Theses and Dissertations - Department of Psychology

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    Frontal Asymmetry in an Approach-Avoidance Conflict Paradigm
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Lacey, Micayla French; Gable, Philip A.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Past work in frontal asymmetry has attempted to link greater relative right frontal asymmetry with avoidance motivation. The results of these studies have been mixed, but little of this work has accounted for motivational conflicts that may arise when attempting to manipulate motivational avoidance (Gable et al., 2018). The current study sought to disentangle the existing confound between avoidance motivation and motivational conflict. In the study, participants made percent likelihood selections for their chances of viewing a negative or positive image when they could win zero points regardless of the type of image viewed (avoidance only condition) or when they could win one, three, or six points by viewing the negative image (approach avoidance conflict conditions). Participants exhibited greater relative right frontal asymmetry while making percent likelihood selections in the approach avoidance conflict conditions relative to the avoidance only conditions. Additionally, participants exhibited greater relative right frontal asymmetry while viewing disgust images during trials with the greatest approach avoidance conflict relative to trials with the lowest approach avoidance conflict. Together, these results suggest that motivational conflict, and not avoidance motivation, is associated with greater relative right frontal activation.
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    CNAS' Ratings of Nursing Home Residents' Pain: The Role of Empathy
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Behrens, Emily Anne; Parmelee, Patricia; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Long-term care residents with and without cognitive impairment may experience undertreatment of persistent pain (Fain et al., 2017). Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are important sources of information about resident pain as provide the majority of residents' hands-on care. Therefore, assessing the accuracy of CNAs' pain assessments and potential influencing factors may provide insight regarding the undertreatment of pain. Informed by prior research, this study examined resident pain catastrophizing and cognitive status as predictors of CNAs' pain assessment accuracy. CNA empathy was examined as a moderating variable. Analyses confirmed a relationship between pain catastrophizing and CNA pain rating accuracy. Hypotheses predicting a relationship between resident cognitive status and CNA pain rating accuracy and moderating effects of empathy were disconfirmed. Challenges of conducting research in long-term care are discussed.
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    Effects of Context and Age on Feeling of Knowing (FOK) Judgments
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Enam, Tasnuva; McDonough, Ian M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In two experiments we wanted to examine how does age and context influence FOK ratings and recognition memory. In Experiment 1 we found age and context have no influence on FOK and recognition memory but influences subjective memory ratings such as recollection and familiarity to a greater extent. Older adults specifically seem to have higher subjective ratings for recollection and familiarity between old and new scenes compared to younger adults. In Experiment 2, explicit instruction was added to draw attention away from context. We found with explicit instruction, older adults have higher ratings overall for FOK judgments and higher subjective memory ratings for recollection and familiarity compared to younger adults. Results may help us to understand how FOK judgments are made as we age in addition to importance of contextual information in subjective memory in aging.
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    Appraisals of Insomnia Identity in a Clinical Sample
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Emert, Sarah Elizabeth; Lichstein, Kenneth L.; Gunn, Heather E.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early, and daytime dysfunction are prevalent in insomnia disorder. Insomnia-related complaint crossed with sleep data yields complaining good sleepers (CG) and complaining poor sleepers (CP). Many theories relate to the development and maintenance of insomnia disorder. Little is known about factors influencing an insomnia identity, the self-ascribed belief that one has insomnia, or that differentiate these groups. We evaluated insomnia identity severity and differences between treatment-seeking groups on factors related to one’s sleep experience and sleep parameters. An insomnia complaint was considered evidence for an insomnia identity; however, the final sample yielded an unexpected group who did not endorse insomnia identity. Therefore, participants were also classified via insomnia identity yielding insomnia identifying good sleepers (IIG), insomnia identifying poor sleepers (IIP), and participants without insomnia identity (WOII). Participants provided demographic information, medical and psychiatric diagnoses, information related to their insomnia complaint, and two weeks of daily sleep diaries. CG and CP were evaluated on differences between perceived sleep comparisons, restorative sleep, daytime impairment, and insomnia-related catastrophizing. There were no significant differences on any factors for ? < .05. IIG, IIP, and WOII were evaluated on differences for the same four variables. A statistically significant difference emerged among groups on restorative sleep, F (2, 60) = 3.83, p = .03. Post hoc testing revealed that restorative sleep ratings were significantly higher in IIG compared to IIP, but not WOII (p = .02). Multiple linear regression tested the four sleep variables and self-reported sleep parameters as predictors of insomnia identity severity. The overall model was significant, F (1, 61) = 5.21, p = .03, R2 = .08. The analysis was conducted again substituting the three subfactors of catastrophic thinking to determine the effect of each subscale. The overall model was significant, F (1, 61) = 7.55, p = .008. R2 = .11. Negative sleep comparisons and increased helplessness predicted a stronger conviction of insomnia identity. Restorative sleep significantly differentiated IIG, IIP, and WOII, perhaps reflecting differences in sleep status rather than insomnia identity. Implications of results and further study directions on insomnia identity are discussed.
