• A comprehensive examination of adolescent gambling

      Chalmers, Heather.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2004-05-28)
      The purposes of this study were: a) to examine the prevalence and consequences associated with adolescent gambling, b) to examine the factors which influence adolescent gambling,. c) to detennine what factors discriminate among four groups of gamblers (no-risk/non-gamblers, low-risk gamblers, at-risk gamblers, and high-risk/problematic gamblers), and d) to examine the relation of gambling to nine other risk behaviours (i.e., alcohol use, smoking, marijuana use, hard drug use, sexual activity, minor delinquency, major delinquency, direct aggression, and indirect aggression). Adolescents (N = 3,767) from 25 secondary schools completed a twohour survey that assessed involvement in risk be~aviours as well as potential predictors from a wide range of contexts (school, neighbourhood, family, peer, and intrapersonal). The majority of adolescents reported gambling, although the frequency of gambling participation was low. The strongest predictors/discriminators of gambling involvement were gender, unstructured activities, structured activities, and risk attitudes/perceptions. In addition, the examination of the co-occurrence of gambling with other risk behaviours revealed that for high-risk/problem gamblers, the top three most frequent co-occurring high-risk behaviours were direct aggression, minor delinquency and alcohol. This study was the first to examine the continuum of gambling involvement (i.e., non-gambling to high risk/problematic gambling) using a comprehensive set ofpotential predictors with a large sample of secondary school students. The findings of this study support past research and theories (e.g., Theory of Triadic Influence) which suggest the importance ofproximal variables in predicting risk behaviors. The next step, however, will be to examine the direct and indirect 1 effects of the ultimate (e.g., temperament), distal (e.g., parental relationship), and proximal variables (e.g., risk attitudes/perceptions) on gambling involvement in a longitudinal study.
    • An after-school literacy program : investigating the experiences of students with literacy difficulties, their volunteer tutors, and the tutors' transition into the teaching profession

      Gallagher, Tiffany L.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2005-05-28)
      This research responds to a pervasive call for our educational institutions to provide students with literacy skills, and teachers with the instructional supports necessary to facilitate this skill acquisition. Questions were posed to gain information concerning the efficacy ofteaching literacy strategies to students with learning difficulties, the impact of this training on their volunteer tutors, and the influence of this experience on these tutors' ensuing instructional practice as teacher candidates in a preservice education program. Study #1 compared a nontreatment group of students with literacy difficulties who participated in the program and found that program participants were superior at reading letter patterns and at comprehending the elements of story grammar. Concurrently, the second study explored the experiences of 19 volunteer tutors and uncovered that they acquired instructional skills as they established a knowledge base in teaching reading and writing, and they affirmed personal goals to become future teachers. Study #3 tracked 6 volunteer tutors into their pre-service year and identified their constructions, and beliefs about literacy instruction. These teacher candidates discussed how they had intended to teach reading and writing strategies based on their position that effective teaching ofthese skills in the primary grades is integral to academic success. The teacher candidates emphasized the need to build rapport with students, and the need to exercise flexibility in lesson plan delivery while including activities to meet emotional and developmental requirements of students. The teacher candidates entered their pre-service education with an initial cognition set based on the limited teaching context of tutoring. This foundational ii perception represented their prior knowledge of literacy instruction, a perception that appeared untenable once they were immersed in a regular instructional setting. This disparity provoked some of the teacher candidates to denounce their teacher mentors for not consistently employing literacy strategies and individualized instruction. This critical perspective could have been a demonstration of cognitive dissonance. In the end, when the teacher candidates began to look toward the future and how they would manage the demands of an inclusive classroom, they recognized the differences in the contexts. With an appreciation for the need for balance between prior and present knowledge, the teacher candidates remained committed to implementing their tutoring strategies in future teaching positions. This document highlights the need for teacher candidates with instructional experience prior to teacher education, to engage in cognitive negotiations to assimilate newly acquired pedagogies into existing pedagogies.
    • Why are people liberal? : a motivated social cognition perspective

