Terror management research has shown that, following mortality salience (MS), death-thought accessibility (DTA) and distal worldview defenses appear after a delay. However, to date, delay times for DTA and worldview defense activation have differed, with longer periods being better. While the time course is theoretically understood (Arndt, Greenberg, & Cook, 2002), the optimal time to assess DTA and worldview defense seem to differ between studies. Two experiments varied the time following MS to see when DTA (Study 1) and worldview defense (Study 2) should ideally be assessed. Participants, in both studies, were assigned to either an MS or control prime and then to one of four delay conditions (0 min, 5 min, 10 min, & 15 min). In Study 1, DTA was assessed with a lexical decision task and demonstrated strongest DTA effects at 10 min. In Study 2, worldview defense was assessed using the Moral Transgression Scale, which demonstrated that worldview defense was strongest after at 15 min. The current research is important for better understanding how to appropriately conduct TMT research, as well as clarifying potential errors with other studies.
How do people judge the morality of groups who do negative behaviors for an admirable cause? For example, some participants responded to groups of people who disrupt abortion clinics, in order to save unborn children. In the current study, we tried to answer this question through the lens of Attitude Representation Theory (Lord & Lepper, 1999) and audience tuning (Higgins & Rholes, 1978). Previous research (Lu, 2015) has also shown that using an ART approach, self-radicalization can occur, such that participants can persuade themselves to adopt more extreme moral judgments than before. In this study, participants were presented with a fictitious scenario and then told to either write a letter to their best friend about why their friend should not join that group (embellishment) or about campus architecture (control group). Based on previous research, we hypothesized that those who write to their best friend will later rate the actions of a group as more immoral and want to see the group be punished more. The results provided support for both of our hypotheses since participants writing to their best friend demonstrated self-radicalization. The results suggest that moral judgments can be malleable based on context and circumstance. Broader implications will also be discussed.
Author(s): Paulina Mozo Interdisciplinary Elidia Avelar Psychology Arielle Cenin Psychology Nathania Davis Psychology Kathryn England Interdisciplinary Caroline Pope Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
The moderation of terror management effects in Broad Autism Phenotype (BAP) individuals
Paulina Mozo, Kathryn England, Elidia Avelar, Caroline Pope, Nathania Davis, Arielle Cenin, & Cathy R. Cox
The Broad Autism Phenotype (BAP; Hurley, Losh, Parlier, Reznick, & Piven, 2007) describes individuals who show characteristics similar to those with autism spectrum disorder. For example, BAP individuals show aloof personality (e.g., a lack of interest in social interaction), rigid personality (e.g., little interest in change or difficulty with change) and pragmatic language problems (e.g., inability to engage in fluid, reciprocal conversation). According to terror management theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) people are motivated to mitigate the potential for anxiety inherent in the awareness of death so that these concerns do not bloom into debilitating terror. Individuals may do so through the use of three psychological defense mechanisms that together create an anxiety-buffering system: (a) cultural worldviews, (b) self-esteem, and (c) close relationships. Additionally, individuals show a greater accessibility of death-related thoughts following disruptions to their anxiety-buffering defense system (i.e., the DTA hypothesis; Hayes, Schimel, Arndt, & Faucher, 2010). Prior research has shown that individuals high in BAP rigidity demonstrate heightened death concerns and greater defensiveness following a mortality salience (MS) manipulation (Arrowood, Cox, & Ekas, 2016). Following this line of work, the current research aimed to examine the moderating effects of a sense of control on death-thought accessibility (DTA) in BAP individuals. To test this, participants were first asked to complete the BAPQ (Hurley et al., 2007) to assess the traits of aloofness, rigidity, and pragmatic language problems. Following previous research (e.g., Landau et al., 2011; Maxfield et al., 2007; Schimel, Greenberg, & Martens, 2003), participants completed a word search puzzle as the mortality salience (MS) manipulation. Specifically, in the death condition, seven death-related words (i.e., death, dead, decay, die, funeral, burial, & corpse) were embedded as they searched for neutral target words. Then, participants were randomly assigned to a control-prime writing task (i.e., full control, no control, vs. neutral). Finally, all participants completed the word-fragment completion task to measure DTA (Greenberg et al., 1986). The task presented 25 word fragments, 6 of which could be completed with a neutral or death-related word (e.g., COFF_ _ could be completed as either COFFIN or COFFEE), and DTA score was calculated as the total number of death-related word completions. A hierarchical multiple regression was performed to examine the effects of mortality salience, control, and BAP on death-thought accessibility. The results showed a significant three-way interaction between MS, control, and BAP rigidity on DTA scores. Specifically, this study provided evidence that priming individuals high in BAP rigidity with a sense of control buffered the effects of mortality salience. Given that parents of children with ASD experience greater accessibility of death-related thoughts, as compared to parents of typically developing children (Cox, Eaton, Ekas, & Van Enkevort, 2015), the current work provides a potential solution to buffer the effects of mortality salience in this population.
