• Effective Police Interviewing

      Logue, Michael; Department of Psychology
      Suspect interviewing is a vital tool for law enforcement agencies. However, a large body of empirical literature has demonstrated that many interviewing techniques limit the amount of information gleaned and demonstrate chance levels of deception detection accuracy. The series of studies presented provide evidence that the application of Reality Monitoring (RM) to statements elicited by a modified version of the Cognitive Interview for Suspects (CIS) improves deception detection accuracy in comparison to levels previously reported in the literature. Study 1 considers deception detection accuracy in statements provided in a mock theft scenario. Participants were interviewed using a modified version of the CIS. Six RM criteria were applied to all statements as a measure of deception detection. This study found an overall accuracy rating of 86.6%, supporting the use of this protocol. Study 2 directly compares deception detection accuracy of RM to the subjective judgements of observers. Three hundred and ninety observers judged deceptiveness of 100 CIS interviews previously recorded in Study 1. Collectively the average level of accuracy for observer ratings of the first question of the CIS interviews was 52.73% and only 47.82% at the conclusion of the interview. Observer ratings of deception became significantly less accurate at the conclusion of the interview (t(389) = 4.75, p <.01). In contrast, the RM scale was highly accurate (92.5 %) in a direct comparison of the same interviews. Study 3 considers whether certain personality traits, namely psychopathy and social dominance, increase successful deception both in terms of observer ratings and Reality Monitoring. Findings indicate that social dominance was related to increased observer ratings of honesty over time, however socially dominant people were not particularly successful deceivers. Similarly, psychopathic traits were not significantly related to deceptive ability overall. However, Factor 2 psychopathy was linked to being less believable by observers, even when telling the truth. These personality traits were not linked to an increased ability to beat Reality Monitoring, providing further evidence for the use of this scale. Collectively, the studies presented provide evidence of the effectiveness of the use of Reality Monitoring on statements derived from the Cognitive Interview for Suspects.
    • Electrocortical indices of cognitive control in working memory : exploring the effects of proactive interference, cognitive load, and aging

      Tays, William James; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 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.
    • An Electrophysiological Investigation into the Role of Cognitive Control in the Attentional Blink

      MacLean, Mary H.; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2013-08-22)
      Accuracy at reporting a second-target (T2) is reduced if it is presented within approximately 500 ms of the first target (T1) – an attentional blink (AB). Early models explained the AB in terms of attentional limitations creating a processing bottleneck such that T2 processing would be impaired while T1 processing was ongoing. Theoretical models of the AB have more recently been expanded to include the role of cognitive control. In this dissertation I propose that cognitive control, defined as the optimization of information processing in order to achieve goals, is maladapted to the dual-task conditions of the AB task in that cognitive control optimizes the T1 goal, due to its temporal proximity, at the cost of T2. I start with the concept that the role of cognitive control is to serve goals, and that how goals are conceived of and the degree of motivation associated with those goals will determine whether cognitive control will create the condition that cause the AB. This leads to the hypothesis that electrophysiological measures of cognitive control and the degree of attentional investment resulting from cognitive control modulate the AB and explain individual differences in the AB. In a series of four studies feedback-related N2 amplitude, (reflecting individual differences in the strength of cognitive control), and event-related and resting alpha frequency oscillatory activity (reflecting degree of attentional investment), are used to explain both intra- and inter-individual variability in performance on the AB task. Results supported the hypothesis that stronger cognitive control and greater attentional investment are associated with larger AB magnitudes. Attentional investment, as measured by alpha frequency oscillations, and cognitive control, as measured by the feedback-related N2, did not relate to each other as hypothesized. It is proposed that instead of a measure of attentional investment alone, alpha frequency oscillatory activity actually reflects control over information processing over time, in other words the timing of attention. With this conceptualization, various aspects of cognitive control, either related to the management of goals (feedback-related N2) or the management of attention over time to meet goals, explain variability in the AB.
    • Electrophysiological investigations of the timing of face processing