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    Parental Knowledge in Screening for Autism
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Rankin, James Alexander; Tomeny, Theodore S.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Timely diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is vitally important for improving the prognosis of young children with this condition. One of the greatest challenges facing healthcare providers for individuals with ASD and their families is shortening the time between when symptoms first appear and when an assessment for ASD is conducted. Current practice guidelines suggest pediatric screening should occur before 24 months of age for all children to help in detecting ASD as early as possible. Currently, screeners such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers – Revised (M-CHAT-R) have been developed and validated for use in primary care settings. However, an underlying assumption behind screeners such as the M-CHAT-R is that parents are able to adequately understand the items on a screener questionnaire and relate those items back to their child’s behavior. Using an item response theory framework, the current study found that the majority of behaviors characteristic of ASD assessed during the screening process are easy or very easy for parents to correctly identify. This study also found that greater parental knowledge of both child development norms and knowledge of ASD helped parents to accurately identify symptoms of ASD, but only when these symptoms were severe. Results of the current study help to highlight a fundamental divide in screening wherein more severe cases of ASD are well captured by current screening measures, but mild, less severe cases of ASD may require closer examination in future studies on screening accuracy.
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    Clarifying the Contributions of Worry and Rumination in Predicting Subjective Sleep Outcomes
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Tutek, Joshua; Gunn, Heather E.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Harvey’s (2002) cognitive model of insomnia posits that subjectively experienced poor sleep and sleep-related impairment during the day arise from negatively toned cognitive activity consisting of worry and rumination. Although these processes are often treated as interchangeable, evidence suggests that they constitute distinct constructs, and the need for clarifying their individual properties in driving self-reported sleep problems has been highlighted. This study investigated whether worry and rumination differentially predict sleep disturbance and sleep-related impairment in an online population-based sample. Hierarchical regression models entered the cognitive process variables in a stepwise fashion to assess their relative strength in explaining sleep outcomes after controlling for demographics, circadian factors, health status, and self-estimated sleep parameters. Separate analyses were conducted using sleep-specific and general trait measures of worry and rumination. In the sleep-specific analysis, only worry significantly predicted sleep disturbance after all covariates were entered, whereas rumination was entered after worry in the model predicting sleep-related impairment. In the analysis of general worry and rumination, each variable significantly predicted both sleep outcomes. Worry was a stronger predictor of sleep disturbance, whereas rumination was a stronger predictor of sleep-related impairment. Findings suggest a role for rumination separate from that of worry in perpetuating daytime impairment attributed to poor sleep. The results also highlight a need to more closely examine how cognition and other factors contribute to daytime symptomology in insomnia.
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    Profiling the Interpersonal Orientations of High- and Low-Self-Esteem Narcissistic People
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Richardson, Kyle; Hart, William; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Understanding how narcissism and self-esteem predict outcomes has been a major focus in recent decades. Most researchers treat narcissism and self-esteem as related constructs that additively “compete” to push people in more desirable (via self-esteem) or undesirable (via narcissism) directions, but other researchers suggest narcissism and self-esteem interact to influence outcomes. Since research on this interaction is rare, it remains unclear how self-esteem may modify the expression of narcissism, but some theorizing suggests self-esteem may modify narcissism’s relations to agency (getting ahead) and/or communion (getting along). In the context of the Interpersonal Circumplex, the present study (N = 598) tested agentic and communal differences between high- and low-self-esteem narcissistic people’s interpersonal efficacies, values, problems, and sensitivities via circumplex measurement. Results generally suggested self-esteem modified narcissism’s relations to communion; for example, low- and high-self-esteem narcissistic people possessed an agentic orientation, but high-self-esteem narcissistic people possessed a less uncommunal interpersonal orientation with less interpersonal dysfunction. Overall, the interaction model of narcissism and self-esteem seems superior to additive models in contexts involving communal tendencies and social dysfunction.
