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Psychology Day Poster Abstracts

The following abstracts represent the posters that are being presented during the Poster Presentation Event from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm in UAC 275.

Graduate Division

Individual, Occupational and Health Factors That Contribute to Absenteeism of Teachers in Texas Public Schools

Author: Miguel Capote

Co-author: Dr. Krista Howard

The purpose of this study is to carefully evaluate the demographic, occupational, and health factors most associated with teacher absenteeism within the Texas public school system. Absenteeism is costly for organizations, especially those that depend on federal and state funding such as public schools. This study included 2,588 teachers from 46 public school districts in Texas who participated in an occupational health survey.

Association between Body Image Disturbance and Willingness to Undergo Elective Cosmetic Surgery: The Mediation Role of Cognitive Fusion

Author: Niki Hayatbini

Co-author: Dr. Amitai Abramovitch

The body of research on cosmetic surgery shows that body image disturbance is a primary motivator for seeking cosmetic surgery. Cognitive Fusion (CF) involves the tendency to attach to the contents of thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, in a way that leads to a behavior that is fully governed by those thoughts. The relationship between CF and willingness to undergo cosmetic surgery (WUCS) in the context of body image disturbance has not been previously examined. We hypothesized that there would be a positive relationship between body image disturbance and CF, and with the WUCS. We further hypothesized that CF will strengthen the association between these disturbances and WUCS. A sample of 177 students completed the Body Image Disturbance, the Cognitive Fusion, and a single item Willingness to Undergo Elective Cosmetic Surgery questionnaires.

Zero order correlations showed significant positive correlation between CF and body image disturbances (r=0.53) and between the WUCS and body image disturbances (r=0.48). Results from the PROCESS mediation and moderation model indicated that CF was not significantly related to WUCS.

although body image disturbance was positively associated with willingness to undergo elective plastic surgery and with CF, CF did not hold a significant mediating/moderating role in the association between body image concerns and the WUCS. These results suggest that CF may play a significant role in psychopathological mechanisms associated with body related concerns. Our findings regarding this association highlights the importance of the need for psychological evaluation prior to cosmetic surgery in the general and clinical populations.

The Relationship between the Five Moral Foundations and Kneeling During the National Anthem in the NFL

Author: Erin Cowart

Co-author: Dr. Roque V. Mendez

A nationwide debate about respect for the national flag and respect for veterans was sparked when NFL players kneeled during the national anthem to bring attention to the inequalities faced by Black Americans. The two disparate views that rose out of these arguments were based on what these individuals should do morally. We were interested in how reactions towards NFL players who kneel during the national anthem was related to Haidt’s moral foundations theory (Graham et al., 2011), and if identification with a particular group influenced any potential relationships. 77 participants, recruited from an undergraduate psychology lab, completed an online survey that measured the five moral foundations, degree of identification with veterans, Black Americans, and with NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem, as well as participants’ reactions towards these NFL players. Results indicated significant negative correlations between the ingroup and authority foundations with supportive reactions as well as identification with NFL players. A positive correlation was found between the ingroup foundation and identification with veterans. Additionally, positive correlations were found between supportive reactions and identification with both Black Americans and with NFL players. Further analysis indicated that identification with NFL players served as both a partial mediator and moderator for the relationship between the ingroup foundation and supportive reactions towards NFL players. Future research should explore other possible mediators and/or moderators that are related to these variables, as well as expand the research to include veterans and NFL players.

Sleep Facilitates Analogical Transfer in Problem Solving

Author: Sean E. Fickle

Co-author: Dr. Carmen E. Westerberg

Sleep is known to play a major role in the stabilization of memories—a process called consolidation. This consolidation of recently acquired information during sleep may also facilitate problem solving. One method of problem solving is known as analogical transfer, which is the process of transferring knowledge about the solution of an old problem to a new problem. This experiment tested the hypothesis that sleep facilitates the analogical transfer of problem solutions by having participants solve problems similar to ones where the solution was already known. For this study, participants (n = 32) recruited from Texas State University were shown an initial (source) set of problems and their solutions, and then they attempted to solve a second (target) set of problems. After a two-hour break where participants either napped (n = 16) or remained awake (n = 16), they attempted to solve the target problems they were unable to solve before the break. The results showed that participants in the sleep group solved significantly more target problems after the break compared to those in the wake group, suggesting sleep enhances the connections between old and new problems. In addition, polysomnographic data was collected to determine whether any relation between certain sleep stages and problem-solving existed. A strong, positive correlation between total sleep time and the number of target problems solved was found such that individuals who slept longer were more likely to solve more of the problems they got wrong before the break.

