Psychology Department Theses and Dissertations

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    Health vs Success: Examining Whether Exposure to Negative Stereotypes Motivates Engagement in Unhealthy Behaviors among Low-SES College Students
    (2023-11) Gonzalez , Daniela; Derricks, Veronica; Johnson, India R.; Hirsh, Adam T.
    Individuals from low socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds experience worse health outcomes than high-SES individuals. Those disparities may be explained, at least in part, by low-SES individuals' routine exposure to stigma that can activate concerns about belonging in several settings, including academics. The current study tested whether activation of negative stereotypes (e.g., low academic ability) among low-SES students affects their motivation to engage in unhealthy behaviors (e.g., pulling an "all-nighter") in an effort to maximize academic success and disconfirm negative stereotypes about their group. Moreover, we assessed the role of key moderators (e.g., contingencies of self-worth in academic settings and stereotype threat concerns about one’s ingroup) and mediators (e.g., motivation to disconfirm negative ingroup stereotypes and stereotype threat concerns) on these outcomes. In an online experiment, college students recruited on Prolific Academic read a hypothetical news article indicating that low-SES students underperform academically relative to high-SES students (stereotype activation condition) or that low-SES students perform just as well as high-SES students (control condition). Although the findings indicated that our manipulation was effective, our results did not reach significance across the hypothesized outcomes. Implications for coping behaviors and academic outcomes for students from low-SES backgrounds are discussed.
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    A Mixed-Methods Investigation of the Implications of Substance Use Disorder Stigma for Justice-Involved Youth
    (2023-08) Johnson-Kwochka, Annalee V.; Salyers, Michelle; Cyders, Melissa; Zapolski, Tamika; Aalsma, Mathew
    Objectives: Compared to youth without justice-involvement, justice-involved youth are more likely to experience substance use disorders. Yet, few justice-involved youth receive appropriate, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Although there are numerous barriers to the accessibility of appropriate treatment, research also suggests that it is difficult to engage justice-involved youth in treatment even when it is available and accessible. It is possible that substance use disorder stigma, or negative attitudes towards youth with substance use disorders, may contribute to low treatment accessibility, and make it more difficult for justice-involved youth to engage with available treatment. Few researchers have examined substance use disorder stigma among this population. The purpose of this study was to 1) explore the nature of substance use disorder stigma among justice-involved youth, at multiple ecological levels and 2) examine the role of substance use disorder stigma in limiting the accessibility of and engagement in treatment and justice-involved youth’s engagement in treatment. Methods: Participants (n = 44 youth-guardian dyads) were referred to the study by juvenile probation departments in two Indiana counties. In addition, 66 system personnel participants who work with justice-involved youth with substance use disorders were recruited from community mental health centers and juvenile probation departments in rural and suburban Indiana counties. All participants completed survey measures of substance use disorder stigma and familiarity with substance use; youth-guardian dyads also provided information about the youth’s substance use history and treatment utilization. A subset of participants (n = 9 youth, 11 guardians, 12 system personnel) completed qualitative interviews, providing perspectives on substance use disorder stigma and the role of stigma in discouraging treatment. Using analysis of covariance, multiple regression analyses, and qualitative grounded theory analysis, I explored the nature of stigma toward justice-involved youth with substance use disorders and examined the impact of stigma on treatment accessibility and engagement. Results: For aim 1, as hypothesized, public stigma (assessed by survey data) varied significantly according to participant role and specific substance, with guardians endorsing greater stigma than system personnel. All participants expressed greater negative emotions towards youth with opioid use disorder compared to marijuana use disorder. Interview data revealed particularly nuanced attitudes about marijuana use. Contrary to expectations, youth reported little self-stigma. Both youth and guardians described limited knowledge of problematic substance use. For aim 2, interview data suggests that youth and guardians may identify more stigma associated with seeking treatment for problematic substance use than with using substances. All participants reported that perceived stigma has improved in recent years, and that youth feel more comfortable discussing their substance use. However, guardians identified family attitudes about behavioral health treatment as negatively impacting engagement among youth. In addition, system personnel reported that stigma continues to limit the accessibility of youth SUD treatment. Discussion: Youth endorsed lower than expected levels of self-stigma with no difference by primary substance type; this may have been affected by youth’s limited understanding of problematic substance use and lower than expected heterogeneity in substance use type among participants. Consistent with prior research, self-stigma was directly related to the severity of mental health symptoms. The high prevalence of public stigma among guardians of JIY with SUDs suggests that parents and guardians would benefit from interventions to better support their caregiving experiences. All participants identified complex attitudes about marijuana use, suggesting that the increasing public acceptability and endorsement of marijuana as a helpful substance may complicate treatment seeking when use becomes problematic. Although youth did not conceptualize self-stigma as a barrier to treatment, given that the primary substance used in this study was marijuana, these results may be complicated by changing societal attitudes about marijuana in particular. Qualitative perspectives from guardians and system personnel suggest that substance use disorder stigma may limit both the accessibility of treatment and youth’s likelihood to engage with treatment; this may depend on type of substance used. Particularly for the participants in this study, extremely limited treatment accessibility posed the largest barrier to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment for adolescents, making it difficult to accurately assess the role of stigma in actual treatment use. Finally, findings suggest that measuring substance use disorder stigma may be dependent on participants’ ability to accurately identify problematic substance use. It may also be important to refine both qualitative and quantitative measurement of stigma specifically with adolescents. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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    Daily Experiences of Racial Microaggressions and Health Outcomes Among Black Adolescents: A Daily Diary Study
    (2023-08) Clifton, Richelle Lee; Zapolski, Tamika C. B.; Stewart, Jesse C.; Johnson, India R.; Aalsma, Matthew C.