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    Bringing Art to Life: the Impact of an Experiential Arts Program on Engagement in Persons Living with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Reel, Candice D; Allen, Rebecca S.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    ABSTRACT Due to the growing numbers of persons living with dementia (PWD), the U.S. Department of Human Services created a National Plan to address dementia care. One of the goals of the National Plan was to optimize the quality of care. Adult day services often provide person-centered care to PWD to increase dignity, engagement, and creative expression. The Bringing Art to Life (BATL) program was created as an art therapy intervention in an adult day service. This thesis is an evaluation of the BATL program measured by engagement through ethnographic observations of art therapy sessions. Using a published and modified behavioral observation tool, engagements were quantified to test the hypothesis that engagements increase through sessions. While there was an increase in engagement by session, that increase was not significant. The second hypothesis that engagements are more prevalent in social interaction than art interaction was supported. A thematic analysis was conducted on the ethnographic field notes to test the hypothesis that social engagement themes were related to reminiscence and dignity and it uncovered five common themes in the field notes: family, social interaction, humor, art interaction, and advice. From both the quantitative engagement data and qualitative data, we hypothesized that social engagements would be related to reminiscence and dignity. The integration of the quantitative and qualitative data answered the overall research question that the BATL program was effective in engaging participants meaningfully both in activities and socially in intergenerational conversations revolving around reminiscence and personhood and in creative expression using art.
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    An Intersectional Identity Approach to Chronic Pain Disparities Using Latent Class Analysis
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Newman, Andrea K; Thorn, Beverly E.; Allen, Rebecca S.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Chronic pain is a highly prevalent and costly condition with substantial negative effects. However, health care differences exist in prevalence, pain assessment, treatment, and outcomes based on demographic characteristics. There has been a recent increase in health disparity research. Many studies have examined the relationships between independent factors of disparity (e.g., race, sex, income, age, etc.) and health outcomes. Research is limited on the interaction of these independent factors (e.g., female Black/African-American, low-income older adult, etc.). Given the high frequency of individuals with multiple disparity factors, applying an intersectional identity approach to chronic pain disparity research is important. Latent class analysis (LCA) examined chronic pain disparities with an intersectional identity theory approach in the Learning About My Pain (LAMP) trial, a randomized comparative effectiveness study of group-based psychosocial interventions (PCORI Contract #941, Beverly Thorn, PI; identifier NCT01967342) for patients receiving care for chronic pain at low-income clinics in rural and suburban Alabama. LCA results suggested a 5-class model with meaningful differences in factors related to disparities. Cross-sectional results highlighted the importance of SES, age, and race in the experience of chronic pain. The latent disparity profiles varied by pre-treatment chronic pain functioning and there was some evidence that individuals with moderate disparities (i.e., low literacy/education, older Black/African-American adults, and disability) benefited more from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) than Pain Education (EDU). There were no significant heterogeneity of treatment effects when examining CBT or EDU versus Usual-Care (UC). The intersectional identity theory approach provided an integrated picture of chronic pain disparities and increased information for future treatment adaptations that meet the specific needs of individuals with similar social identities.
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    Death and Taxes: A Grounded Theory of Financial Stress, Coping, and Decision-Making Among Diverse Female-Identified Dementia Care Partners
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Carden, Keisha Dawn; Allen, Rebecca S.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    As the population longevity increases, so does the demand for caregivers. The cost for providing unpaid care also continues to increase significantly. Given the weight of this financial burden, it is imperative scientific and clinical communities strive to understand objective income and financial stress, and how these impact decision-making and planning for end-of-life care. Moreover, a nuanced understanding of the component parts of financial stress and subsequent behavior is necessary in order to develop and implement effective interventions. This study employed a constructivist grounded theory approach to investigate the lived experience of financial stress, coping, and decision-making among 18 female identified spousal dementia caregivers. Although end-of-life financial planning was identified as one of the greatest stressors, results revealed caregivers consistently employed avoidant coping and disengagement from end-of-life financial decision-making. Moreover, findings suggest financial stress is a complex and nuanced construct that manifests at each stage of the stress and coping process. Three categories and 13 themes were identified. Implications for scientific advancement and intervention development are discussed.