Meta-Analysis of Behavioral Activation for PTSD

Author: Rachel Farley

Co-author: Dr. Joseph L. Etherton

The efficacy of behavioral activation (BA) for depression has been well-established. In addition, clinicians have extended the use of BA to the treatment of PTSD. The treatment outcome literature on BA for PTSD has not been extensively developed (e.g., through large-scale randomized clinical trials). However, a number of smaller-scale controlled and non-controlled studies of different forms of BA for PTSD have been conducted. The current project involves a meta-analysis of available studies examining the efficacy of BA for PTSD. METHOD: Databases including PSYCINFO, Scopus, and Medline were searched using keyword terms “Behavioral activation”, “Behavioural Activation”, “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder”, “PTSD”. After removing duplicate results, a total of 59 articles were screened for inclusion. Inclusion criteria included (1) participants with a diagnosis of PTSD or clinically elevated scores on a measure of PTSD; (2) use of BA as an intervention for PTSD; (3) available pre-intervention and post-intervention measures of PTSD severity. Following examination of each paper for inclusion criteria, adequate data were available for a total of 13 papers (total n = 648). Pre- and post-intervention data were extracted for only one PTSD measure (CAPS, PCL, or PSS) per study. Data were entered into the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (CMA) software program. Because of non-independence of the data, correlations between pre- and post-intervention scores were required to compute the repeated-measures effect size. Published test-retest reliability for each measure was used as input for the correlation. RESULTS: For the 13 studies an overall Hedge’s g effect size of 0.570 (SE = .014) was observed. All 13 studies demonstrated statistically significant improvement in PTSD scores, relative to baseline. Effect sizes ranged from to .423 to 1.682, with significant heterogeneity. Funnel plot analysis suggested a degree of publication bias, such that some non-significant findings may have remained unpublished. CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis indicates that BA shows substantial promise as a relatively simple and effective intervention for PTSD, either as a stand-alone intervention or as an adjunct to other treatment modalities. Additional analyses incorporating data from control groups will be necessary to more accurately understand the efficacy of BA for PTSD.

Critical Examination of Bi-factor and Multidimensional Models of Perfectionism.

Author: Anthony Robinson

Co-author: Dr. Amitai Abramovitch

Over the past two decades, perfectionism has been conceptualized as a multidimensional trait, incorporating a number of factors. However, more recent research has shifted to a bi-dimensional model, conceptualizing two factors: adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism. The Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale-Brief (FMPS-Brief) was developed to assess Evaluative Concerns Perfectionism (ECP; maladaptive factor), and Achievement Striving Perfectionism (ASP; adaptive factor). The purpose of the current study is to compare the recently validated FMPS-Brief with a traditional measure of perfectionism, the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (HMPS), in terms of their association with prevalent psychopathological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, as measured by the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). A sample of 310 college students completed these questionnaires and a series of zero order correlations were conducted between the factor scores of the FMPS-Brief (ASP, ECP), the subscales of the HMPS, Self-oriented Perfectionism (SOP), Other-oriented Perfectionism (OOP), and Socially Prescribed Perfectionism (SPP), and the DASS-21 subscales. Adaptive perfectionism was found to be positively correlated with the ECP (maladaptive), SOP, and OOP (r’s range from .21 -.55), but not with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. Maladaptive perfectionism (ECP) was positively correlated with ASP (adaptive), SOP, OOP and SPP as well as depression, stress, and anxiety symptoms (r’s range from .15-.57). These findings suggest that maladaptive perfectionism is consistent with the traditional conceptualization of perfectionism (an adverse phenomenon), while the adaptive factor may be reflective of a construct related to perfectionism, speculatively more in line with self-efficacy. Importance for clinical and research settings is discussed.

Adaptive and Maladaptive Coping Strategies for Perceived Stress and their Relationship with Quality of Life

Author: Sinjin Roming

Co-authors: Angela Johnson & Dr. Krista Howard

Perceived stress affects the lives of every person to some degree. This stress and its consequential factors often lead to negative outcomes including depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. To cope with this stress, individuals often utilize adaptive and/or maladaptive coping strategies. These chosen coping methods can either positively or negatively affect a person’s quality of life. In this study, it was predicted that those espousing more frequently to adaptive coping strategies would experience higher levels of quality of life and those utilizing maladaptive coping strategies more frequently would experience poorer quality of life. Additionally, stress, somatization, depression and anxiety were predicted to be associated with a lower quality of life. To explore these hypotheses, 440 college students completed a survey measuring demographic variables, health behaviors, interpersonal factors, intrapersonal factors, psychological factors, and the frequency with which coping strategies were used. These were all associated with the outcome variable of life satisfaction based on the Student Life Satisfaction Scale (SLSS). The collected data were first analyzed on the univariate level. Those predictors significantly associated with quality of life in the univariate comparisons were then analyzed using a multinomial logistic regression to determine which the key variables that significantly contributed to quality of life. Overall, the key factors associated with better quality of life include: more spirituality, better social support, and lower stress. The results from this study identifies key adaptive coping behaviors associated with better quality of life. This information is invaluable for developing prevention and intervention strategies aimed at reducing maladaptive coping behaviors in order to improve quality of life.

