigation of family narratives surrounding the higher educational attainment of first-generation college graduates: In what ways are educational values and justice beliefs (e.g., support of meritocracy), affected by the higher educational successes of one (or some) member(s) of the family? 2) How are family relations and power dynamics impacted by disparate levels of educational attainment within the family? and 3) What are the ideological dilemmas (Billig et al., 1988) of first-generation college graduates and family members, and how are these dilemmas negotiated? A mixed-method design was employed, consisting of a narrative analysis of interviews with first-generation college graduates' (N=13) and family members' (N=5) and an anonymous web-based survey (N=340) broadly assessing first-generation college graduate attitudes about their college experiences, post-college family relationships, current educational values and ideological dilemmas related to educational differences within the family of origin. A principal components analysis of survey items, and bivariate analyses were conducted to test relationships between factors and independent variables; a grounded theory approach was taken in the analysis of open-ended survey items.

  • THE EFFECTS OF PERSONALITY DISORDER TRAITS ON INDIVIDUAL THERAPY OUTCOMES IN INDIVIDUALS AT CLINICAL HIGH RISK FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA

    Author:
    Kathryn Byars
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michele Galietta
    Abstract:

    Despite a high prevalence of comorbid personality disorder traits in those considered to be high risk (or prodromal) for schizophrenia (Woods et al., 2009), and the known negative effects of personality disorders on treatment in schizophrenia (e.g., Tyrer et al., 2000), little is known regarding the effect of personality disorder traits on the treatment of prodromal individuals. Using a ten-year sample from the Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, this dissertation used retrospective, naturalistic methods to investigate personality disorder traits and the ways in which these traits affected both the assessment and the treatment of prodromal symptoms. Results did not support that personality disorder traits moderated treatment outcomes, but did support that particular treatment techniques were used more often with certain personality traits (e.g., borderline personality disorder) or symptom severities. In addition, it was found that, overall, particular treatment techniques were associated with reductions in negative symptoms, but not with positive symptom or global functioning changes. Results also indicated that aspects of the suspiciousness and hallucinations scales from the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS) were associated with personality traits and not predictive of transition to psychosis. These results suggest that treatment planning could use symptom presentation on intake to determine the most effective treatment techniques. Further research is required to further the diagnostic and predictive ability of assessment measures, including the important determination of whether currently considered prodromal symptoms may be better accounted for by personality traits.

  • Adjustment and Change Among Bisexual Women: A Longitudinal Analysis

    Author:
    Jane Caflisch
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Margaret Rosario
    Abstract:

    Higher levels of psychological distress have been found among representative samples of bisexual adults than among comparable samples of gay, lesbian, or heterosexual adults, yet significant variability in mental health outcomes has also been found between bisexual individuals. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study (Time 1 N=50, Time 2 N=40) aimed to examine why bisexual women may be at heightened risk for distress, and also to identify factors associated with psychological adjustment among this population. Theories that associate bisexuality with cognitive dissonance and identity diffusion were reviewed and critiqued, and an alternative model of identity integration for bisexuals, built around toleration of multiplicity and paradox within one's self and one's relationships with others, was proposed. It was hypothesized that the capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality would be predicted by personality organization, differentiation-relatedness, and attachment. Further, it was hypothesized that mental health outcomes among this population would be predicted by the following factors: 1) capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality, 2) experiences of internally- and externally-imposed pressure to "resolve" one's bisexuality into a binary model, 3) experiences of community support for and stigma against bisexuality, 4) experiences of emotional attachment and sexual excitement as integrated versus split in romantic relationships, and 5) need for cognitive closure. The interaction between capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality and degree of change over time in sexual attractions, behaviors and/or self-identifications was also hypothesized to predict mental health outcomes. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to examine relations between hypothesized predictors and outcomes, controlling for socio-demographic covariates. Qualitative data were then revisited to elaborate on patterns identified through quantitative analyses, and to illuminate additional dynamics from the focused interviews. In particular, qualitative analyses were used to examine the ways in which change over time in sexual attractions and self-identifications were understood by participants and integrated into their self-concepts; to understand the extent to which different participants experienced emotional and erotic aspects of relationships as integrated or split with male versus female partners; and to consider the ways in which participants' attempts to negotiate these dynamics were shaped by internal, relational and environmental factors.