Human speech production and grammatical organization of language is controlled primarily by the left hemisphere of the brain. Broca’s area is a specialized area in the left frontal cortex that is responsible for our ability to construct grammatically correct sentences. Songbirds are studied as an animal model for understanding human language production. Our research sought to explore whether the neural control of birdsong syntax of the Bengalese finch is also lateralized; if so, the Bengalese finch would provide a good animal model to further study syntax generation in humans. To investigate this question, we recorded the birdsongs of 10 different Bengalese finches; then, the HVC (letters used as proper name) brain region, an area thought to control birdsong syntax, was lesioned in either the right hemisphere or the left hemisphere for each bird. Birdsong was then recorded for five months following the surgery. Song syllables were coded and analyzed to measure the syntactic structure of the song. The birdsongs were grouped into a right lesion group and a left lesion group, and they were compared based on three measures of song syntax; sequence stereotypy, sequence consistency, and sequence linearity were measured at each time point. HVC lesion initially disrupted song syntax, but song syntax recovered. There was no significant difference between the left and right lesion groups. When looking at individual time points, the right lesion group seemed to initially lose more syntactic control four days after surgery, but the group differences were non-significant. Overall, the two groups follow a similar trend of recovery. Our results suggest that the HVC control of Bengalese finch song syntax is not lateralized as it is in human speech. The recovery of song syntax following brain injury suggests that other areas of the brain contribute to the generation of syntactic structure of the Bengalese finch song.
Introduction: Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience high levels of stress and face numerous challenges. They also report more mental health problems than parents with typically developing children (Falk, Norris, & Quinn, 2014). In families with children with ASD, differences are found between well-being in mothers as compared to fathers. A recent review found that mothers of children with developmental disabilities, including ASD, reported a higher number of positive experiences than fathers (Kayfitz, Gragg, & Orr, 2010). A possible explanation for this is that fathers may underestimate the influence of outside factors that lead to positive experiences with their child. This could negatively impact the father’s well-being. As research on the fathers in families with children with ASD has expanded within recent years, it is crucial to understand the factors that influence the father’s well-being. The purpose of the current study is to examine child versus parent characteristics as predictors of depressive symptoms in fathers of children with ASD.
Method: Thirty-one fathers of a child with ASD completed an online survey. They completed measures of depressive symptoms (CESD), the broad autism phenotype (BAPQ), adult attachment anxiety and avoidance (ECR-R), child symptom severity (SCQ), child behavior problems (SDQ), work-family conflict, and attitudes about the role of fathers (ROFQ).
Results: To examine the impact of child and parent characteristics on depressive symptoms in fathers of children with ASD a series of correlations were first computed. The results revealed no significant relationship between depressive symptoms and work-family conflict or the child’s symptom severity, ps ≥ .055. However, there was a significant relationship between depressive symptoms in fathers and attachment anxiety, children’s behavior problems, BAP symptoms in the father, and the role of the father, ps ≤ .040. However, when followed up with a multiple regression model, only attachment anxiety, b = 7.89 (SE = 1.87), t = 4.22, p ≤ .001, and the role of the father, b = -.51 (SE = .22), t = 2.35, p = .028, were significant predictors of depressive symptoms.
Discussion: This study helps to identify predictors of well-being in fathers of children with ASD. Specifically, the more attachment anxiety a father reports, the higher his depressive symptoms. It may be necessary to re-frame his attachment representations in order to promote more positive psychological functioning. Fathers who reported that their role is critical to their child’s development reported less depressive symptoms. Fathers are generally less involved in their child with ASD’s treatment (Johnson & Simpson, 2013) and many parent-mediated interventions focus on mothers (Braunstein et al., 2013). Our findings suggest that emphasizing the importance of fathers as an active caregiver may help improve father well-being.