 An Occupational Health Study Assessing Intent-to-Quit in Public School Teachers

Author: Angela Johnson

Co-authors: Jaime Chambers, Amanda Jones, & Dr. Krista Howard

Attrition is characterized by an intent to leave or quit. Utilizing data from an online comprehensive occupational health survey, this study aims to systematically evaluate the factors most strongly associated with attrition for public school teachers. This study examined attrition using a K-12 teacher population. Methods: A total of 2,588 teachers from 46 Texas school districts responded to a comprehensive occupational health survey. Univariate analyses were performed between teachers with and without attrition to identify specific relationships with demographic information, occupational variables, job involvement, job satisfaction, perceived stress, social climate, Axis I psychopathology, and physical health. A multivariate binary logistic regression was used to identify the key variables most associated with the intent to leave the profession within the Texas public school system. Results: Analyses showed gender, age, years of teaching and certificate method were significantly associated with intent to quit the profession. Specifically, males, younger teachers, less years teaching, and teachers with alternative certificates were more likely to quit. Moreover, poorer mental quality of life, higher levels of stress depression, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, and somatization disorder were significantly related to attrition (p<.05). Conclusion: Poorer mental health and higher levels of stress are among the demographic and psychosocial factors associated with attrition in public school teachers.

Workplace Burnout Among the Millennial Generation: The Role of Workplace Environment and Leadership

Author: Trisha Flournoy

Co-author: Dr. Krista Howard

Burnout is a commonly occurring emotional state that is exhibited across varying occupations (Thomas & Lankau, 2009). Literature has revealed that burnout has many negative consequences or outcomes including both personal and organizational (Iverson, et al., 1998). Variables known to affect burnout consist of; social support, including supervisory support and peer support, autonomy and role stress (Iverson, et al., 1998; Kim, 2008). Lu & Gursoy (2016) have indicated that there may be generational differences in the presentation of burnout characteristics. The relationship between autonomy, role stress, and peer support has been previously established though, the current study sought to explore the association between autonomy, peer support, role stress and burnout among millennials. This study also sought to explore the association of burnout and the perception of leader behaviors among the millennial generation. Lastly, whether leader behaviors would predict burnout over and above that of autonomy, role stress and peer support were also explored. A two-stage hierarchical regression was used to predict burnout from two distinct sets of variables, workplace environment variables, and leadership variables. Results indicated that at Stage one, Set 1 of variables, Autonomy, Peer Support and Role Stress were significant contributors to the regression model, F (3, 591) = 88.897, p < 0.001 and accounted for 31.1% of the overall variance in burnout. Stage two of the hierarchical regression revealed that the addition of Set 2 variables or Empowering Leader Behaviors, Leadership Effectiveness, Manager Support and Supervisory Behaviors explained an additional 11.3% of the variation in Burnout.

Understanding how visual attention to social stimuli relates to both mentalizing and to empathy may help explain individual differences in social ability.

Author: Callie De La Cerda

Co-authors: Ashley Frost & Dr. Katherine Warnell

Understanding how visual attention to social stimuli relates to both mentalizing (i.e., thinking about others’ thoughts) and to empathy may help explain individual differences in social ability. Recent research has sought to identify the relationship between visual attention and social traits, but much of this work uses photographs. More naturalistic stimuli may better capture real-world social processes. In the present experiment, we collected eye-tracking data from seventy-one adults while they completed the Spontaneous Theory of Mind Protocol (Rice & Redcay, 2014). In this protocol, participants watch two silent movie clips depicting complex social interactions and then describe what happened in each scene, with the percentage of internal state descriptors serving as a measure of spontaneous mentalizing. We also calculated the percentage of the time each participant focused on characters’ eyes during the film clips. Participants completed an additional mentalizing task involving inferring mental states from photographs of eyes (Reading the Mind in the Eyes; Baron-Cohen et al., 2001) and completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) to measure empathy (Davis, 1983). Participants’ fixation time on the eye region during naturalistic social scenes was positively correlated with empathy (r= .28 p<.05) but eye-looking was not related to mentalizing capabilities for either the spontaneous mentalizing task or Reading the Mind the Eyes (rs<.1). The Perspective Taking subscale of the IRI showed the strongest correlations with eye-looking. Although the exact mechanism linking empathy and gaze patterns is unknown, results suggest that more empathetic individuals may be more likely to visually search for social information.

