Senior Abstracts


Attachment or Socialization: Influences on Empathy and Prosocial Behaviors
Adviser: Dominique Treboux, Ph.D.

The current study examined the relative contributions of attachment and socialization as predictors of empathy; volunteering; and motivations for self-focused, other-focused, social, and religious volunteering in a sample of 144 young adults. Gender differences also were examined. Females reported greater empathy, more general parental socialization efforts, and other-focused volunteer motives than did males. For males, parental socialization practices emerged as the strongest predictor of empathic concern and attachment to mother predicted perspective taking. For females, attachment to mother was the strongest predictor of empathic concern. Parental socialization practices and attachment were not related to volunteering behaviors or motives for females. For males, attachment to father was related to volunteering behavior. However, contrary to expectation, a poor relationship with one’s father contributed to greater volunteering. These results suggest that influences on the development of empathy differ for males and females.


The Association between Religiosity, View of God and Sexuality
Adviser: Dominique Treboux, Ph.D.

Research has shown that many adolescents identify themselves as religious and sexually active. Social learning theory posits that religious doctrine would influence religious followers’ behaviors, yet this is not always the case. Past research has indicated that View of God as punitive or loving may affect moral behaviors such as cheating. Using a similar experimental design, the present study examined the influence of View of God on sexual sexual guilt and feelings towards friends’ sexuality. A sample of 112 college students completed self-report measures on attitudes towards friends’ sexuality, sexual guilt, and religiosity. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three View of God priming conditions (i.e. controlling, punitive, or loving God). The results indicated a significant interaction between engagement in sexual behavior and priming condition on attitude towards male friends’ sexuality. Virgins in the Punitive God condition were less accepting of male sexual behavior whereas sexually active individuals in the Punitive God condition were the most accepting. Virgins in the Punitive God condition were less accepting of sexual behavior than virgins in the Loving or Controlling God conditions. These results suggest that View of God may serve as an intervening variable that influences sexual attitudes.


The Role of Relationship Communication Patterns, We-Ness, and Partner Support on Females’ Perception of Acute Pain
Adviser: Paul Hawryluk, Ph.D.

Previous studies have suggested that both perceived partner support and communication patterns in committed relationships can influence individuals’ perceived levels of acute and chronic pain. However, no research thus far has evaluated whether communication styles may mediate the relationship between partner support and perceived pain. As a corrective for this limitation, the present study investigated whether the relationship between partner support and acute pain perception may be mediated by the Demand/Withdraw communication style and the degree of We-Ness expressed by partners when discussing their relationship. A convenience sample of 21 couples in committed relationships for at least six months was solicited online and from classes at a small, liberal arts college. Couples completed measures assessing the perceived level of various communication patterns (CPQ) and the degree of We-Ness expression (Modified OHI) in their relationships. Couples then were randomly assigned to two partner support conditions. In active support, the male partner held the female partner’s hand while she performed a modified cold pressor task, inserting her dominant hand into a bucket of ice for one minute.  In passive support, the male partner merely stood nearby as the female partner completed the task. Finally, females were asked to rate the perceived level of acute pain they experienced during the task on a 10-point scale. I expected females who reported higher Demand/Withdraw communication would experience greater acute pain when receiving active rather than passive support from their partners. I also expected that females who expressed more “we-ness” in their relationship discussions would experience less acute pain when receiving active rather than passive support from their partners. Unfortunately, these hypotheses were not supported by the data. The combination of support condition with degree of Demand/Withdraw communication and the combination of support condition with degree of We-Ness were not significantly associated with acute pain ratings. Furthermore, as single predictors, neither degree of We-Ness nor support condition were significantly related to acute pain ratings. However, secondary analyses did reveal a strong, negative and significant relationship between female perception of Man Demand/Woman Withdraw communication and perceived level of acute pain regardless of support condition.  In addition, females who perceived less Woman Demand/Man Withdraw communication and less Mutual Avoidance/Withholding in their relationships perceived significantly greater Constructive Communication in them.  Although the results did suggest that higher demand communication by males may be the only factor that reduces pain perception in their female partners, several threats to the internal and external validity of these results must be resolved before unequivocal conclusions can be drawn.


Cognitive Distortions in the Works of Depressed Writers and Poets
Adviser: Teresa Tannazzo, Ph.D.

Previous research has shown that poets and prose writers have higher rates of depression than any other artist; as well as higher rates than the general public. Thomas and Duke (2007) analyzed the works of eminent depressed and non-depressed poets and prose writers for signs of cognitive distortions, or illogical thoughts that are signs of depression. They found that depressed authors had more cognitive distortions than non-depressed authors, with depressed poets having the highest number of cognitive distortions. However, Thomas and Duke only examined one work from each artist, and did not consider how the author’s fame may have affected their depression. The current study attempted to replicate the earlier study by analyzing cognitive distortions in the works of eight eminent depressed poets and eight eminent depressed prose writers. To investigate whether signs of depression varied across their careers, two works of each author were examined; one from an early period and one from a late period of their writing careers. It was hypothesized that poets would should more cognitive distortions than did writers and that there would be a higher number of cognitive distortions in their later works as career eminence impacted their depression. Fourteen pages of each work were randomly selected and were analyzed for nine designated cognitive distortions. Although poets did display more cognitive distortions than did prose writers and later period works did display slightly more cognitive distortions than did those from the early periods, a 2 x 2 mixed design ANOVA revealed no significant main effects or interaction. While the results were not significant, the differences found do suggest that future research employing larger samples may be successful.


