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Psi Chi Journal Winter 2018


Volume 23.5 | Winter 2018
Download This Issue - All articles are now free.

/ Effectiveness of a Brief Suicide Intervention Training

Susan E. Becker and Kayla L. Cottingham, Colorado Mesa University

ABSTRACT: Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States that is preventable. Intervention training is a way to increase the likelihood that peers will reach out and help each other to increase safety and decrease suicide risk. Brief Suicide Intervention Training (BSIT)’s design maximizes impact with each element in the training suggested by prior research to increase confidence and willingness to intervene. More than 500 trainees took the training from 14 different trainers across multiple settings. Posttraining evaluation results show significant gains in confidence for the five confidence items: recognize when someone might be at risk of suicide, t(603) = -28.77, p ≤ .001, ask directly about suicide, t(606) = -26.99, p ≤ .001, be with someone while they talk about suicide, t(599) = -22.70, p ≤ .001, help someone at risk choose safety, t(600) = -11.02, p ≤ .001, and know how to find more help using resources, t(604) = -28.91, p ≤ .001.

/ / / Factors Associated With Academic Nonprescribed Stimulant Use Among College Students

Gabrielle N. Pfund , Cindy Miller-Perrin , and Steven V. Rouse , Pepperdine University

ABSTRACT: Nonprescribed stimulant use (NPSU), defined in the present study as someone taking stimulant medications such as Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin that have not been prescribed, is becoming a norm—especially on college campuses. This study evaluated possible predictive factors of academic NPSU in college students. We hypothesized that students would be more likely to misuse stimulants if they (a) perceived NPSU to be safe, (b) perceived NPSU to be ethical, (c) were academically extrinsically motivated, (d) perceived their college environments to be competitive, and (e) perceived NPSU to be common. Participants (N = 270; 59% women, 41% men) were undergraduate students at a small, Christian, liberal arts university in Southern California, recruited from an online research participation management system. Spearman Rho correlations were calculated, and significant relationships were found between NPSU and perceptions of NPSU commonality (r = .18, p = .006) as well as NPSU ethicality (r = .20, p < .001). These relationships remained significant even when controlling for the covariate of age: NPSU commonality, r(226) = .15, p = .03; NPSU ethicality, r(226) = -.14, p = .04. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Mass Murder in the News: How Religion Influences Perception of Terrorism

Katie Keegan and Wendy L. Morris, McDaniel College

ABSTRACT: When a mass murder occurs in the United States, people may assume the crime is an act of terror or an act of a person with mental illness. Given the way that Muslims are presented in the media, the availability heuristic may cause people to assume that a Muslim perpetrator is a terrorist (Ciftci, 2012; Nagar, 2010; Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). Furthermore, if a Muslim uses a bomb, the representativeness heuristic may cause people to assume the Muslim is a terrorist rather than a mentally ill person. In the present study, participants read a mock news story about a mass murder committed by a perpetrator described as either Christian or Muslim who used either a bomb or a gun. Three hundred twenty college students participated (224 women, 92 men, 4 other). For the same crime, participants thought the Muslim perpetrator was more likely to be in an extremist group and more religious than the Christian, and they thought the Christian was more likely to be mentally unstable and depressed than the Muslim. Furthermore, when a bomb was used, participants thought the Muslim perpetrator was more typical for the crime than the Christian. These findings suggest that mass murder is perceived differently depending upon perpetrator religion and weapon in ways that are consistent with stereotypes.

The Influence of Anxiety and Self-Efficacy on Statistics Performance: A Path Analysis