Undergraduate Division

The Effects of a Brief Nap on Stress

Author: Nathan Wofford

Co-author: Dr. Carmen E. Westerberg

Current research suggests that overnight sleep plays an important role as a stress buffer. Napping has been shown to improve mood, frustration tolerance, and working memory capacity. Currently, the effects of napping on the ability to cope with acute stress is unknown, but a reasonable hypothesis is that napping could have stress reducing and buffering benefits. In this experiment, undergraduate participants were stressed using a modified version of the Trier Social Stress Test, in which participants completed a difficult math task and then were informed that at the end of the study they would have to write and recite a 5-minute-long speech. Next, after a 40-minute break, where half of participants watched an education TV show (wake group) and the other half took a nap monitored with electroencephalography (nap group), participants prepared a speech for 10 minutes. Finally, they were informed they did not have to give their speeches and the study was over. Stress and affect were measured at four-time points; prior to the Trier Social Stress Test (baseline), prior to the break, after the break, and after the speech preparation period. Working memory was also measured before and after the break. Results comparing stress, affect, and working memory scores after the break across groups will be presented and will clarify the efficacy of a nap as a stress reducer and working memory booster. Additionally, a between-group comparison of stress scores before and after the speech preparation period will reveal the efficacy of a nap as a stress buffer.

Perceptions of Virginity Across Gender and Sexuality

Author: Ashley Frost

Perceptions and definitions of virginity have changed drastically over the past fifty years (Byers, 2009), but what do current college undergrads view as virginity and what acts might constitute the loss of virginity. Past research has done very little to define sex and virginity outside of a heterosexual relationship. With American youths having their first sexual experience within 15-18 years of age (CDS, 2017), it is important to define just what acts might result in the loss of virginity versus other intimate acts teenagers might engage in. 596 Texas college students filled out an online survey to convey their opinions on this matter. While the study is still ongoing, the current data suggests that almost all participants consider penile-vaginal penetration to constitute the loss of virginity in heterosexual couples. Roughly 60% of participants consider anal penetration to constitute the loss of virginity in both partners in a heterosexual couple and about 90% of participants say the same for male/male couples. For female/female relationships, more than 50% of the sample population agreed that only acts involving a penis-like object would constitute a loss of virginity. This study also explores whether certain acts would only constitute the loss of virginity for just one partner, which shows the most partner difference in same sex couples.

Why We Socialize: Quantifying Social Motivation in Typical Adults

Author: Paul Pluymen

Co-author: Hailey Thomas

Human beings are intrinsically social creatures, but many studies of social motivation—or our drive to interact with others—have not attempted to recreate the natural settings in which almost all socialization occurs. The aim of this study is to better understand human social motivation in a natural context. Natural social interaction consists largely of two parts: sharing information about yourself and learning information about others. It is not known, however, which factor is more involved in motivating us to interact. This study seeks measure whether social motivation is more driven by a desire to share or a desire to learn and whether this differs between people. In our study, participants (n=14) completed a computer-based chat with a stimulated partner (that the participants believed to be real). Participants could choose on a series of trials whether to share about themselves or learn about their partner. On a post-test questionnaire, participants stated that they liked chatting with their partner and liked learning about the partner more when the partner agreed with them. We also found individual differences in preference for sharing or learning, even though almost all participants believed that learning was a more socially desirable option. That is, that even though participants knew a certain choice might make their chat partner feel bad, they did not always make that choice less. Ongoing analyses will examine the relation between the preference to share versus learn and traits such as social anxiety and narcissism.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pediatric Depression, the Cost-Effective Treatment Choice

Author: Kaitlyn Westerberg

Co-authors: Tara Earle, Jordan Mazik, & Dr. Alessandro De Nadai

Depression affects 3.2 million American youth. Nearly 60% of adolescents who experienced a major depressive episode in 2016 did not receive treatment that year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016). Depression is very costly with annual societal costs estimated at $210.5 billion dollars (Greenberg et al., 2015). Although cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an efficacious treatment for pediatric depression, its dissemination has been limited (Chu et al., 2015). One major barrier to treatment dissemination is lack of cost effectiveness estimates, which would inform consumers and third-party payers about which treatments yield the greatest and most sustainable long-term impact for their investment.