      Zheng, Xin; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2013-05-07)
      As important social stimuli, faces playa critical role in our lives. Much of our interaction with other people depends on our ability to recognize faces accurately. It has been proposed that face processing consists of different stages and interacts with other systems (Bruce & Young, 1986). At a perceptual level, the initial two stages, namely structural encoding and face recognition, are particularly relevant and are the focus of this dissertation. Event-related potentials (ERPs) are averaged EEG signals time-locked to a particular event (such as the presentation of a face). With their excellent temporal resolution, ERPs can provide important timing information about neural processes. Previous research has identified several ERP components that are especially related to face processing, including the N 170, the P2 and the N250. Their nature with respect to the stages of face processing is still unclear, and is examined in Studies 1 and 2. In Study 1, participants made gender decisions on a large set of female faces interspersed with a few male faces. The ERP responses to facial characteristics of the female faces indicated that the N 170 amplitude from each side of the head was affected by information from eye region and by facial layout: the right N 170 was affected by eye color and by face width, while the left N 170 was affected by eye size and by the relation between the sizes of the top and bottom parts of a face. In contrast, the P100 and the N250 components were largely unaffected by facial characteristics. These results thus provided direct evidence for the link between the N 170 and structural encoding of faces. In Study 2, focusing on the face recognition stage, we manipulated face identity strength by morphing individual faces to an "average" face. Participants performed a face identification task. The effect of face identity strength was found on the late P2 and the N250 components: as identity strength decreased from an individual face to the "average" face, the late P2 increased and the N250 decreased. In contrast, the P100, the N170 and the early P2 components were not affected by face identity strength. These results suggest that face recognition occurs after 200 ms, but not earlier. Finally, because faces are often associated with social information, we investigated in Study 3 how group membership might affect ERP responses to faces. After participants learned in- and out-group memberships of the face stimuli based on arbitrarily assigned nationality and university affiliation, we found that the N170 latency differentiated in-group and out-group faces, taking longer to process the latter. In comparison, without group memberships, there was no difference in N170 latency among the faces. This dissertation provides evidence that at a neural level, structural encoding of faces, indexed by the N170, occurs within 200 ms. Face recognition, indexed by the late P2 and the N250, occurs shortly afterwards between 200 and 300 ms. Social cognitive factors can also influence face processing. The effect is already evident as early as 130-200 ms at the structural encoding stage.
    • Electrophysiological measures of flexible attentional control and visual working memory maintenance

      Salahub, Christine; Department of Psychology
      Top-down attentional control can be used to both guide attention toward and away from items according to their goal relevance. When given a feature-based cue, such as the colour of an upcoming target, individuals can allocate attention and memory resources according to the item’s priority. This distribution of resources is continuous, such that the amount that an item receives is dependent on its likelihood of being probed. However, top-down goals are often challenged by bottom-up stimulus salience of distractors. One’s ability to avoid attentional capture by distractors is limited by attentional control over bottom-up biases. In particular, individuals with anxiety have attentional biases toward both neutral and threatening distractors, leading to unnecessary storage of distractors in visual working memory (VWM). Using electrophysiology, it is possible to study the time course of these attentional processes to gain a better understanding of how attentional selection, suppression, and VWM maintenance relate to attentional control. The present thesis explores the event-related potential (ERP) correlates and time course of flexible attentional control, as well as how individual differences in anxiety limit this ability. In the first study, I used positive and negative feature-based cues to demonstrate that attentional selection occurs earlier when guided by target information than distractor information. Additionally, it was found that greater anxiety resulted in selection of the salient distractor, demonstrating that anxiety compromises early attentional control. For the second study, I further examined deficits in attentional control in anxiety. Here, it was demonstrated that individuals with high anxiety had early selection of threat-related distractors, whereas individuals with low anxiety could pro-actively suppress them. Interestingly, this effect did not carry over to VWM maintenance, suggesting that deficits in early attentional control do not necessarily result in poor memory filtering. In the final study, I examined the link between continuous attentional allocation and VWM maintenance, finding that individuals use priority information to flexibly select and filter information from VWM. Together, in this thesis I propose that attentional control over selection, suppression, and VWM filtering processes is flexible, time-dependent, and driven both by external cues and internal biases related to individual differences in anxiety.
    • EXPLORING THE DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CORRELATES OF SPIRITUALITY /RELIGIOSITY ACROSS ADOLESCENCE