      Choma, Becky L.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2008-05-28)
      The present dissertation examined why people adopt or endorse certain political ideologies (i.e., liberal or conservative). According to a motivated social cognition perspective (Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003a; Kruglansl<i, 1996), individuals adopt political ideologies to fulfill dispositional and situationally induced needs or motivations. Previous research has found that political conservatism is related to a number of psychological needs (e.g., Jost, Glaser et aI., 2003a). However, there is minimal research examining why individuals adopt political liberalism. By focussing on the political right and not considering the political left, there might be other motivational underpinnings of political orientation that have been overlooked. In four studies, the present dissertation ail)1ed to fill this gap by investigating what chronic and situationally induced needs underlie political orientation, with a focus on political liberalism. Based on psychological the9ries of ideology, research examining political conservatism, and experimental research examining differences between liberals and conservatives, it was proposed that four social-cognitive needs (Need for Inclusiveness, Need for Understanding, Need for Change, and Avoidance of Decisional Commitment) would be associated with liberalism. Moreover, research suggests that the relations between the needs and liberalism might be moderated by political sophistication (e.g., Converse, 1964). University students (Study 1; n == 201) and community adults (Study 2; n == 197) completed questionnaires assessing political liberalism, political sophistication, and individual differences 're~ective of the four proposed needs. As predicted, correlation and hierarchical regression analyses in both Studies 1 and 2 indicated that political liberalism was related to Need for Inclusiveness, Need for Understanding, and Need for Change. 11 Avoidance of Decisional Commitment uniquely predicted political liberalism in Study 2; however, contrary to predictions, it was unrelated to political liberalism in Study 1. Furthermore, some of these relations were moderated by political sophistication, such that among individuals with a greater knowledge of politics, the relation between certain needs and liberalism was positive. To explore the role of situationally induced needs on political liberalism, each of the four proposed needs were manipulated in Study 3. Participants (n == 120) completed one of five scrambled-sentence tasks (one for each need condition and control condition), measures of explicit and implicit political liberalism, political sophistication, and state and trait measures indicative of the four proposed needs. The ~anipulation did not successfully prime participants with the needs. Therefore, a replication of the analyses from Studies 1 and 2 was conducted on the dispositional needs. Results showed that Need for Inclusiveness, Need for Understanding, and Need for Change were linked with greater explicit and implicit political liberalism. Study 4 examined the effect of manipulated Need for Inclusiveness on participants' endorsement ofpolitical liberalism, independent of conservatism. Participants (n == 43) were randomly assigned to a Need for Inclusiveness or control condition, and completed separate measures of political liberalism and conservatism, and political sophistication. Participants in the Need for Inclusiveness condition reported greater liberalism than those in a control condition; this effect was not moderated by political sophistication. Generally, the findings from this dissertation suggest that there might be other needs underlying political ideology, especially political liberalism. Thus, consistent with others' (Jost, Glaser et aI., 2003a), individuals might adopt political liberalism as a way of gratifying certain psychological needs. Implications and future research are discussed.
    • Investigating a dynamic modular framework for subjective well-being

      Busseri, Michael A.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2009-01-28)
      According to Diener (1984), the three primary components of subjective well-being (SWB) are high life satisfaction (LS), frequent positive affect (P A), and infrequent negative affect (NA). The present dissertation extends previous research and theorizing on SWB by testing an innovative framework developed by Shmotkin (2005) in which SWB is conceptualized as an agentic process that promotes and maintains positive functioning. Two key components ofShmotkin's framework were explored in a longitudinal study of university students. In Part 1, SWB was examined as an integrated system of components organized within individuals. Using cluster analysis, five distinct configurations of LS, P A, and NA were identified at each wave. Individuals' SWB configurations were moderately stable over time, with the highest and lowest stabilities observed among participants characterized by "high SWB" and "low SWB" configurations, respectively. Changes in SWB configurations in the direction of a high SWB pattern, and stability among participants already characterized by high SWB, coincided with better than expected mental, physical, and interpersonal functioning over time. More positive levels of functioning and improvements in functioning over time discriminated among SWB configurations. However, prospective effects of SWB configurations on subsequent functioning were not observed. In Part 2, subjective temporal perspective "trajectories" were examined based on individuals' ratings of their past, present, and anticipated future LS. Upward subjective LS trajectories were normative at each wave. Cross-sectional analyses revealed consistent associations between upward subjective trajectories and lower levels of LS, as well as less positive mental, physical, and interpersonal functioning. Upward subjective LS trajectories were biased both with respect to underestimation of past LS and overestimation of future LS, demonstrating their illusional nature. Further, whereas more negative retrospective bias was associated with greater current distress and dysfunction, more positive prospective bias was associated with less positive functioning in the future. Prospective relations, however, were not consistently observed. Thus, steep upward subjective LS trajectory appeared to be a form of wishful-thinking, rather than an adaptive form of selfenhancement. Major limitations and important directions for future research are considered. Implications for Shmotkin's (2005) framework, and for research on SWB more generally, also are discussed
    • Autonomic and electrocortical indices of performance monitoring and source memory discrimination in older and younger adults

      Mathewson, Karen Janet.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2009-05-28)
      Reduced capacity for executive cognitive function and for the autonomic control of cardiac responsivity are both concomitants of the aging process. These may be linked through their mutual dependence on medial prefrontal function, but the specifics ofthat linkage have not been well explored. Executive functions associated with medial prefrontal cortex involve various aspects ofperformance monitoring, whereas centrally mediated autonomic functions can be observed as heart rate variability (HRV), i.e., variability in the length of intervals between heart beats. The focus for this thesis was to examine the degree to which the capacity for phasic autonomic adjustments to heart rate relates to performance monitoring in younger and older adults, using measures of electrocortical and autonomic activity. Behavioural performance and attention allocation during two age-sensitive tasks could be predicted by various aspects of autonomic control. For young adults, greater influence of the parasympathetic system on HRV was beneficial for learning unfamiliar maze paths; for older adults, greater sympathetic influence was detrimental to these functions. Further, these relationships were primarily evoked when the task required the construction and use of internalized representations of mazes rather than passive responses to feedback. When memory for source was required, older adults made three times as many source errors as young adults. However, greater parasympathetic influence on HRV in the older group was conducive to avoiding source errors and to reduced electrocortical responses to irrelevant information. Higher sympathetic predominance, in contrast, was associated with higher rates of source error and greater electrocortical responses tq non-target information in both groups. These relations were not seen for 11 errors associated with a speeded perceptual task, irrespective of its difficulty level. Overall, autonomic modulation of cardiac activity was associated with higher levels of performance monitoring, but differentially across tasks and age groups. With respect to age, those older adults who had maintained higher levels of autonomic cardiac regulation appeared to have also maintained higher levels of executive control over task performance.
    • Social neuroendocrinology of competition