In response, we will present cost effectiveness estimates for CBT in pediatric depression. These results focus on CBT-specific findings from an ongoing meta-analysis of the cost effectiveness of multiple treatments for pediatric depression (De Nadai et al., in preparation). CBT for pediatric depression was associated with 0.93 additional quality adjusted life years (QALYs), with an average cost of treatment delivery of $3,663 per QALY. CBT for pediatric depression shows great economic value. Considering that treatment permits nearly an extra year of functional life, each treated patient could gain an estimated $28,859 of income (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017), providing a 788% return on investment for patients. When applying the same intervention costs to patients at the 10th percentile of income, an additional $5,568 (52% return) of income is received per patient. Implications of this research will be discussed in the context of ongoing dissemination and implication efforts.

Neuropsychological function & symptom severity in OCD: A Meta-Analysis

Author: Breanna McCormak

Co-authors: Devon Brunner, Dr. Amitai Abramovitch, & Mckensey Johnson

Neuropsychological function in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been extensively researched with meta-analyses identifying medium effect sizes. However, the nature of cognitive deficiencies in OCD as a trait or a state related phenomenon, remains controversial and under-researched. A common method assessing state related effects on cognitive functions is to evaluate correlations between symptom-severity and test performance. In order to systematically assess the magnitude of these associations and to shed light on this controversy, we conducted a meta-analysis assessing the correlations between OCD symptom-severity and neuropsychological test performance. Thirty-three studies (n=1050 participants) comparing adults with OCD to non-psychiatric controls met inclusion criteria, contributing 153 effect sizes across neuropsychological domains. A fixed model meta-analysis of correlation coefficients was employed. Across studies, small but significant effect sizes exemplifying a negative association between OCD severity and neuropsychological test performance were found for executive function (r= -.24), memory (r= -0.18), processing speed (r= -.24), and visuospatial functions (r= -.24). A significant medium effect size was found for attention function (r= -.51), and a nonsignificant small effect size was found for working memory (r= -.08). Moderator analyses revealed no significant moderation effects. These results suggest a minor contribution of OCD symptom severity to underperformance on neuropsychological tests, apart from sustained attention, which appears to be more affected by OCD severity. However, it is worth considering that the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) score exemplifies OCD severity in the past week and may potentially be less accurate in representing severity at time of testing. Alternatively, individuals diagnosed with OCD may be able to exert more effort, and thus performed better while taking neuropsychological tests in lab settings compared to their cognitive functioning in daily life. One limitation of the present study pertains to our identification of more than 60 studies reporting that their correlation analyses resulted in non-significant results, without presenting correlation coefficients. Nevertheless, our results suggest a larger impact of OCD severity on sustained attention—a cognitive domain that has been relatively neglected in OCD research.

Social Anxiety and Perspective Taking and Their Links with Social Rewards

Author: Estefania Rivas Bravo

Co-authors: Jourdan O. Bartels, Dr. Roque V. Mendez, Geoffrey G. Parker, Evelyn J. Benavides, & Alexis Cabada

Social rewards serve to motivate people who engage in social interactions (Foulkes,,2014). Social rewards appear to propel us to seek interactions for self-serving reasons (Foulkes, 2014). But not always. Fears induced by social anxiety may interfere with the initiation of social interactions and the maintenance of social relationships (Liebowitz, Those with severe social anxieties, for example, fear public embarrassment and humiliation (Zubeidat, Additionally, altruistic motives may explain why we seek others for social rewards. To 187 participants, we administered the Social Reward Questionnaire (Foulkes,, consisting of six social rewards, the Avoidance subscale of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (Fresco, and the Perspective Taking subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis,1994), an index of empathic motives. Results showed that Social Avoidance correlated negatively and significantly with Admiration (r(172)=-.23,p=.003), Sexual Relations (r(172)=-.15,p<.05), Pro Social Interactions (PSI), (r(172)=-21,p=.005) and Sociability (r(173)=-.32, p<.001). Socially anxious individuals perceive these social rewards negatively. Perspective Taking correlated significantly with Admiration (r(172)=.18, p<.05), Negative Social Potency (NSP, being cruel to others) (r(172)=-.42,p<.001), PSI (r(172)=.42,p<.001) and Sociability (r(173)=.17,p<.05). These findings suggest that there may also be altruistic motives in social rewards. What is certain is that social rewards have different valences for different people. Some seek others for rewards, while others avoid people and social rewards. Moreover, altruistic motives may be mixed with egoistic ones in our search for social rewards. Future research might investigate reciprocal altruism (Trivers,1971) and shared social rewards.