      Good, Marie; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 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.
    • Exploring the impact of outgroup membership discoveries on individual outcomes and intergroup relations

      MacInnis, Cara; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2013-07-19)
      Group memberships represent important components of identity, with people holding membership in various groups and categories. The groups that one belongs to are known as ingroups, and the groups that one does not belong to are known as outgroups. Movement between groups can occur, such that an individual becomes a member of a former outgroup. In some cases, this movement between groups can represent a sudden discovery for the self and/or others, especially when one becomes a member of an ambiguous, concealable, or otherwise not readily visible group. The effects of this type of movement, however, are poorly documented. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate these outgroup membership discoveries, examining the individual intrapsychic, interpersonal, and potential intergroup effects of both self- and other-outgroup membership discoveries. Specifically, discoveries of homosexuality were examined in three studies. In Study 1, hypothetical reactions to self- and other-homosexuality discovery were assessed; in Study 2, the effects of discovering self-homosexuality (vs. self-heterosexuality) were experimentally examined; and in Study 3, the effects of discovering another’s homosexuality earlier relative to later in a developing friendship were experimentally examined. Study 1 revealed that, upon a discovery of self-homosexuality, participants expected negative emotions and a more negative change in feelings toward the self. Upon a discovery of a friend’s homosexuality, participants expected a more negative change in feelings toward the friend, but more a positive change in feelings toward homosexuals. For both hypothetical self- and friend- homosexuality discoveries, more negative expected emotions predicted more negative expected change in feelings toward the target individual (the self or friend), which in turn predicted more negative expected change in feelings toward homosexuals as a group. Further, for self-homosexuality discovery, the association between negative expected emotions and negative expected change in feelings toward the self was stronger among those higher in authoritarianism. Study 2 revealed that, upon discovering one’s own homosexuality (vs. heterosexuality), heterosexual participants experienced more negative emotions, more fear of discrimination, and more negative self-evaluations. The effect of the homosexuality discovery manipulation on negative self-evaluations was mediated by fear of discrimination. Further, those higher in authoritarianism or pre-test prejudice toward homosexuals demonstrated more negative emotions following the manipulation. Study 3 revealed that upon discovering an interaction partner’s homosexuality earlier (vs. later) participants reported a more positive contact experience, a closer bond with the partner, and more positive attitudes toward the partner. Earlier (vs. later) discovery predicted more positive contact experience, which in turn predicted a closer bond with the partner. Closer bond with the partner subsequently predicted more positive evaluations of the partner. Interestingly, the association between bond with partner and more positive attitudes toward the partner was stronger among those higher in authoritarianism or pre-test prejudice toward homosexuals. Overall, results suggest that self-homosexuality discovery results in negative outcomes, whereas discovering another’s homosexuality can result in positive outcomes, especially when homosexuality is discovered earlier (vs. later). Implications of these findings for both actual outgroup membership discoveries and social psychological research are discussed.
    • Extending Intergroup Contact Theory to Men’s Anti-Women Biases