  • NEURAL SUBSTRATES OF VISUAL PROCESSING AND OBJECT RECOGNITION DEFICITS IN SCHIZOPHRENIA

    Author:
    Daniel Calderone
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Pamela Butler
    Abstract:

    Mounting evidence has shown that patients with schizophrenia have preferential deficits of the magnocellular versus the parvocellular visual system. Experiment 1 examined this deficit in schizophrenia patients utilizing an electrophysiological paradigm. Patients showed preferential magnocellular deficits in electrophysiological response indicative of impaired contrast gain (response amplification at low contrast) and contrast gain control (inhibition of responses at high contrast), which are used preferentially by this pathway to optimize responses. Patients also displayed deficits in psychophysical contrast sensitivity, further showing deficient contrast gain in the magnocellular pathway. These electrophysiological and psychophysical deficits were associated with neuropsychological and emotion processing deficits, which predicted functional outcome. Experiment 2 utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural underpinnings of the paradigms used in Experiment 1. fMRI responses to magnocellular- and parvocellular-biased contrast stimuli from the electrophysiological paradigm showed that contrast gain (i.e., signal amplification) was related to increases in volume of relatively weak occipital activation, while contrast gain control (i.e., signal inhibition) was related to strong a occipital activation over a smaller volume. Inhibitory contrast gain control was also linked to negative parafoveal activation, which was less apparent for patients. fMRI responses to a contrast sensitivity procedure showed reduced volume of occipital activation to low spatial frequency (LSF), but not high spatial frequency (HSF), stimuli for patients, indicating a general deficit in activation volume for LSF stimuli which are preferentially processed by the magnocellular system. Experiment 3 examined consequences of magnocellular dysfunction for object recognition in schizophrenia. Patients showed deficits in fMRI activation to LSF object stimuli over a widespread cortical network, indicating a loss of early-stage low resolution object information. Patients instead showed an increase in activation to HSF object stimuli in some areas, suggesting compensation for LSF deficits with HSF information. Together, these three experiments further elucidated the neural substrates of preferential magnocellular deficits in schizophrenia, and demonstrated that such deficits may propagate to higher cognitive processes such as object recognition.

  • HOUSEHOLD DENSITY AND ACADEMIC STANDING AMONG COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS: THE EFFECTS OF TIME ORIENTATION AND SPATIAL SELF-REGULATION

    Author:
    Grace Campagna
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Gary Winkel
    Abstract:

    The purpose of the study was to develop a multifactorial model tracing paths from housing affordances to academic outcomes in higher education. The study sought to connect two areas of psychological research: on one side, the adverse effects of environmental stressors and inadequate self-regulation upon life course prospects and, on the other, the affective, behavioral, and cognitive elements of purposive self-regulation used by college students toward long-term goal attainment. The study design was cross-sectional and used self-reported survey data as well as official academic records for 490 student participants. Three new measures were developed. The first, Housing Inadequacy, gave a subjective assessment of domestic environments by comparing availability of household features with their rated importance to individual students. The second, Perceived Housing Stress, was adapted from the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen & Williamson, 1988), an existing validated measure of global appraised stress, to identify stressors specific to the home setting. The third, Spatial Self-Regulation, introduced a new construct with two components: the ability to recognize whether a setting is conducive to one's goals and the ability to engage or change that setting in order to move toward those goals. In the current study, the affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of Spatial Self-Regulation were measured in both home and campus settings. Two existing measures were used. Temporal factors from the Zimbardo Time Perspectives Inventory (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999) were hypothesized to attenuate or amplify adverse effects of Housing Inadequacy and Perceived Housing Stress in predicting academic motivations and strategies. These motivations and strategies were measured using components of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and McKeachie, 1993), an instrument widely used in higher education assessment. Structural equation modeling was used to refine, integrate, and confirm linkages among the above variables. A statistically significant model linked sub-factors for Housing Inadequacy, Perceived Housing Stress, Spatial Self-Regulation, and Time Orientation with Motivated Strategies for Learning. Since the model reliably predicted GPA, the study presented a new approach to explaining college student academic standing as an outcome of the interaction of person-level variables with environmental factors.