      Carré, Justin M.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      The relationship between testosterone concentrations and aggressive behaviour in studies of people has produced very inconsistent findings. However, one consistent fmding that has emerged is that competitive and aggressive interactions potentiate testosterone release in both human and non-human species. It has been argued that socially-induced alterations in testosterone concentrations may function to influence ongoing and/or future social behaviour. Nonetheless, few studies have empirically tested this hypothesis. The current series of experiments was designed to address the extent to which competitioninduced fluctuations in testosterone concentrations were associated with ongoing and/or subsequent social behaviour. In Study 1, men (n = 38) provided saliva samples prior to, and at the conclusion of, the Point Subtraction Aggression Paradigm (PSAP). Although baseline testosterone concentrations were not related to aggressive behaviour, there was a positive correlation between change in testosterone and aggressive behaviour such that men who were most aggressive on the PSAP demonstrated the largest increase in testosterone concentrations. Furthermore, a rise in testosterone during the PSAP predicted willingness to choose a subsequent competitive task. In Study 2, men and women provided saliva samples prior to and after competing against a same-sex opponent on the Number Tracing Task (NTT). The outcome of the competition was rigged such that half of the individuals won most of the races, while the other half lost most of the races, thus experimentally creating a winner and loser in the laboratory. Following the competitive interaction, men and women played the PSAP with their same-sex partner. Results indicated that men selected the aggressive response (but not reward or protection responses), more frequently than women. For men assigned to the loss condition, an increase in testosterone concentrations in response to the NTT predicted subsequent aggressive behaviour. For men assigned to the win condition, an increase in testosterone concentrations in response to the NTT predicted subsequent aggressive behaviour, but only among those men who scored high on trait dominance. Change in testosterone and trait dominance did not predict aggressive behaviour in women. In Study 3, men provided saliva samples prior to, during, and at the end of the PSAP. They were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions that differed in the extent to which they were provoked and whether they received reward for behaving aggressively (i.e., stealing points). Results indicated that baseline testosterone concentrations did not correlate with aggression in any of the experimental conditions. Consistent with Study 1, there was a positive correlation between change in testosterone and aggressive behaviour among men who were provoked, but did not receive reward for aggression (i.e., reactive condition). Men who were provoked but did not receive reward for aggression enjoyed the task the most and were more likely to choose the competitive versus non-competitive task relative to men assigned to the other experimental conditions. Also, individual differences in aggressive behaviour among these men were positively correlated with the extent to which they enjoyed the task. Together, these studies indicate that testosterone dynamics within the context of competition influence subsequent competitive and aggressive behaviours in humans and that testosterone may be a marker of the intrinsically rewarding nature of costly aggressive behaviour.
    • Creativity and the schizophrenia spectrum unveiled : the similarities and the differences

      Michalica, Kerri; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2010-10-27)
      This study examined the commonalities and the differences between creativity and the schizophrenia spectrum. The variables measured as potential commonalities and differences were creativity, schizotypy, cognitive inhibition, spatial ability, balancing skills, positive and negative presence, absorption, mystical experiences, childhood abuse, and neuroticism. Three community groups were recruited, consisting of 31 artists, 10 people with schizophrenia, and 31 comparisons matched for gender and age with the artists. A larger student group consisting of 102 students was also recruited in order to examine the correlations among the same variables within a larger, more normative, group. The largest commonality between the artist and the schizophrenic groups, who represented the extreme end of the schizophrenia spectrum, was the propensity to mystical experiences. The greatest differences between the artist and the schizophrenic groups were that the artists were higher in creativity, performed better on spatial abilities, had better balance, had more positive states of presence, and were lower in neuroticism than the schizophrenic group. In the student group, creativity was correlated with spatial ability, positive presence, absorption, and mystical experiences. In addition, creativity was significantly related to two facets of schizotypy, unusual experiences and impulsive nonconformity. In other words, students high in certain facets of schizotypy, who may share certain characteristics with those who have schizophrenia, are higher in creativity, but people who are on the extreme end of the schizophrenia spectrum, who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, are not. The differences between the artist and schizophrenic groups on spatial ability, balance, sense of presence, and neuroticism may help to determine whether mystical experiences help to integrate creative work or destabilize and disorganize the sense of self. It may be that mystical experiences can be used more positively by the creative individuals than people with schizophrenia, in that artists and people high in creativity were higher in positive traits such as positive presence and lower on negative variables such as neuroticism, and introvertive anhedonia.
    • Relation of temperament and authoritative parenting on subtypes of adolescent behaviour

