Psychology

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    Perception of Reception: Communication between Parents and Their Children on the Autism Spectrum
    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2023) Rossignol, Adele
    Language impairment has the potential to negatively impact the ability of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to both communicate and learn throughout their childhood. One possible influence on a child with ASD’s level of language impairment is the verbal communication which they receive from their parents. In order to further investigate the dynamics of parent speech to their children with ASD, 6 pre-existing unstructured free-play videos of parent-child dyads were subjected to secondary analysis. Only the audio from these recordings was utilized during coding. Coding procedures evaluated the quality and quantity of parent speech as a function of the intended purpose of the communication for the children and diagnostic status of the child. Coding categories included Directive Non-word, Supportive Non-word, Directive Semantic, and Supportive Semantic. These four codes were summarized as Child-directed communication, as the intention of the speech is either to encourage or to redirect the focus of the child. Child participants were also assessed using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The small sample size (n = 6, 3 typically developing (TD) child participants and 3 children on the autism spectrum) of the present study was too small to justify inferential statistical analysis; nonetheless, results found correlations between Non-word Supportive parent speech and diagnostic status, Non-word parent speech and SRS, and mother age when compared with total child-directed speech. These findings can inform the development of future studies to help progress the understanding of the language development of neurodivergent children.
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    What’s lost and what’s found: the prevalence of posttraumatic growth in undergraduate college students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2022-05-16) Savarese, Mikaela.
    The present study examined the prevalence of posttraumatic growth in college students, whether there was lingering distress related to living through a pandemic, and investigated what factors contributed to the development of posttraumatic growth. Undergraduate college students (n=198) participated in an online survey that aimed to gather information regarding their pandemic experience, and that measured loneliness, social connectedness, family connectedness, social support, distress tolerance, COVID-specific distress, and PTSD symptoms. Participants also completed a series of questions that measured posttraumatic growth experienced directly due to the pandemic, which included 5 subcategories of growth: relating to others, new possibilities, personal strength, spiritual change, and appreciation for life. Individuals that had experienced COVID-19 infection and those that had close personal relationships with individuals that experienced infection received an additional set of questions to measure growth related to the experience of illness. Social connectedness and PTSD symptoms significantly predicted posttraumatic growth in participants. Across all subcategories of posttraumatic growth, participants indicated experiencing growth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the most growth occurring in the “personal strength” and “appreciation of life” categories.
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    The positivity effect and its influence on financial decision-making ability.
    (Wheaton College (Norton, Mass.), 2017) Gould, Sarah
    This research examined the relationship between the positivity effect and financial decision-making ability. The positivity effect refers to an attentional bias observed in older adults for positive over negative stimuli in cognitive processing. Previous research on this topic has focused on the positivity effect’s influence on visual attention and memory for emotionally valanced material. However, few studies have examined the relationship between the positivity effect and decision-making ability. It is possible that older adults focus too much attention on the positive aspects of financial decisions and therefore, overlook important negative information. This study used eye tracking technology to determine if there was a relationship between visual attention and age-related financial decision-making. Older and younger participants first read financial information related to three made-up charities, then viewed happy and sad images associated with the charities. At the end of the experiment, participants were asked to allocate play money to each charity. Results showed a positivity effect in terms of looking time at the images, so that older participants spentmore time looking at the positive images and less time looking at the negative images than younger adults. However, charity giving in both groups was not statistically different, indicating that greater attention to positive stimuli did not detrimentally affect charitable behavior. Interestingly, while elderly participants showed no correlation between looking time and giving rates, this correlation was negative for younger adults – that is, greater looking times were correlated with smaller donations to that charity. Overall, results provide evidence that the positivity effect,while robust in measures of visual attention, may not affect real-world financial decisions.
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    Never good enough : body image dissatisfaction amongst Native-Dominican and Dominican American female adolescents.
    (Wheaton College (Norton, Mass.), 2015) Alvarez, Alicia.
    The current study investigated “ideal body image” among Native-Dominican and Dominican-American female adolescents and the factors that relate to body image dissatisfaction. Adolescents (N=109) completed questionnaires assessing body image dissatisfaction, self-esteem, body-esteem, mother & father dieting influence, family teasing and criticism, pressure from the media, internalization of sociocultural attitudes, ideal body stereotypes, acculturation, and globalization. For the overall sample, more body image dissatisfaction was associated with mother dieting, family teasing and criticism, while less body image dissatisfaction was associated with more ideal body stereotypes. More internalized sociocultural attitude and being pressured by the media were associated with more body dissatisfaction. Higher body esteem was associated with less body dissatisfaction, less family teasing and criticism, and less pressure from the media. Acculturation was not associated with body image dissatisfaction. Analyses also demonstrate that Native Dominican and Dominican- American adolescents have different socialization experiences: therefore body image dissatisfaction is related to different variables for each subsample.
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    Relationship between training methods, owner attitudes and frequency of problem behaviors in pet dogs (Canis familiaris)
    (Wheaton College (Norton, Mass.), 2014) Mason, Kathryn.
    Problem behaviors such as aggression and destructive behavior are the primary reason why pet dogs are relinquished to animal shelters. These behaviors often pose a risk to humans as well as to other animals. Two factors believed to influence the occurrence of problem behaviors include dog owners' attitudes and owner use of training methods. In this study, dog owners were recruited to participate in an online survey. Survey items included questions about their own dog's behavior, their attitudes towards different kinds of training techniques and approaches to dog management, and questions about the kinds of training methods that they used. Positive owner attitude towards the use of positive punishment techniques significantly predicted owner reports of more dog behavior problems, and fewer good dog behaviors. Anthropomorphic attitudes significantly predicted more problem behavior. Owners' use of positive punishment methods also significantly predicted problem behavior, while use of positive reinforcement significantly predicted more good-dog behaviors. Results add to evidence suggesting the use of positive punishment contributes to problem behaviors in pet dogs and that the use of positive reinforcement may be useful in reducing problem behavior. Further, anthropomorphic attitudes and owners approving of positive punishment may contribute to the development of problems behaviors. Problem behaviors may develop from use of punishment due to decreased welfare and increased stress; anthropomorphic attitudes contribute to problem behaviors by predicting owners' use of punishment. Positive reinforcement may increase welfare in animal and thus account for the lack of correlation with problem behavior.