Department of Psychology (Saint John)

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An analysis of the employment needs of provincial offenders and the impact of employment intervention
An analysis of the employment needs of provincial offenders and the impact of employment intervention
by W. Alex C. Macaulay, The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR; Andrews, Bonta, & Hodge, 1990) model highlights education/employment as one of the eight criminogenic needs that must be addressed to reduce criminality. Various offender-focused employment programs have attempted to reduce recidivism rates and promote employment; however, the literature is mixed on the benefits of such programs. The current thesis analyzed education/employment needs and services among offenders in New Brunswick, Canada. In a community-supervised sample (N = 111) of offenders, Study 1 found that participants had education/employment needs in New Brunswick that are not being well met by traditional probation services. In a sample of 56 community-supervised offenders, Study 2 found that a pilot offender-focused employment program, Optimizing Employment Readiness (OER), assisted in the reduction of recidivism risk and promotion of employment, but results must be interpreted with caution due to methodological limitations. Collectively, the current thesis presents the contemporary employment situation of offenders in New Brunswick, Canada. It highlights areas that ought to be addressed by the criminal justice system in order to effectively reduce recidivism, increase offenders’ opportunities for employment, and improve offenders’ overall well being.
Attachment and well-being: the mediating role of difficulties in emotion regulation and self-compassion
Attachment and well-being: the mediating role of difficulties in emotion regulation and self-compassion
by Mary Kathleen (Katie) O’Connell, Individual differences in attachment security are known to have a considerable impact on both subjective and psychological well-being. The presence of a secure attachment relationship has repeatedly been linked to more positive well-being, whereas higher levels of insecure attachment (i.e., higher anxiety and/or avoidance) are related to poorer well-being outcomes (e.g., Diener & Diener-McGavran, 2008; La Guardia et al., 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2001; Shaver & Mikulincer, 2002). Although this relationship has been studied extensively, subjective and psychological well-being are rarely examined together. Following recent recommendations to assess well-being comprehensively (e.g., Chen et al., 2013; Samman, 2007), the present study simultaneously evaluated subjective and psychological well-being to gain a better understanding of the relative influence of attachment and the potential mediators of interest on each outcome. The primary focus of current study examined the potential mediating role of two constructs as well as difficulties in emotion regulation and self-compassion, as these factors have been minimally examined to date and previous investigations have yielded inconclusive or conflicting results. It was expected that individuals who reported greater attachment anxiety and/or avoidance would endorse greater difficulties in emotion regulation, the use of less adaptive emotion regulation strategies, and lower levels of self compassion; these, in turn, would contribute to poorer subjective and psychological well-being. To examine these hypotheses, 386 participants completed a series of online questionnaires measuring attachment, subjective and psychological well-being, emotion regulation strategies, difficulties in emotion regulation, and self-compassion. The findings for emotion regulation revealed six of the eight measures acted as significant mediators in the relationship between attachment and well-being. Furthermore, the results revealed self-compassion acted as a significant mediator in the relationship between attachment and all indices of well-being. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed. Keywords: attachment, subjective and psychological well-being, emotion regulation, self-compassion
Attachment anxiety, self-disclosure, and authenticity: the moderating role of interdependence
Attachment anxiety, self-disclosure, and authenticity: the moderating role of interdependence
by Michael Golding, The current study investigated whether interdependence moderates the influence of attachment anxiety on pro-relational behaviours (i.e., self-disclosure & authenticity) across romantic and platonic relationships. It was anticipated that more anxiously attached individuals, would use fewer pro-relational behaviours in highly interdependent relationships (e.g., romantic) to preclude the possibility of damaging this vital bond. In less interdependent contexts (e.g., platonic), however, it was hypothesized that individuals reporting greater attachment anxiety would use more pro-relational behaviours as the costs of rejection are reduced. Consistent with expectations, results revealed a positive relationship between attachment anxiety and self-disclosure at low-levels of interdependence. However, attachment anxiety was not significantly associated with pro-relational behaviours at higher levels of interdependence. Findings suggest that individuals with greater attachment anxiety may be less fearful of interdependence than anticipated and may actually seek greater closeness when interdependence is low.