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    When Gender ‘Roles' into the Voting Booth: A Mixed-Methods Study of Implicit Gender Role Theory, Gender System Justification, and Voting Behavior
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Stanziani, Marissa J; Cox, Jennifer M; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Implicit gender role theory (IGRT) posits that individuals tend to view gender roles as fixed or malleable, and such beliefs influences the likelihood of justifying the current gender system. Individuals, especially men, who believe gender roles are fixed are more likely to justify the current system. However, research suggests that belief in the malleability of gender roles mitigates the gender different in gender system justification. While much of the research addresses IGRT and its corresponding influence on gender system justification, there is a scarcity of research which addresses its influence on more distal outcomes of gender system justification (e.g., voting behavior). Over the course of two studies, quantitative methodologies examined the influence of IGRT on gender system justification and voter decision making, as well as the potential causal mechanisms of those relationships. Results suggest males and entity theorists are more likely to justify the current gender system and to vote in ways that perpetuate the gender status quo, except when it clearly benefits them. In the third and final study, qualitative methods explored themes among participants’ descriptions of how and why they made voting decisions regarding certain legislation. Results suggest individual views regarding gender roles influence how individuals make decisions about voting on public policy and that this varies by context. Implications regarding public policy and gender role theory are discussed.
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    Differences in Weeknight Versus Weekend Self-Reported Sleep Parameters Across Sleep Subgroups
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Molzof, Hylton Elisabeth; Lichstein, Kenneth L.; Gunn, Heather E.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Insomnia identity refers to the conviction that one has insomnia, which can occur independently of poor sleep. The present study explored weeknight-weekend differences in sleep as a commonly overlooked factor contributing to night-to-night sleep variability as well as the discordance often documented between sleep and sleep appraisal. Multilevel modeling was used to explore sources of variability (within-person/between-person) and weeknight-weekend differences in outcomes of sleep duration (total sleep time, TST), sleep disturbance (sleep onset latency, SOL; wake after sleep onset, WASO), and sleep timing (bedtime, BT; arising time, AT; mid-sleep time, MST) among four sleep subgroups: noncomplaining good sleepers (NG), complaining poor sleepers (CP), complaining good sleepers (CG), and noncomplaining poor sleepers (NP). Analyses were conducted using an archival dataset of 528 community-dwelling adults who completed 14 days of sleep diaries. Participants were classified according to the presence/absence of a sleep complaint and presence/absence of poor sleep. First, sources of variability (within-person/between-person) were characterized for each sleep parameter among the sleep subgroups, separately. Second, weeknight-weekend differences in sleep were examined among the sleep subgroups by crossing sleep complaint with quantitative sleep status and day-type. Pervasive differences in weeknight versus weekend sleep were not observed among the sleep subgroups; nonetheless, findings did identify a few notable subgroup differences in certain sleep parameters that may contribute to sleep complaint and poor sleep. Specifically, CG exhibited significantly greater WASO than NG on weeknights only. WASO and SOL were each greater among CP than NP across weeknights and weekends. Earlier AT and MST – but not BT– were observed among good sleepers relative to poor sleepers on weeknights only. Within-person differences were greater than between-person differences for TST, SOL, and WASO across sleep subgroups; however, between-person differences exceeded within-person differences for sleep timing outcomes (BT, AT, MST). Findings from this study suggest that (1) differences in certain sleep parameters (WASO, SOL) may contribute to sleep complaint among good and poor sleepers, (2) delayed weekday sleep timing may be an important factor distinguishing between poor and good sleep subgroups, and (3) sources of variability (within-person/between-person) vary depending on both the sleep subgroup and sleep parameter being examined.