Sarah Hoegler and Mary Nelson , Western Connecticut State University

ABSTRACT: Numerous researchers have discussed the potentially detrimental role that anxiety can play in thwarting positive student outcomes in higher education. Statistics anxiety, in particular, has been shown to pose a threat to statistics achievement. Although some previous researchers have demonstrated that statistics anxiety was directly related to impaired statistics performance, other researchers failed to identify such a relationship. Building from these inconsistencies in the literature, the present exploratory study used path analysis to investigate whether anxiety directly or indirectly impairs performance and its relationship with self-efficacy. In this study, we replicated previous findings that self-efficacy can predict a significant amount of the variability in statistics performance (β = .45, p = .001, adjusted R2 = .21), even after controlling for students’ prior GPAs. More importantly, through this study, we also demonstrated that anxiety did not directly impact performance (β = .23, p = .102), but instead altered students’ levels of self-efficacy (β = -.65, p = .001), and indirectly affected academic outcomes (β = -.30, p = .001). The results of this study provide evidence that students have the ability to gain the skills they need to succeed, even if they have a challenging academic history or heightened levels of anxiety. These results align with much of the previous literature, suggesting that classroom interventions at the undergraduate level should center less on decreasing student anxiety and more on instilling in students a sense of self-efficacy: the belief that, with effort and persistence, they can succeed in their statistics courses.

Are All Chronic Social Stressors the Same? Behavioral, Physiological, and Neural Responses to Two Social Stressors in a Female Mouse Model of Anxiety and Depression

Michael R. Jarcho, Siena College and Loras College; Madeline R. Avery, Loras College; Kelsey B. Kornacker , Danielle Hollingshead, and David Y. Lo, Coe College

ABSTRACT: Chronic stress has been associated with several negative health outcomes and psychopathological conditions, and social stressors (e.g., exclusion from a group, loss of a loved one) can be particularly problematic with regard to psychopathological conditions. Social isolation or instability can result in both behavioral and physiological stress responses. The present study attempted to assess whether the behavioral and physiological markers of stress would follow similar patterns in response to both social isolation and instability. By employing both of these models of social stress in female mice, we hoped to determine which might serve as a more appropriate model of stress-induced anxiety or depression in women. One behavioral index of anxiety, rearing behavior, was elevated only in animals experiencing social instability, F(2, 351) = 6.91, p = .001, η2 = .04, (1-b) = 0.94. Despite small sample sizes, gene expression of proinflammatory markers interleukin one beta receptor and tumor necrosis factor alpha were significantly elevated in hippocampal samples from mice that experienced either social stressor compared to controls, IL1-beta receptor, F(2, 6) = 5.65, p = .045, η2 = .85, (1-b) = 0.99, TNF alpha, F(2, 6) = 8.89, p = .042, η2 = .86, (1-b) = 0.99, with the highest levels in mice that experienced social instability. Glial fibrillary acidic protein gene expression, conversely, was significantly lower in mice of either stress group, F(2, 6) = 13.37, p = .006, η2 = .82, (1-b) = 0.99. Mice that were subjected to either social stressor showed elevated hair corticosterone compared to baseline levels and as compared to controls: Group x Time interaction, F(4, 63) = 3.47, p = .013, η2 = .18, (1-b) = 0.89. These results suggest that chronic social stress might increase the expression of symptoms of depression and anxiety, and that social instability is a more potent stressor than social isolation in mice.

Mobile Phones and Physical Pain

Monica N. Van Wilpe and Marc A. Sestir , University of Central Arkansas; Lindsay A. Kennedy , Hendrix College

ABSTRACT: Mobile phones and their psychological effects have been a point of interest for researchers in recent years. Although research has assessed the effects of active mobile phone use on pain management (e.g., Wiederhold, Gao, Kong, & Wiederhold, 2014), most mobile phone interaction is passive. If personal phones are associated with social support, the mere presence/absence of a mobile phone may influence pain responses. Our study aimed to test this effect. A sample of 100 were randomly assigned to hold a mobile phone or television remote control while a cold pressor task was used to ethically induce acute pain. During the task, pain threshold and tolerance were recorded. Afterward, subjective pain, social support, current emotions, perceived mobile phone attachment, and mobile phone usage were also measured. The mobile phone group reported marginally higher pain thresholds, F(4, 95) = 0.47, p = .76, R2 = .02, and showed marginally greater pain tolerance, F(4, 95) = 1.98, p = .10, R2 = .08, than the remote control group. The effects did not rise to the level of statistical significance. Interestingly, the remote control group scored marginally higher in some negative emotions compared to the mobile phone group. This research lays the groundwork for future research on the effects that increasingly routine interactions with mobile phones have on people, often without their knowledge.

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