Cannabis use problems: who is at risk and why? the identification of markers
Cannabis use problems: who is at risk and why? the identification of markers
by Brittany Skelding, Cannabis is the second most used substance in the world after alcohol but has been researched less extensively than other substances. The aims of the current study were twofold. First, the current study examined the contribution of quantity and frequency of cannabis use on the likelihood of experiencing cannabis-related problems. Second, clusters of cannabis users were formed using polysubstance use, mental health (i.e., externalizing and internalizing symptoms), and cannabis use (including quantity and frequency of use) variables. A total of 372 past-year cannabis users participated in the study online or in person. Overall, cannabis use-related negative consequences were best accounted for by the DSM-5 cannabis use disorder criteria; however, measures of both quantity and frequency contributed to these negative outcomes. Furthermore, three distinct cannabis using clusters emerged: low frequency non-problematic, moderate frequency, and high frequency problematic cannabis users. The current findings have significant implications for prevention and intervention practices. Keywords: cannabis, use-related problems, quantity, frequency, clusters, internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms
Client characteristics and experiences in three methadone maintainance therapy models
Client characteristics and experiences in three methadone maintainance therapy models
by Lillian MacNeill, Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) is the most common form of substitution therapy for opioid use disorder in New Brunswick. Results from systematic reviews indicate that MMT is a cost-effective treatment and is associated with improved outcomes. Although methadone dispensation is the primary component of MMT, several aspects of these programs differ depending on the treatment model. This variation has not been the focus of empirical research. The current study used a mixed-method design to assess client characteristics and experiences in three MMT treatment delivery models: 1) comprehensive programs which combine methadone treatment with mandatory physician appointments and counselling, 2) low-threshold-high- tolerance (LTHT) programs which focus on stabilization on methadone and offer primary healthcare services, and 3) fee-for-service methadone programs which are run by community pharmacies and where the dispensation of methadone is the core component. Seventy participants were recruited from five treatment sites in Saint John, New Brunswick and grouped based on model of care: Comprehensive program (n = 21), LTHT program (n = 26), and fee-for-service program (n = 23). Self-report questionnaires were used to collect data on demographics, substance use, personality, and treatment readiness. A semi-structured interview examining client history, progress in treatment, perception of treatment programs, and ancillary services was administered to a subset of these participants (n = 31). A series of one-way ANOVA tests examined group differences in substance use, personality, and treatment readiness. Results indicated that participants in the fee-for-service group reported higher levels of substance use severity and polysubstance use than participants in the comprehensive and LTHT groups. Content analysis was performed on interview data to assess the frequency of relevant themes in the qualitative data. The most prominent themes included: wanting supportive staff; wanting more structured counselling; and, desiring more consistency/organization of services. These findings have important implications for the implementation of MMT, as this study suggests that fee-for-service models of MMT may not be as effective in reducing substance use as more traditional service delivery models. In addition, the availability and quality of mental health services should be reviewed and integration between addiction services and mental health services should be emphasized.
