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Feature Story: CPA Award Recipients

Queen's Psychology students receive Canadian Psychological Association Certificate of Academic Excellence

Thursday, June 1, 2017
Queen's Psychology

Congratulations to Canadian Psychological Association Certificate of Academic Excellence recipients Joshua Guyer, Rachel Wayne, Valerie Wood, Laura Lambe, Pauline Leung, Thomas Vaughan-Johnston, Beth-Anne Helgason, Breanna McCreary, and Ioana Petrar-Silca.

The Board of Directors of the Canadian Psychological Association approved in May 1999 the implementation of a Programme of Certificates of Academic Excellence to recognize outstanding achievements made by students at all levels of study in each Canadian department of psychology.

This programme has been endorsed by the Council of Canadian Departments of Psychology. The award is in the form of a certificate that each psychology department in Canada would distribute each year to the best undergraduate, masters and doctoral thesis.

This programme was initiated and is strongly supported by the CPA Section for Students. As such, it is strongly recommended that each review committee include a student, preferably the departmental CPA Student Representative.

Once the selection process is complete, the names are forwarded to the CPA Head Office no later than June 15. CPA will prepare the certificates and return them to the department or mail them directly to the winners. The list of the recipients will be published in the fall issue of Psynopsis and on the CPA web site.

The Canadian Psychological Association strongly believes that students are the future of psychology and that they should be encouraged by having their achievements recognized.


Joshua Guyer – Investigating multiple roles of vocal confidence in persuasion.
Abstract – Although persuasion often occurs via oral communication, it remains a comparatively understudied area. This research tested the hypothesis that changes in three properties of voice influence perceptions of speaker confidence, which in turn differentially affects attitudes according to different underlying psychological processes that the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM, Petty & Cacioppo, 1984), suggests should emerge under different levels of thought. Experiment 1 was a 2 (Elaboration: high vs. low) x 2 (Vocal speed: increased speed vs. decreased speed) x 2 (Vocal intonation: falling intonation vs. rising intonation) between participants factorial design. Vocal speed and vocal intonation influenced perceptions of speaker confidence as predicted. In line with the ELM, under high elaboration, confidence biased thought favorability, which in turn influenced attitudes. Under low elaboration, confidence did not bias thoughts but rather directly influenced attitudes as a peripheral cue. Experiment 2 used a similar design as Experiment 1 but focused on vocal pitch. Results confirmed pitch influenced perceptions of confidence as predicted. Importantly, we also replicated the bias and cue processes found in Experiment 1. Experiment 3 investigated the process by which a broader spectrum of speech rate influenced persuasion under moderate elaboration. In a 2 (Argument quality: strong vs. weak) x 4 (Vocal speed: extremely slow vs. moderately slow vs. moderately fast vs. extremely fast) between participants factorial design, results confirmed the hypothesized non-linear relationship between speech rate and perceptions of confidence. In line with the ELM, speech rate influenced persuasion based on the amount of processing. Experiment 4 investigated the effects of a broader spectrum of vocal intonation on persuasion under moderate elaboration and used a similar design as Experiment 3. Results indicated a partial success of our vocal intonation manipulation. No evidence was found to support the hypothesized mechanism. These studies show that changes in several different properties of voice can influence the extent to which others perceive them as confident. Importantly, evidence suggests different vocal properties influence persuasion by the same bias and cue processes under high and low thought. Evidence also suggests that under moderate thought, speech rate influences persuasion based on the amount of processing.