      Earle, Megan; Department of Psychology
      Men’s exploitation of women in heterosexual relationships is commonplace, both through sexually assaulting or otherwise taking advantage of women’s bodies, and in exploiting women for domestic labour such as housework and childcare. In the current investigation, we first present evidence for the co-occurrence of men’s willingness to sexually exploit and their willingness to domestically exploit their partners, then assess predictors and emotional processes underlying such hostility. Specifically, in Chapter 2, we develop a two-dimensional scale of willingness to exploit women with male participants (Study 1a; n = 103) and provide evidence that sexual exploitation willingness and domestic exploitation willingness are indeed separate, but related, factors. In Study 1b, we perform confirmatory analysis of this measure in two additional samples (n = 129 and n = 632 respectively) and provide evidence of construct validity for the scale. Then, Study 1c (n = 281) we provide evidence for stability of the construct over time, as well as its ability to predict behavioural indicators of exploitation. In Chapter 3, we investigate predictors and emotional processes underlying anti-women hostility and willingness to exploit women drawing on intergroup contact theory. In a correlational investigation (Study 2; n = 229), we find that perceived negative experiences with women predict greater anti-women bias via greater anger toward women. We then confirm this pattern of results using an experimental manipulation in Study 3 (n = 174), finding indirect effects of anger toward women in the relation between negative contact condition (vs. control) and greater anti-women bias. Positive contact, in contrast, has little relation with more positive attitudes toward women. Finally, in a three-wave longitudinal investigation (n = 577), Study 4 presents evidence for more nuanced relations between perceived contact, anger, and anti-women hostility; the findings suggest that not only do negative contact experiences predict downstream anger toward women, but also that anger and anti-women attitudes feed into men’s perceptions of their contact experiences with women. Overall, these findings reveal that perceived negative (but not positive) contact with, and anger toward, women are particularly relevant to understanding anti-women biases in heterosexual relations and future directions for reducing anti-women hostility are discussed.
    • THE FACIAL WIDTH-TO-HEIGHT RATIO AND ITS ROLE IN ADVERTISEMENTS AND ASSESSMENTS OF THREAT POTENTIAL

      Geniole, Shawn; Department of Psychology
      As do many species, humans visually assess the ability and propensity of others to cause trouble or harm (threat potential), although the mechanisms that guide this ability are unknown. One potential mechanism that may underlie advertisements and assessments of threat is the facial width-to-height ratio (face ratio). The overarching goal of this thesis was to test both the ecological validity of the face ratio (i.e., the extent to which it maps onto an individual’s actual threat potential), and its utility in influencing observers’ first impressions of traits related to threat potential. In Chapter 2, I found that men (n = 146) but not women (n = 76) with larger face ratios were more likely to cheat in a lottery for a cash prize than were men with smaller face ratios. In Chapter 3, to better identify the precise social function of the metric, I examined its differential association with two types of threat-related judgements, untrustworthiness and aggressiveness. The face ratio (n of faces = 141) was more strongly linked to observers’ (n = 129) judgements of aggression than to their judgements of trust, although it is possible that this metric advertises threat potential more generally, of which aggression is a best indicator. In Chapter 4 (which extended some preliminary, additional findings from Chapter 3), I found that observers’ (n = 56) judgements of aggression were strongly correlated with the face ratio (n of faces = 25) even when men were bearded, suggesting that this metric could have been operational in our ancestral past when interactions likely involved bearded men. In Chapter 5, I combined effect sizes from experiments conducted from several independent labs and identified significant (albeit weak) associations between the face ratio and actual threat behaviour, and significant (and stronger) associations between the face ratio and judgements of threat potential. Together, this body of work provides initial evidence that the face ratio, and sensitivity to it, may be part of an evolved system designed for advertising and assessing threat in humans, akin to threat assessment systems identified in other species.
    • Genetic and Electrophysiological Correlates of Self-Regulation in Adolescence

