Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Drink my beer, smoke my weed, my good friends are all I need
Past research has predominately supported an association between insecure attachment and substance use. More recent research has found that while individuals with secure attachment may use substances, they do so with less risk. The current study attempted to replicate the finding regarding secure attachment and substance use and examined the motivational drives behind why students use substances. A total of 318 undergraduate students completed self-report questionnaires examining peer attachment, alcohol and marijuana use, as well as motivations for use. Results indicated that students who reported low frequency use of alcohol or marijuana did not have significantly higher security ratings compared to students who reported increased use. Additionally, although hypothesized, secure attachment ratings were not associated with social facilitation or enhancement motivations. However, fearful and dismissing attachment ratings were both significantly associated with coping motives as predicted, while preoccupied and fearful attachment ratings were significantly associated with conformity motives. Lastly, results from multiple regressions suggest that coping and enhancement motivations are significant predictors of alcohol use, while enhancement motivations are marginally significant in predicting marijuana use. Author Keywords: alcohol, attachment, marijuana, motivation
Women's Lived Experience of Risk in Pregnancy
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, treatment and outcomes in women remain largely inequitable globally. Unique sex-specific stages of life, including pregnancy conditions, and their influence on cardiac risk is a growing area of research (Norris et al., 2020). For example, preeclampsia is strongly associated with CVD risk. This connection has led to prevention interventions such as postpartum risk clinics. Research to date on pregnancy and chronic disease is rooted in the medical paradigm of risk and lacks women’s lived experience. The present study qualitatively explored illness and risk perceptions of women with risky pregnancy conditions. Some participants felt self-blame for their conditions. Consequences and severity were focused on “baby first”, while maternal risk was viewed in the distant future. Aspects of the pregnancy experience, including prompt access to mental health support, was viewed as a “blessing in disguise”. Risks, such as lack of agency, and benefits of healthcare risk communication and intervention and implications for practice were also explored. Author Keywords: communication, critical, health care, phenomenology, pregnancy, risk
Comparison of Nature Activities
Research shows spending time in nature can result in many positive effects, including improving mood, connection to nature, and environmental concern. Certain activities may increase these positive effects of nature exposure. Citizen science (non-scientists collecting data to contribute to science) and environmental education (receiving information about the environment) are two potential ways to boost the positive effects of nature exposure. But little research has been done comparing citizen science with environmental education. To address this gap in knowledge, undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to spend five minutes outside daily, for two weeks, either simply observing nature, looking for birds, or looking for and recording bird sightings. Over time, all groups experienced improvements in mood, connection to nature, and environmental concern. However, connection to nature increased the most in people who simply observed nature. Unexpectedly, simply spending time in nature was the most effective intervention. Limitations and future directions are discussed. Author Keywords: Citizen Science, Emotional Well-Being, Environmental Concern, Environmental Education, Nature Exposure, Nature Relatedness
Exploring Characteristics of those Utilizing Different Modalities of Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorder (SUD) is a pervasive psychological disorder detrimentally impacting both individuals and society on a psychological, economic, and social level. The best protocol for treating SUD as well as what defines success in treatment is often debated in the research. However, researchers agree that different psychosocial factors can influence outcomes. The literature suggests that mood, dark personality traits (narcissism and psychopathy), social supports, and state of change may be associated with treatment for SUD. The current study explored whether these factors predicted the type of treatment (abstinence-based or harm reduction) individuals with SUD were in. The sample consisted of 37 participants in a 12-step abstinence-based program and 65 in a harm reduction program at a local hospital. Results indicated that those in abstinence-based groups reported significantly fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, lower levels of narcissism and psychopathy, more social supports, and advanced stage of change in comparison to those attending a harm reduction program. In addition, depression, narcissism, and perceived social support were significant predictors of treatment group membership. These findings suggest that those involved in abstinence-based groups appear to experience overall more wellness than those in harm reduction. Although further research is needed to specify the relations among factors, this study is a step towards understanding the difference between people who utilize one program versus another. Author Keywords: Abstinence, Addiction, Harm Reduction, Personality, Treatment