Rachel Wayne – Cognitive and visual speech contributions to speech perception in challenging listening conditions.
Abstract – Speech perception routinely takes place in noisy or degraded listening environments, leading to ambiguity in the identity of the speech token. Here, I present one review paper and two experimental papers that highlight cognitive and visual speech contributions to the listening process, particularly in challenging listening environments. First, I survey the literature linking audiometric age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline and review the four proposed causal mechanisms underlying this link. I argue that future research in this area requires greater consideration of the functional overlap between hearing and cognition. I also present an alternative framework for understanding causal relationships between age-related declines in hearing and cognition, with emphasis on the interconnected nature of hearing and cognition and likely contributions from multiple causal mechanisms. I also provide a number of testable hypotheses to examine how impairments in one domain may affect the other. In my first experimental study, I examine the direct contribution of working memory (through a cognitive training manipulation) on speech in noise comprehension in older adults. My results challenge the efficacy of cognitive training more generally, and also provide support for the contribution of sentence context in reducing working memory load. My findings also challenge the ubiquitous use of the Reading Span test as a pure test of working memory. In a second experimental (fMRI) study, I examine the role of attention in audiovisual speech integration, particularly when the acoustic signal is degraded. I demonstrate that attentional processes support audiovisual speech integration in the middle and superior temporal gyri, as well as the fusiform gyrus. My results also suggest that the superior temporal sulcus is sensitive to intelligibility enhancement, regardless of how this benefit is obtained (i.e., whether it is obtained through visual speech information or speech clarity). In addition, I also demonstrate that both the cingulo-opercular network and motor speech areas are recruited in difficult listening conditions. Taken together, these findings augment our understanding of cognitive contributions to the listening process and demonstrate that memory, working memory, and executive control networks may flexibly be recruited in order to meet listening demands in challenging environments.

Valerie Wood – Adult attachment and spousal reactions to military deployment separations and reunions.
Abstract – The purpose of my dissertation was to assess the relevance of adult attachment in explaining spousal adjustment and relationship functioning in military deployment experiences. Specifically, I was interested in identifying what attachment dimensions are related to spousal coping and relationship perceptions during deployment separations and reunions, when and how attachment dimensions are related to outcomes across the deployment cycle, and why attachment dimensions are related to such outcomes. This project was sponsored by the Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis (Department of National Defence) and consisted of three phases. Phase One was cross- sectional, examining civilian spouses/partners of military members experiencing a deployment separation (Group A), and civilian spouses/partners of military members experiencing a deployment reunion (Group B). Group A individuals were invited to participate in a longitudinal study, following them monthly across the separation, as Phase Two. Phase Three consisted of a large-scale survey sent to spouses/partners of military members capturing several indices of coping and relationship functioning for spouses of varying partner deployment status’. In Phase One, for Group A, attachment anxiety was related to compromised coping and relationship perceptions during the separation, and attachment avoidance related to increased coping, but negative relationship perceptions. The relationships between attachment anxiety and relationship perceptions were moderated by time deployed and experience with deployments. For Group B, attachment anxiety was related to decreased coping and negative relationship perceptions during the reunion. The relationships between attachment anxiety and relationship perceptions were mediated by expectations of the return, and were moderated by time reunited. In Phase Two, attachment avoidance was related to negative relationship perceptions including difficulties with emotional support. In Phase Three, attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, and their interaction were related to indices of coping and relationship functioning. Further, some of these relationships were moderated by environmental conditions. Notably, recent deployment status moderated relationships among attachment dimensions and perceived relationship and coping outcomes. Finally, I found that emotional fitness mediated relationships among attachment anxiety and coping outcomes, and perceptions of partner support mediated relationships among attachment anxiety and relationship outcomes. Practical and theoretical implications and future directions are discussed.


Laura Lambe– Bullying involvement and adolescent use: A study of multilevel risk and protective factors.
Abstract – Bullying, frequent drunkenness, and frequent cannabis use are significant health-risk behaviours among youth. While many studies have demonstrated that bullying involvement may initiate a developmental pathway to both types of frequent substance use, there is a limited understanding of the connection between these behaviours. The presence of risk and protective factors within youths’ relationships and within their neighbourhoods may alter the associations between bullying involvement and both types of frequent substance use. A systemic approach is needed to assess the complex, social environments in which youth are embedded. The current thesis consists of two studies that examined the associations between bullying and both types of frequent substance use within the context of youths’ social environments. In Study 1, multilevel modeling was used to examine the associations between bullying and frequent substance use within the context of individual and neighbourhood risk factors. Our results indicated that the risk factors associated with both frequent drunkenness and frequent cannabis use exist at both levels, with neighbourhoods altering the association of individual risk factors. Moreover, bullying was a unique risk factor associated with both types of frequent substance use, whereas indirect associations were observed for victimization. Study 2 used a similar methodology to examine the association between bullying and both types of frequent substance use within the context of individual and neighbourhood protective factors. Once again, our results indicated that the protective factors associated with both types of frequent substance use exist at multiple levels, and that neighbourhoods altered the association of individual protective factors. Additionally, positive relationship characteristics interacted with the link between bullying and both types of frequent substance use. Together, these findings clarify the nature of the bullying-substance use link and emphasize the need to study adolescent development in context.