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    The Senior Sex Education Experience (SEXEE) Study: Considerations for the Development of an Adult Sex Education Pilot Intervention
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Pierpaoli Parker, Christina; King, Martha R.; Scogin, Forrest R.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Overview: Remaining sexually active into later life has health benefits and risks, but middle-aged and older adults (MOAs) receive virtually no sex education. Unprecedented spikes in the prevalence of later-life sexual dysfunction and disease notwithstanding, no study to date has conceptualized a framework for an evidence- and needs-based sex education program for adults. Using the biopsychosocial and sexual health models as guiding theories, this research conceptualized one such program. Methods: A key component of analysis assessed physicians’ and adults’ lived experiences, needs, and recommendations directly, integrating findings into a usable framework. The purposive sample included 17 adults, ages 53 to 77 (M = 65; SD = 7.63; 64.70% female) and six physicians, including two family medicine providers, two geriatricians, and two urogynecologists (M = 56.16; SD = 13.34; 50% female). All participants provided basic demographic information and completed a measure of late-life sexual knowledge. MOAs participated in three separate focus groups to determine their needs, interest in, and suggestions for an educational intervention, while providing additional insights into their lived experiences with aging and sexuality. Physicians completed semi-structured interviews to describe their experiences discussing sexual health, identify the perceived facilitators and barriers to those discussions, and elicit their program recommendations. Constructivist grounded theory oriented qualitative coding techniques. Results: Late life sexual knowledge appeared suboptimal among MOAs and physicians alike. Both groups agreed on the value of an adult sex education program. Of the 21 separate educational modules proposed, physicians and MOAs shared six, including (a) sexual changes with aging, (b) the spectrum of sex, (c) STDs, (d) health and sexuality, (e) sex and dementia, and (f) dating. Adults reported receiving and internalizing ageist messages about their sexuality. Though MOAs and physicians considered sexuality important to successful aging, both identified individual, dynamic, and environmental barriers to clinical sexual health discussions, including (a) time and other logistical barriers; (b) ageist assumptions, attitudes, and beliefs about sexuality; (c) physicians’ perceived lack of knowledge or experience; and (d) avoidance and discomfort. However, they agreed on five facilitators, including (a) bedside manner, (b) rapport, (c) privacy, (d) standardized sexual health assessment, and (e) a comfortable clinical setting.
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    Pscyologists Substantially (But Insufficiently) Update Their Beleifs After Replication Evidence
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) McDiarmid, Alexander David; Tullett, Alexa M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The present research assessed if 1,096 psychologist participants sufficiently updated their beliefs in psychological effects when presented the results of multi-lab replication studies. In Phase I, participants read summaries of results from studies scheduled for replication attempts. For each study, participants made estimates of the population effect size and probability that the population effect was greater than d = .1 (i.e., non-trivial). During Phase I, participants were randomly assigned to a control or prediction condition with the only substantial difference being that those in the prediction condition were informed of the methodology for replication studies (not the results) of the original effects they evaluated and asked to predict how their confidence in the effect would change given various hypothetical replication study results. Approximately 1 to 1.5 years later, participants completed Phase II—the questions were the same for participants in the control and prediction conditions—in which they read summaries of replication results and provided revised effect size estimates and revised probability estimates. Participants’ prior beliefs in original effects and replication evidence were quantified with Bayesian models which allowed us to model how a perfectly rational Bayesian agent would update their beliefs in original effects after incorporating replication evidence. While participants did update their beliefs substantially in the direction consistent with the replication evidence, as predicted, participants’ confidence updates were insufficient for the weight of new evidence regardless of if confidence in psychological effects should have increased or decreased. Results suggest an impediment to scientific self-correction as it seems that psychologists underutilize replication evidence when updating their beliefs.