Introduction: Research suggests that when reminded of death, individuals cling to their beliefs to cope with the terror associated their inevitable mortality. According to other studies, intrinsic religiousness buffers against existential terror and reduces the need for other terror management defenses as these persons are able to rely on their internalized religious beliefs as a shield and their overall relationship with their divine figurehead (Vail et al., 2012). Other work suggests that a relationship with God can be described as an attachment bond, specifically that an anxious attachment to God is strongly correlated with an extrinsic religious orientation (Rowatt & Kirkpatrick, 2002). The purpose of this study is to examine the association between intrinsic religiosity and attachment to God. Specifically, we hypothesized that low intrinsic individuals would experience a more avoidant attachment to God following mortality salience. High intrinsic persons, however, would display the opposite trend.
Method: Participants consisted of 158 Christians recruited from a medium, private university. Participants were first given the intrinsic religiosity scale (Allport, 1967). In order to manipulate mortality salience, participants completed a neutral or death-related crossword puzzle (Landau, Kosloff, & Schmeichel, 2011). Finally, participants completed the attachment to God inventory to assess for anxious or avoidant attachments to God (Beck & McDonald, 2004).
Results: A moderated regression analysis found a significant interaction between mortality salience and intrinsic religiosity on avoidant attachment to God. More specifically, in the mortality salience condition, individuals with a low intrinsic orientation displayed a more avoidant attachment to God than high intrinsic persons. Additionally, low intrinsic individuals displayed a more avoidant attachment in the mortality salient condition than the control condition. No significant effects emerged for the anxious attachment variable.
Conclusion: The present results suggest that low intrinsic people are unable to rely on their religious beliefs following mortality salience. Specifically, because these individuals do not internalize their beliefs, they become a source of contention instead of an anxiety buffer following mortality salience. Additionally, these results build upon those by Jonas and Fischer (2006) by suggesting that high intrinsic persons are able to fully shield against mortality salience because they have a strong attachment to God.
Author(s): Alexis Jefferson Biology Grace Pecoraro Psychology Madeline Pitcock Psychology Zoe Richardson Biology Carly Stacey Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology Katheryn Wisely Psychology
Advisor(s): Tracy Centanni Psychology
Most adults learned to read as children with relative ease and can briefly skim a paragraph and quickly grasp its meaning. However, anecdotal evidence both from educated individuals as well as illiterate adults in underprivileged countries suggests that it is impossible to achieve this same fluency as an adult. Adults learning to read in a new orthography are ‘stuck’ in a struggling state. They never achieve the ability to skim a paragraph and instead, must read every word letter-by-letter. Since this has never been tested in a lab setting, we do not know if this inability to read fluently in a new orthography is due to a change in learning capability with age, or if this has to do with how the new orthography is taught. In the current study, we trained TCU students to recognize letter-to-sound correspondences in Hebrew using either an in-person tutor or a pre-recorded program. We compared letter recognition and fluency over the course of training. We recruited nine individuals in the tutoring group and nine in the automated training program. We evaluated whether there was a difference between the tutored group and automated training program in terms of letter recognition and fluency. We will present our results and discuss pros and cons of in-person vs. automated instruction in reading acquisition as well as implications for future research.
Nearly 70% of persons in the United States are overweight or obese. Being overweight puts people at risk for a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks. In light of previous research demonstrating that increased meaning in life (MIL) is associated with greater well-being, the present work examined whether heightened trait and state MIL increased exercise behavior. To do this, Study 1 participants were asked to complete the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (Steger et al., 2006) to assess for individual differences in MIL; whereas, Study 2 persons were randomly assigned to a meaning manipulation (i.e., writing about an meaningful event) versus a control prompt (i.e., writing about a daily activity). Persons, in both studies, wore Fitbit activity trackers to assess steps taken over the course of 1-2 weeks. The results revealed that greater instances of MIL (either as a trait or state) were associated with a heightened engagement in Fitbit activities. The current research is thus important in identifying a low cost intervention (e.g., writing) to increase health and well-being.
Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Visual Discrimination Learning with Rats
Sarah Jones, Lauren Cleland, Cheyenne Elliott, Sydney Wilson, & Kenneth Leising
Environmental enrichment has been shown to increase cortical thickness in the brain and exploratory behaviors in rats. In the present study, 16 rats were placed for two hours a day in an enriched environment consisting of a large play cage with two ramps and several toys. Rats in the control condition were handled each day but then immediately returned to their home cage. Following 30 days of enrichment, rats were tested for anxiety and exploration behavior by placing them on a plus maze. The plus maze includes two open arms and two closed arms (i.e., with walls enclosing the arm). Rats were then trained on a visual discrimination task in an iPad-equipped operant box. In the task, rats were reinforced for a touch to one of two response locations after the presentation of a visual stimulus (e.g., clip art of clouds or a star). Half of the stimuli were reinforced when the rat responded to the right response location, and the other stimuli after a touch to the left response location. The rats were further divided into those receiving differential outcomes and a control condition. Rats in the differential outcome procedure received one outcome (e.g., pellets) after a left response and a different outcome (e.g., sucrose) after a right response. Rats in the control condition received the same outcome following both responses. Acquisition of the discrimination was compared across the enriched and control groups to examine the effect of environmental enrichment on learning of a visual discrimination.