      Reker, Dana L.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-03-08)
      Over the years, researchers have investigated direct, conditional, and meditational pathways of adolescent aggression in relation to both temperament and parenting behaviours. However, no study to date has considered these relations with respect to a measure of aggression differentiated by form (e.g., overt, relational) and function (e.g., proactive, reactive). The present study examined the differential association of adolescent temperament and authoritative parenting on four subtypes of aggression. Participants included mothers, fathers, and one adolescent (between the ages of 10-19) from 663 families, recruited through random digit dialing. Parents reported on their child's temperament and occurrence of aggressive behaviours in addition to the perception of their own authoritative parenting. Adolescents reported on their own temperament and aggressive behaviours as well as on both their mother and father's authoritative parenting. Multiple regression analyses confirmed predictions that some aspects of temperament and authoritative parenting provide motivation towards the engagement of different aggressive behaviours. For example, higher negative affect was related to reactive types of aggression, whereas a strong desire for novel or risky behaviours related to proactive aggression. However, differences in effortful control altered the trajectory for both relationships. Higher levels of self-regulation reduced the impact of negative affect on reactive-overt aggression. Greater self-regulation also reduced the impact of surgency on proactive-overt aggression when age was a factor. Structural equation modeling was then used to assess the process through which adolescents become more or less susceptible to impulsive behaviours. Although the issue ofbi-directionality cannot be ruled out, temperament characteristics were the proximal correlate for aggression subtypes as opposed to authoritative parenting dimensions. Effortful control was found to partially mediate the relation between parental acceptancelinvolvement and reactive-relational and reactive-overt aggression, suggesting that higher levels of warmth and support as perceived by the child related to increased levels of self-regulation and emotional control, which in tum lead to less reactive-relational and less reactive-overt types of aggression in adolescents. On the other hand, negative affect partially mediated the relation between parental psychological autonomy granting and these two subtypes of aggression, supporting predictions that higher levels of autonomy granting (perceived independence) related to lower levels of frustration, which in tum lead to less reactive-relational and reactive-overt aggression in adolescents. Both findings provide less evidence for the evocative person-environment correlation and more support for temperament being an open system shaped by experience and authoritative parenting dimensions. As one of the first known studies examining the differential association of authoritative parenting and temperament on aggression subtypes, this study demonstrates the role parents can play in shaping and altering their children's temperament and the effects it can have on aggressive behaviour.
    • Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms might be destroying your intimacy : a test of mediational models in a community sample of couples

      Perrier, Colin; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-03-08)
      The present research focused on the pathways through which the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may negatively impact intimacy. Previous research has confirmed a link between self-reported PTSD symptoms and intimacy; however, a thorough examination of mediating paths, partner effects, and secondary traumatization has not yet been realized. With a sample of 297 heterosexual couples, intraindividual and dyadic models were developed to explain the relationships between PTSD symptoms and intimacy in the context of interdependence theory, attachment theory, and models of selfpreservation (e.g., fight-or-flight). The current study replicated the findings of others and has supported a process in which affective (alexithymia, negative affect, positive affect) and communication (demand-withdraw behaviour, self-concealment, and constructive communication) pathways mediate the intraindividual and dyadic relationships between PTSD symptoms and intimacy. Moreover, it also found that the PTSD symptoms of each partner were significantly related; however, this was only the case for those dyads in which the partners had disclosed most everything about their traumatic experiences. As such, secondary traumatization was supported. Finally, although the overall pattern of results suggest a total negative effect of PTSD symptoms on intimacy, a sex difference was evident such that the direct effect of the woman's PTSD symptoms were positively associated with both her and her partner's intimacy. I t is possible that the Tend-andBefriend model of threat response, wherein women are said to foster social bonds in the face of distress, may account for this sex difference. Overall, however, it is clear that PTSD symptoms were negatively associated with relationship quality and attention to this impact in the development of diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols is necessary.
    • Novices' learning from the Internet : an exploration of navigation behaviours, learner-related factors, and mental effort

      Desjarlais, Malinda; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-03-08)
      The current study was an exploration of why some novices are more successful than their peers when learning from the Internet by examining the relations among time spent with relevant information and changes in invested mental effort during Internet navigations as well as achievement. Navigation behaviours and learner characteristics were investigated as predictors of time spent with relevant information and changes in mental effort. Undergraduates (N = 85, Mage = 20 years, 5 months) searched the Internet for information corresponding to a low knowledge topic for 20 min while their eye gaze and pupil size were recorded. Pupil diameter was used as an objective, continuous measure of mental effort. Participants also completed questionnaires or computer tasks pertaining to s e l f-regulated learning characteristics (general intrinsic goal orientation and effort regulation) and cognitive factors (working memory control, distractibility and cognitive style). All analyses controlled for general mental ability, reading comprehension, topic and Internet knowledge, and overall motivation. A greater proportion of time spent with relevant information predicted higher scores on an achievement test. Interestingly, time spent with relevant information partially mediated the positive relation between the frequency of increases in invested mental effort and achievement. Surprisingly, intrinsic goal orientation was negatively related to time spent with relevant information and effort regulation was negatively related to the frequency of increases in invested mental effort. These findings have implications for supports when novices guide their own learning, especially when using the Internet.
    • Sleep and information processing in individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury

      Milner, Catherine; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-05-17)
      Individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) often complain of t roubl e sleeping and daytime fatigue but little is known about the neurophysiological underpinnings of the s e sleep difficulties. The fragile sleep of thos e with a TBI was predicted to be characterized by impairments in gating, hyperarousal and a breakdown in sleep homeostatic mechanisms. To test these hypotheses, 20 individuals with a TBI (18- 64 years old, 10 men) and 20 age-matched controls (18-61 years old, 9 men) took part in a comprehensive investigation of their sleep. While TBI participants were not recruited based on sleep complaint, the fmal sample was comprised of individuals with a variety of sleep complaints, across a range of injury severities. Rigorous screening procedures were used to reduce potential confounds (e.g., medication). Sleep and waking data were recorded with a 20-channel montage on three consecutive nights. Results showed dysregulation in sleep/wake mechanisms. The sleep of individuals with a TBI was less efficient than that of controls, as measured by sleep architecture variables. There was a clear breakdown in both spontaneous and evoked K-complexes in those with a TBI. Greater injury severities were associated with reductions in spindle density, though sleep spindles in slow wave sleep were longer for individuals with TBI than controls. Quantitative EEG revealed an impairment in sleep homeostatic mechanisms during sleep in the TBI group. As well, results showed the presence of hyper arousal based on quantitative EEG during sleep. In wakefulness, quantitative EEG showed a clear dissociation in arousal level between TBls with complaints of insomnia and TBls with daytime fatigue. In addition, ERPs indicated that the experience of hyper arousal in persons with a TBI was supported by neural evidence, particularly in wakefulness and Stage 2 sleep, and especially for those with insomnia symptoms. ERPs during sleep suggested that individuals with a TBI experienced impairments in information processing and sensory gating. Whereas neuropsychological testing and subjective data confirmed predicted deficits in the waking function of those with a TBI, particularly for those with more severe injuries, there were few group differences on laboratory computer-based tasks. Finally, the use of correlation analyses confirmed distinct sleep-wake relationships for each group. In sum, the mechanisms contributing to sleep disruption in TBI are particular to this condition, and unique neurobiological mechanisms predict the experience of insomnia versus daytime fatigue following a TBI. An understanding of how sleep becomes disrupted after a TBI is important to directing future research and neurorehabilitation.
    • An investigation of the psychopathy construct and its (novel) correlates in non-clinical samples