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    Investigating Prosecutorial Tunnel Vision: an Examination of Confirmation Bias in Prosecutors' Evaluations of Criminal Case Evidence
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Lind, Hannah; Cox, Jennifer; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Prosecutorial “tunnel vision” is an area of interest in the U.S. criminal justice system that is gaining increased attention as more and more wrongful convictions are brought to light. Legal scholars have raised concerns regarding the possibility that prosecutors are failing to recognize and/or disclose to the defense any knowledge of evidence that may exonerate the defendant, a requirement established by U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. This tunnel vision is considered to be due in part to the manifestation of confirmation bias, a well-documented phenomenon regarding the search for and interpretation of information. The current study investigates whether and to what extent prosecutors demonstrate confirmation bias in their review of evidence in a hypothetical homicide case. Active prosecutors were recruited via email and exposed to a fictional arrest report. After reporting their initial impressions of suspect guilt, participants were randomly assigned to three groups, manipulating exposure to new evidence by valence (inculpatory, exculpatory, and ambiguous). Participants evaluated the evidence in terms of credibility and degree of incrimination. Convergent with prior literature, it was hypothesized that initial ratings of guilt would predict case processing decisions and final impressions of guilt, but that this relationship would be mediated by evaluations of evidence credibility/incriminating power, evaluations which in turn would be moderated by evidence valence. Data from the study did not support the hypothesized moderated mediation model. Results indicated that prosecutors make case processing decisions based on appraisals of evidence that stand independent of initial impressions of suspect guilt. Implications regarding prosecutors’ objectivity, cognitive flexibility, and adherence to Brady are discussed.
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    Effects of Images in Social Media on Life Satisfaction
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Rebaldo, Toni Marie; Roskos, Beverly; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Social media use is known to impact a variety of psychological constructs. One of the most used social media platforms is Instagram. Previous studies have investigated the relationship between social media use and psychological well-being, including life satisfaction. Only a small amount of the literature assesses the causal relationship between the profiles that users see and their well-being. In this experimental study, 163 undergraduate student participants viewed 12 Instagram profiles and answered questions about their life satisfaction. Based on pilot data, profiles were categorized as portraying high or low life satisfaction. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions that differed with respect to the frequency of the two types of profiles: 1) 0 high-life-satisfaction profiles, 2) 6 high-life-satisfaction profiles, and 3) 12 high-life-satisfaction profiles. We predicted that the more high-life-satisfaction profiles a person saw, the lower their life satisfaction would be. We did not find significant differences between the three groups, and thus we do not have evidence for a causal relationship between the well-being portrayed in profiles and the well-being of users. Because our study was powered to detect an effect of .2, our results are consistent with a null or small effect. Further research is needed in order to determine the connection between Instagram profile content and its impact on psychological well-being.
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    Effect of Interruptions on Route Recall Performance
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Burchardt, Dalton Warren; Roskos, Beverly; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Previous studies have displayed increased error rates and longer task completion times on primary tasks when participants were interrupted with a secondary task. This experiment utilized a virtual maze to examine the effect of an interruption on one’s memory for a previously learned route and manipulated when the interruption occurred to explore the effect of interruption timing on task performance. University students were asked to learn a route through a virtual maze by watching a first-person video of someone successfully navigating it twice. After which, they were guided along the maze and tested on their ability to recall the correct path at each intersection in the maze. During this testing phase, participants were interrupted either early, midway, late, or were not interrupted with a short reading task. The presence of an interruption did not affect the total number of errors made recalling the route or the time needed to complete the route. Similarly, the timing of the interruption did not affect the number of errors made or the time needed to complete the route. These results indicate that navigation in a virtual environment is not affected by interruptions, regardless of their timing. This may be due to landmarks in the environment aiding memory recall.
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    Finding Meaning in Nothingness: How Meaning Management Theory Relates to Death Acceptance in Nonreligious Individuals
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Dragan, Deanna Michelle; Allen, Rebecca S.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    There is a growing trend to focus on the positive rather than on the negative, anxiety-provoking outcomes associated with coping with death, and emerging evidence suggests meaning-related processes may be a primary factor involved in cultivating these positive outcomes. A particular gap in research is the need to explore how nonreligious individuals cope with death awareness, and how theoretical perspectives from this recent positive trend fit or fail to fit the expressed experience of these individuals. Specifically, the present study proposed to gather empirical evidence for the Meaning Management Theory (MMT; Wong, 2007), focusing on how this theoretical model accounted or failed to account for nonreligious participants’ experiences with death. A community-dwelling sample with representation from religiously affiliated and religiously unaffiliated was recruited via a crowd-sourcing platform to complete a battery of measures in this study. Model fit indices were analyzed, and researchers aimed to identify group differences on meaning-related processes in relation to death attitudes in these two groups. The results of this study offer some support for the utility of the Meaning Management Theory, particularly within a sample of nonreligious respondents. Though findings are largely inconclusive for examining group differences, the findings contribute to the literature on how nonreligious individuals cope with death. Lastly, these results could be used to inform future empirical investigations of the Meaning Management Theory and clinical practice by reflecting the importance of understanding the growth-oriented perspective as well as the negative outcomes associated with coping with death.
