Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Thinking Ahead
The present thesis entails a qualitative investigation of the unique notion to transition media change from the current paper-based system to the potential use of information technology innovation for communication between health care providers and employers during return to work. Stakeholder perspectives on relevant communication phenomena were gathered from workers, employers, and health care providers with experience in return to work. Methods for analysis involved critical realist grounded theory, as well as the use of a prototype innovation, named the Return to Work Expert App, as a platform for participant evaluation and discourse. The study’s findings provided comprehensive and in-depth understanding of return to work communication, beyond its empirical regularities. The generative mechanisms of common communication problems that were discovered included situated reasoning, media as information (“the medium is the message”), epistemological disjuncture, egoism-altruism-collectivism quandary, and perspective taking. A novel theoretical framework based on ecological psychology was also advanced to offer a coherent and systematic understanding of the situated nature of health care providers’ reasoning and information development. Media change via the Return to Work Expert App was argued to be limited in handling and resolving many of the communication problems that can occur. However, the app had perceptible value and benefits to prospective users that suggested a distinct advantage over current paper-based practices. Opportunities for further development and research exist to address relevant challenges, most notable of all being the need to address the app’s burden of proof. For the interested reader, this thesis advances research and knowledge of provider-employer communication to a state that is truly fitting of the importance acknowledged of it in the field of return to work. Author Keywords: critical realism, ecological psychology, media change, return to work, stakeholder communication, technological acceptance
Sweat it out
Many consumers purchase sweatshop products, despite the hazardous conditions for workers. The psychological factors that influence (un) ethical garment purchasing are not well understood. Two studies explored consumers’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour. University students (Study 1; N = 130) said they would pay more for ethically-labelled garments, particularly students who were community and future-orientated. Importantly, most students were unaware of where to purchase ethical garments. In Study 2, female undergraduate students (N = 74) were randomly assigned to read about a sweatshop collapse or garment care. Students who read about the disaster chose more ‘sweatshop-free’ garments in a virtual shopping task. All students spent similarly (clothes, accessories, and in general) in the week following the experiment, however. Students may buy ethically-made garments if clearly labelled, but sweatshop information in the media may not affect consumer behaviour. Changes in public policy and education about the human costs of overconsumption are needed. Author Keywords: Decision making, Ethical garments, Ethical purchasing, Materialism, Overconsumption
How Do We Let the Players Play and Keep Them Safe? The Issue of Problematic Beliefs in the Prevention of Concussion Injury
Athletes’ concussion risk is part of a complex system of personal and contextual factors. This study differentiated athletes based on attitudes and intentions towards protective behaviours. A cross-sectional survey design was used to sample varsity athletes. Three intention response subgroups (indifferent, reactive, and proactive) were identified. The indifferent group (28%) reported little-to-no intent to engage in risk reduction behaviours. These athletes reported lower belief in the efficacy of concussion management behaviours and greater risk acceptance attitudes. The proactive group (32%) reported intent to actively reduce personal concussion risk through engaging in behaviours such as confronting aggressive opponents about the risk they pose to others. The reactive group (40%) only reported intent to engage in concussion management behaviours. Indifferent athletes had the highest likelihood of concussion exposure followed by reactive athletes. The proactive athletes had the lowest likelihood. Concussion programs must address beliefs and intentions towards protective behaviours to improve effectiveness. Author Keywords: Athlete, Attitudes, Concussion, Injury Prevention, Intentions, Risk
CTRL + ALT + DEL
With the expansion of the internet, there are a number of opportunities to engage in cyber-bullying behaviour, however, to date, only a few studies have examined interpersonal predictors of cyber-bullying. The purpose of this research study was to explore relationship and personality factors associated with being a bully and/or a victim. The first goal of this study was to develop a comprehensive cyber-bullying measure. Results indicated three groups of cyber-bullying behaviours, including traditional (e.g. gossip); personal attack (e.g. negative remarks towards religion); and malicious behaviours (e.g. threats). Next, the associations between cyber-bullying and attachment, interdependence, and the dark triad of personality were examined. Analyses revealed that cyber-bullying was negatively associated with attachment security and interdependence and positively associated with insecurity and psychopathy. Discussion of the findings highlighted the importance of the dark triad in understanding predictors of cyber-bullying behaviours. Author Keywords: Attachment, Bullying, Cyber-bullying, Dark Triad, Interpersonal Relationships, Personality