Pauline Leung– Please Sop Rubbing Your Relationship In my Face(book): An Investigation of Online Romantic Social Comparison.
Abstract – It is well-documented that social networking sites such as Facebook set the stage for social comparison. Such comparison has been linked to a number of negative outcomes including envy, negative moods, and lower self-esteem. The present research aims to extend current understanding of online social comparison by investigating how it pertains to romantic relationships. I hypothesized that for individuals high in attachment anxiety (compared to those low in this construct), online romantic social comparison might be related to negative consequences—which, in the current project, was operationalized as lower mood/affect and state self-esteem. Further, I hypothesized that there would be an interaction between attachment anxiety and relationship insecurities on these negative outcomes, such that the expected difference of attachment anxiety would be more pronounced under conditions priming relationship insecurities, relative to a control condition. Two experiments were conducted, one of which focused on single individuals, and the second focusing on individuals who were themselves in dating relationships. The paradigms of each entailed experimental manipulation of a key relationship-related variable (for single individuals, pessimism for future relationships; for dating individuals, the presence or absence of rejection threat), subsequent exposure to romantic content from Facebook, and finally, measures of affect and state self-esteem. I discovered partial support for the hypothesis that some single individuals—particularly those with higher, rather than lower, attachment anxiety—do indeed report feeling more negative moods and lower state self-esteem following exposure to romantic online content, in contrast to single individuals who had instead viewed neutral online content. The association between attachment anxiety and negative outcome was especially pertinent if individuals had been primed to believe that their own future romantic prospects were grim, or if attention had been drawn to their singleness. Among dating individuals, less support for hypotheses was found; however, exploratory post-hoc analyses revealed a promising (albeit weak) trend indicating that reinvestigation of the current hypotheses would be prudent.

Thomas Vaughan-Johnston– Effects of introspection on meta and structural attitude bases.
Abstract – Introspection is a process through which people question their attitudes - their positive and negative reactions to the people, concepts, and things around them. Previous research has looked at the difference between introspecting about why one has their particular attitude (Why introspection), in contrast to introspecting about how one feels about the attitude object (How introspection). It turns out that Why introspecting causes people's attitudes to become inconsistent with their subsequent behavior, whereas How introspection is believed not to do this. Other psychologists have suggested that Why introspection and How introspection actually both lead to attitude-behavior inconsistencies, contingent on the types of behaviors that are focused on. Largely, psychologists have assumed that these patterns were driven by Why introspection leading people to focus on the cognitive parts (reasons, facts, etc.) of their attitudes, with others suggesting that How introspection would make people focus on the affective parts (feelings, emotions, etc.). However, nobody actually measured these cognitive/affective reactions after people introspected. Furthermore, recent research has suggested that you can measure cognitive/affective reactions in two distinct ways: one more indirect, and one more direct measurement. Several targeted main and interaction effects were hypothesized. I had individuals report their attitudes and cognitive/affective reactions (in the indirect and direct manner) before and after introspecting, and after being exposed to a persuasive message (intended to map any consequences of participants having been swayed to a more cognitive/affective mindset). I collected 1029 participants cross two studies. Generally, my hypotheses were not confirmed. Additionally, some classic introspection effects were not replicated. Several reasons for these disappointing results were discussed. In particular, I suggested that the choice of attitude objects, and format of the introspection passage (which seemed to prompt minimal and un-engaged responses) may have contributed to these issues. Furthermore, the introduction of a time delay in Study 2 revealed low test-retest reliabilities for some key measures, which would have made it difficult to show some hypothesized effects. I am currently pursuing follow-up efforts for this project under the supervision of Dr. Leandre Fabrigar.