Correctional professionals' self-reported adherence and attitudes toward the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model of offender case management
Correctional professionals' self-reported adherence and attitudes toward the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model of offender case management
by Cailey Alexis Gilmurray, In Canada, the number of offenders on community supervision is high, with probation being one of the most common types of supervision. To properly manage these offenders in the community, it is important that correctional policies use evidence-based practices for crime prevention and reduction. In Canada, the Risk-Need-Responsivity model (RNR; Andrews, Bonta, & Hoge, 1990) forms the foundation of these evidence-based practices and treatment interventions. However, research suggests that “what works” does not always translate into practice (Bonta & Andrews, 2017). The goal of the current thesis was to examine attitudes and barriers that might influence the implementation of the RNR model among a sample of probation officers, parole officers, forensic/correctional psychologists, and correctional case managers recruited throughout North America. A sample of 99 professionals completed an online survey via email invites sent to criminal justice and professional organizations. Overall, the current study found that professionals have positive attitudes and a high level of knowledge about the principles of effective offender rehabilitation. Furthermore, both job satisfaction and RNR training were significant predictors of these positive attitudes. Professionals with positive attitudes were also more likely to adhere to the RNR principles in a high risk case vignette. Further research is needed on the factors that affect RNR adherence in practice. These findings are important because they will identify areas of need for training in best practices for effective offender rehabilitation. These findings inform RNR application procedures and training development for correctional staff.
Detecting deceit from idiosyncratic deception clues
Detecting deceit from idiosyncratic deception clues
by Derek John Gaudet, Lie detection research is largely driven by the proposition that lying is experienced differently than truth-telling in terms of emotional discomfort, cognitive load, and behavioural control. These experiences are believed to moderate changes in expressive nonverbal behaviour that occur during deception. Many assumptions that underlie theories of lie detection have gone untested. In this study, 61 participants completed a personality packet and then lied and told the truth about their attitudes concerning contentious social issues. Following each interview, participants completed a questionnaire concerning their perceived level of discomfort, cognitive load, and behavioural control. Results indicated that participants experienced deception differently from truth telling. Furthermore, personality contributed to the experience of deception. Detailed analyses revealed idiosyncrasies in behavioural clues and multiple behaviours were more useful than any single behavioural clue. Taken together these results suggest that researchers should focus on constellations of behavioural clues, rather than focusing on individual behaviours.
Evidence for decreasing academic procrastination through the incentives and consequences of competition
Evidence for decreasing academic procrastination through the incentives and consequences of competition
by Ryley Russell, Academic procrastination involves the delay of a task with the knowledge that such delay could result in future consequences, which could include lower grades and accumulated stress. In the present study, participants heard directives that induced different levels of competition in an attempt to decrease state procrastination. Participants also completed questionnaires to assess their personality characteristics, executive functioning (i.e., working memory, planning), and academic procrastination to determine the relationships between state and trait procrastination, personality traits, and executive function. Results revealed that Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and all executive function subscales were statistically significant predictors of trait procrastination, but failed to predict state procrastination. Findings related to the manipulation provided evidence that, relative to individuals in a control condition, participants who were in experimental conditions in which perceived competition was increased, had lower state procrastination. Lastly, the implications on future research and the divergence between state and trait procrastination are discussed.
Identifying cannabis use motives and their association with problematic cannabis use
Identifying cannabis use motives and their association with problematic cannabis use
by Catherine McDonald, Cannabis is amongst the most frequently used substances worldwide (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2015). Motivations for use are predictive of the quantity and frequency of cannabis consumed, as well as the severity of cannabis-related consequences (Lee, Neighbors, & Woods, 2007; Lee, Neighbors, Hendershot, & Grossbard, 2009). Research on cannabis-related motivations has been limited by being modeled from the alcohol literature and by the samples used (e.g., university population). The current study aimed to comprehensively assess cannabis motives in a more diverse group of cannabis users than previous studies. Past-year cannabis users from the general population (n=262) and a university student community (n=103) completed an online survey assessing cannabis use motivations, use patterns, and misuse risk factors (e.g., age, gender, personality). Five distinct motivations (i.e., positive reinforcement, coping with negative affect, health enhancement, social cohesion, and secondary substance) emerged, which were uniquely associated with frequency of cannabis use and use-related problems. Understanding motives behind cannabis use may inform the development of more effective prevention and intervention programs for cannabis misusers (Benschop et al., 2015). Keywords: cannabis, motivations, frequency of use, use-related problems
Individual differences in the formation of coalitions and alliances
Individual differences in the formation of coalitions and alliances
by Mateo Peñaherrera Aguirre, Coalitions (the short-term coordinated effort of two or more parties against a third) and alliances (the frequent collaboration between two or more individuals) have been examined in fields such as comparative psychology and behavioural ecology. The purpose of the present study was to examine coalition and alliance formations in relation to individual factors such as personality, social dominance, egalitarianism, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and Machiavellianism. A total of 260 participants completed a questionnaire study to examine the relation among these variables. Females scored higher on Neuroticism, Agreeableness and Egalitarianism, whereas males had higher scores on Social Dominance, Machiavellianism, Negative Reciprocity, and Openness. Social dominance was a significant predictor of attacking a target in a number of coalitions. The personality trait of Openness predicted assisting the victim in several defensive coalitions. Because the current research is based on ethological and primatological theories, these theoretical frameworks extend the literature on non-human primates by examining coalition and alliance formation in human participants.