Mindful or Mind Full? Exploring the Associations Between Relationships, Mindfulness, and Stress
Past research has indicated a relationship between attachment and mindfulness; however, less is known about the behavioural outcomes of this relationship. The purpose of the present study was to test a new, more in-depth structural model of the relationship between attachment and mindfulness, and further explore the effects of attachment and mindfulness session type (group or individual) on attendance and willingness to continue mindfulness. As predicted, both the self and other model of attachment were positively associated with mindfulness. Surprisingly, individuals who were initially interested in the follow up sessions reported significantly more negative models of others than individuals who were not interested. For the in-person sessions, no significant differences were found for participant attendance or willingness to continue based on attachment and/or type of session. The discussion of results highlights the importance of people’s view of others for developing mindfulness traits and developing strong client-provider relationships in therapeutic and intervention settings. Author Keywords: Adult attachment, Mindfulness, Stress
Anti-Social Cognition
Callousness, deceit, and manipulativeness have been identified as common characteristics of the Dark Triad. Researchers have argued that empathy and Theory of Mind underlie these characteristics. This study aimed to (a) examine the relationships between the Dark Triad, empathy, and Theory of Mind, (b) determine if empathy and Theory of Mind explain the overlap between the Dark Triad personalities, and (c) test if Theory of Mind mediated the relationship between cognitive empathy and the Dark Triad. A sample of 267 undergraduate students completed self-report scales and a film-based assessment to measure the variables of interest. The results indicated that the Dark Triad personalities were negatively associated with affective empathy but were not uniformly associated with cognitive empathy and Theory of Mind. Affective empathy did not explain the overlap between the Dark Triad personalities. Finally, Theory of Mind did not mediate the relationship between cognitive empathy and the Dark Triad. Author Keywords: Dark Triad, Empathy, Mediation, Theory of Mind
Developing social skills
Guidelines regarding social skills interventions for children with ASD suggest incorporating a holistic approach. This includes increasing the family’s understanding of deficits associated with ASD, integrations of natural environments, and parents as active agents while supporting their well-being. The current availability of holistic parent-mediated interventions for children with ASD is limited, with no qualitative understanding of its potential benefits for either the parent or child. The current study examined qualitative parent reports on a parent-mediated social skills intervention for children with ASD (TalkAbilityTM) incorporating a longitudinal approach (i.e., 6-month follow-up). Following Braun and Clarke’s model of thematic analysis, data was coded into four themes: 1) communication difficulties, frustrations and progress, 2) social relationships and concerns, 3) communication strategies, and 4) thoughts and emotions surrounding TalkAbilityTM. Results highlight the importance of considering parent experiences regarding interventions for their child’s social communication skills through a qualitative viewpoint. Author Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, parent-mediated intervention, qualitative review
An Exploration of Attachment Influences on Rape Attitudes
While there is substantial research on the influence of adverse childhood experiences on sexual offending behaviours and attachment representations on sexual offending behaviours, few studies to date have explored how adverse childhood experiences and attachment representations act together to influence the development of rape attitudes in a non-clinical population. The purpose of this thesis was to explore how childhood experiences and attachment may help to understand the development of rape attitudes. Data were collected from 273 undergraduate students who completed self-report questionnaires pertaining to their attachment, childhood experiences and rape attitudes. Correlational and Structural Equation analyses were computed, and the results did not find support for the simultaneous influence of adverse childhood experiences and attachment representations on rape attitudes. Given that the sample was primarily female (83%), the results indicate that the outcomes of adverse childhood experiences on sexual attitudes may differ by gender. Understanding the formation of rape attitudes is important to understand the motivations behind sexual assault behaviours. Author Keywords: adverse childhood experiences, rape attitudes
Thinking High When Feeling Shy