      Visser, Beth; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-05-17)
      A substantial research literature exists regarding the psychopathy construct in forensic populations, but more recently, the construct has been extended to non-clinical populations. The purpose of the present dissertation was to investigate the content and the correlates of the psychopathy construct, with a particular focus on addressing gaps and controversies in the literature. In Study 1, the role of low anxiety in psychopathy was investigated, as some authors have proposed that low anxiety is integral to the psychopathy construct. Participants (n = 346) responded to two self-report psychopathy scales, the SRP-III and the PPI-R, as well as measures of temperament, personality, and antisociality. Of particular interest was the PPI-R Stress Immunity sub scale, which represents low anxiety content. I t was found that Stress Immunity was not correlated with SRP-III psychopathy, nor did it share common personality or temperament correlates or contribute to the prediction of anti sociality. From Study 1, it was concluded that it was unlikely that low anxiety is a central feature of the psychopathy construct. In Study 2, the relationship between SRP-III psychopathy and Ability Emotional Intelligence (Le., Emotional Intelligence measured as an ability, rather than as a self-report personality trait-like characteristic) was investigated, to determine whether psychopathy is be s t seen as a syndrome characterized by emotional deficits or by the ability to skillfully manipulate and prey upon the others' emotions. A negative correlation between the two constructs was found, suggesting that psychopathy is best characterized by deficits in perceiving, facilitating, managing, and understanding emotions. In Study 3, sex differences in the sexual behavior (i.e., promiscuity, age of first sexual behaviors, extradyadic sexual relations) and appearance-related esteem (i.e., body shame,appearance anxiety, self-esteem) correlates of SRP-III psychopathy were investigated. The sexual behavior correlates of psychopathy were quite similar for men and women, but the esteem correlates were very different, such that high psychopathy in men was related to high esteem, whereas high psychopathy in women was generally related to low esteem. This sex difference was difficult to interpret in that it was not mediated by sexual behavior, suggesting that further exploration of this topic is warranted. Together, these three studies contribute to our understanding of non-clinical psychopathy, indicating that low anxiety is likely not part of the construct, that psychopathy is related to low levels of ability in Emotional Intelligence, and that psychopathy is an important predictor of behavior, ability, and beliefs and feelings about the self
    • Developmental differences in locomotor responsiveness to amphetamine in rats

      Mathews, Iva; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      The developmental remodelling of motivational systems that underlie drug dependence and addiction may account for the greater frequency and severity of drug abuse in adolescence compared to adulthood. Recent advances in animal models have begun to identify the morphological and the molecular factors that are being remodelled, but little is known about the culmination of these factors in altered sensitivity to psycho stimulant drugs, like amphetamine, in adolescence. Amphetamine induces potent locomotor activating effects in rodents through increased dopamine release in the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, which makes locomotor activity a useful behavioural marker of age differences in amphetamine sensitivity. The aim of the thesis was to investigate the neural basis for age differences in amphetamine sensitivity with a focus on the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex, which initiate and regulate amphetamine-induced locomotor activity, respectively. In study 1, I found pre- and post- pubertal adolescent rats to be less active (i.e., hypoactive) than adults to a first injection of 0.5, but not of 1.5, mg/kg of intraperitonealy (i.p.) administered amphetamine. Although initially hypoactive, only adolescent rats exhibited an increase in activity to a second injection of amphetamine given 24 h later, indicating that adolescents may be more sensitive to the rapid changes in amphetamineinduced plasticity than adults. Given that the locomotor activating effects of amphetamine are initiated in the nucleus accumbens, age differences in response to direct injections of amphetamine into this brain region were investigated in study 2. In contrast to i.p. injections, adolescents were more active than adults when amphetamine was given directly into the nucleus accumbens, indicating that hypo activity may be attributed to the development of regulatory regions outside of the accumbens. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a key regulator of the locomotor activating effects of amphetamine that undergoes extensive remodelling in adolescence. In study 3, I found that an i.p. injection of 1.5, and not of 0.5, mg/kg of amphetamine resulted in a high expression of c-fos, a marker of neural activation, in the pre limbic mPFC only in pre-pubertal adolescent rats. This finding suggests that the ability of adolescent rats to overcome hypo activity at the 1.5 mg/kg dose may involve greater activation of the prelimbic mPFC compared to adulthood. In support of this hypothesis, I found that pharmacological inhibition of prelimbic D 1 dopamine receptors disrupted the locomotor activating effects of the 1.5 mg/kg dose of amphetamine to a greater extent in adolescent than in adult rats. In addition, the stimulation of prelimbic D 1 dopamine receptors potentiated locomotor activity at the 0.5 mg/kg dose of amphetamine only in adolescent rats, indicating that the prelimbic D1 dopamine receptors are involved in overcoming locomotor hypoactivity during adolescence. Given my finding that the locomotor activating effects of amphetamine rely on slightly different mechanisms in adolescence than in adulthood, study 4 was designed to determine whether the lasting consequences of drug use would also differ with age. A short period of pre-treatment with 0.5 mg/kg of amphetamine in adolescence, but not in adulthood, resulted in heightened sensitivity to an injection of amphetamine given 30 days after the start of the procedure, when adolescent rats had reached adulthood. The finding of an age-specific increase in amphetamine sensitivity is consistent with evidence for increased risk for addiction when drug use is initiated in adolescence compared to adulthood in people (Merline et aI., 2002), and with the hypothesis that adolescence is a sensitive period of development.
    • The light and dark sides of perfectionism : implications for health and well-being