    Racial microaggressions are associated with multiple negative health outcomes, including increased distress, anxiety (Blume et al., 2012; Schoulte et al., 2011), and substance use (Su et al., 2019). The negative effects of racial microaggressions have been observed through daily assessments (Burrow & Ong, 2010; Ong et al., 2009; Swim et al., 2003). However, these studies have been conducted almost exclusively among Black adults. Thus, the first aim of the current study is to examine the impact of daily experiences of racial microaggressions on health outcomes among Black adolescents. Further, it is also important to examine factors that might influence the relationship between racial microaggressions and health outcomes. One factor that has received a considerable amount of attention is racial identity, with more recent studies examining the impact of racial identity profiles. Thus, the second aim of the current study was to explore variability in these risk pathways based on racial identity profiles. Participants were Black adolescents (N = 48; 79.2% girls; Mage=17.13). Respondents completed measures of racial identity at baseline and daily diary measures of racial microaggressions, depression, anxiety, aggression, and substance use for 14 days. Participants reported an average of 5.56 experiences of racial microaggressions per day. Neither concurrent or lagged-day associations between racial microaggressions and symptoms of depression or symptoms of anxiety were significant. Concurrent analyses indicated that the between-person effect of racial microaggressions on aggression was significant (estimate=0.345, SE=0.138, t=2.495, p=0.016), and that effect was still evident one day later (estimate=0.107, SE=0.040, t=2.686, p=0.007). The concurrent, within-person effect of racial microaggressions on cannabis use was also significant (OR=1.524, 95%CI[0.103, 0.740], p=0.010). Four racial identity profiles were identified (labeled race- focused, undifferentiated, integrationist, and multiculturalist) and a number of effects were significant within profiles. This study further highlighted that Black youth are experiencing an overwhelming number of racial microaggressions on a daily basis. Additionally, this project represents a crucial step in advancing our understanding of how racial microaggressions operate to influence health outcomes among Black adolescents on the daily level and highlights several areas for needed study and intervention.
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    Social Anhedonia in the Daily Lives of People with Schizophrenia: Examination of Anticipated and Consummatory Pleasure
    (2024-05) Abel, Danielle B.; Minor, Kyle S.; Salyers, Michelle P.; Wu, Wei; Vohs, Jenifer L.
    Social withdrawal is a disabling feature of schizophrenia. To understand its development, researchers have focused on social anhedonia— diminished pleasure from social interactions. Discrepancies in anticipated versus consummatory pleasure for non-social stimuli are well-documented in schizophrenia. Thus, a similar emotional paradox may underlie social anhedonia. If so, our understanding of social anhedonia—including how to treat it in schizophrenia—could be enhanced. This project used a 5-day experience sampling method (ESM) to measure discrepancies between anticipated and consummatory pleasure for real-world social activities in people with schizophrenia and healthy controls (n=30/group). Results suggest people with schizophrenia exhibited similar levels of anticipated and consummatory social pleasure as controls, and both groups were accurate in their short-term predictions of pleasure. Yet, healthy control participants were somewhat more precise in their short-term pleasure predictions, and clinical interviews revealed those with schizophrenia showed moderate deficits in long-term social pleasure prediction. Negative symptoms and cognitive impairment in schizophrenia were related to anticipated, but not consummatory, social pleasure, suggesting anhedonia is driven by deficits in thinking about pleasure, rather than inability to experience pleasure. Clinical implications include focusing on building upon short-term ability to predict pleasure in therapy in order to increase social motivation in schizophrenia. Moreover, exploratory analyses revealed differences in qualitative aspects of social activities such as level of engagement may lead to social anhedonia in schizophrenia and are a promising treatment target for addressing social dysfunction.