Is syntax a signal of aggression in hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) song?
Is syntax a signal of aggression in hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) song?
by Morgan Nesbitt, Syntax, which classifies the order song types must follow within a bird's song to convey functional meaning, is thought to play a role in songbird communication. Vocal cues are crucial to male-male interactions and certain species have been shown to alter their songs in response to territorial intruders (Hedley, Denton, & Weiss, 2017). The current study focuses on the use of syntax in aggressive contexts in the hermit thrush, a migratory songbird common to North America. Using playback sessions, this research evaluated the importance of species-typical syntax in conveying aggression in territorial disputes between two males. It was expected that the hermit thrush would react more strongly to songs which contained species-typical syntax than those which did not, however there was no difference in aggressive reactions between the two stimuli. These findings suggest that the hermit thrush may use syntax for other evolutionarily relevant behaviours, such as mate attraction. Vocal responses, including song overlapping and frequency matching, were also assessed and were both found to occur at below chance levels, indicating that birds actively avoided these behaviours during playback. Based on past research, it could be possible that birds are altering their songs to avoid acoustic interference, thus maximizing their signal transmission efficiency. Keywords: aggression, male-male interactions, hermit thrush, playback
I’ll be there for you…and us: perceptions of support in romantic attachment relationships
I’ll be there for you…and us: perceptions of support in romantic attachment relationships
by Samantha R. Fizell, The ability to connect with, and rely on, important others for support when needed is associated with many benefits (Cohen & Janicki-Deverts, 2009; Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2010). Insecurely attached individuals tend to have difficulty connecting with others in a way that meets their attachment needs, resulting in lower levels of relationship satisfaction and overall well-being. Previous research suggests that working models of attachment influence the way in which individuals perceive and process social information (Collins, 1996), with insecurely attached individuals being more likely to misinterpret expressions of support from a partner. The current research program examined patterns of supportive communication in more detail, focusing on how biases in existing working models of attachment shape the way support is perceived and processed. Gathering data from 195 participants, Study 1 investigated the influence of focused attention and pronoun use on the processing of an emotionally supportive message. It was hypothesized that both pronoun use (i.e., independent vs. interdependent wording) and the way a supportive message was processed (i.e., natural processing vs. directed focus) would influence the relationship between attachment and well-being. Results revealed that neither processing style nor the interaction of processing style and pronoun use moderated the relationship between attachment and relationship satisfaction or subjective well-being. Pronoun use emerged as a significant moderator of the relationship between attachment anxiety and some aspects of subjective well-being. By encouraging 136 participants to reflect on a personally relevant example of social support, Study 2 explored how actively reflecting on and processing thoughts, feelings, and reactions to social support influenced the relationship between attachment and well-being. As was the case in Study 1, the way support was processed did not moderate the relationship between attachment and relationship satisfaction or subjective well-being. Taken together, results suggest that pronoun use may matter in certain support situations; however, the belief that emotional support will be available from a romantic partner may be more important to overall well-being than the specifics of what is said or how support is processed. Results are explored in the context of the current literature; theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

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