      Sirianni Molnar, Danielle; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      The present work presents two studies that examined the association of perfectionism, operationally defined by Hewi t t and Fl e t t ' s (1991) multidimensional mode l of perfectionism, with health and subjective well-being (SWB). The underlying question of this research was whether perfectionism could be beneficial as well as detrimental to health and well-being, as this is one of the mos t highly debated questions in the current literature. In samples of relatively healthy university students (n = 538) and community adults suffering from various chronic illnesses (n = 772), results from Study One indicated that socially prescribed perfectionism (SPP) is directly associated wi th poor e r he a l th and well-being. Results further showed f rom a personcentered perspective that there is a l a rge group of individuals wi th high levels of SPP and that i t is indeed these individuals who reported the poorest health and lowe s t levels of well-being. Other-oriented perfectionism was found to be unrelated to health and SWB. Findings revealed that when perfectionism is self-imposed (i.e., self-oriented perfectionism; SOP), i t is neither healthy nor unhealthy in an absolute sense. From the variable-centered perspective, this conclusion was supported by the f a c t tha t SOP was associated wi th both positive (e.g., be t t e r mental health and highe r levels of SWB in the student sample), and nega t ive correlates (e.g., higher levels of negative affect, stress, and neuroticism in both samples). Evidence f rom the chronically-ill sample further substantiated this conclusion by showing that there may be an optimal level of SOP, because mode r a t e levels of SOP we r e found to be associated with be t t e r health and highe r levels of SWB, whereas levels tha t we r e too low or too high we r e found to be associated with poor e r health and lowe r levels of SWB. Findings f rom the person-centered approach we r e particularly informative, in that they not only demonstrated tha t unique profiles of
    • Electrocortical indices of cognitive control in working memory : exploring the effects of proactive interference, cognitive load, and aging

      Tays, William James; Department of Psychology (2012-04-04)
      Cognitive control involves the ability to flexibly adjust cognitive processing in order to resist interference and promote goal-directed behaviour. Although frontal cortex is considered to be broadly involved in cognitive control, the mechanisms by which frontal brain areas implement control functions are unclear. Furthermore, aging is associated with reductions in the ability to implement control functions and questions remain as to whether unique cortical responses serve a compensatory role in maintaining maximal performance in later years. Described here are three studies in which electrophysiological data were recorded while participants performed modified versions of the standard Sternberg task. The goal was to determine how top-down control is implemented in younger adults and altered in aging. In study I, the effects of frequent stimulus repetition on the interference-related N450 were investigated in a Sternberg task with a small stimulus set (requiring extensive stimulus resampling) and a task with a large stimulus set (requiring no stimulus resampling).The data indicated that constant stimulus res amp ling required by employing small stimulus sets can undercut the effect of proactive interference on the N450. In study 2, younger and older adults were tested in a standard version of the Sternberg task to determine whether the unique frontal positivity, previously shown to predict memory impairment in older adults during a proactive interference task, would be associated with the improved performance when memory recognition could be aided by unambiguous stimulus familiarity. Here, results indicated that the frontal positivity was associated with poorer memory performance, replicating the effect observed in a more cognitively demanding task, and showing that stimulus familiarity does not mediate compensatory cortical activations in older adults. Although the frontal positivity could be interpreted to reflect maladaptive cortical activation, it may also reflect attempts at compensation that fail to fully ameliorate agerelated decline. Furthermore, the frontal positivity may be the result of older adults' reliance on late occurring, controlled processing in contrast to younger adults' ability to identify stimuli at very early stages of processing. In the final study, working memory load was manipulated in the proactive interference Sternberg task in order to investigate whether the N450 reflects simple interference detection, with little need for cognitive resources, or an active conflict resolution mechanism that requires executive resources to implement. Independent component analysis was used to isolate the effect of interference revealing that the canonical N450 was based on two dissociable cognitive control mechanisms: a left frontal negativity that reflects active interference resolution, , but requires executive resources to implement, and a right frontal negativity that reflects global response inhibition that can be relied on when executive resources are minimal but at the cost of a slowed response. Collectively, these studies advance understanding of the factors that influence younger and older adults' ability to satisfy goal-directed behavioural requirements in the face of interference and the effects of age-related cognitive decline.
    • EXPLORING THE DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CORRELATES OF SPIRITUALITY /RELIGIOSITY ACROSS ADOLESCENCE