Youth Justice in Canada
Strategies to reduce youth crime have been extensively researched and custody is not found to be effective. In the past, custody was a frequently used sentence, and while under the YOA the number of youth in custody was four times higher than that of adults in Canada. The use of custody sentences in Ontario has decreased in recent years, however; it remains above the Canadian average. Currently, alternatives to custody are also being implemented. This study aimed to gather lived experiences of those with firsthand experience in the youth justice system (offenders and staff). These individuals have working knowledge of effective practices for reducing recidivism. Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted. Interviews were coded and analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. A number of themes emerged, including various views on the benefits of custody, the importance of relationships, challenges of the job and the need for increased focus on prevention. Author Keywords: Interpretive Phenomenology, Rehabilitation, Treatment, Youth Justice
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of mental health and illness in Kuwait. Twenty-six participants were interviewed, including mental health professionals, family physicians, and service users. Findings suggest that inequality, oppression, and human rights violations may drive mental health issues in Kuwait. However, rather than addressing these factors, many healthcare providers are endorsing psychological testing and psychiatric medication, which may be resulting in the same iatrogenic (physician-induced) drug dependence that is seen in North America. An analysis of mainstream psychological theory, research and practice is provided, along with a bioethical critique of the World Health Organization’s efforts to reduce the global ‘burden’ of mental disorders. This study cuts across disciplinary boundaries and 1) supports medical anthropologists’ criticisms of the ‘advancement’ of global mental healthcare; 2) provides participant-driven, community-based alternatives that are specific to Kuwait; and 3) informs culturally defined notions of ‘care’ and ‘ethics’. Author Keywords: Clinicians' narratives, Critical Psychology, Human rights, Kuwait, Qualitative research, Transcultural psychiatry
Executive Function as a Predictor of Emotional, Behavioural, and Social Competence Problems in Children with Epilepsy
The study aimed to examine the association between different components of executive function (EF) and emotional, behavioural, and social competence problems (EBSP) in children with epilepsy. Although there is evidence of an association between EBSP and EF in typically developing children, little research has examined this relation in children with epilepsy. The sample comprised of 42 children with epilepsy, aged 6.0 to 18.1 years old. Results showed that EBSP were associated with EF in these children; however, different components of EF were related to different EBSP. Shifting was a significant predictor of emotional, behavioural, and social competence problems in children with epilepsy, whereas inhibition was a significant predictor of behavioural problems. This suggests that children with epilepsy, with different EF profiles may be at-risk for developing different types of problems. These results may aid researchers and clinicians with the development of new techniques to identify and treat children with EBSP. Author Keywords: behavioural problems, emotional problems, epilepsy, executive function, social competence
Why not give up? A study on the role of resourcefulness in goal pursuit
Past research suggests that taking a process oriented approach, setting clear and concrete goals, and using both conscious planning and proactive coping are the best methods to be successful with goal pursuit. Also the literature has found that individuals scoring higher in general resourcefulness tend to be more successful at achieving goals than their less resourceful counterparts. My thesis looked at these goal pursuit behaviours under the lens of resourcefulness using a mixed methods approach. After completing Rosenbaum’s self-control scale (1980) assessing general resourcefulness, participants took part in a semi-structured interview asking them about a recent goal they had set and how they dealt with interfering obstacles. The hope was hearing differences about how highly and less resourceful people discuss their goals and setbacks would give a deeper understanding about the characteristics of success. The themes emerging from the interviews were: blame and excuses versus understanding and growth, internal versus external factors, living in the moment versus conscious planning and magical versus realistic thinking. In contrast to low-scoring participants, highly resourceful individuals grew from their setbacks, were internally driven, consciously planned, and thought realistically about their goals. Less resourceful individual, on the other hand blamed outside factors and made excuses, were only motivated externally, didn’t plan out their goals and believed their goals would just magically materialize over time. My discussion focuses on the ability to train lower resourceful individuals over longer interventions, and the applications of understanding and using resourcefulness as a lens in future studies. Author Keywords: Goal, Habits, Quitting, Resourcefulness, Self-Control, Success
