Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Assessing Emotion Processing Deficits in Youth
It is well-established that alexithymia in adulthood is a critical risk factor for numerous negative mental health and well-being outcomes. Although this area of research has begun to receive interest in earlier developmental stages, significant methodological limitations have been noted with current measures of alexithymia for adolescence. As such, the aim of the current thesis was to provide empirical evidence on the psychometric strength of a new adolescent measure of alexithymia, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale – Adolescent Version (TAS-A). Study 1 examined the construct validity of the TAS-A in relation to self and informant reported emotional intelligence (EI), while study 2 examined the predictive validity of the TAS-A in relation to adolescent problematic gambling and academic achievement. Adolescents completed self-reports of alexithymia, EI, and gambling behaviour, parents completed informant reports regarding their child’s EI, and academic records were obtained. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed significant relationships between adolescent alexithymia, and self and informant reported EI, indicating significant overlap in constructs. Adolescent alexithymia was also shown to be a significant predictor of problematic gambling and academic achievement; however, some interesting gender differences were observed (a pattern of results reported consistently in the adult alexithymia literature). Results are discussed in terms of methodological and clinical implications during the vulnerable developmental transition of adolescence. Author Keywords: adolescence, alexithymia, psychometrics
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
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
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
To be kind or not to be kind
Past research suggests that students who are more academically resourceful tend to attain higher grades and feel more socially and academically adjusted at university. These same studies also show that students’ general resourcefulness and academic self-efficacy are strong, positive and direct predictors of their academic resourcefulness. My thesis expands upon this line of research by investigating the six dimensions of self-compassion (i.e., self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness, self-criticism, isolation, over-identification) within the framework of the academic self-control model. In Study 1, a mixed methods approach was used, whereby after completing a measure on general learned resourcefulness, 20 students were interviewed to describe in detail their experiences with academic success and failure. Across the continuum of resourcefulness, interviews were analyzed for usage of self-compassion, academic resourcefulness, and explanatory style. Four themes emerged illustrating, compared to the highly resourceful students, the less resourceful students demonstrated fewer instances of academically resourceful behaviour, believed academic successes should require little effort, focused on the product of getting a high grade versus the process, and were less socially adjusted and mindful, and more isolated, ruminative, and overly self-critical when describing academic disappointments. Study 2 employed a correlational design to examine the relationships between the dimensions of self-compassion and the variables of the academic self-control model, with a sample of 196 students. As expected, the six dimensions of self-compassion were more strongly related to general resourcefulness than academic resourcefulness, with mindfulness and common humanity being unique predictors of the former variable. The contribution of the six dimensions to academic resourcefulness was shared with general resourcefulness and academic self-efficacy. The bivariate relationships between the dimensions of self-compassion and students’ grades were largely non-significant. Two dimensions uniquely predicted students’ adjustment to university – isolation and common humanity – alongside general and academic resourcefulness. In summary, the dimensions of self-compassion uniquely related to the more general measures of the model. Future research should explore the usefulness of an academic-specific measure of self-compassion in the prediction of academic resourcefulness, explanatory style, and grades. Whether including training on how to be more self-compassionate, in conjunction with teaching resourcefulness strategies, is beneficial for students is discussed. Author Keywords: academic resourcefulness, adjustment, explanatory style, general learned resourcefulness, self-compassion, self-efficacy
Kiss and tell
It has been proposed that individuals often form a romantic attachment to their sexual partners. However, there is little understanding of the role of sexual behaviours in an attachment relationship. This study aims to explore the effect of attachment representations on sexual behaviours during foreplay, intercourse, and afterplay. In two studies, individuals (N = 478) and couples (N = 50) completed self-reported measures of attachment, sexual behaviours, and sexual satisfaction. As expected, security predicted various behaviours during each part of a sexual encounter and greater sexual satisfaction. Insecurity (preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful attachment) predicted engagement in post-coital behaviours – bonding efforts as well as seeking extrinsic rewards and experiencing body worries. Fearful attachment predicted less sexual satisfaction, while preoccupied attachment unexpectedly predicted greater sexual satisfaction. These findings provide support for the associations between individual attachment styles and sexual behaviours and suggest the implications of sexual behaviours on intimate needs within relationships. Author Keywords: afterplay, attachment, foreplay, relationships, sexuality, sexual satisfaction