Introduction: Interparental conflict is characterized by threats, hostility, and withdrawal, and is related to higher levels of negative emotions in children (Cummings et al., 2003). Although destructive interparental conflict has been shown to correlate with more negative emotionality in children, depressive symptoms have been less of a focus, specifically in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD have more social and behavioral difficulties than their typically developing (TD) counterparts (Ashwood et al., 2015). They often have other comorbid disorders, with depression being one of the most common (Ghaziuddin et al., 2002). Thus, destructive marital conflict may be associated with higher rates of depressive symptoms in children with ASD. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of interparental conflict on depressive symptoms in children with ASD versus TD children.
Method: Families with high functioning children with ASD (n = 21) and families with TD children (n = 29) participated in this study. The children completed the child depression inventory (CDI), and also reported on the level of interparental conflict in their home using the Security in the Interparental Subsystem scale (SIS).
Results: A moderated regression was performed on depressive symptoms as a function of diagnosis (ASD vs. TD) and destructive family representations. A main effect of diagnosis on depressive symptoms was found with children with ASD reporting higher depressive symptoms than TD children, b = -3.27 (SE = .56), t = 2.86, p ≤ .01. Also, as scores on the destructive family representations subscale increased, so did the child’s report of their depressive symptoms, b = .53 (SE = .19), t = 2.73, p ≤ .01. There was not a significant difference between slopes of the interaction of diagnosis and scores on the destructive family representation subscale, b = -.08 (SE = .41), t = .22, p = .82.
Discussion: Consistent with previous research (Ghaziuddin et al., 2002), this study shows that children with ASD report higher levels of depressive symptoms than their TD counterparts. Regardless of diagnosis, an increase in destructive family representations was associated with more depressive symptoms. For children with and without an ASD, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to reduce depression symptoms (McGillivray & Evert, 2014). It would be beneficial for both TD and ASD children who report high destructive family representations to partake in CBT to help lower depression symptoms. Future research should incorporate more measures of conflict, including parental and child reports as a predictor of child depressive symptoms.
• Ashwood, Karen & Tye, Charlotte & Azadi, Bahare & Cartwright, Sally & Asherson, Philip & Bolton, Patrick. (2015). Brief report: Adaptive functioning in children with ASD, ADHD and ASD+ADHD. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. 45. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2352-y.
• Cummings, E. M., Goeke-Morey, M. C., & Papp, L. M. (2003). Children's responses to everyday marital conflict tactics in the home. Child Development, 74, 1918−1929.
• Ghaziuddin M, Ghaziuddin N, Greden J. (2002). Depression in persons with autism: Implications for research and clinical care. Journal of Autism Developmental Disorders, 32, 299 –306.
• McGillivray, J. A., & Evert, H. T. (2014). Group cognitive behavioral therapy program shows potential in reducing symptoms of depression and stress among young people with ASD. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, 44(8), 2041-2051. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2087-9
People all over the world value facial attractiveness when selecting a romantic partner. An evolutionary explanation for this is that facial attractiveness could be a signal of good health. While many researchers have argued that facial attractiveness is, in fact, a reliable cue of good health, previous studies have found mixed results when investigating this relationship. These results have raised the question in our field as to the reliability of certain physical cues as honest indicators of genetic quality, which comprises health, immunocompetence, reproductive success, and longevity. To clarify the nature of the relationship between facial attractiveness and good health, a large dataset (N= 160) has been utilized from a previous study which contains photographs of participants, personal and family sickness history, as well as actual biological health markers of immunocompetence (e.g., NK cell killing % and mitogen induced proliferation). Participants from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk were recruited to rate the target photographs for facial attractiveness and perceived health. By comparing these ratings to the actual measures of health history and immunocompetence obtained in the previous study, results provide insight as to the true nature of the relationship between facial attractiveness, perceived, and actual health.