      Lackner, Christine; Department of Psychology
      Self-regulation is considered a powerful predictor of behavioral and mental health outcomes during adolescence and emerging adulthood. In this dissertation I address some electrophysiological and genetic correlates of this important skill set in a series of four studies. Across all studies event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded as participants responded to tones presented in attended and unattended channels in an auditory selective attention task. In Study 1, examining these ERPs in relation to parental reports on the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) revealed that an early frontal positivity (EFP) elicited by to-be-ignored/unattended tones was larger in those with poorer self-regulation. As is traditionally found, N1 amplitudes were more negative for the to-be-attended rather than unattended tones. Additionally, N1 latencies to unattended tones correlated with parent-ratings on the BRIEF, where shorter latencies predicted better self-regulation. In Study 2 I tested a model of the associations between selfregulation scores and allelic variations in monoamine neurotransmitter genes, and their concurrent links to ERP markers of attentional control. Allelic variations in dopaminerelated genes predicted both my ERP markers and self-regulatory variables, and played a moderating role in the association between the two. In Study 3 I examined whether training in Integra Mindfulness Martial Arts, an intervention program which trains elements of self-regulation, would lead to improvement in ERP markers of attentional control and parent-report BRIEF scores in a group of adolescents with self-regulatory difficulties. I found that those in the treatment group amplified their processing of attended relative to unattended stimuli over time, and reduced their levels of problematic behaviour whereas those in the waitlist control group showed little to no change on both of these metrics. In Study 4 I examined potential associations between self-regulation and attentional control in a group of emerging adults. Both event-related spectral perturbations (ERSPs) and intertrial coherence (ITC) in the alpha and theta range predicted individual differences in self-regulation. Across the four studies I was able to conclude that real-world self-regulation is indeed associated with the neural markers of attentional control. Targeted interventions focusing on attentional control may improve self-regulation in those experiencing difficulties in this regard.
    • An In-depth Examination of Personality and Aggression Across Different Contexts

      MacDonell, Elliott; Department of Psychology
      Acts of aggression are associated with a variety of negative outcomes. Accordingly, research has aimed to identify the personality traits that give rise to different forms of aggressive behaviour. Recent work has indicated that the factor of Honesty-Humility is associated with a variety of deviant behaviours, including aggression towards others; however, the nuances of these relationships require further investigation. This dissertation aimed to address several gaps in this literature through three main studies. In Study 1, we extended previous findings to younger populations, examining the associations between Honesty-Humility and aggression longitudinally in a large sample of children and youth. These findings demonstrated a bidirectional relationship between Honesty-Humility and aggression over time, such that low levels of Honesty-Humility resulted in higher levels of aggression and vice versa. In Study 2, we explored the specific facets of Honesty-Humility to determine if they differentially predict proactive and reactive aggression. Despite the theoretical link between Modesty and reactive aggression, we found limited support for this association, especially when controlling for proactive aggression. Overall, the Sincerity and Fairness facets were found to strongly predict both forms of aggression. Lastly, Study 3 explored the associations between Honesty-Humility and deviance, aggression, exploitation, and victimization in a workplace context. Robust relationships were found between Honesty-Humility and several deviant behaviours, further emphasizing the importance of this trait. In particular, when provided with the opportunity to aggress, individuals low in Honesty-Humility were more likely to do so, regardless of their level of power in the situation. Collectively, these findings indicate that Honesty-Humility is the strongest predictor of aggressive and deviant behaviour among the broad factors of personality. However, this dissertation extends previous findings by demonstrating the applicability of Honesty-Humility across different contexts and by providing a nuanced understanding of the components responsible for this relationship.
    • Indices and Implications of Emotional Underarousal for Persons with a History of Head Trauma

