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Consistency, Consolidation, and Cognition in Autobiographical Memories: a Flashbulb Memory Approach

Description: Flashbulb memories are highly vivid and long-lasting memories for events that are emotionally significant and personally important. These memories are held in very high confidence in accuracy over an extended period. In particular, individuals believe that they can remember the personal details surrounding the event such as where they were and what they were doing at the time the event occurred. Evidence from research, however, indicates that this may not be the case. The study of flashbulb memories has typically been confined to negative events such as September 11, 2001. In the current study, we employ the methods of Talarico and Rubin (2003) to investigate flashbulb memory formation to a positive event. The event is the assassination of Osama bin Laden, which resonated as a highly positive event for many Americans evidenced by the thousands of people flooding the streets of Washington, D.C. and New York City to celebrate. We examined various memory properties over a one-year period, including vividness, rehearsal, belief in accuracy, and consistency. Results confirm the formation of flashbulb memories to the assassination event, but results did not support many of the proposed hypotheses. Some differences were found for different testing groups (i.e., immediate versus one week delay), but these were not replicated at the one year follow-up. Overall, however, it is believed that the current event, while still a flashbulb memory, was not a strong enough event to stir strong emotions and form memories on par with 9/11.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Kraha, Amanda

Devaluing Stigma in the Context of Forgiveness, Coping and Adaptation: a Structural Regression Model of Reappraisal

Description: The 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy outlined three important goals for managing the current HIV pandemic in the U.S.: (1) reduce the number of people who become infected with HIV; (2) improve access to health care and health-related outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLH/A); and (3) reduce HIV-related health disparities. Each of these goals tacitly depends upon reducing HIV-related stigma, and this study examined how HIV+ individuals evaluate coping efforts to overcome stigma’s impact on quality of life (QOL). a structural regression model was developed to instantiate the reappraisal process described by Lazarus and Folkman’s transactional theory of stress and coping, and this model indicated that maladaptive coping fully mediated the relationship between dispositional forgiveness and perceived stigma, which supports the prediction that coping efficacy is related to stress reduction. Additionally, maladaptive coping fully mediated the relationship between dispositional forgiveness and QOL, supporting the contention that forgiveness is a critical aspect to the evaluative process that influences how PLH/A cope with stigma. Lastly, the model showed that when PLH/A engaged in maladaptive coping to mitigate stress-related stigma, these individuals experienced increased stigmatization and reported significantly lower levels of health-related QOL. in contrast, PLH/A that reported higher levels of dispositional forgiveness were significantly less likely to use maladaptive coping to overcome stigma. Therefore, dispositional forgiveness works through coping to alter perceptions regarding stigmatization, while indirectly influencing attitudes related to health distress, mental health, and cognitive and social functioning. the theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Gates, Michael S.

An Examination of a Framework for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Correlates: Exploring the Roles of Narrative Centrality and Negative Affectivity

Description: Recent estimates suggest that a large percentage of the population experiences some type of traumatic event over the course of the lifetime, but a relatively small proportion of individuals develop severe, long-lasting problems (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder; PTSD). One major goal for trauma researchers is to understand what factors contribute to these differential outcomes, and much of this research has examined correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity. An important next step in this line of research is the development of conceptual frameworks to foster a deeper understanding of the relationships among these diverse predictors of PTSD and their predictive power in relation to each other. A framework proposed by Rubin, Boals, and Hoyle centers on the influence of narrative centrality (construal of a traumatic experience as central to one's identity and to the life story) and negative affectivity (the tendency to experience negative emotion and to interpret situations and experiences in a negative light), suggesting many variables may correlate with PTSD symptoms via shared variance with these two factors. With a sample of 477 participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk, this dissertation project extended the work of Rubin and colleagues by a) utilizing structural equation modeling techniques to simultaneously examine relationships among variables, b) investigating the utility of the model with a carefully-selected list of PTSD correlates, c) extending the model by including PTSD symptom severity, and d) exploring both direct and indirect effects to assess the roles of narrative centrality and negative affectivity as they relate to known PTSD correlates and PTSD symptom severity. PTSD correlates included social support quality and quantity, peritraumatic dissociation, negative posttraumatic cognitions, perceived injustice, and negative religious coping. Hypotheses were partially supported, and there was some evidence that the model may be effective in distinguishing between variables more and less germane to ...
Date: August 2016
Creator: Southard-Dobbs, Shana

Is Mind Wandering the Mechanism Responsible for Life Stress Induced Impairments in Working Memory Capacity?

