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Psychology

Coder Rated Attachment Predicts Anxious Rejection Sensitivity

Lauren Vazquez (2014); Student Collaborator(s): Laura Perrone (2014); Michelle Reade (2014); Nicole Welindt (2014); Additional Collaborator(s): David Kyle Bond* Mentor(s): Jessica Borelli
*Claremont Graduate University

Abstract: Rejection sensitivity (RS) is the tendency to angrily or anxiously expect social rejection. Sensitive children perceive ambiguous signs of rejection as intentional (Downey & Feldman, 1996). Attachment theory postulates that when caregivers reject needs, children mask their distress in order to preserve the caregiver’s availability. Indeed, dismissing children underreport distress in response to threat paradigms (Borelli et al., 2012) and simulated peer rejection (White et al., 2012). Here we assess dismissing children’s self-reported RS, hypothesizing that dismissing children will report lower levels of RS compared to secure children. A diverse sample of 8-12 year-old children completed the Children’s Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire (CRSQ) and the Child Attachment Interview. As predicted, after controlling for trait anxiety, the dismissing children reported significantly lower anxious RS. Results will be discussed in terms of their contribution to attachment theory.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP (LV, NW); Pomona Alumni SURP Fund (LP, MR)

The Contributions of Latino Culture in Health-Related Educational Tracks

Alejandra Vega (2013); Mentor(s): Raymond Buriel

Abstract: The present research is in progress and it explores the unique characteristics of a Latino’s prehealth career experience. The project was conducted in Houston, TX and 12 Latinos were interviewed, mostly through Skype. The participants consisted of Latinos of varying generations and backgrounds in a health-related educational track. The questions asked during the interviews gauged motivations and hardships encountered in their respective tracks, as they pertain to Latino culture. It was generally found that traditional Latino values, such as identification with family and community, motivated most Latinos. Latinos with highly educated parents, regardless of generation, experienced less obstacles pertaining to their Latino culture, and highly acculturated Latinos also described motivations associated with Euro-American culture. It can be concluded that Latinos with highly educated parents don’t require specialized Latino support groups, while Latinos with less educated parents require a support group that can provide the information highly educated parents provide.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

Perceived Parent-Child Differences in Korean Immigrants

Sammie Cho (2013); Mentor(s): Sharon Goto

Abstract: Individuals who immigrate to a new country face unique challenges of adapting to a new culture. Past studies have shown that these acculturation stressors can adversely impact individuals, families, and relationships. In particular, this study looks at the impact of the acculturation process for Korean young adult children of immigrant parents. Korean language retention and religious similarities (between parents & children) are studied as potential predictors of family closeness and mental well-being. It is hypothesized that greater Korean language retention (by children of immigrant parents) and more similar family religious views will predict a more positive family and mental health outcome. This study hopes to examine one of the most crucial issues of communication and conflict within families, especially given the increased reports of mental distress in Asian American communities. This project is still in progress.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

Neural and Social Bases for Individual Differences in Affective Interpersonal Scene Perception

Zach Schudson (2013); Student Collaborator(s): Tracy Zhao (2013); Zach Ernst (2014); Mentor(s): Sharon Goto; Richard Lewis

Abstract: Mirror neurons are characterized by their responsivity to when a person performs an action and when a person observing someone else perform the same action. Recent studies have investigated the human mirror neuron system as a potential neural basis for empathy, the ability to experience the affective states of others. Because individual differences in life experience mediate both the experience and the expression of affect, we sought to determine its role in the response of mirror neurons to video stimuli depicting affective interpersonal scenes. Participants viewed 15 second video clips depicting either positive, negative, or neutral interactions between point light figure dyads and were asked to determine the emotional valence of the interaction while their brainwaves were monitored using electroencephalography (EEG). Point light stimuli capture human biological motion with thirteen points of light and obscure other factors such as race and gender, and EEG has been used effectively to monitor activation of the mirror neuron system in humans. We hypothesize that individuals who are more empathic will show greater EEG evidence of mirror neuron activation. By examining individual differences and controlling for visual confounds using point light stimuli, we expect to better characterize the connection between mirror neurons and empathy.
Funding Provided by: Pomona Alumni SURP Fund (ZS); Pomona College SURP (TZ); Pomona College Psychology Department (ZE); Pomona College Neuroscience Department