Superstition, Anxiety and Control Differences in Division III College Athletes
Adviser: Diane Sherlip, Ph.D.

Previous research has related participation in athletic competition to elevated levels of stress and anxiety, and has indicated that the superstitious beliefs and rituals of some athletes reflect an effort to reduce stress and anxiety. Superstitious beliefs and rituals have also been associated with a more external locus of control. This previous research, however, has ignored whether the athletes competed in an individual or team sport despite the potential for this difference to impact athletic performance. As compensation, the present study investigated how anxiety, superstitious beliefs, and perceptions of control are related to sport type (individual versus team) as well as gender. I expected more superstitious beliefs and rituals, higher anxiety, and a more external locus of control in team sport athletes because they would experience greater pressure as their performance impacts their teammates’ success. I also hypothesized that male athletes would report more superstitious beliefs and rituals, higher anxiety, and a more external locus of control than did female athletes due to the greater societal emphasis on male athletic competition. Participants included 51 NCAA Division III college athletes who completed a survey packet comprised of a Personal Data Sheet (PDS), the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2), the Superstitious Beliefs Measure (SBM), and the Locus of Control Scale (LOC). The CSAI-2 has three subscales assessing somatic anxiety, cognitive anxiety, and self-confidence. The SBM provides an overall score as well as seven subscale scores reflecting different superstitious beliefs and rituals. These include 1) clothing, 2) fetish, 3) pregame, 4) game, 5) team, 6) prayer, and 7) coach. A series of independent samples t-tests revealed team sport athletes had significantly higher mean scores on the SBM as well as all its subscales except for “prayer” and “pregame”. Team sport athletes also had a significantly higher mean self-confidence score on the CSAI-2. Compared to male athletes, female athletes had slightly higher mean scores on the SBM and its “pregame”, “game”, and “team” subscales. They also displayed significantly higher somatic and cognitive anxiety scores, but significantly lower self confidence scores than did males on the CSAI-2. These results, however, had limited in statistical power due to the small sample size and its disproportionate distribution of athlete types. Future research should obtain larger, more diverse samples and explore potential differences between collegiate athletic competition levels.


The Relationship between Social Support, Personality Traits and Leadership
Adviser: Dominique Treboux, Ph.D.

This study examined potential relationships among social support, the Introverted/Extroverted and Perceiving/Judging personality types and leadership behavior in a sample of 211 undergraduate students from a small, suburban college. Their mean age was 20.61 years.  Most were female (80.3%) and Caucasian (88.6%). Participants completed self-report measures which included a Personal Demographic Survey, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Personal Styles Inventory and the Leader Behavior Checklist. The results indicated that social support was related to leadership for introverts, especially those who were introverted-perceiving. However it was not related to leadership for extroverts. Leadership behavior also was related to personality, in that introverted-judging types scored higher on leadership than did introverted-perceiving types, but there was no difference in leadership between extroverted-judging and extroverted-perceiving types. Finally, there was no direct relationship between social support and personality types.


Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissism in Romantic Relationships
Adviser: Dominique Treboux, Ph.D.

Most of the research on vulnerable narcissism has focused on adult populations rather than emerging young adults. Moreover, little of this research has addressed the effects of narcissistic tendencies on the partners of narcissistic individuals. The present study examined differences between the two subtypes of narcissism, grandiose and vulnerable, and specifically investigated their effects on the partners of young adults. I expected vulnerable narcissism would better predict partners’ avoidance and anxiety, anxiety in relationships and self-wellbeing than did grandiose narcissism. Participants included 104 undergraduate students at a small liberal arts commuter college. The 34 males and 69 females had a mean age of 20.09 years and were of primarily Caucasian ethnicity. Only 46% of them currently were involved in relationships. Using established measures, participants rated their partners on vulnerable and grandiose narcissistic personality traits, relationship attachment styles (i.e. avoidance and anxiety, ECR), and self-wellbeing (i.e. anxiety). The results indicated that both vulnerable and grandiose narcissism in partners were significantly related to high levels of avoidance and anxiety in romantic relationships. However, multiple regression analysis indicated that partners’ vulnerable narcissism was a better predictor of relationship difficulties than was grandiose narcissism.


Virtual Success and Social Intelligence
Adviser: Dominique Treboux, Ph.D.

This study examined the contribution of online virtual gaming success to social intelligence. The sample included 152 students from a local private commuting college. Most were females (75%) and Caucasians (88%) between the ages of 18 and 23 years. Most were employed (84%), living with their parents (98%) and reported spending on average more than 15 hours a week on the internet (30%). Approximately 70% were in stable relationships. Participants completed a virtual media use history survey assessing their use of and success in virtual games such as World of Warcraft and Farmville. They also completed the Tromso Social Intelligence Scale (TSIS). The results indicated that both success in and use of virtual gaming sites were predictors of social intelligence. Males used these sites for longer periods of time and were more likely to play World of Warcraft. Females were more likely to play Farmville. There were no gender differences in game success.


Hooking Up and Attachment Style: Exploring the Outcomes of Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Satisfaction
Adviser: Dominique Treboux, Ph.D.

This study explored the potential relationships of casual sexual experiences (“hook ups”) and attachment styles to sexual satisfaction in current relationships. Most of the sample of 183 undergraduate students were females (60%) and were Caucasians (66%). They completed self-report measures of attachment style, sexual satisfaction, attitudes about hooking up, and emotional reactions to a hook up. They also provided information regarding their most current romantic relationships, including overall perceived happiness. The results suggested that neither frequency of “hooking up” nor attachment styles were related to sexual satisfaction in current relationships.

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