Research for 2003-2004

Click on the students name to see a detailed description of their research.

Stephanie Ebner - Service Learning and Identity in College Students.

Laura Fitzsimmons - Self-Reflection and Identity: Connections with Life-Plan Discussions.

Travis Grotz- Increased Corticosterone Levels and the Development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in an Animal Model.

Elizabeth Malaktaris - The Political Personality of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sara Pflueger- Chronic Mild Stress and Operant Behavioral Variability

Kelsey White - Lillian Hellman: A Psychological Interpretation

Lillian Hellman: A Psychological Interpretation

Meghan Doyle - The Effects of Chronic Mild Stress on Ethanol Self-Administration in Rats

Sarah A. Gillis - Life in the Twenties: Women's Issues and Challenges

Amanda Mach - School-Aged Bullying Experience and Relation to Interpersonal Relationships of College Students and the Moderating Role of Hardiness

Matthew Syzdek - Restrictive Emotionality and Affectionate Behavior in Adolescent Males: A Small Groups Norms-challenging Experimental Intervention

Stephanie Ebner

Service Learning and Identity in College Students

Stephanie Ebner, Laura Fitzsimmons, and Rodger Narloch

Although college service learning projects are typically utilized to provide students with opportunities to explore and commit to a central element of their identity, previous research has failed to find significant relationships between service learning and occupational exploration. The current study examined the relationship between identity status and service learning projects specifically looking at exploration and various measures of commitment. The data showed that participation in service learning projects has a strong relationship to an increase in identity exploration, general self-concept clarity, occupational self-concept clarity, and sense of vocation although there was not a demonstrated relationship to identity commitment. Faculty Advisor: Rodger Narloch

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Laura Fitzsimmons

Self-Reflection and Identity: Connections with Life-Plan Discussions

Laura Fitzsimmons, Rodger Narloch, and Stephanie Ebner

One purpose of the present study was to re-examine the relationship between self-reflection and identity using separate exploration and commitment scores, rather than a categorical approach. We also investigated if participation in life-plan discussions (focused on vocation or meaningful life goals) was related to self-reflection, exploration, and commitment. Separate exploration and commitment scores revealed that, as hypothesized, exploration was positively correlated with self-reflection; however, a negative correlation existed between self-reflection and commitment. Life-plan discussions were positively correlated with self-reflection and exploration, but not commitment. Furthermore, discussion incorporating faith was positively correlated with all of the variables. Faculty Advisor: Rodger Narloch

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Travis Grotz

Increased Corticosterone Levels and the Development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in an Animal Model

Previous studies have demonstrated the importance of considering species-relevant emotional behaviors when attempting to model human affective disorders. For example, exposure to stimuli associated with natural predators, or to the predators themselves, has been used as an animal model of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally excessive levels of glucocorticoids, mainly corticosterone, have been implicated in the etiology of several stressed related disorders in humans, including PTSD, and in a variety of behavioral deficits in animals. In the present study an animal model of PTSD was investigated by administering daily subcutaneous injections of corticosterone (20mg/kg for 21 days) to experimental rats (control rats received placebo injections). Then, half the animals were exposed to a tame house cat within a particular chamber. Control animals were not exposed to the cat or the chamber. The combined effect of the manipulation of hormone levels and predator exposure was evaluated repeatedly in an elevated plus maze designed to assess anxiety levels. Five measures of anxiety like behavior (ALB) were recorded and analyzed. It was found that predator exposure and hormone administration significantly altered three of the five measured ALB (e.g. total number of arm entries and risk assessment). These results lend support to the theory that stress hormones play a crucial role in the etiology of PTSD. Faculty Advisor: Linda Tennison

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Elizabeth Malaktaris

The Political Personality of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the political personality of U.S. Senator from the state of New York and former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon. Information concerning Hillary Clinton was collected from published biographical and autobiographical accounts, and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Hillary Clinton's primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/controlling and Ambitious/self-serving, with secondary Conscientious/dutiful features and subsidiary, more situation-specific Contentious/resolute and Retiring/reserved traits.

Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they are tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled.

Hillary Clinton's major personality strengths in a political role are her commanding presence and confident assertiveness. Her major personality-based shortcomings are uncompromising assertiveness, a lack of empathy and congeniality, and cognitive inflexibility. Faculty Advisor: Aubrey Immelman

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Sara Pflueger

Chronic Mild Stress and Operant Behavioral Variability

Behavioral variability can be measured in operant research with LAG reinforcement schedules, in which sequences of responses are rewarded only if they differ from those previously entered. Performance on LAG schedules could be likened to a measure of flexibility or creativity in responding and has been related to a number of interesting manipulations of emotional states, including alcohol administration and in strains of animals used as a model of human Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Recently, reductions in behavioral variability have been related to depression levels in college students, however, it is impossible to draw causal conclusions based on human correlative research. What is needed is an animal model of depression which can be manipulated in order to observe changes in behavioral variability. Chronic mild stress (CMS) is one such animal model of depression. CMS is achieved through administration of mild daily stressors over a period of four to six weeks resulting in decreased consumption of sweetened water (reflecting anhedonia, a core symptom of depression).