Honours Thesis

Breanna McCreary – Intuitive Reasoning about Intentionality in the Side Effect-Effect Predicts Belief in Anthropogenic Climate Change.
Abstract – Public concern for climate change is decreasing, and evidence suggests that 30- 40% of adults do not accept the scientific consensus that its causes are anthropogenic. Intuitive reasoning about intentionality may provide insight into why this may be, as our conception of moral responsibility relies on whether an action was caused intentionally. In this study, participants (N = 190) answered an online survey to investigate whether intuitive intentionality ratings in the side effect-effect (scenarios in which an agent, in the course of fulfilling one goal, brings about a second “side effect” outcome that can be positive or negative) are associated with belief in anthropogenic climate change. We hypothesized that the relationship between participants’ ratings of the intentionality of side effects would be associated with belief in anthropogenic climate change when reasoning about harmful side effects but not helpful ones. A binomial logistic regression showed that side effect intentionality ratings were positively associated with belief in anthropogenic climate change, even when controlling for relevant demographic variables (namely, political affiliation). A similar pattern was shown when considering the association between judgments of blameworthiness for side effects and belief in anthropogenic climate change. We speculate that individual differences in intentionality and blameworthiness ratings might arise from differing values used to weight the primary effect against the side effect. Implications for public educational efforts are discussed.

Beth-Anne Helgason – Uncovering the Yin and Yang of Leadership? The Interplay of Formal and Informal Leadership in Teams.
Abstract – Informal leaders, defined as individuals not in a position of formal authority, but recognized as leaders nevertheless, are becoming an increasingly important source of influence in teams and organizations. Although research on informal sources of leadership is expanding, dynamics between informal leaders and formal leaders have yet to be explored. The present study addresses this shortcoming by examining: 1) the effects of formal leadership behaviours on informal leadership behaviours; and 2) the joint effects of formal and informal leadership on team outcomes. Formal and informal leadership were examined in the context of two central dimensions of leadership behaviours: task- and relationship-oriented leadership. 64 four-person teams completed a laboratory team task designed to examine formal-informal leadership dynamics and team outcomes. The level of task- and relationship-oriented leadership behaviours exhibited by formal leaders did not influence the level of task and relationship-oriented leadership behaviours exhibited by informal leaders. Increases in task-oriented formal leadership predicted increases in team performance, increases in relationship-oriented informal leadership predicted increases in team satisfaction, and increases in both formal and informal relationshiporiented leadership behaviours predicted increases in team effort. Moreover, there was a significant interaction effect for formal-informal relationship-oriented leadership, such that high informal relationship-oriented leadership could substitute for the effects of formal relationshiporiented leadership on team effort, subsequently affecting team performance. These findings demonstrate the importance of informal leaders in teams, and the need to examine how the leadership influence of one leader may be impacted by the leadership behaviours displayed by another.

Ioana Petrar-Silca – Vicarious Power: Psychological Connection and Boundary Effects in the Interpersonal Transference of Power.
Abstract – Past studies have found that possessing a cooperative association or psychological connection with a powerful figure can vicariously increase one’s personal sense of power. However, this research may have been subject to confounding demand characteristics (Zhang, 2016), and it was limited to figures who were powerful in self-irrelevant domains (Goldstein & Hays). According to the self-evaluation maintenance model (Tesser & Campbell, 1982), domain relevance influences whether an assimilation or contrast effect occurs, but to date, no research has been conducted on the vicarious power effect using domain-relevant figures. The present study builds upon the existing literature by investigating how psychological connection and domain relevance influence the vicarious power effect, while simultaneously eliminating potential demand characteristics. In Study 1, we used preselected, self-irrelevant target figures to investigate the relationship between psychological connection and vicarious power. A positive, linear relationship was found between the two variables with preselected powerful figures, but not with a non-powerful proximate control. In Study 2, we used a manager-coworker paradigm to investigate how domain relevance and psychological connection influence perceived power. A contrast effect was seen with the domain relevant figures, as participants who wrote about a close (powerful) manager had a significantly lower sense of power than those who wrote about a close (equal-power) co-worker. These results substantiate the literature on the vicarious power effect, and present boundary conditions which can influence whether an assimilation or contrast effect takes place in perceived power.