Attitude representation theory thus implies that people can change their attitudes through biased assimilation of new information about a group, even when the new information they receive is objectively balanced, some of it positive and some of it negative, because people give more weight to new information that confirms rather than disconfirms their initial attitudes. With all the studies that have followed up on the original Lord, Ross, & Lepper 1979 biased assimilation article, though, not one of them has investigated whether two pieces of new information, one positive and one negative, might polarize initially negative attitudes toward a group. The present study tests this prediction. By using MTurk workers as participants, we tested for interactions with factors like age and education, and are able to examine attitude polarization in a more general sample. In the different versions of this study, we had participants with pre-established negative attitudes or positions about either Muslims, Republicans and Democrats, or PETA members read two articles about the target group, one negative and one positive, and measured attitude change. Results are examined and implications for attitude polarization are discussed.
When communicating with others, individuals spend about half of the time listening to what the other person has to say (Dobkin & Pace, 2010). Actively attending to stimuli in our environment is a crucial part of being able to respond to a given task or command. For example, if a child is instructed to choose a red ball on the playground, it is important for the child to listen, interpret, and respond to that task by picking the red ball. The child must discriminate between both the spoken words (auditory stimuli) and the visual stimulus (the red ball versus other colored balls or objects). This study is intended to examine how the order of stimulus presentation influences one’s ability to learn these types of word-object relationships. In previous research, it has been found that the learning process is more effective when the auditory stimulus is presented to the learner prior to the visual stimuli (Petursdottir & Aguilar, 2015). Although there has been research related to presenting auditory before visual stimuli (sample-first) and presenting visual stimuli before auditory (comparison-first), there has been little research into the presentation of the visual (comparison) and audio (sample) simultaneously or into the repetition of the auditory with the visual stimuli. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of children’s acquisition of new word-object relations in auditory-visual identification tasks when simultaneously presenting the visual stimuli and auditory stimulus and when presenting the auditory stimulus first and then presenting the auditory stimulus again when the visual stimulus appears, in comparison to the previously studied sample-first method. Effects of the three presentation arrangement on acquisition rate are assessed in a single-case multi-element design. Data collection is currently in progress.
Children learn new vocabulary in many different ways that include temporally contiguous presentation of words and visual stimuli. The Naming Hypothesis (Horne and Lowe, 1996) suggests that during contiguous presentation it is necessary for the learner to make an overt or covert echoic response to the word stimuli in order for the word to be adequately learned and retained when there is no immediate requirement for recall. This hypothesis has been incorporated into early language interventions for children with autism, but in the absence of sufficient empirical evidence to support the role of echoic responses in vocabulary acquisition. This study extends prior research on the effects of echoic responding in a receptive task on subsequent recall of new verbal labels, by including a control condition intended to interfere with coert echoic responding. The participants were four-year old children who learned to receptively identify national flags in three different conditions. One condition requires an echoic response in each trial while pointing to the correct flag, one requires vocally labeling the background color of the flag while pointing, and the third requires no response. Effects of the three condition on verbal recall of flag labels are compared in an adapted alternating-treatments single-case design. Data collection is in progress; two participants have been enrolled and are currently undergoing instruction in all three
Attitude Representation Theory holds that people evaluate attitude objects by reference to the subset of associations that comes to mind at the time. Previous research on “audience tuning” has shown that people tend to slant their communications toward what they believe the audience wants to be told, and in the process convince themselves to hold more of that new attitude. Audience tuning effects on attitudes have been well documented, but all demonstrations of this phenomenon have involved communicating to an audience with a known opinion on one side or the other. We examined what happens when people who have a negative attitude of their own (based on limited information) communicate their views and the reasons behind their views, to an audience that knows nothing about the topic. Compared to a control group who just wrote about the weather, we predicted that those who talked about a target group to two friends would later be more likely to (falsely) recognize their own persuasive embellishments regarding the target group as being part of the information they were originally given about the target group. The experimental group will also report more negative attitudes toward the target group. We discuss the results of this experiment and the implications for future research on attitude polarization and audience tuning.
Research suggests that people most often prefer romantic partners similar to themselves on a wide variety of traits, such as physical appearance and educational attainment. This pattern of preferring similarity in potential mates, called assortative mating, is also found in several other species. Research in non-human animals, however, finds that when vulnerability to disease is high, some species will mate disassortatively to increase the likelihood that their offspring will have a novel set of immune genes that can reduce disease risk. In the current study (N = 87), we experimentally tested the hypothesis that perceived vulnerability to disease also leads to the desire to mate disassortatively in humans. We manipulated perceived immune quality by giving participants sham feedback about levels of a fictional enzyme in their saliva linked to poor immune health. Participants told they had a poor immune system - compared to those told they had a healthy immune system - reported desiring greater dissimilarity in potential romantic partners. These results support the hypothesis that humans mate disassortatively when vulnerability to disease is high.