In the current experiment, half the rats were stressed overnight using six different mild stressors randomly assigned daily; the stressors included cage tilt, all night lights, a strobe light, soiled cages, paired housing, and objects put in the rat's cage. Before and during the stress procedure the rats were water deprived and trained on LAG schedules for water reinforcement. Measures of behavioral variability in the CMS rats were compared to a control group which did not receive any stressors. It was predicted that the CMS group would be less variable than the control group. The obtained results will be discussed in terms of procedural variables associated with CMS effect. Faculty Advisor: Linda Tennison

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Kelsey White

Lillian Hellman: A Psychological Interpretation

This paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Lillian Hellman, from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon. Information concerning Hellman was collected from biographies and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Hellman's primary personality patterns were found to be Contentious/oppositional and Dominant/controlling, with secondary features of the Ambitious/confident, Dauntless/venturesome, and Reticent/circumspect patterns.

The amalgam of Contentious (negativistic, or passive‑aggressive) and Dominant (aggressive, or sadistic) patterns in Hellman's profile suggests the presence of Millon's abrasive negativistsyndrome. For these personalities, minor frictions easily exacerbate into major confrontations and power struggles. They are quick to spot inconsistencies in others' actions or ethical standards and adept at constructing arguments that amplify observed contradictions. They characteristically take the moral high ground, dogmatically and contemptuously expose their antagonists' perceived hypocrisy, and contemptuously, derisively, and scornfully turn on those who cross their path.

The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for conceptualizing Lillian Hellman's antagonistic negativism, single-minded commitment to a cause, and forceful rhetoric-qualities that may well have been essential for a woman to possess in order to achieve success in the male-dominated environment in which she worked at her time in history. Hellman was a remarkable playwright for her time and remains so today. Her personality looms large today and would have been something to behold in the middle part of the 20thcentury in which she produced most of her work. Hellman was able to rise to prominence in a time when women were largely subservient to men. Hellman did not subordinate herself to anyone and especially not to men. She sought to control everything she did and people were aware of her power. She became very political and was not afraid to fight against things she disagreed with, even to her own detriment, as witnessed by her blacklisting during the McCarthy era. Faculty Advisor: Aubrey Immelman

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Meghan Doyle

The Effects of Chronic Mild Stress on Ethanol Self-Administration in Rats

Animal models of depression provide researchers with the ability to investigate aspects of depression not suitable for testing on humans. The current study utilized the Chronic Mild Stress (CMS) model in which mild stressors (e.g., cage tilt, stroboscopic illumination, overnight illumination, etc.) are administered in an unpredictable manner to rat subjects over the course of several weeks. The dependent variable is sucrose consumption, which decreases across time in animals exposed to CMS. The decrease in consumption is taken as a measure of anhedonia, or depression, in the subjects. The aim of the current study was examine the effects of CMS on ethanol self-administration in rats. Subjects were exposed to either the CMS schedule or a control condition. Weekly 1-hr tests for sucrose consumption and 6-hr tests for ethanol consumption were collected. Data analysis revealed that the CMS procedure did not affect sucrose consumption. Also, there were no differences in ethanol consumption between the control and stressed animals. Although the results were inconclusive, the findings seem to suggest certain shortcomings in the CMS procedure. Further implication for future research in the area of depression and substance abuse were also examined. Faculty Advisor: Linda Tennison

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Sarah A. Gillis

Life in the Twenties: Women's Issues and Challenges

Arnett (2000) recently gave new attention to life in the twenties when he suggested the concept of "emerging adulthood," a distinct developmental period which involves undertaking new challenges while gradually working towards long-lasting decision making. This study investigated the issues and challenges facing current undergraduate senior women (N=24) and recent undergraduate alumnae (N=17), while also exploring their meaning-making and support systems. Data were collected using an online survey containing four, open-ended discussion questions. Two researchers then independently read the participants' responses and discussed common themes found in the narratives. Faculty Advisor: Rodger Narloch

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Amanda Macht

School-Aged Bullying Experience and Relation to Interpersonal Relationships of College Students and the Moderating Role of Hardiness

The primary objective of this study was to investigate the possible correlation between bullying history and the quality of current interpersonal relationships in college students. Surveys were administered to 183 college students concerning both friendships and romantic relationships. Survey data were collected to assess retrospective perception of bullying experiences from childhood through the present, hardiness, and aspects of friendships and romantic relationships on the dimensions of trust, relationship quality, and shyness. A statistically significant, negative correlation was found between reported bullying experience and both friendship quality and trust, indicating that as victimization levels increased, current satisfaction in and trust in friendships decreased. A significant positive relationship was also found between victimization history and shyness, indicating that as reported victimization increased current levels of shyness also increased. Hardiness was not found to significantly moderate the relationship between any of the variables investigated. Consistent with the findings of Pelligrini and Long (2000), reported victimization increased from elementary to middle school and then decreased in high school and through college. Finally, gender differences were found in the types of reported victimization experienced, with males reporting more physical and verbal types of victimization, consistent with the findings of Olweus (1997), as well as less trust in current friendships. Faculty Advisor: Rodger Narloch

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Matthew Syzdek

Restrictive Emotionality and Affectionate Behavior in Adolescent Males: A Small Groups Norms-challenging Experimental Intervention.

This study examined the effects of a Small Groups Norms-challenging Model intervention (SGNM) on restrictive emotionality (RE) and affectionate behavior (RABBM). Participants were 23 males, ages 12-18, from a small preparatory school. Two modified Gender Role Conflict (GRCS) Scales were used to individually assess participants' actual RE and RABBM and perceptions about RE and RABBM in other high school students at their school. Twelve subjects participated in SGNM intervention while 11 participants were in the control condition. At 3 and 7 weeks after the intervention, participants completed both modified GRCS. Statistical analyses revealed significantly or near significantly lower perceived and actual RE and RABBM scores in intervention participants. The researcher noted potential social desirability issues and discussed future research applications. Faculty Advisor: Michael Livingston

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