Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Perceive Me, Perceive You
The use of threats to feelings of intimacy and belonging, also known as relational aggression, has been previously explained using attachment representations and attributions in childhood. However, the combined role of attachment representations and attributions in explaining relational aggression in adult peer and romantic relationships has been unexplored. This study tested the associations between attachment, attributions, and relational aggression with a specific focus on the mediating role of attributions. A final sample of 258 undergraduate university students completed self-report surveys and vignettes to measure the variables of interest. Results suggested that attachment predicted relational aggression but, with one exception, attributions did not explain unique variance in relational aggression after controlling for attachment. Interestingly, hostile attributions mediated the relationship between dismissing attachment to romantic partners and romantic relational aggression. Therefore, individuals‘ attachment representations directly influenced their levels of relational aggression in relationships regardless of their attributions. Author Keywords: Adulthood, Attachment, Attributions, Mediation, Relational Aggression
Role of Media in Shaping Perceptions of HIV and Affecting Engagement in HIV Care
Media has had a significant influence on how individuals living with and at risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) care for their health. This research builds on previous research to explore the link between HIV related media messaging and HIV related health behaviours using a mixed methods approach. To investigate the access to and perceptions of HIV related media, a sample of 129 individuals took part in an online survey and 13 were assessed in follow up semi-structured interviews. People living with HIV, people at risk of HIV, and participants not in those groups differed on a number of HIV media access variables, including the amount of time spent interacting with HIV related media, how they accessed it, and its perceived effects on their HIV related attitudes and behaviours. Interviews explored these differences more, finding that while current HIV related media is less stigmatizing and more factual than the past, most current HIV related media is distributed via social media and is accessed by a relatively small group of HIV specialist viewers. The history of HIV related media continues to play an important role in determining perceptions of HIV related media. Implications of this study will inform strategies for the communication of HIV health messages. Author Keywords: AIDS, HIV, Media and Health, Mixed Methodology, Social Determinants of Health, Social Media
Money for Nothing
The strong relationship between poverty and poor health has been well-established for millennia; however, the mechanisms through which this relationship manifests are only recently becoming understood. Perceptions of relative wealth and status, chronic stress, and immunodeficiencies are implicated in recent research studying the social determinants of health. The purpose of the current study is to access the detailed and contextualized perceptions of these relationships and contribute evidence-based policy suggestions to improve the health of the Canadian population. A qualitative approach was employed to provide a unique perspective in addressing the concerns identified within the literature, and fifteen semi-structured interviews with relevant experts were conducted and evaluated using a Content Analysis. The results of the current study suggested a consensus among the participants with regards to the income-related social factors which determine poor health outcomes. A basic income was also perceived to moderate these mechanisms to a certain degree, but was not considered the most effective policy solution. Emulating the progressive tax policies of more economically equal countries was the preferred approach to addressing the issues of poverty and poor health in Canada (though a basic income was not excluded as a potential subsection of these policies). A lack of political will was perceived to be one of the primary obstacles preventing such policies from coming into practice, and it was the conclusion of this paper that virtuous and knowledgeable political leaders are a necessity in the successful pursuit of improving the health of the Canadian people. Author Keywords:
Who Cares? Examining associations between caregiving sensitivity and parent-peer attachment
Although years of research have established that attachment representations are not consistently transmitted from parent to child (also known as the transmission gap), the reasons for this gap remain relatively unknown. This transmission gap exists between parents and peers as well. The purpose of this thesis was to examine the role of caregiving sensitivity in the relationship between parent attachment and peer attachment and to test if caregiving sensitivity helps explains the relationship between parent attachment and peer attachment. This study found support for the transmission of attachment from parent to peers, but not that caregiving sensitivity explains this transmission. Results indicate that parenting caregiving sensitivity questionnaires are inconsistent in assessing the construct of sensitivity. Parenting caregiving sensitivity questionnaires also do not measure the same concepts as peer caregiving sensitivity questionnaires. These findings suggest that assessing caregiving sensitivity in parents differently may help close the transmission gap. Author Keywords: attachment, caregiving, parenting, peer, sensitivity
Scripted Sexual Beliefs and Behaviours
Sexual script theory suggests that sexual behaviours have social meaning, and that individuals perceive certain behaviours as normative and expected. Previous research has indicated that there is a common belief in a cultural sexual script for (hetero)sexual behaviour sequences (CSSHS). Study 1 compared perceived norms with behaviours in first ever penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) sex events, as well as first and recent events with most recent partners. Many participants reported the CSSHS as typical, but few reported personal experiences that followed the CSSHS. Script adherence was not strongly related to physical pleasure. Study 2 found that committed relationships predicted greater female pleasure in first ever PVI sex. This link was mediated by communication during sexual activity. Results are discussed in the context of sexual script theory. Findings suggest that common scripted assumptions regarding PVI sex events should be reviewed for their value and representation of norms. Author Keywords: female pleasure, first sexual experiences, penile-vaginal intercourse, perceived norms, sexual behaviours, sexual script theory