      Baker, Julie; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2014-12-12)
      We examined the role of altered emotional functioning across the spectrum of injury severity (mild head injury [MHI], moderate/severe traumatic brain injury [TBI]), its implications for social behaviours, and the effect of modifying arousal and its relation to cognitive performance. In the first study (N = 230), students with self-reported MHI endorsed engaging in socially unacceptable and erratic behaviours significantly more often than did those with no MHI. We did not find significant differences between the groups in the measure of emotional intelligence (EI); however, for students who reported a MHI, scores on the EI measure significantly predicted reports of socially unacceptable behaviours such that lower scores predicted poorer social functioning, accounting for approximately 20% of the variance. Also, the experience of postconcussive symptoms was found to be significantly greater for students with MHI relative to their peers. In the second study (N = 85), we further examined emotional underarousal in terms of physiological (i.e., electrodermal activation [EDA]) and self-reported responsivity to emotionally-evocative picture stimuli. Although the valence ratings of the stimuli did not differ between students with and without MHI as we had expected, we found evidence of reduced and/or indiscriminate emotional responding to the stimuli for those with MHI which mimics that observed in other studies for persons with moderate/severe TBI. We also found that emotional underarousal followed a gradient of injury severity despite reporting a pattern of experiencing more life stressors. In the third study (N = 81), we replicated our findings of emotional underarousal for those with head trauma and also uniquely explored neuroendocrine aspects (salivary cortisol; cortisol awakening response [CAR]) and autonomic indices (EDA) of emotional dysregulation in terms of stress responsivity across the spectrum of injury severity (MHI [n = 32], moderate/severe TBI [n = 9], and age and education matched controls [n = 40]). Although the manipulation was effective in modifying arousal state in terms of autonomic and self-reported indices, we did not support our hypothesis that increased arousal would be related to improved performance on cognitive measures for those with prior injury. To our knowledge, this is the only study to examine the CAR with this population. Repeated measure analysis revealed that, upon awakening, students with no reported head trauma illustrated the typical CAR increase 45 minutes after waking, whereas, students who had a history of either mild head trauma or moderate/severe TBI demonstrated a blunted CAR. Thus, across the three studies we have provided evidence of emotional underarousal, its potential implications for social interactions, and also have identified potentially useful indices of dysregulated stress responsivity regardless of injury severity.
    • Individual Differences in Global/Local Processing Bias and the Attentional Blink

      Dale, Gillian; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2014-01-27)
      When the second of two targets (T2) is presented temporally close to the first target (T1) in rapid serial visual presentation, accuracy to detect/identify T2 is markedly reduced as compared to longer target separations. This is known as the attentional blink (AB), and is thought to reflect a limitation of selective attention. While most individuals show an AB, research has demonstrated that individuals are variously susceptible to this effect. To explain these differences, Dale and Arnell (2010) examined whether dispositional differences in attentional breadth, as measured by the Navon letter task, could predict individual AB magnitude. They found that individuals who showed a natural bias toward the broad, global level of Navon letter stimuli were less susceptible to the AB as compared to individuals who showed a natural bias toward the detailed, local aspects of Navon letter stimuli. This suggests that individuals who naturally broaden their attention can overcome the AB. However, it was unclear how stable these individual differences were over time, and whether a variety of global/local tasks could predict AB performance. As such, the purpose of this dissertation was to investigate, through four empirical studies, the nature of individual differences in both global/local bias and the AB, and how these differences in attentional breadth can modulate AB performance. Study 1 was designed to examine the stability of dispositional global/local biases over time, as well as the relationships among three different global/local processing measures. Study 2 examined the stability of individual differences in the AB, as well as the relationship among two distinct AB tasks. Study 3 examined whether the three distinct global/local tasks used in Study 1 could predict performance on the two AB tasks from Study 2. Finally, Study 4 explored whether individual differences in global/local bias could be manipulated by exposing participants to high/low spatial frequencies and Navon stimuli. In Study 1, I showed that dispositional differences in global/local bias were reliable over a period of at least a week, demonstrating that these individual biases may be trait-like. However, the three tasks that purportedly measure global/local bias were unrelated to each other, suggesting that they measure unique aspects of global/local processing. In Study 2, I found that individual variation in AB performance was also reliable over a period of at least a week, and that the two AB task versions were correlated. Study 3 showed that dispositional global/local biases, as measured by the three tasks from Study 1, predicted AB magnitude, such that individuals who were naturally globally biased had smaller ABs. Finally, in Study 4 I demonstrated that these dispositional global/local biases are resistant to both spatial frequency and Navon letter manipulations, indicating that these differences are robust and intractable. Overall, the results of the four studies in this dissertation help clarify the role of individual differences in attentional breadth in selective attention.
    • INHUMAN TARGETS: Psychopathy, Dehumanization, and Sexist and Violent Attitudes Towards Women