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    Gene by Environment Interactions on Late-Life Cognitive Functioning: Integrative Roles of Polygenic Score, Early Life Trauma, and Psychological Resilience
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Park, Soohyun; Allen, Rebecca S.; Kim, Giyeon; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    BACKGROUND: Little is known about the integrative roles of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors on late-life cognitive functioning. This study investigated (a) whether early life trauma could moderate the effect of genetic predisposition on late-life cognitive functioning, and (b) whether psychological resilience could moderate the interactive effect of early life trauma and genetic predisposition on late-life cognitive functioning.METHODS: Growth curve modeling was conducted on a nationally representative sample of adults from the European ancestry group aged 50 or older (4,479 females and 3,502 males) from the 2004 – 2016 waves (7 waves) of the Health and Retirement Study. Global cognitive functioning was measured by a total cognition score, composed of fluid and crystallized intelligence. Genetic predisposition for cognitive functioning was measured by polygenic score for general cognition (PGS-gc), and early life trauma was measured by parental alcohol/drug use, physical abuse, and trouble with the police before the age of 18. Psychological resilience was measured as purpose in life and perceived control. RESULTS: After controlling for covariates, PGS-gc, purpose in life, and perceived control, respectively, were significantly and positively associated with global cognitive functioning. Moreover, a significant PGS-gc by early life trauma interaction existed on fluid intelligence. Parental alcohol/substance abuse for older females, and trouble with police for older males, respectively, were significant moderators which decreased the beneficial effect of high PGS-gc on fluid intelligence. Higher perceived control was associated with higher crystallized intelligence (a) among older females with a history of early life trauma and with high PGS-gc; and (b) among males with a history of early life trauma with low PGS-gc, respectively. IMPLICATIONS: The findings demonstrate a gene-by-environment interaction, as early life trauma serves as a significant moderator which attenuates the genetic benefits of PGS-gc on late-life cognitive functioning. Psychological resilience, such as perceived control, has a positive effect on cognitive functioning, and also moderates the interaction effect of PGS-gc and early life trauma on crystallized intelligence. These findings not only provide a clear rationale for trauma-informed care for geriatric populations but also highlight psychological resilience as a modifiable target for effective intervention to promote late-life cognitive health.
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    Differences in Spatial Memory Between Chronic vs. Normative Smartphone Users and Texting Distractions
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Mendoza, Jessica; Roskos, Beverly; McDonough, Ian; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Excessive smartphone usage affects daily life (i.e., interpersonal relationships, sleeping patterns, exercise, and physical health). With frequent phone use on the rise, researchers have developed several ways to distinguish normative phone use from unhealthy and problematic phone use. Also, research has found that relying on an external source of information, such as a GPS has resulted in a decrement of spatial ability and spatial memory. However, most individuals use their smartphones to access a GPS. By having their smartphone readily available, they might also be prone to experiencing other smartphone-related distractions from social media apps that further decrease attention and subsequent spatial and memory abilities. This study hypothesized that both chronic smartphone usage and short-term (in the moment) smartphone usage have independent and compounding influences on cognitive functions in daily life; specifically, remembering details about a route travelled. This study had two aims. The first was to investigate the extent to which both chronic and short-term social media usage negatively affects episodic and location memory for environmental landmarks. The second was to understand whether individual differences related to smartphone use would better predict memory than short-term distractions. Chronic smartphone use did not have an effect on episodic or location memory for environmental landmarks. However, the level of distractions did have an adverse effect on location memory, but no effect on episodic memory. Lastly, none of the possible underlying mechanisms predicted the relation between level of distractions and location memory.