Jail Time
Children of incarcerated parents are an understudied at-risk population. However, this thesis was designed to advance our understanding of the effects of parental incarceration and factors that may influence the impact. Using quantitative methods, possible moderating roles of gender, number of incarcerated parents, and contact frequency on the associations between attachment representations and problem behaviours were investigated in two samples. Results revealed that the number of incarcerated parents and contact frequency with incarcerated parents moderated the associations between attachment and externalizing behaviours. Furthermore, after controlling for several factors (e.g., gender, number of incarcerated parents, and contact) higher scores on secure parental attachment representations were consistently negatively associated with internalizing symptoms and externalizing behaviours. The discussion of findings highlight the utility of attachment theory in conceptualizing the impact of parental incarceration and the importance of fostering attachment security to promote positive mental health and behavioural outcomes for children of incarcerated parents. Author Keywords: attachment, internalizing symptoms, parental incarceration, problem behaviours
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
Representations of Aboriginal Health in the Media
The goal of the present study was to explore the overall discourse within media articles regarding Aboriginal health issues. The present research aimed to answer the following questions: What Aboriginal health issues are being discussed in the media? How are Aboriginal health issues being discussed in the media? And, does the media propagate power imbalances between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians? A thematic analysis was conducted, coopting aspects of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to assess media content. Four CDA devices were used: overlexicalisation, structural oppositions, nominalizations and functional nominations, and concessions and hedging. Results suggest that while there are disparities in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, it is not widely reported in the media. The thematic analysis of 208 articles revealed patterns of stereotypical ideologies and negative framing appearing in media articles, the creation of an us versus them narrative, and themes of out of sight, out of mind, criminalizing Aboriginal Canadians, politicizing health, and access to health services. Author Keywords: Aboriginal Health, Communication, Health, Media, Psychology, Thematic Analysis
Marital Satisfaction Throughout the Journey of Weight-Loss Surgery
A mixed-methods’ approach was designed to explore the marital impacts following weight-loss surgery (WLS). In Phase 1, ten individual interviews with spouses of five couples were conducted; two of the couples had the wives preparing for WLS, two of the couples consisted of wives who had WLS, and one couple had both received the surgery. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a combination of interpretive phenomenological and grounded theory techniques. Findings demonstrated that WLS does have impacts on marriage regardless of where couples are in their journey. All couples discussed food as a possible source of conflict in their relationship. Interviews also reveled that self-esteem is a major factor contributing to their relationship and support is necessary throughout. In Phase 2 an online survey was developed to quantitatively explore the important constructs deemed important from the participants in Phase 1. Relationships between relationship satisfaction, sexual conflict, self-esteem, depression and body image were examined in 54 participants. Results demonstrate that higher levels of support and self-esteem and lower sexual conflict relate to a more satisfactory relationship in individuals post- WLS. Author Keywords: marital satsifaction, mixed-methods, qualitative, relationship satisfaction, weight-loss, Weight-loss surgery
“Just Say Yes” - Sexual Consent and Boundary Setting On-and Offlinle
The present study examined the understanding and behaviours relating to sexual consent on, and offline among men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual men internationally using a convergent parallel mixed-methods approach. Men of both sexual orientation groups presented challenges with negotiating sexual consent, and this was especially true if they scored higher on aggressive traits or had previously experienced childhood abuse or an unwanted penetrative sexual act in adulthood. However, from the results as a whole, MSM reported struggle more with regards to consent negotiation for a variety of reasons (e.g. sexual scripts, power dynamics, additional sexual settings, sex-role positioning). Limitations and future directions are discussed. Author Keywords: heterosexual men, men who have sex with men, sexual assault, sexual consent, technology
Help Wanted
The purpose of this thesis was to explore the role of attachment in university students’ help-seeking process using both a cross-sectional and mixed methods study. In the cross-sectional study, I explored whether help-seeking attitudes mediated the relationship between attachment and help-seeking behaviour. As expected, the relationship between secure and preoccupied attachment and greater help-seeking behaviour from both informal and self-help sources was partially mediated by positive attitudes toward seeking non-professional personal help. However, unexpectedly, attitudes toward professional psychological help did not mediate the relationship between attachment and formal help-seeking behaviour. In the mixed-methods study, secure students reported positive help-seeking experiences and discussed facilitators of help-seeking. On the other hand, fearful and dismissing students reported more negative help-seeking experiences and discussed barriers to help-seeking. Discussion of findings focus on how university staff can use attachment theory to develop interventions to increase student help-seeking. Author Keywords: Attachment, attitudes, Help-seeking, Relationships, Transitions, University students

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