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    The Role of Trait and Specific Expectations in the Dysmenorrhea Experience
    (2024-08-13) Rogers, Sarah K.; Rand, Kevin L.; Mosher, Catherine E.; Stewart, Jesse C.; Chen, Chen X.
    Dysmenorrhea is the most common pain condition in reproductive-aged women and is characterized by pain during menstruation. Dysmenorrhea has far-reaching effects, such as increased psychological distress, increased relationship problems, reduced physical activity, and decreased sleep efficiency. It is the leading cause of absenteeism in this population. Though dysmenorrhea impacts many women and has such far-reaching effects, it has not been studied as extensively as other pain conditions, specifically regarding trait expectations and specific expectations. In other pain conditions, hope and optimism, the two most studied trait expectations, are protective factors for pain severity, interference, and the psychological effects of pain. Trait expectations additionally predict specific expectations, with hope predicting specific expectations related to the self, and optimism predicting specific expectations related to experiences. Both self- and experience-expectations predict outcomes, such as pain severity and pain tolerance. The current study sought to 1) examine the factor structure of specific expectations for dysmenorrhea; 2) examine the roles of trait and specific expectations in predicting dysmenorrhea; and 3) examine the roles of trait expectations and dysmenorrhea in predicting psychological adjustment. A longitudinal study of 389 menstruating women, over the age of 18, who could read and write English was conducted through CloudResearch. Confirmatory factor analysis and mixed latent- and measured-variable path analysis were used. Results indicated two distinct factors of specific expectations, pain-expectation and self- expectation. Hope predicted self-expectation, which predicted dysmenorrhea interference. Pain- expectation predicted dysmenorrhea severity and interference. Additionally, both hope and optimism predicted psychological adjustment. Dysmenorrhea interference predicted psychological distress. However, trait expectations did not predict dysmenorrhea. This study is the first to examine the associations among trait expectations, specific expectations, and dysmenorrhea and expands on the differences between dysmenorrhea and other pain conditions.
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    Proactive Versus Reactive Control Strategies Differentially Mediate Alcohol Seeking in Wistars and P Rats
    (2023-05) Morningstar, Mitchell D.; Lapish, Christopher; Czachowski, Cristine; Grahame, Nicholas; Brigman, Jonathan
    Problematic alcohol consumption develops concurrently with deficits in decision-making. These deficits may be due to alterations in dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) neural activity, as it is essential for the evaluation and implementation of behavioral strategies. In this study, we hypothesized that differences in cognitive control would be evident between Wistars and alcohol-preferring P rats. Cognitive control can be split into proactive and reactive components. Proactive control maintains goal-directed behavior independent of a stimulus whereas reactive control elicits goal-directed behavior at the time of a stimulus. Specifically, it was hypothesized that Wistars would show proactive control over alcohol-seeking whereas P rats would show reactive control over alcohol-seeking. Proactive control in our rodent model is defined as responding to distal task cues whereas reactive control is responding to proximal cues. This was tested in rodents performing a 2-way Cued Access Protocol (2CAP) that facilitates measurements of alcohol seeking and drinking. Congruent sessions were the typical, default 2CAP sessions that consisted of the CS+ being on the same side as alcohol access. These were compared with incongruent sessions where alcohol access was opposite of the CS+. Wistars exhibited an increase in incorrect approaches during the incongruent sessions, which was not detectable in P rats. A trial-by-trial analysis indicated that the increases in incorrect responses was explained by Wistars utilizing the previously learned task-rule, whereas the P rats did not. This motivated the subsequent hypothesis that neural activity patterns corresponding to proactive control would be observable in Wistars but not P rats. Principal Component Analysis indicated that neural ensembles in the dmPFC of Wistars exhibited decreased activity to the cue light in incongruent sessions whereas P rat ensembles displayed increased activity at timepoints associated with the onset and end of alcohol access. Overall, it was observed that P rats showed the most differences in neural activity at times relevant for alcohol delivery; specifically, when the sipper came into the apparatus and left. Conversely, Wistars showed differences prior to approach as evidenced by both differences in cue-related activity as well as differences in spatial-strategies. Together, these results support our hypothesis that Wistars are more likely to engage proactive cognitive control strategies whereas P rats are more likely to engage reactive cognitive control strategies. Although P rats were bred to prefer alcohol, differences in cognitive control phenotypes may have concomitantly occurred that are of clinical relevance.