Practicing and Rewarding Task-Relevant Motor Variability to Optimize Motor Performance
It is universally accepted that human motor performance is variable in both its timing and spatial qualities. However, it is unclear to what extent motor variability impedes performance when learning a new skill and to what extent it enables our ability to learn. The first experiment examined whether performance during a test task depended on whether participants practiced to constrain or vary the task-relevant parameter. Participants used their right hand to make simple point-to-point movements. Results demonstrated the importance of paying attention to test task demands to evaluate which form of practice is most beneficial. The second experiment examined whether levels of variability could be manipulated using a reward-based paradigm to enhance learning when adapting to a perturbation of a simple visually-guided reaching movement. A reward-based feedback task was designed to encourage exploration along the task-relevant dimension, specifically movement direction variability. Overall, I did not find any significant results. Author Keywords: Adaptation, Motor Control, Motor Learning, Reaching
Social Communicative Factors as Predictors of Symptom Severity in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while providing many benefits, presents challenges to clinicians such as predicting the stability of symptoms. Accurately predicting symptom severity allows clinicians to confidently diagnose and assign the most appropriate treatment. Little research exists to date to predict symptom severity in children with ASD who have not been exposed to treatment. The present file review examined prelinguistic skills as predictors of symptom severity in a group of young children (age: 18 – 64 months) with ASD (n = 199) who had not been exposed to significant levels of treatment. Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that of the two core diagnostic features (social communicative deficits and restricted repetitive behaviours), social communicative skills best predicted symptom severity. Furthermore, social communicative gestures predicted symptom severity after age, adaptive behaviour, restricted repetitive behaviours, and functional gestures had been accounted for. Author Keywords: autism, gestures, predictors, prelinguistic, social communicative, symptom severity
Relationship between Virginity Scripts and Precoital Sexual Behaviour
Past research has examined the influence of cultural scripts on our first coital experience, but the impact of virginity scripts on precoital sexual behaviour remains unknown. The purpose of this study sought to examine the link between Carpenter’s (2001) cognitive frameworks of virginity and precoital sexual behaviour. Two hundred and forty eight participants (32 men, 215 women, and one unknown) were recruited from a Canadian university, all of whom had experienced precoital behaviour and first sexual intercourse. The findings indicated that past precoital behaviour and coital behaviour with first sexual partner had different relationship patterns with respect to virginity scripts. Virginity scripts were also related to current sexual sensation seeking, motivation for erotic arousal, sexual compatibility, comfort with sexuality, and approach to sexual relationships. Author Keywords: precoital sexual behaviour, sexual scripts, virginity frameworks, virginity loss
Cognitive and Affective Theory of Mind in Children and Young Adolescents
Recently, a distinction has been made between cognitive theory of mind, the ability to make inferences about other's beliefs and thoughts, and affective theory of mind, the ability to make inferences about other's emotional states. The purpose of this study is to determine if the distinction between cognitive and affective theory of mind is developmentally appropriate and whether the relation between language and theory of mind is maintained when cognitive and affective theory of mind are examined separately. The sample consisted of 20 children aged 6 to 9 years, and 27 children aged 11 to 15 years. Results showed that the older group outperformed the younger group on both cognitive and affective theory of mind, and that different aspects of language were related to each type of theory of mind. This suggests the distinction between cognitive and affective theory of mind may in fact be valid in this age range. Author Keywords: Affective Theory of Mind, Cognitive Theory of Mind, Development, Language

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Format: 2021/03/01