Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Social Anxiety and Emotional Competence
Prior research has examined social anxiety, emotional competence (EC) and life adjustment (i.e., loneliness and life satisfaction) using cross-sectional designs, although there is limited information on their association over time. The present study examined the impact of social anxiety on life adjustment and assessed if EC could mediate this relationship from young to middle adulthood. University students (N = 283) completed self-report measures at two time points: in first year university and 15 years later. The results accord with previous research demonstrating the stability and slight decrease of social anxiety over time. Social anxiety in young adulthood was a robust predictor of loneliness in middle adulthood, and a weak predictor of life dissatisfaction for men. Mediation analyses revealed that social anxiety was indirectly associated with interpersonal adjustment via EC, especially the intrapersonal EC domain. Social anxiety requires early intervention and EC may help to prevent later social anxiety and maladjustment. Author Keywords: emotional intelligence, life adjustment, social anxiety
It's All in Your Head
The Continuity Hypothesis states that dreams reflect waking day cognition and experiences, which reflect one’s mental health status. As such, dreams are, by extension, cognitions that occur during sleep. To date, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is deemed the most efficacious method of social anxiety treatment by working with cognitions. The current study utilized both CBT and The Storytelling Method (TSM) of dream interpretation, whose methodology is based on CBT; CBT works with waking cognitions and TSM works with sleep cognition. This study examined the effectiveness in decreasing social anxiety symptoms with TSM and comparing its efficacy to a traditional CBT technique. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 36) completed a daily journal of either the TSM or CBT format for two weeks. Participants completed self-report measures of social anxiety, state-anxiety, and depression before and after practicing either method. TSM did not significantly decrease levels of social anxiety, state-anxiety, or depression, whereas CBT significantly decreased only social anxiety levels. Dream content reflecting waking day anxiety and depression did not decrease over time, coinciding with the findings that students did not experience a decrease in their waking day life, supporting the Continuity Hypothesis. Findings suggest anxiety and depression to be very stable in this sample. Future research should explore interventions that are clinician-guided, in a group setting, or, occur over a longer period of time. Author Keywords: Content Analysis, Social anxiety, The Storytelling Method
Academic Procrastination, Self-Regulation, Anxiety and Personality (ASAP)
Academic procrastination is analogous to a common cold: pervasive and with no established cure. Students experience repercussions that are not inclusive to academic performance, but rather, are experienced across mental, physical, social and emotional domains as well. While this necessitates treatment, much of the behaviour has yet to be explained. In the current study, a state approach was integrated to explore procrastination in terms of the Yerkes-Dodson paradigm. Procrastination was hypothesized to arise for one of two reasons: students are either too low or too high in anxiety. A sample of 847 Ontario undergraduate students completed measures of procrastination, state-anxiety, personality, and self-regulation. Results suggest 88% of students procrastinate regularly, and contrary to what was hypothesized, procrastination and anxiety were linearly related. Independent t-tests establish that relative to non-procrastinators, procrastinators are significantly more emotionally and biologically dysregulated and less socially integrated. Factor analysis demonstrated three central reasons contributing to procrastination, which were used as the basis to establish types of procrastination: social (n=61), self-doubt (n=70) and low-energy (n=76) procrastinators. Results indicate divergences across procrastination type with respect to personality as well as biological, affective and social domains. Findings also inform that the expression of procrastination, varies across student. Overall, findings suggest that academic interventions should acknowledge and address the variability among procrastinators. Author Keywords: ACADEMIC PROCRASTINATION, ANXIETY, PERSONALITY, SELF-REGULATION
Impaired contextual fear discrimination learning after long-term amygdala kindling