Description: The relationship between life stress and working memory capacity (WMC) has been documented in college students and older adults. It has been proposed that intrusive thoughts about life stress are the mechanism responsible for the impairments seen in WMC. To examine the mechanism responsible for these impairments the current study attempted to induce intrusive thoughts about personal events. The current study allowed for a test of predictions made by two theories of mind wandering regarding the impact of these intrusive thoughts on WMC task performance. One hundred fifty undergraduates were assigned to a control group, positive event group, or negative event group. Participants in the positive and negative event groups completed a short emotional disclosure about an imagined future positive or negative event, respectively, to induce positive or negative intrusive thoughts. WMC measures were completed prior to and following the emotional writing. Results indicated a significant relationship between WMC and mind wandering, however the writing manipulation did not result in any consistent changes in intrusive thoughts or WMC. The results suggest a causal relationship between WMC and mind wandering. The emotional valence of the intrusive thought altered the impact on WMC. No relationship was seen between the measures of stress and WMC. The results of the current study suggest that negative intrusive thoughts result in impaired WMC task performance but other types of off-task thoughts may not result in similar impairments.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Banks, Jonathan Britten

Mock Juror Effects of Blame and Conviction in Rape Cases: Do Attitudes, Beliefs, and Contact with Homosexuals Matter?

Description: The current case involves a female rape victim. Research has shown the level of victim blaming can be elevated if the victim is a lesbian woman compared to a heterosexual woman. Mock jurors’ responses to personality trait questionnaires (e.g., Belief in a Just World, Attitudes Toward Women, Attitudes Toward Lesbians) and amount of contact they have with homosexual people were employed as predictors of how they would decide victim blaming and perpetrator guilt. Personality trait findings were not good predictors; however, greater contact with homosexuals did decrease negative attitudes toward lesbian victims. Limitations and implications for future research are addressed.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Hurst-McCaleb, Dawn

Postoperative Neuropsychological Outcomes in Pediatric Patients Undergoing Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Surgery

Description: The purpose of this study was to investigate the neuropsychological outcomes of pediatric subjects undergoing temporal lobe surgery, and then compare the outcomes between subjects in the iMRI and the standard operating suites. This study involved 77 children ages one to 21 years (M = 11.98) at time of surgery for intractable epilepsy. Forty-seven returned for repeat neuropsychological assessment. At baseline, subjects with early onset of epilepsy (≤ 7 years) scored worse on a measure of attention (p = .02), FSIQ (p < .01), perceptual reasoning (p < .01), and processing speed (p = .06). At one-year follow-up, interactions were observed for the response style domain of the attention measure (p = .03), FSIQ (p = .06) and working memory (p = .08). Follow-up at one year, for the group as a whole, revealed decline in verbal memory (p = .04) and reading comprehension (p = .02); and improvement for word reading (p = .05). No significant differences were observed between the iMRI and standard operating suite. Though, hemisphere, duration of epilepsy, preoperative seizure frequency, lesional disease, seizure type, presence of epileptogenic focus, and number of lobes involved accounted for variance in neuropsychological outcomes. These results provide further support for that certain preoperative individual, disease, and therapeutic variables are predictive of neurocognitive outcome following surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy. Additionally, the results demonstrated that surgery may also impact attention.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Bailey, Laurie J.

Response to Sexual Trauma in Relation to Event Centrality and Objectified View of Self

Description: This study examined the potentially differing emotional consequences of sexual versus non-sexual traumas in both a student and a community residing treatment seeking sample of women. The extent to which a trauma survivor considers the traumatic event central to her identity (CES) was examined as a potential mediator between traumatic events and PTSD. Additionally, the extent to which a women views herself and her body as a sexual object, to be valued based on her appearance and sexual usefulness to others (sexual self-objectification: OBCS), was examined as a potential mediator between traumatic event and event centrality. Study results showed survivors of sexual assault reported greater CES and PTSD symptoms (PCL-S) than non-sexual trauma survivors in the student population. Mediation results showed sexual self-objectification (OBCS-Shame) significantly mediated the relationship between trauma type and CES, and CES significantly mediated the relationship between type of trauma and PTSD symptoms in the student population only. Data from the community sample did not support these conclusions as women from this sample reported higher PCL-S, CES, and OBCS-Shame scores across categories of trauma.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Knowles, Laura R.

Terror Management Theory and Body Image

Description: Research has not explicitly examined the link between key components of terror management theory (TMT) and body image without the use of mortality salience. This project explored the link between cultural worldview, self-esteem, body image, and death anxiety. Multiple measures were used to create a structural equation model examining relationships between body image and death anxiety as mediated by body image in the context of TMT. The proposed model did not fit the data. Minor modifications were made to the model keeping within the proposed theoretical perspective. In the modified model the relationships between cultural worldview and death anxiety as mediated by body image were either non-existent or weak. Hierarchical regression analyses did suggest that some aspects of body image indeed did predict some, but not all dimension of death anxiety in this sample of young adults.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Fish, Joshua Stephen Andrus