Self-testing strategies have powerful effects on learning and long-term retention. One popular method of self-testing is by using flashcards. Indeed, forty percent of students report using flashcards to study material (Karpicke, Butler, & Roediger, 2009). However, there has not yet been any research exploring differences in how learners use physical flashcards versus electronic flashcards. There may be a learning benefit for electronic flashcards because individuals are able to put more information on a card more quickly. However, there may be a learning benefit for physical flashcards because individuals can compensate for time with better quality information. In the present experiment, we investigated the potential differences in how individuals construct flashcards on index cards compared to electronic cards.
Participants were instructed to make flashcards over an article about how Hollywood films portray history (materials provided by Rawson & Kintsch, 2005). In the physical flashcard condition, participants were given 40 index cards and participants in the electronic flashcard condition were given a laptop to access Quizlet. All participants were instructed to make flashcards over the material as they would if they were preparing for a test over the material in the future. Participants in the electronic flashcard condition made more flashcards than did participants in the index card condition, and they also constructed flashcards in a method that promoted self-testing more than did participants in the index card condition. There were no differences in time spent making the flashcards between the two conditions. Thus, the way learners construct flashcards is different depending on if flashcards are being created physically or electronically. Future work is needed to explore potential differences in the quality of information placed on physical flashcards versus electronic flashcards.
Transfer of Change Detection to Novel Changes with Pigeons
Kenneth Leising, Lauren Cleland, Kierany Shelvin, Jackson White, & Cheyenne Elliott
The nature of working memory is frequently studied using change detection tasks. Change detection tasks involve presenting a sample and test display and asking subjects to report on changes in one or a group of stimuli across the delay; the changes can range from location to size, shape, color, and more. In this study, pigeons were trained with a location (“where”) change detection task using a touchscreen-equipped monitor. On each trial, reinforcement was delivered when a pigeon pecked at a visual object (colored circle) that changed position over a brief delay (0, 100, 1000 ms). Once training was complete, transfer tests with novel changes (size, shape, or color) were given. On a test trial, two sample items that differed in one of the dimensions were followed by a short delay (0 or 1000 ms) and then one of the two items changed within the same dimension (e.g., a square and a circle followed by two circles). The changed item now matched the non-changed item in every dimension. We found that pigeons were unable to transfer detection of location to detecting items that changed in the untrained dimension at test. Most recently, the pigeons underwent retraining for both location and color change-detection tasks. All subjects performed at or above chance on the color-change training within only a few sessions, but again failed to transfer at test. Subsequent tests focused on determining the source of this discrepancy.
Life History Theory predicts that growing up in certain environmental circumstances should promote the development of adult phenotypes that can survive in similar circumstances. Researchers have recently proposed that growing up poor should encourage eating strategies that promote survivability in resource scarce environments, with individuals reared in poorer circumstances eating comparable amounts of calories, regardless of energy need. Additional research indicates that childhood experiences with parental inconsistency, dangerous neighborhoods, development of an unpredictability schema (e.g., a mindset about the world, people, and future outcomes as unpredictable), and lowered body awareness predict this same pattern of results in adulthood. The purpose of the current research was to examine the impact of environmental conditions such as pregnancy stress experienced by the mother, family financial struggles, and predictability of the childhood environment on the emergence of eating in the absence of hunger in children ages 3-14. Results indicate that increased pregnancy stress and environmental unpredictability significantly predict eating in the absence of hunger.
Keywords: psychosocial stress, eating behavior, self-regulation, evolutionary psychology, health
Author(s): VIktoria Taskov Psychology Brenton Cooper Psychology Sylwia Lipinska Psychology Gretchen Monson Psychology Enkhzaya Nyam Psychology James Taylor Psychology Bella Vo Psychology Megan Whittington Psychology
Advisor(s): Brenton Cooper Psychology
Anxiety is an increasingly widespread mental health issue affecting a significant portion of the United States population. Further research in the field of mental health is beneficial to understanding the mechanisms that drive anxiety, and to discovering novel, therapeutic interventions. Using a rodent model to conduct this research is practical due to the morphological similarity of the rat brain to the human brain. We will examine anxiety- and fear-related responses in both male and female subjects that are subjected to either unpredictable or predictable threat. Unpredictable threats generate a state of anxiety, and predictable threats produce fear. Threat predictability will be manipulated by administration of temporally inconsistent, or temporally consistent foot shocks in an operant chamber. Equal numbers of males and females will be included within each group and the rats will be randomly assigned to either the temporally consistent or temporally inconsistent footshock condition. Animals will be tested over the course of three days; Day 1 is the contextual conditioning test day wherein the animal is exposed to the novel environment and the initial presentation of the foot shocks. Day 2 is the memory test day, where animals are returned to the test chamber, but no shock is given; day 3 . Day 3 is the reinstatement test where the animal is placed back into the chamber and one footshock is administered. Anxiety and fear will be assessed by measuring rearing (anxiety-related) and freezing (fear-related) behaviors in the test chamber on each test day. Sex differences in anxiety and fear that are generated by varying threat predictability will be determined. These results will provide insights into the role of potential sex differences in anxiety and fear-related behaviors.