Cognitive impairments, such as memory loss, are a frequent and devastating co-morbidity associated with epilepsy. The neurobiological mechanisms through which recurrent seizures induce cognitive impairments are not well understood. New neurons born after seizures develop abnormal morphological and functional characteristics that promote network hyperexcitability and hippocampal dysfunction. Previously, we found that kindling dramatically increases the rate of neurogenesis at early stages of seizure development, followed by a long-term suppression at later stages. These changes in the rate of cell proliferation coincides with aberrant modifications in the migration, excitability, and functional integration of these new neurons. It has been suggested that the long-term consequences of seizure-induced neurogenesis contributes to the development of cognitive impairment seen in chronic epilepsy. However, direct experimental evidence has been limited. The present series of experiments sough to determine if blocking aberrant seizure-induced neurogenesis can reduce cognitive deficits associated with chronic epilepsy. Our findings suggest that chronic seizures impair the ability of rats to differentiate between similar contexts. In addition, blocking aberrant seizure-induced neurogenesis through treatment with the cytotoxic agent temozolomide was capable of preventing some of the deficits in context discrimination learning when neurogenesis levels were reduced to non-epileptic control levels. This research provides further support of targeting aberrant neurogenesis as a novel treatment to restore cognitive functioning in individuals living with epilepsy. Author Keywords: Amygdala kindling, Dentate gyrus, Hippocampus, Neurogenesis, Pattern separation, Seizures
To Sext or Not to Sext
The risks and benefits of sexting within an intimate relationship were explored. The present study focused on sexual gratification, relationship benefits, and sexual communication as benefits and risky sexual behaviour, unethical forwarding, and infidelity as risks. A cross-sectional online survey of both undergraduate students and a community sample was used. Results indicated that sexual gratification, relationship benefits (sexual and relationship satisfaction, relationship quality, and commitment), and sexual communication are related to sexting. It appears that risky sexual behaviour is not associated with sexting, instead those who sext frequently engage in more safer sex behaviours than those who sext infrequently. Unethical forwarding does not appear to happen very often in the context of intimate relationships. Lastly, the current research indicates that some participants are sexting secondary partners, and many consider sexting secondary partners infidelity. These results show that there are both risks and benefits of sexting, which can be used to develop sext education and therapeutic programs. Author Keywords: infidelity, relationship benefits, Sexting, sexual behaviour, sexual communication, sexual gratification
Balance is key
While preferences for symmetry are seemingly universal, they can be seen at their most extreme among individuals high in trait incompleteness. As yet, it is unclear why incompleteness yields heightened symmetry preferences. Summerfeldt et al. (2015) speculated that individuals high in incompleteness may develop heightened preferences for symmetry due to its greater perceptual fluency. Accordingly, the aim of the present set of three experiments was to examine this relationship. Implicit preferences for symmetry were measured using a modified version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) reported by Makin et al. (2012). Experiments 1 (N = 24) and 2 (N = 24) examined whether the general implicit preferences for symmetry and influence of perceptual fluency reported by Makin et al. (2012) extended to a within-subjects design. Experiment 3 (N = 86) examined whether trait incompleteness is related to greater implicit preferences for symmetric stimuli, and whether perceptual fluency affects this association. Results showed that incompleteness and implicit preferences were related, and that incompleteness-related differences in preferences were eliminated when the patterns were equally perceptually fluent, supporting the idea that incompleteness-related preferences for symmetry are linked to perceptual fluency. Implications of these findings are discussed. Author Keywords:
Relationship Between Precarious Employment, Behaviour Addictions and Substance Use Among Canadian Young Adults
This thesis utilized a unique data-set, the Quinte Longitudinal Survey, to explore relationships among precarious employment and a range of mental health problems in a representative sample of Ontario young adults. Study 1 focused on various behavioural addictions (such as problem gambling, video gaming, internet use, exercise, compulsive shopping, and sex) and precarious employment. The results showed that precariously employed men were preoccupied with gambling and sex while their female counterparts preferred shopping. Gambling and excessive shopping diminished over time while excessive sexual practices increased. Study 2 focused on the association between precarious employment and substance abuse (such as tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, hallucinogens, stimulants, and other substances). The results showed that men used cannabis more than women, and the non-precarious employed group abused alcohol more than individuals in the precarious group. This research has implications for both health care professionals and intervention program developers when working with young adults in precarious jobs. Author Keywords: Behaviour Addictions, Precarious Employment, Substance Abuse, Young Adults

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