Do I belong here? Impact of racial microaggressions within the classroom

Seanna Cade (2013); Mentor(s): Eric Hurley

Abstract: Student experience within the same learning environments can differ dramatically, influencing both school perception and academic achievement. Recent literature indicates that African American students may perceive environmental racial microaggressions — situations in which they feel less valued and unwelcome within a space — more frequently than their European American peers. The present study examined how students’ GPA and academic self-concept varied in relation to their perceived experience of ERM within school settings. A sample of African American (N = 75) and European American (N = 72) Arkansas high-schoolers participated within the study; quantitative surveys explored students’ perception of their learning environment. Despite reporting lower GPAs, African Americans indicated similar levels of academic confidence and effort as that of European Americans. African American students also reported experiencing significantly more environmental racial microaggressions, suggesting that their learning environment may be less supportive, consequently interfering with student performance.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

A Novel Measure for Assessing Theory of Mind

Sonya Zhu (2014); Mentor(s): Grazyna Kochanska*; Jeung Eun Yoon*; Jessica Borelli
*University of Iowa

Abstract: Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states to one’s self and others, and in turn to understand and predict others’ behaviors. A False-Belief Task (FBT), dichotomous and explicit in nature, has been commonly used to assess ToM in young children. However, ToM could be better reflected in a continuous and dynamic manner. To address this issue, the ToM-Guide Microscopic coding system was developed using a sample of 91 mother-child and father-child dyads from the Family Study at the University of Iowa. In the study, children were instructed to guide their blindfolded parents to complete a puzzle using only verbal instructions; roles were then reversed. The guide’s perspective-taking skills were evaluated across three dimensions: i) physical re-orientation, ii) cognitive, and iii) emotional. Reliability was established (Kappa > .6; ICC > .9). We hope that this microscopic system will generate more descriptive data in measuring ToM than FBTs.
Funding Provided by: National Institute of Health via University of Iowa

Does Green = White? Race and the face of environmentalism

Kristin Brikmanis (2014); Student Collaborator(s): Maddy DeMeules (2014); Mentor(s): Adam Pearson; Jessica West

Abstract: Psychological research on environmentalism has traditionally focused on factors that motivate pro-environmental behavior, however, surprisingly little experimental work has explored what social categories are associated with the term “environmentalist”. The present research, using implicit (nonconscious) priming methods, explored whether environmentalism is more readily associated with the racial category White compared to the category Black. Participants were subliminally (xx ms) primed with either a White or Black face, or a neutral stimulus (a simple line drawing) and were then asked to identify whether letter strings represented words or nonwords in a decision task. Participants who were primed with a White face (vs Black face or neutral stimuli) were quicker to identify words related to the environment (e.g., conserve) compared to a neutral category (e.g., food). Current research exploring moderating factors and broader implications for understanding the potential exclusivity of popular discourse about environmental issues are discussed.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Testing a New Model of Achievement Motivation for Asian-American Students

Anna Blanken (2013); Student Collaborator(s): Chris Reeves (2014); Megan M. Holman (2014); Mina Han (2014); Additional Collaborator(s): Lillian Chang*; Mentor(s): Patricia Smiley
*Claremont Graduate University

Abstract: We assessed cultural self-conceptions and achievement goals of Asian-American students in order to predict their behavioral, cognitive, and emotional responses to a hypothetical failure scenario. Traditional achievement goal theory does not fully account for documented failure response patterns in Asian-Americans. Based on studies of East Asian culture, we hypothesized that a “family goal” (doing schoolwork in order to fulfill one’s duty and bring honor to the family) arises from an interdependent self-construal and that holding a family goal explains the relation between self-construal and responses to failure. We collected questionnaire data from 82 active students aged 18 to 24 using Amazon Mechanical Turk. As predicted, an interdependent self-construal predicts loss of self-worth and feelings of guilt after a hypothetical failure, and the family-linked academic goal accounts fully for these associations. This is the first research to utilize the constructs of self-construal and family goal to predict Asian-Americans’ responses to failure.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP (AB, CR, MMH); Koe Family (MH)

Research at Pomona