It is commonly understood that as we age, memory tends to decline. Memory failures can have severe consequences for older adults if they forget important things, such as taking daily medication. Recently, researchers have found that younger and older adults tend to remember forgotten information as having been less important than remembered information (Castel et al., 2012; Witherby, Tauber, Rhodes, & Castel, in prep). This effect is called the forgetting bias. In the present experiment, we investigated why older and younger adults show the forgetting bias.
Older and younger adults studied words that were assigned a value indicating the importance of remembering the word. Following study, they took a free-recall test. After repeating the study-test procedure four times, participants took a surprise test. On the test, they were shown each word and asked (1) if they remembered it on the free-recall test and (2) to recall the point value assigned to it during the study phase. Younger and older adults used their memory judgment on the surprise test as an anchor for recalling the value. Specifically, words that were judged as remembered were given high values, whereas words judged as forgotten were given low values. Thus, one reason why both older and younger adults show the forgetting bias is because they rely on their memory of past test performance. Future work is needed to examine whether a forgetting bias is shown with more meaningful information as well as ways to eliminate the bias.
The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that overt or covert echoic responding in the presence of an image is necessary for learning new verbal labels from exposure to contiguous presentations of words and images. (Horne & Lowe, 1996). This hypothesis predicts that seeing an image after hearing the associated verbal label leads to superior recall compared to seeing the image only before the verbal label is heard. Four children (3-6 years old) participated in a single-case design study that used an alternating-treatments design to evaluate the effects of stimulus presentation arrangement on subsequent recall of verbal labels. Each participant was exposed to six sessions that alternated across two conditions; word-first and image-first. In each session, the participants observed 20 pictures of four novel birds paired with their spoken names. In the word-first condition, the word and image were presented simultaneously but the image remained on the screen after the offset of the verbal stimulus. In the image-first condition, the image was initially displayed by itself, followed by the verbal label and the simultaneous offset of both. After each session received test for both verbal recall and recognition of the bird names. Compared to a prior experiment that was identical except that there was no overlap between image and word presentation, participants in the current experiment performed with slightly greater accuracy on the recall and recognition tests, but typically recalled only one or two labels after each session, with no difference between the image-first and the word-first condition.
Introduction: When faced with a potential stressor, such as having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), individuals use coping strategies to adjust to the situation. Certain coping strategies are more adaptive, such as positive reframing, which is related to lower levels of depression for parents of children with ASD (Hastings et al., 2005). However, there are differences in coping between mothers and fathers, and possibly between non-Hispanic White and Hispanic parents as a result of cultural differences (Hastings et al., 2005; Willis et al., 2016). Therefore, the goal of the current study was to investigate which adaptive coping strategies moderated the relationship between child symptom severity and parent mental health for both non-Hispanic White and Hispanic fathers of children with ASD.
Method: Participants were 75 fathers of children (M = 6.64 years, SD = 2.29 years) with ASD, and were either Hispanic (n = 43; M = 41.77 years, SD = 6.75) or non-Hispanic White (n = 31; M = 44.35 years, SD = 6.25). All fathers completed the current version of the Social Communication Questionnaire regarding their child’s symptom profile. They also completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, a measure of adult depressive symptoms, and the Brief COPE, a measure of frequency of coping strategy use. Separate moderated regression models were entered in the PROCESS macro for SPSS for fathers of each ethnicity with each of the following coping strategies: positive reframing, active coping, planning, instrumental use of social support, and religious coping.