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    The Development of a C. Elegans Model of Nicotine Use and Aversion Resistance
    (2023-05) Omura, Daniel E.; Neal-Beliveau, Bethany S.; Goodlett, Charles R.; Engleman, Eric A.; Grahame, Nicholas J.
    Nicotine addiction is an extremely costly and widespread issue that affects millions of people globally and current treatments have relatively low long term efficacy rates. This demonstrates the need for a greater understanding of nicotine addiction and its underlying mechanisms. This study created a C. elegans model of compulsive nicotine use. C. elegans, that were pretreated with nicotine (9.7 μM or 120 μM) from larval stage 4 to gravid adulthood, demonstrated reduced aversion to 10% nonanone in the presence of nicotine compared to untreated worms. The pretreatment concentration of 9.7 μM nicotine was chosen for further study due to its ability to induce aversion resistance without significant changes to locomotor speed, food preference, or benzaldehyde preference. This model was then applied to nicotinic acetylcholine (acr-5, acr-15, acr-16) and dopamine (dop-1, dop-2) receptor knockout mutants to determine the roles of these receptors in the development of aversion resistance. For the acr-5, acr-15, and acr-16 mutants, there was an increase in preference following the administration of 10% nonanone, regardless of pretreatment condition, suggesting that the removal of these receptors induces aversion resistance. For the dop-1 receptor mutant, 10-minute timepoint nicotine preference was reduced following preexposure. For the dop-2 receptor mutant, aversion was enhanced at the 5 mM and 50 mM test concentrations following the administration of 10% nonanone, suggesting that the dop-2 receptor is partially responsible for the development of aversion resistance. Additional research should be conducted to determine the underlying mechanisms of this drug induced aversion resistance. With current the lack of highly efficacious nicotine cessation drugs, this model could be used to test novel therapeutic drugs in a rapid high throughput manner.
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    Examining Relationships Among Depression Treatment, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), and Depressive Symptom Clusters in Primary Care Patients with Depression
    (2023-05) Crawford, Christopher A.; Stewart, Jesse; Rand, Kevin; Wu, Wei
    Depression is a heterogeneous mental health condition, varying in presentation across individuals. A candidate etiology that may help account for this heterogeneity is the neurotrophin hypothesis of depression, which proposes that stress downregulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression, leading to aberrant neurogenesis and depression. This etiology may manifest in a distinct symptom profile that may be reflected in depressive symptoms or symptom clusters. The effect of psychological interventions on BDNF is not known. Additionally, it is not known if BDNF levels mediate intervention effects on depressive symptom clusters. Using data from the eIMPACT trial (NCT02458690, supported by R01 HL122245), I examined baseline associations of BDNF with depressive symptoms and depressive symptom clusters. Also, I examined if the modernized collaborative care intervention for depression (internet CBT, telephonic CBT, and select antidepressant medications) affected BDNF and if changes in BDNF mediated intervention effects on cognitive/affective and somatic depressive symptom clusters. 216 participants (primary care patients with depression and elevated cardiovascular disease risk ≥50 years from a safety net healthcare system) were randomized to 12 months of the eIMPACT intervention (n=107) or usual primary care for depression (primary care providers supported by embedded behavioral health clinicians and affiliated psychiatrists; n=109). Plasma BDNF was measured with commercial ELISA kits. Depressive symptoms were assessed by the PHQ-9 (M=15.1, SD=5.0) from which cognitive/affective and somatic subscale scores were computed. No significant baseline associations were observed between BDNF and individual depressive symptoms or depressive symptom clusters. The intervention did not improve BDNF over 12 months. Similarly, 12-month changes in BDNF were not associated with 12-month changes in PHQ-9 cognitive/affective or somatic subscale scores. However, the intervention significantly improved PHQ-9 cognitive/affective and somatic subscale scores over 12 months. 12-month changes in BDNF did not mediate the effect of the intervention on 12-month changes in the PHQ-9 subscale scores. These findings suggest that modernized collaborative care for depression does not improve BDNF. Modernized collaborative care does yield improvements in both cognitive/affective and somatic depressive symptom clusters, albeit not via changes in BDNF.
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    What Works for You Might Not Work for Me: Consequences of IPT, Feedback Orientation, and Feedback Environment on Performance Management Effectiveness
    (2023-05) Burton, Bobbie; Williams, Jane; Derricks, Veronica; Porter, Christopher O.L.H.
