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Psychology

Click to watch Angelica Townsend '13 discuss her research project.

Does Harrison Ford Prime Gerald Ford Better Than the Verb Ford?: Using Homophones to Resolve TOTs

Brett Erspamer ('12); Mentor: Deborah Burke

Abstract:  Tip-of-tongue experiences (TOTs) are failures to recall well-known words and are one of older adults’ most troubling memory problems. Under the Transmission Deficit (TD) model, TOTs occur when connections between representations of a word’s meaning and its sounds are too weak to enable retrieval. We tested 45 older adults in a TOT inducing procedure and found that strengthening these connections through prior processing of homophones reduced TOTs for target words. Proper name (PN) homophones (e.g. Harrison Ford) reduced TOTs for targets (Gerald Ford) more than common word (CW) homophones (to ford), and both yielded fewer TOTs than unrelated words. PN priming increased correct recall, as did CW priming for participants age 64-74, but not for those over 75. PN homophones are more effective because they overlap the target names at lexical (surname) as well as phonological levels, therefore strengthening more connections in the target name representation than do CW primes.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund National Institute for Aging  (DB) 

The Effect of Verbal and Nonverbal Interventions on TOT Resolution

Molly Mather ('12); Micah Johnson ('10); Justin Mary*; Mentor: Deborah Burke
*Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA

Abstract:  The inability to produce a word despite feeling that the word is on “the tip-of-your-tongue” is a frustrating occurrence that increases with age during adulthood. Such tip-of-the-tongue states (TOTs) have been attributed to weakened connections between the phonological and semantic representations of a word. In a series of experiments, we induced TOTs in older adults and tested the effect of verbal and non-verbal interventions on TOT resolution. TOT resolution increased when a participant processed phonologically related compared to unrelated words, and either type of processing produced more resolutions then a nonverbal spatial task. Moreover, telling the participants the target word while in the TOT state increased successful recall of the word in subsequent tests a week later. These results suggest that specific language exercises may be successful in reducing the frequency of TOT states in older adults in everyday life.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund David L. Hirsch III and Susan H. Hirsch Research Initiation Grant (DB) National Institute of Health Grant #2R01-Ag08835-10 (DB)

Development of a Coding System to Assess Parents' Attachment Representations of Their School-Aged Children

Kelly Miller ('12); Katie St. John*; Mentor: Jessica Borelli
*Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA

Abstract:  This presentation will introduce a novel measure of parents’ mental representations of their relationships with their children. Coders using the Parent Attachment Representation of the Child (PARC) system evaluate verbatim transcripts of parenting narratives (derived from the Parent Development Interview; PDI-R; Slade et al., 2004) along twelve dimensions, assigning a final classification of the parent’s attachment representation of the child as secure, insecure-dismissing, or insecure-preoccupied. Three PARC-trained coders have achieved inter-rater reliability, with final classification agreements ranging from 0.7 to 0.9. Preliminary correlations based on a subset of a sample of 127 parent-child dyads will be reported for parent’s mental representation of the child (measured using PARC) and their association with the child’s mental representation of his/her relationship with his/her parent (measured using the Child Attachment Interview; CAI; Shmueli-Goetz et al., 2004). The PARC system’s potential for investigating factors contributing to the intergenerational transmission of attachment representations will be discussed.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund  

The Mediating Effect of Attachment on Conditional Regard and Ability to Cope with Failure

Kizzann Ramsook ('12); Melanie Fox ('12); Brian Clark ('12); Claire Laubacher ('13); Eun Hyung (Sarah) Kim ('12); Mina Han ('14); Mentor: Jessica Borelli, Patricia Smiley

Abstract:  The goal of this study is to examine associations between parent-child relationships and children’s behavioral, physiological, and emotional responses to a challenging cognitive task.  In particular, we will assess attachment representations and children’s reports of parental use of conditional regard (CR) in order to predict children’s ability to cope with failure, a form of emotional regulation. Specifically, children’s ability to cope with response), emotional valence, and flexibility strategy use.  Attachment relationship and use of CR were measured previously and children’s responses to solvable and unsolvable puzzles are currently being measured. Our sample is 9- to 14-year-old children of ethnically and economically diverse backgrounds. While data collection is ongoing and results cannot yet be reported, we hypothesize that the relation between perceived CR use and ability to cope with failure will be mediated by attachment security.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (KR, MF,BC, CL, SK,) Pomona College Psychology Dept. (MH) 