Results: For non-Hispanic White fathers, there was a significant interaction (i.e., moderation) between the effects of child symptom severity and use of positive reframing on the parent’s depressive symptoms, b = -.43 (SE = .17), p = .02. The interaction accounted for an additional 15.6% percent of variance in depressive symptoms. For fathers who infrequently used positive reframing, there was a significant positive relationship between child symptoms and parent depression, b = 1.01 (SE = .36), p = .01, but the relationship was non-significant for those who used high levels of positive reframing, p > .05. Moderation was also found with instrumental support coping, b = -.38 (SE = .11), p = .003, R2 = .26, and religious coping, b = -.46 (SE = .14), p = .004, R2 = .26. However, neither active coping nor planning coping were significant moderators for non-Hispanic White fathers, ps > .05. For Hispanic fathers, none of the aforementioned coping strategies served as a moderator of the relationship between child symptoms and parent depression, ps > .05.
Discussion: Results suggest that using adaptive coping strategies frequently serves as a protective factor for non-Hispanic White fathers’ mental health. Therefore, teaching those fathers adaptive coping strategies may improve their functioning. Previous interventions increased use of adaptive coping strategies in parents of children with ASD and may be applicable in the case of fathers, as well (Samadi, McConkey, & Kelly, 2013). However, it may be that there is some other factor besides coping strategy use, which serves as the best protective factor for Hispanic fathers. For instance, future research may investigate the importance of family functioning, given the importance of familism in Hispanic culture.
Hastings, R. P., Kovshoff, H., Brown, T., Ward, N. J., Degli Espinosa, F., & Remington, B.
(2005). Coping strategies in mothers and fathers of preschool and school-age children
with autism. Autism, 9, 377-391. doi: 10.1177/1362361305056078
Samadi, S. A., McConkey, R., & Kelly, G. (2013). Enhancing parental well-being and coping
through a family-centred short course for Iranian parents of children with an autism
spectrum disorder. Autism, 17, 27-43. doi: 10.1177/1362361311435156
Willis, K., Timmons, L., Pruitt, M., Schneider, H. L., Alessandri, M., & Ekas, N. V. (2016). The
relationship between optimism, coping, and depressive symptoms in Hispanic mothers and fathers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 2427-2440. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2776-7
The importance of cannabinoid receptors has risen in recent years due to the increasing number of states that have legalized marijuana; 28 states allow the usage of medical marijuana and 7 states allow recreational use ("28 Legal," 2017). Previous research from our lab has explored coping with multiple instances of reward loss when exposed to large, chronic doses of cannabinoid agonist WIN 55, 212-2 (WIN, 10 mg/kg). When chronically exposed rats received a consummatory successive negative contrast (cSNC) downshift of 32% to 4% sucrose, they were less able to cope with the subsequent autoshaping downshift of 12 pellets to 2 pellets. Additional autoshaping research from our lab has shown multiple downshifts in autoshaping to be successful in obtaining contrast effects. The present research combined this procedure with occasional acute doses of WIN (1 mg/kg) to determine if only one kind of downshift experience, autoshaping, was sufficient to produce less coping efficacy if repeated. Rats were randomly assigned to either WIN or vehicle control groups, and then trained in acquisition with discrete lever presentations where one lever was always followed by the delivery of 12 pellets, and a second lever was always followed by 2 pellets. After acquisition, rats received downshift sessions once per week, wherein the lever previously associated with 12 pellets was downshifted to only be followed by 2 pellets. Prior to each of 4 downshift sessions, rats received intraperitoneal injections of either WIN or vehicle solution. Lever presses to each lever during discrete “forced choice” and simultaneous “free choice” trials and head entries into the cup where food was delivered, or “goal entries,” were both recorded to assess preference and explore downshift effects. Although acute WIN administration did not affect lever preference relative to vehicle controls, it did result in decreased lever pressing in favor of goal tracking during the downshift. Therefore, WIN seems to encourage rats to be more focused on the outcome instead of responding to signals for the outcome, which may have implications for reducing impulsive behavior despite extensive training.
Prior work has found that religious individuals experience greater concerns about mortality when thinking about Jesus taking human form (Arrowood & Cox, 2018). Building on this, the present research examined how intrinsic religiosity (i.e., a more “mature” form of religion with a development for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God) would moderate these effects. Christian individuals were asked to complete the Religious Orientation Scale, followed by reading an essay that either described Jesus as being fully human or a description of His lost years (i.e., neutral condition). The dependent variable consisted of people’s fear of mortality. The results revealed that low intrinsic individuals experienced a heightened fear of death following a creaturely Jesus prime. High intrinsic individuals, however, did not differ from neutral conditions. This study suggests that intrinsically valuing religion can serve as a buffer against existential anxieties stemming from humanistic concerns.