  • The Role of the Dorsal Hippocampus in the Contextual Control of Appetitive Responding

    Author:
    Vincent Campese
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Andrew Delamater
    Abstract:

    Four experiments were run using rat subjects in order to assess the impact of manipulations to the dorsal hippocampus (DH) on the contextual and temporal control of extinguished appetitive learning (e.g., magazine approach). Subjects were trained to associate discrete stimuli with food in specific locations or at specific times. The subjects then had these associations extinguished by means of omitting the food reinforcers following stimulus presentations. In order to assess contextual and temporal modulation of learning the stimuli were tested within as well as outside of the contexts or times where/when they were extinguished. Control subjects showed reduced responding when stimuli were presented within their extinction contexts (physical and temporal) whereas responding recovered outside of these extinction contexts (i.e., renewal and spontaneous recovery). In order to assess DH function in these different instances of response recovery, neurotoxic lesions of the DH prior to tests or temporary muscimol-induced inactivation of the structure were used. The results of these studies indicate that while DH manipulations fail to affect conditional control of appetitive extinction learning by physical contexts, they do impair control when temporal contexts are used as a conditional cue.

  • Child Development Theory as a Mediator of Novice Teachers' Ethnotheories to Increase Learning and Justice in the Classroom

    Author:
    Nancy Cardwell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Colette Daiute
    Abstract:

    Many urban public schools use teaching methods that isolate and silence children to compel compliance (Schwebel, 2004; Saltman & Gabbard, 2003; Baumrind, 1991). In these contexts, black and brown children are disciplined more often and harshly than white, sent through the court system 70% of the time (Alexander, 2012). Novice teachers, appearing expert without expertise, use unconscious personal theories or ethnotheories to compel compliance, projecting an illusion of expertise without understanding the consequences for children's development and achievement (Elliott, Stemler, Sternberg, Grigorenko & Hoffman, 2010; Skovholt, 2004). An advance in the field would be to learn how ethnotheories interact with formal theories, like child development theory (CDT), to mediate pedagogical choices in the classroom. In this qualitative study, I interviewed 12 participants to learn about CDT as a mediator of classroom practice to increase learning and justice in diverse educational contexts (Daiute, 2014). I found that the unconscious use of ethnotheories reproduced injustice by subordinating children's needs to teacher's experiences and constrained learning through silencing, isolation and exclusion (Kahn & Kammerman, 2001; Harvey, 1999). I further found that the conscious use of ethnotheories mediated by CDT interrupts injustice by placing children's needs at the center and teachers adjusting their teaching approaches to create opportunities for children to tell their story, connect with each other in an inclusive, rigorous, respectful learning environment (Young, 2011; Harvey, 1999; Kenyon & Randall, 1997). Given this, teacher educators can use frequent guided reflections to support novice teachers' restorying their ethnotheories mediated through the lens of CDT situated within a global context (Kenyon & Randall, 1997). Researchers need to examine the effectiveness of this practice in relation to increasing academic achievement by investigating how novice teachers consciously use their ethnotheories mediated by CDT to adjust their teaching approaches to support increased academic success. In conclusion, CDT becomes a mediator of novice teachers' ethnotheories and a tool to adjust their classroom practice toward increased learning and justice by encouraging children to narrate their experiences to create multiple points of entry for meaningful academic lessons (Daiute, 2014; King & Cardwell, 2009; Cardwell, 2002; Kenyon & Randall, 1997).