      Methot-Jones, Tabitha; Department of Psychology
      The current work presents three studies that examined the role of dehumanization in the association between psychopathy and sexist and violent attitudes towards women. This program had two overarching goals in examining psychopathy, dehumanization, and sexist and violent attitudes towards women. The first goal was to examine whether an indirect association between psychopathy and negative attitudes towards women existed through dehumanization. The second goal was to explore if, by introducing information that humanizes women, levels of dehumanization could be mitigated for individuals high on psychopathic traits. Employing mixed samples for both studies (student and community), Study 1 (n = 514) and Study 2 (n = 202) provided evidence that psychopathy demonstrated an indirect relationship with sexist and violent attitudes towards women via dehumanization. Study 2 also expanded on Study 1 by including a behavioural measure of violent attitudes towards women. Finally, Study 3 (n = 206), again using a mixed sample, attempted to manipulate dehumanization to see if it, and the sexist and violent attitudes associated with it, would be mitigated. Unfortunately, the manipulation failed, but we were able to use the data from Study 3 to provide a replication of the results of Study 2. Across three studies results suggested that the path from psychopathy to negative attitudes towards women was at least partially (if not fully) indirect through dehumanization. This suggests that dehumanization may be an important mechanism to consider when examining the tendency of individuals high in psychopathic traits to engage in violence towards women. Furthermore, because psychopathic traits are associated with violence perpetrated against women, dehumanization could be an important construct to consider when examining potential avenues for clinical interventions. Even more broadly, dehumanization could be an important construct for mitigating the association between psychopathy and violence generally.
    • The interaction of sleep and hormones on emotion functioning

      Lustig, Kari; Department of Psychology
      Insufficient sleep has been associated with deficits in emotion processing; sleepy individuals show increased emotional reactivity and decreased emotion regulation. Individual differences that predict performance after sleep loss has remained largely elusive. Concentrations of cortisol, progesterone, and testosterone are candidate predictors for variability in performance following sleep loss. These hormones are associated with emotion functioning under well-rested conditions and show interactions with sleep and circadian rhythms. The central aim of this dissertation was to investigate the interaction of natural sleep and hormones on measures of emotion functioning. Study 1 examined the role of cortisol in the relationship between sleep (across the first three years of university), and self reported emotion functioning in undergraduate students. Poor sleep was associated with worse emotion regulation and reactivity, and greater concentrations of cortisol and cortisol/DHEA-S. Consistently poor sleepers over three years, who had high cortisol, experienced the greatest difficulties with emotion regulation. Study 2 investigated the association between sleep satisfaction and objective measures of sleep on self-reported emotional functioning in a group of children and adolescents. Importantly, in girls who were dissatisfied sleepers, being further though puberty was associated with the greatest difficulties with emotion regulation. Study 3 examined natural sleep, hormones, and menstrual phase on processing emotional stimuli. Participants completed sleep diaries and wore actigraphy watches for 3-weeks and completed measures of emotion perception on two occasions in the laboratory, in different menstrual phases for women. The study supported dynamic relationships between hormone concentrations and various measures of sleep duration and quality on the processing of emotion stimuli. Many relationships emerged for threatening emotions, indicating that high concentrations of testosterone, progesterone or cortisol, combined with poor sleep resulted in increased sensitivity towards threat detection. Together these studies provide evidence that hormones are an important factor in understanding the link between poor sleep and emotion functioning. Hormone concentration plays a role in understanding individual differences in response to sleep loss and can compound with sleep loss to result in worse emotional outcomes. Consideration of hormonal factors may help identify certain at-risk populations for sleep related deficits or timing of interventions.
    • 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
    • Investigating a Potential Function of Belief in a Just World: Providing Purpose in Life as a Pathway to Subjective Well-Being