      Good, Marie; Department of Psychology (2012-07-30)
      The goal of the four studies that comprised this dissertation was to examine how spirituality/religiosity (SIR), as both an institutional and personal phenomenon, developed over time, and how its institutional (i.e., religious activity involvement) and personal (i.e., sense of connection with the sacred) components were uniquely linked with psychosocial adjustment. In Study 1, the differential longitudinal correlates of religious service attendance, as compared to involvement in other clubs, were evaluated with a sample of adolescents (n=1050) who completed a survey in grades 9, 11 and 12. Religious attendance and involvement in non-religious clubs were uniquely associated with positive adjustment in terms of lower substance use and better academic marks, particularly when involvement was sustained over time. In Study 2, the direction of effects was tested for the association between religious versus non-religious activities and both substance use and academic marks. Participants (n= 3993) were surveyed in grades 9 through 12. Higher religious attendance (but not non-religious club involvement) in one grade predicted lower levels of substance use in the next grade. Higher levels of nonreligious club involvement (but not religious service attendance) in one grade predicted higher academic achievement in the next grade, and higher academic achievement in one grade predicted more frequent non-religious club involvement in the next grade. The results suggest that different assets may be fostered in religious as compared to nonreligious activities, and, specifically, religious activity involvement may be important for the avoidance of substance use. The goal of Study 3 was to assess the unique associations between the institutional versus personal dimensions of SIR and a wide range of domains of psychosocial adjustment (namely, intrapersonal well-being, substance use, risk attitudes, parental relationship quality, academic orientation, and club involvement), and to examine the direction of effects in these associations. Participants (n=756) completed a survey in grades 11 and 12. Personal and institutional dimensions of SIR were differentially associated with adjustment, but it may only be in the domain of risk-taking (Le., risk attitudes, substance use) that SIR may predict positive adjustment over time. Finally, in Study 4, the goal was to examine how institutional and personal aspects of SIR developed within individual adolescents. Configurations of mUltiple dimensions of spirituality/religiosity were identified across 2 time points with an empirical classification procedure (cluster analysis), and sample- and individual-level development in these configurations were assessed. A five cluster-solution was optimal at both grades. Clusters were identified as aspirituallirreligious, disconnected wonderers, high institutional and personal, primarily personal, and meditators. With the exception of the high institutional and personal cluster, the cluster structures were stable over time. There also was significant intraindividual stability in all clusters over time; however, a significant proportion of individuals classified as high institutional and personal in Grade 11 moved into the primarily personal cluster in Grade 12. This program of research represented an important step towards addressing some of the limitations within the body of literature; namely, the uniqueness of religious activity involvement as a structured club, the differential link between institutional versus personal SIR and psychosocial adjustment, the direction of effects in the associations between institutional versus personal SIR and adjustment, and the way in which different dimensions of SIR may be configured and develop within individual adolescents over time.
    • Dispositional Forgiveness and Health in Romantic Relationships: An Exploration of Sex Differences, Actor Effects, and Partner Effects

      Green, Michelle; Department of Psychology (2012-07-30)
      The individual and dyadic associations between dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situations and mental and physical health in individuals involved in romantic relationships were examined. Sex differences in the relationship between dispositional forgiveness and health were examined. Sex differences in the dyadic relationship between forgiveness and health were also examined. The dispositional forgiveness scores of 297 partners involved in a romantic relationship were used to predict their own as well as their partners' physical and mental health. Both members of the relationship separately completed an Internet-based questionnaire assessing personality traits, relationship variables, and physical and mental health. The couple was provided with monetary compensation. Analyses revealed that women's dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situations were positively associated with their own physical and mental health. Similarly, men's dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situations were positively associated with their own mental and physical health. At the individual level, there were no sex differences in the relationship between dispositional forgiveness and health, nor were there sex differences in men and women's reports of dispositional forgiveness. Analyses revealed that men's forgiveness of others and situations were positively associated with their female partners' mental health. There were no partner effects for women or for physical health. The implications of these results for research in the forgiveness-health literature and research on forgiveness in romantic relationships were discussed as were directions for future research.
    • Youth Involvement in Organizational Decision Making: The Connection to Youth Initiative and Organizational Functioning

      Ramey, Heather; Department of Psychology (2012-07-31)
      Studying positive adolescent development requires an examination of the mutually beneficial associations between youth and their environment. These youthcontext relations include both the contributions that youth make to others and society and the youth-context interactions that might predict positive youth outcomes. Community and youth-serving organizations, where youth may be involved in decision-making roles such as service delivery, advocacy, or on boards of directors, can provide one important context for youth contributions and for positive adolescent development. Research on the outcomes of youth involvement in organizational decision-making, however, is limited, and largely consists of exploratory qualitative studies. This dissertation is formatted as an integrated article dissertation. It begins with a review of the literature on contexts of structured youth activities and positive youth development. This review is intended to describe theory on development-context relations, in which development is considered an interactive process that occurs between individuals and their contexts, as it pertains the positive development of youth who are involved in various structured activities (e.g., volunteering). This description follows with a review of current research, and conclusions and rationale for the current studies. Following this theoretical and research background, the dissertation includes reports of two studies that were designed to address gaps in the research on youth involvement in organizational decision-making. The first was a qualitative research synthesis to elucidate and summarize the extant qualitative research on the outcomes of youth involvement in organizational decision making on adults and organizations. Results of this study suggested a number of outcomes for service provision, staff, and broader organizational functioning, including both benefits to organizations as well as some costs. The second study was a quantitative analysis of the associations among youth involvement, organizations' learning culture, and youth initiative, and relied on survey data gathered from adults and youth in community-based organizations with youth involvement. As expected, greater youth involvement in organizational decision making was associated with higher learning culture within the organization. Two dimensions of youth involvement, greater program engagement and relationships with adults, were related to greater youth initiative. A third dimension, sense of ownership, was not- .-.- associated with youth's level of initiative. Moreover, the association between relationships with adults and youth initiative was only significant in organizations with relatively low learning culture. Despite some limitations, these studies contribute to the research literature by providing some indication of the potential benefits and costs of youth involvement and by making an important contribution toward the early stages of context-level analyses of youth development. Findings have important implications for practitioners, funders, future research, and lifespan development theory.
    • Determinants and Consequences of Dehumanization: An Interspecies Model of Prejudice

