2013-2014

Agarunova, Anna. (2014, May). Masculinity and muscles: Comparing social and gender identity influences on the drive for muscularity.
Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Tickle

Abstract
Two prominent theories have arisen in regard to the relationship between masculinity and the drive for muscularity. Social comparison theories assert that exposure to an “ideal” affects perceptions of an individual’s body image. Gender identity theories examine how adherence to gender roles results in conflict when masculinity is threatened, causing increased pursuit of muscularity. The present research compared gender identity and social comparison theories using a 2x2 factorial design examining the effect of two manipulations: a social comparison task intended to create a discrepancy between current and “ideal” body image, and a false feedback task involving failure to a female intended to manipulate gender identity. The effect of manipulations was measured by participants’ performance on two dependent measures: The Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS; O’Neil et al., 1986) and Swansea Muscularity Attitudes Questionnaire (SMAQ; Morrison & Morrison, 2006). No significant main effects or interactions were found for the overall dependent measures, however there was a significant effect of social comparison and an interaction between social comparison and gender identity threat for two subscales: the “Success, Power, and Competition” subscale of the GRCS and the “Engagement in Muscle Building Activities” subscale of the SMAQ. This research finding suggests that specific characteristics of masculinity (drive for achievement and competition) as well as reported engagement in body building behavior may be influenced by social comparison manipulations intended to create a discrepancy between one’s current and ideal physique.

D’Ambrosio, Stefania and DeAngeli, Nicole. (2014, May). The effects of pre-exposure and D-cycloserine administration on extinction learning in the rat.
*Nicole DeAngeli was the 2014 winner of the Departmental SMP Award.
Mentor: Dr. Wesley Jordan

Abstract

Studies that address the effects of pre-exposure on extinction learning are limited and present conflicting results. Understanding how pre-exposure affects the ability to extinguish has major implications for the treatment of fear and anxiety disorders, and is therefore clinically relevant. Also relevant to fear and anxiety disorder treatment are drugs such as the NMDA partial agonist  D-cycloserine (DCS). DCS enhances extinction learning in rats and exposure therapy in humans, but the mechanism by which it exerts these effect remains unclear. The present study seeks to elucidate (1) the effect of pre-exposure on extinction learning and (2) determine if DCS effects the retrieval of memories made prior to extinction or is simply acting only to enhance the extinction memory. This study is novel in that it uses a temporally expanded LI paradigm to dually study the effects of pre-exposure and DCS on extinction processes in order to further study the mechanism with which both impact extinction processes. We determined that pre-exposure in this experimental design results in retarded extinction (latent extinction). We also determined that DCS acts only on the extinction memory and does not impact or interact with prior memories.

Herrington, Allison. (2014, May). A qualitative examination of holistic treatment as understood and practiced by occupational therapists.
Mentor: Dr. Debbie O'Donnell

Abstract

Occupational therapy is a health care service provided to diverse groups of people to address a variety of their functional capacities. Holistic care is characterized by the view that people are integrated, indivisible wholes and is a principle that can be applied to many different health care practices, but is particularly relevant to occupational therapy. In the present study, the researcher sought to determine the degree to which holism is valued and implemented in the practice of occupational therapists. This study employed interviews to gather information about the practices and perceptions of occupational therapists directly from the source, and the researcher analyzed these interviews, along with a coding team, through grounded theory research. Findings indicate that occupational therapists who participated value holistic care in their practice, but experience some obstacles when attempting to employ it. It seems that holistic ideals are an important and defining aspect of occupational therapy, and future research and legislation should work to facilitate occupational therapists’ use of holistic care.

Klima, Michelle and Pribut, Heather. (2014, May). The effects of entorhinal cortex lesions in a latent inhibition program.
Mentor: Dr. Wesley Jordan

Abstract

Latent inhibition (LI) refers to familiar stimuli being slower to enter into new associations compared to novel stimuli. This behavioral paradigm has considerable importance as a tool for research in learning theory and for improving clinical understanding of learning deficits associated with schizophrenia. Damaging the entorhinal cortex (EC) typically abolishes LI, suggesting that this structure is necessary for forming memories within this behavioral paradigm. This study aimed to further understand the EC’s role in acquiring associations between stimuli by demonstrating that EC lesions impaired animals’ ability to habituate to stimuli during the pre-exposure phase of LI, in addition to abolishing the LI effect during conditioning. There was no significant effect of lesions throughout our study. However, we were still able to demonstrate LI and its complexity in learning theory through our changes to traditional methodology.



Lehmann, Meshan. (2014, May). Love marriage vs. arranged marriage: A cross-cultural study of the differences in marital expectations and father-child intimacy between India and the United States. 
Mentor: Dr. David Finkelman

Abstract

This study analyzes how type of marriage (love or arranged), in India and the United States, affects the realism of one’s expectations of marriage, the number of marital myths believed, and the intimacy of the father-­‐child relationship. A combination of forces such as living in collectivistic vs. individualistic societies, modernization and industrialization of India and the United States countries, feminist movements encouraging women to demand more from marriages, and changes in role expectations of fathers work together to alter marital expectations today. I hypothesized that Indians having arranged marriages would have the most realistic expectations, Indians having either love or arranged marriages would believe in the most marital myths, and love marriages (either American or Indian) would have the most intimate father-­‐child intimacy. I also predicted that as father-­‐child intimacy decreases, marital expectations also decrease and as marriage expectations increase, the belief in marital myths also increases.

Both quantitative and qualitative measures were used to analyze results. Quantitative results did not show significant differences in either marital expectations or father-­‐child intimacy in regards to type of marriage but they did show Indians having higher marital expectations than Americans. Qualitative exploratory results suggested Americans predicted increased marital problems, more independence during a typical day, more equal expectations of themselves compared to their spouse, looking forward to a friendship with their spouse, and more fears about divorce when compared to Indians. American participants also used more negative words to describe their relationship with their father and reported fewer experiences of their father expressing his feelings.


Willett, Ciara. (2014, May). Exploring death-related children's literature as a function of age, cognition, and religion.
Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Koenig

Abstract 

The concept of death is rarely discussed openly in our society (DeSpelder & Strickland, 2009). Parents are often uncomfortable communicating with their children about death and are unsure of how to correctly respond to children’s questions (Pettle & Britten, 1995). While a majority of the research advocates for speaking with children about death with respect to their current understandings and cognitive capabilities, some studies indicate that caregivers tend to underestimate what their child actually understands about death (DeSpelder & Strickland, 2009; Gaab, Owens, & MacLeod, 2013). Within the literature, age, cognitive development, and religion are commonly investigated as potential influences on how children develop a mature understanding of death. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the age and developmental appropriateness of religious and secular children’s death-related picture books with respect to religious content.

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