      Rubel, Alicia N.; Department of Psychology
      According to justice motive theory, individuals have a fundamental need to believe that the world is a just place where people get what they deserve, or to have belief in a just world (BJW; Lerner, 1977, 1980). There are several reasons why individuals need BJW that have been proposed in the extant literature (Dalbert, 1999, 2001; Hafer, 2000; Lerner, 1980; Lerner & Miller, 1978; Lipkus, Dalbert, & Siegler, 1996). In the current research, I examine two of these functions: to encourage investment in long-term goals (Callan, Shead, & Olson, 2009; Hafer, 2000; Hafer, Bègue, Choma, & Dempsey, 2005) and to reduce fear of death (Hirschberger, 2006; Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1997). Moreover, I propose a new function of BJW—to provide individuals with a sense of purpose in life. Specifically, I argue that BJW provides a sense of purpose because, if individuals have BJW, then they can see the world as a place where their lives are both desirable and important. Further, having a sense of purpose in life should in turn improve subjective well-being (Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995; Ryff, Lee, Essex, & Schmutte, 1994; Zika & Chamberlain, 1992). Therefore, purpose in life, or purpose anxiety, should mediate the association between BJW and well-being. I examined this proposal in four studies. For each study, I predicted that BJW would have an indirect association with positive affect, negative affect, and satisfaction with life, through purpose in life, or purpose anxiety, and that this association would be unique from those through other potential mediators in each model. My hypotheses were supported in each of the four studies. I discuss limitations, topics for future research, and implications for theory as well as reducing victim blame and supporting victims of trauma.
    • 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
    • Learning and recognizing faces across variability in appearance: An examination of children and older adults

      Matthews, Claire M.; Department of Psychology
      Recognizing facial identity requires two skills: telling a person apart from similar looking people and recognizing them across changes in their appearance. Until recently, the vast majority of studies relied on tightly controlled images to examine face learning and recognition. Research using ambient images (i.e., images that capture within-person variability in appearance) is necessary to assess the true challenge of face learning and recognition in daily life. Only a few studies have examined face learning and recognition using ambient images in children, and, to the best of my knowledge, no studies have examined them in older adults. My dissertation was designed to address these gaps in the literature. In Study 1, children aged 6 to 11 were tested to examine two mechanisms that underlie face learning in young adults: Ensemble coding and the ability to benefit from exposure to variability in appearance in a perceptual matching task. My results revealed that both mechanisms are adultlike by the age of 6. First, children extracted the average of a set of images of an identity, regardless of whether those images were presented simultaneously or sequentially. Second, although their overall accuracy was lower than that of young adults, children showed comparable benefit from viewing multiple images of a to-be-learned identity in a perceptual face learning task. In Study 2, I examined whether younger children (4- and 5-year-olds) benefit from exposure to multiple images when learning a new face in a perceptual task. Although viewing multiple images made young children more sensitive to identity, it also led them to adopt a less conservative response bias, driven both by an increase in hits and an increase in false alarms. This increase in false alarms was not found for older children and adults in Study 1, suggesting that the ability to benefit from exposure to variability in appearance during face learning is not fully refined before the age of 6. In Study 3, I provided the first examination of face learning and recognition in older adults using a battery of tasks. On three of the five tasks, older adults showed comparable learning and recognition to young adults: 1) Older adults recognized a familiar face without error; 2) they showed ensemble coding of facial identity, regardless of whether the images were presented simultaneously or sequentially and 3) despite making more errors than young adults overall, they showed comparable benefit from viewing multiple images of a newly encountered face in the perceptual learning task. In the remaining two tasks, older adults showed a different pattern than young adults: 1) Older adults made fewer hits and more false alarms than young adults when matching images of wholly unfamiliar faces; and 2) after being exposed to low variability in appearance in a face memory task, older adults became more conservative than did younger adults, despite showing comparable benefits in sensitivity. My results reveal that the same abilities that show prolonged development during childhood are those undergo changes in aging. Collectively, my dissertation provides novel insights about learning and recognizing facial identity during childhood and aging and has important implications for understanding models of face processing.
    • 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