Priming Affective Incongruity in Bicultural Individuals Using the N400

Zach Schudson ('13); Tracy Zhao ('13); Colleen Moore ('12); Michelle Fong (‘10 HMC); Mentor: Richard Lewis

Abstract:  Priming of cultural schemas has been shown to affect how bicultural individuals process information.  We investigated whether or not priming of independent and interdependent self-construal affects neural activity underlying attention to social contexts in East Asian and European Americans. Using an N400 event-related potential design, we measured the degree to which 32 East Asian American and 30 European American participants responded to semantic incongruity in the emotional expression of a central figure relative to the surrounding figures. When participants were primed with interdependent values, they displayed greater N400s when viewing incongruent affective stimuli than when primed with independent values. This is consistent with previous literature showing that interdependents are more sensitive to the greater attentional field than independents.  However, both Asian Americans and European Americans exhibited a similar effect of priming on the N400. Our findings suggest that both groups have self-construal schemas that affect their sensitivity to social context.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP (ZS, TZ) Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (CM) 

More Like Them and Less Like Us: A Study of Black Students' Cultural Maintenance Coping Strategies at Predominantly White Institutions.

Amina Simmons ('12); Sheila Walker*; Mentor: Sharon Goto
*Psychology and Africana Studies Dept, Scripps College, Claremont, CA

Abstract:  Most students face adjustment challenges when entering the college environment.  Academics and peer relations are major parts of adjusting to a new environment, but defining and/or maintaining one’s sense of personal identity is a particularly difficult hurdle for Black students.  The present study examined how Black students maintain their racial or cultural identity and cope within predominately White environments.  A sample of thirty self-identified Black students were recruited from colleges across the United States, although most attended colleges in Southern California.  Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore each student’s experience at their institution.  Some of the common themes that arose during the interviews were: feelings of judgment from White peers and professors, a sense of communal struggle among Black students, and longing to be a part of a community in an environment that is unwelcoming to Black students.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund  

Attachment-based Intervention for Mothers with Drug Use Disorders: The Impact of Maternal Attributions of Intentionality on Change in Maternal Reflective Representations, Maternal Psychiatric Adjustment, and Parent-Child Interactions

Jennifer Somers ('12); Jennifer Somers ('12); Nancy Suchman*; Mentor: Jessica Borelli
*Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Abstract:  The Mothers and Toddlers program (MTP), an individual therapy for substance using mothers, promotes change at the representational level, and improves responsiveness and sensitivity to toddler’s emotional cues (Suchman et al., 2010). In the present analysis of data from that study, maternal attributions of intentionality were examined as predictors of differential response to MTP versus to a standard parenting education (PE) intervention. It was predicted that MTP mothers with high levels of negative attributions and extreme levels of intention to please attributions at baseline would show greater improvements in representational quality and capacity for reflective functioning, contingent care giving, and psychiatric adjustment. Forty-seven mothers enrolled in the study were randomized to treatment. As predicted, results of standard linear regression analyses indicated a negative attribution x treatment interaction effect for change in psychiatric distress at post-treatment, and an extreme intention to please attribution x treatment interaction effect for change in psychiatric distress at follow-up. A comparison of the means confirmed the hypothesis that, at post-treatment, psychiatric adjustment improved for MTP mothers with high levels of negative attributions at baseline and worsened for PE mothers with high levels of negative attributions. Surprisingly, findings suggested that mothers with extreme levels of intention to please attributions benefited more from PE than MTP in terms of improvement in psychiatric adjustment at follow-up.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund  

The Extra Burden: Portrayals of Minority Stereotypes in the Media

Angelica Jean Townsend ('13); Mentor: Suzanne Thompson

Abstract:  This experiment explores the effects of positive and negative stereotypes in the media on the self-esteem and anxiety of minorities with media and non-media career pursuits. Participants of African or Latino descent (n=56) were exposed to a video with positive stereotypes, negative stereotypes, or no stereotypes (car commercials). Then they were asked to complete the state self-esteem and state anxiety questionnaires based on how they felt in relation to the video. I predicted that participants with media pursuits that were exposed to negative stereotypes in the media would have lower state self-esteem and higher state anxiety because of the societal and career pressures to confirm to stereotypes of their race. After conducting an ANOVA between groups analysis, I found that there were no significant differences across all conditions. However, in the follow-up questions and interviews the participants expressed their previous struggles and dislike of these stereotypes in the media.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund  

Research at Pomona