      Costello, Kimberly; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2013-01-14)
      Dehumanizing ideologies that explicitly liken other humans to “inferior” animals can have negative consequences for intergroup attitudes and relations. Surprisingly, very little is known about the causes of dehumanization, and essentially no research has examined strategies for reducing dehumanizing tendencies. The Interspecies Model of Prejudice specifies that animalistic dehumanization may be rooted in basic hierarchical beliefs regarding human superiority over animals. This theoretical reasoning suggests that narrowing the human-animal divide should also reduce dehumanization. The purpose of the present dissertation, therefore, was to gain a more complete understanding of the predictors of and solutions to dehumanization by examining the Interspecies Model of Prejudice, first from a layperson’s perspective and then among young children. In Study 1, laypeople strongly rejected the human-animal divide as a probable cause of, or solution to, dehumanization, despite evidence that their own personal beliefs in the human-animal divide positively predicted their dehumanization (and prejudice) scores. From Study 1, it was concluded that the human-animal divide, despite being a robust empirical predictor of dehumanization, is largely unrecognized as a probable cause of, or solution to, dehumanization by non-experts in the psychology of prejudice. Studies 2 and 3 explored the expression of dehumanization, as well as the Interspecies Model of Prejudice, among children ages six to ten years (Studies 2 and 3) and parents (Study 3). Across both studies, White children showed evidence of racial dehumanization by attributing a Black child target fewer “uniquely human” characteristics than the White child target, representing the first systematic evidence of racial dehumanization among children. In Study 3, path analyses supported the Interspecies Model of Prejudice among children. Specifically, children’s beliefs in the human-animal divide predicted greater racial prejudice, an effect explained by heightened racial dehumanization. Moreover, parents’ Social Dominance Orientation (preference for social hierarchy and inequality) positively predicted children’s human-animal divide beliefs. Critically, these effects remained significant even after controlling for established predictors of child-prejudice (i.e., parent prejudice, authoritarian parenting, and social-cognitive skills) and relevant child demographics (i.e., age and sex). Similar patterns emerged among parent participants, further supporting the Interspecies Model of Prejudice. Encouragingly, children reported narrower human-animal divide perceptions after being exposed to an experimental prime (versus control) that highlighted the similarities among humans and animals. Together the three studies reported in this dissertation offer important and novel contributions to the dehumanization and prejudice literature. Not only did we find the first systematic evidence of racial dehumanization among children, we established the human-animal divide as a meaningful dehumanization precursor. Moreover, empirical support was obtained for the Interspecies Model of Prejudice among diverse samples including university students (Study 1), children (Studies 2 and 3), and adult-aged samples (Study 3). Importantly, each study also highlights the promising social implication of targeting the human-animal divide in interventions to reduce dehumanization and other prejudicial processes.
    • VOCATIONAL INTERESTS: CONSTRUCT VALIDITY AND MEASUREMENT

      Pozzebon, Julie A.; Department of Psychology (2013-05-07)
      This dissertation addressed several questions relevant to vocational interests and personality characteristics, examining (a) the roles of personality, vocational interests, and sexual fantasies in defining a general factor of Masculinity/Femininity (M/F) (Study 1), (b) the validity of a new measure of vocational interests (Study 2), and (c) the individual difference characteristics that discriminate between students in various academic majors, and that predict academic outcomes (Study 3). In Study 1, vocational interests, personality, and sexual fantasies were examined to find whether these variables would yield a general Masculinity/Femininity (M/F) factor, and whether that factor would still emerge when controlling for participant sex. The results of Study 1 revealed that a general factor of M/F did emerge. When sex was removed, the loadings of vocational interests decreased from high to very low, suggesting that the link of vocational interests with other indicators of M/F is mainly due to sex differences in these variables. The purpose of Study 2 was to validate the Oregon Vocational Interest Scales (ORVIS), a new public domain vocational interests questionnaire designed to measure eight vocational interest scales. ORVIS scores obtained in a college and community sample were compared with those of two personality measures and two cognitive ability tests. Results from this study showed that the ORVIS scales were reliable and showed good construct validity. The purpose of Study 3, using the ORVIS along with the HEXACO-PI and tests of cognitive ability, was to examine the individual difference characteristics of students in different academic majors, and to use the congruence between a student's academic major and vocational interests as a predictor of academic outcomes, such as GPA, academic major change, and satisfaction with major. The results of Study 3 revealed that students in different academic majors show theoretically meaningful differences in personality, abilities, and interests. Conscientiousness and math ability were found to be the best predictors of academic outcomes. However, congruence between major and interests did not add significant predictive validity to any of these outcomes beyond personality and ability. Together, these three studies show the role of vocational interests in defming MlF and in predicting various academic outcomes.