    Despite its status as a commonly used and seemingly vital talent management system, performance management has received an abundance of criticism surrounding its effectiveness and utility in organizations. Existing deficiencies in performance management are largely attributed to gaps in its strategy and implementation, with researchers arguing that organizations need to spend more effort supporting personnel engagement in informal, “everyday” performance management behaviors to drive performance. The present study sought to expand on existing performance management research by investigating: 1) how supervisor engagement in informal performance management behaviors influences employee perceptions of overall performance management and 2) how employee feedback orientation and implicit person theory potentially alter those perceptions. The hypothesized model was tested using an online survey sent through Prolific academic to a random sample of 351 full-time United States employees. A series of hierarchical regressions revealed that employee perceptions of performance management were positively predicted by supervisor engagement in informal performance management behaviors. However, employee feedback orientation and implicit person theory were not found to significantly moderate these effects. The present study contributes to performance management literature by examining the degree to which informal supervisor performance management behaviors shape employee reactions to performance management. Implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
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    De-Mixing Decision Representations in Rodent dmPFC to Investigate Strategy Change During Delay Discounting
    (2023-05) White, Shelby M.; Lapish, Christopher; Czachowski, Cristine; Oberlin, Brandon; Seamans, Jeremy
    Several pathological disorders are characterized by maladaptive decision-making (Dalley & Robbins, 2017). Decision-making tasks, such as Delay Discounting (DD), are used to assess the behavioral manifestations of maladaptive decision-making in both clinical and preclinical settings (de Wit, Flory, Acheson, Mccloskey, & Manuck, 2007). DD measures cognitive impulsivity and broadly refers to the inability to delay gratification (Hamilton et al., 2015). How decisions are made in tasks that measure DD can be understood by assessing patterns of behavior that are observable in the sequences of choices or the statistics that accompany each choice (e.g. response latency). These measures have led to insights that suggest strategies that are used by the agent to facilitate the decision (Linsenbardt, Smoker, Janetsian-Fritz, & Lapish, 2016). The current set of analyses aims to use individual trial data to identify the neural underpinnings associated with strategy transition during DD. A greater understanding of how strategy change occurs at a neural level will be useful for developing cognitive and behavioral strategies aimed at reducing impulsive choice. The rat dorso-medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) has been implicated as an important brain region for recognizing the need to change strategy during DD (Powell & Redish, 2016). Using advanced statistical techniques, such as demixed principal component analysis (dPCA), we can then begin to understand how decision representations evolve over the decision- making process to impact behaviors such as strategy change. This study was the first known attempt at using dPCA applied to individual sessions to accurately model how decision representations evolve across individual trials. Evidence exists that representations follow a breakdown and remapping at the individual trial level (Karlsson, Tervo, & Karpova, 2012; Powell & Redish, 2016). Furthermore, these representational changes across individual trials have previously been proposed to act as a signal to change strategies (Powell & Redish, 2016). This study aimed to test the hypothesis that a ‘breakdown’ followed by a ‘remapping’ of the decision representation would act as a signal to change strategy that is observable in the behavior of the animal. To investigate the relationship between trials surrounding the breakdown and/or subsequent remapping of the decision representation and trials surrounding strategy changes, sequences of trials surrounding the breakdown and/or remapping were compared to sequences of 9 trials surrounding the strategy-change trial. Strategy types consisted of either exploiting the immediate lever (IM-Exploit), delay lever (DEL-Exploit), or exploring between the two lever options (Explore). Contrary to the hypothesis, an overall relationship between breakdown and remapping trial sequences were not associated with change-trial sequences. In partial support of the hypothesis however, at the 4-sec delay when the subjective value of the immediate reward was high, a relationship between breakdown sequence and strategy change sequence was detected for when the animal was exploiting the delay lever (e.g. DEL-Exploit strategy). This result suggests that a breakdown in decision representation may act as a signal to prompt strategy change under certain contexts. One notable finding of this study was that the decision representation was much more robust at the 4-sec delay compared to the 8-sec delay, suggesting that decisions at the 4-sec delay contain more context that differentiate the two choice options (immediate or delay). In other words, the encoding of the two choice options was more dissociable at the 4-sec delay compared to the 8-sec delay, which was quantified by measuring the average distance between the two representations (immediate and delay) on a given trial. Given that Wistar rats are equally likely to choose between the immediate and delay choice alternatives at the 8-sec delay (Linsenbardt et al., 2016), this finding provides further support for current prevalent theories of how animals use a cognitive search process to mentally imagine choice alternatives during deliberation. If context which differentiates choice options at the 8-sec delay is less dissociable, it is likely that the cognitive search process would be equally likely to find either choice option. If the choice options are equally likely to be found, it would be assumed that the choice alternatives would also be equally likely to be chosen, which is what has been observed in Wistar rats at the 8-sec delay.