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
"I like big books"
The purpose of this study was to determine whether students at the Royal Military College (RMC) preferred electronic or print texts, their reasoning for this preference, and whether preference was related to student characteristics. Students (N=139) in a core course were provided with both formats. Due to a limited number of e-text users, statistical analyses of most variables were not possible. Instead, qualitative responses were analyzed to gain insight into student preferences. Students reported on the benefits and concerns of using each format. Their discussion of the benefits to the e-text and concerns about the print text were related to the level of convenience of each format. When considering the benefits of print and drawbacks of e-texts, students explained how these features could impact their reading experience. This study provides qualitative support for the continued use of print texts. Although they frequently use various forms of technology in the classroom, students are reluctant to study using electronic devices and feel their reading experience is best with print. Author Keywords: Educational technology, Qualitative, Textbooks, Text preferences
War and Peace
The relationship between siblings is unique in both its history and duration across the lifespan. Previous relationship researchers have examined siblings in childhood, but few have explored this distinctive relationship in adulthood. In this study, the adult sibling relationship was explored from an attachment perspective to determine the effect of an individual's attachment on conflict and collaboration with siblings. As expected, secure attachment predicted negative associations with conflict and positive associations with collaboration whereas insecure attachment (fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing) predicted opposite patterns. Results were compared to the abundance of literature on romantic relationships and findings from this study provided support for the theory that siblings function as attachment figures in adulthood. Author Keywords: Attachment, Collaboration, Conflict, Relationships, Romantic partners, Siblings
This research project focused on the positive behaviour changes in First Nations youth as a result of participation in a community-based recreation program. The study was a secondary analysis based on a qualitative data set. Both adults and youth were interviewed in one-on-one and focus group settings in 12 First Nations communities across Ontario. The data was analyzed using a grounded theory approach and a substantive model was formed based on the themes that emerged from the data. The most significant of these themes were the job of the role model, self-esteem and self-efficacy. The issue of overcoming shyness and peer mentoring are also discussed. Author Keywords:
Application of the Sexual Self-Control Model and the Two-Dimensional Sexual Double Standard Scale to Heterosexual Undergraduate Men and Women
This thesis examined the applicability of the sexual self-control model to men, which resulted in the creation and analysis of a new two-dimensional sexual double standard scale. In Study 1, a sample of 124 men completed the Self-Control Schedule assessing general learned resourcefulness, the Sexual Resourcefulness Inventory, Sexual Self-efficacy Scale, Reasons for Consenting to Unwanted Sexual Advances Scale, and the Sexual Giving-in Experiences Survey. Contrary to expectations based on female samples, lower sexual resourcefulness was not a unique predictor of consenting to unwanted sexual advances in men. Instead, a mediation model was supported whereby men having more reasons for consenting to unwanted sexual advances were more likely to comply despite having higher levels of sexual resourcefulness skills. Concurrent with Study 1, 11 men were interviewed in Study 2 to further examine their giving-in to unwanted sexual advances, reasons for consenting, and sexual resourcefulness, but men shifted the conversation toward the sexual double standard despite scoring neutral to a quantitative sexual double standard measure in the survey of Study 1. Therefore, a new sexual double standard scale was created based on the content of the interviews. Study 3 examined the new scale's psychometric properties and its association with sexual consenting. The findings revealed that the new scale was best represented by two dimensions: personal attitudes and peer responses. Neither of these two subscales uniquely predicted giving-in to unwanted sexual advances, but were significantly associated with several key variables differentially. Author Keywords: learned resourcefulness, sexual double standard, sexual health, sexual resourcefulness, sexual script theory, unwanted sex
Assessing the Effects of Brief Interventions on Mood and Dream Imagery in Recovering Alcohol and Drug Addicts
Addiction can lead to a plethora of health, social and economical problems. Substances are used for mood regulation, and therefore, waking day mood is extremely important during recovery of alcohol and drug addiction. The current study examined the effects of Meditation and Sleep Mentation Therapy on mood levels. All participants were male, and currently in treatment programs or early stages of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Participants were tested for anxiety and depression and were asked to provide a recent dream, prior and post to participating in the intervention. Dreams were scored using Hall and Van de Castle guidelines for scoring imagery. Results are consistent with previous research in that mood levels changed over the course of the meditation period. Implications for future research are discussed as well as applications of Sleep Mentation Therapy and Meditation in clinical and applied practice. Author Keywords: Addiction, Dream Therapy, Meditation, Mood


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