Social anxiety often co-occurs with substance use disorders – various psychological variables, contextual factors, and implicit cognitions may help explain their relationship. This thesis examined whether social anxiety and psychological variables (jointly and independently) helped predict substance use and related problems. It also explored whether social anxiety group membership helped predict implicit cannabis-sedation associations and substance use desirability. A sample of undergraduate student volunteers (N = 65) completed a computer task, questionnaires with anxiety-provoking vignettes, and online questionnaires. Results indicate that fear of negative evaluation and anxiety sensitivity are important predictors of alcohol and cannabis (respectively) use and problems. Social anxiety group was related to increased cannabis desirability in performance contexts. No significant implicit cannabis-sedation associations were identified. Our findings highlight the importance of certain variables in social anxiety and substance use relationships, and considering contextual factors when assessing substance desirability. It also provides preliminary evidence of a novel implicit cannabis-sedation measure. Author Keywords: Coping, Emotion, Implicit Cognition, Social Anxiety, Substance Use
First Time…A Second Time
The purpose of the current study was to explore virginity loss experiences in lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals (LGB), specifically those who have had both a sexual experience with a member of a different sex and a member of the same sex. This phenomenon is what the current study is defining as second virginity loss. Participants consisted of 645 LGB self-identified individuals, the sample was approximately half women (53%) and ages ranged from 18-65. Further, six semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain a clearer understanding of LGB individuals virginity loss experiences. Of the sample, approximately 60% of each sexual orientation reported having two sexual experiences they equated with virginity loss, one with a member of a different sex, and one with a member of the same sex. Analyses of both the qualitative and quantitative data were conducted in an attempt to gain an understanding in three main areas: (1) definitions of virginity loss, (2) virginity beliefs, and (3) motivations. It was found that LGB individuals continue to hold heteronormative definitions of virginity loss, i.e. penile-vaginal intercourse, though these definitions were found to be transitional in nature. LGB individuals also seem to hold more gift related beliefs toward their same-sex experience and more stigma related beliefs toward their different sex experience, however, as shown by previous research (Carpenter, 2001, 2002), most LGB individuals highly endorsed process beliefs. Finally, motivations for virginity loss were found to be consistent with two main themes: validation and drive. Overall, this research suggests that the LGB community has a fairly complicated relationship with virginity but certainly do not feel exempt from the concept or the pressures attached. The current study is the first to explore the phenomenon of second virginity loss in LGB individuals and should be used as a foundation for future research in both first sexual experience and LGB fields to build upon. Author Keywords: first sexual experience, LGB, mixed-methods, second virginity loss, virginity
Emotional Competencies in Mothers and Children and their Relationship with Health Care Utilization, Somatization and Health Anxiety.
Young children learn their emotion regulation skills by modeling and internalizing their caregivers' emotional competencies. Inadequate or problematic emotional competencies in parents can result in insufficient development of these competencies in children, which can have severe consequences on multiple domains of their lives, including physical wellbeing. This study examined the relationship between emotional competencies, health care usage rates, somatization and health anxiety in the context of a family with young children. Participants were mothers of children 4-11 years old recruited in the community. The results revealed a relationship between mother’s emotional competencies and mother and child’s health care usage rates. Mother’s health care usage rates were also linked to mother’s health anxiety and child’s somatic symptoms. These findings add to our understanding of the relationship between emotional competencies of parents and children, and the effects it can have on both mother’s and child’s physical wellbeing. Implications and avenues for future research are discussed. Author Keywords: emotional competencies, health care usage, mother and child, somatization
Facilitating Self-Regulation through Physical Activity
Self-regulation skills have been connected to positive school success and increased academic achievement (McClelland, Acock, & Morrison, 2006). One recently explored method to aid students in their ability to self-regulate is physical activity (Becker, et al., 2011). The purpose of this study was to explore the facilitation of self- regulation through physical activity via access to an exercise bicycle within an elementary and secondary school setting. Student bicycle usage was explored via student documentation to determine frequency and duration of use. Teacher observations were collected via email correspondence were analyzed via thematic content analysis and reflections made by the teachers at a follow-up debriefing session were summarized. Overall, a novelty effect was apparent with the bicycle, where it was used extensively in the first month of the study and then use sharply declined thereafter. Teachers felt that the bicycle appeared to provide some students with support, however there were challenges with integrating the exercise bicycle into the classroom. As well, teachers stated that factors such as bicycle placement and engagement levels must be explored further in order to understand the impact an exercise bicycle could possibly have on a student’s ability to self-regulate. Author Keywords: exercise bicycle, physical activity, self-regulation

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Format: 2021/12/03