Human Development (HD) Theses

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Undergraduate Honors Theses in the Department of Human Development (HD)in the College of Human Ecology.


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Now showing 1 - 10 of 63
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    Learning Lucid Dreaming and its Effect on Depression in Undergraduates
    Taitz, Isaac (2011-05)
    The present study tested two hypotheses: 1) that lucid dreaming could be effectively taught through an online intervention, and 2) that lucid dreaming can alleviate depression as mediated by LOC. Surveys consisting of (lucid) dream frequency and recall scales (Schredl and Erlacher, 2004; Doll, Gitter, and Holzinger, 2009), Rotter's LOC scale (1966), and the most recent Beck Depression Index (BDI-II) were completed by college students. The experimental group was instructed to keep dream diaries throughout the whole study. Two weeks after the preliminary survey they were presented with a lucid dreaming intervention,which instructed them to practice reality checks throughout the day in order to attain lucidity at night. Lucid dreaming frequency was found to be directly correlated with depression (p less then 0.001).Implications for therapy and suggestions for further research are suggested.
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    Children's Perceptions of Mechanical Knowledge as a Function of Gender
    Schneider, Lauren (2011-05)
    This study examined children's perceptions of the mechanical knowledge of others as a function of gender. Children ages 3-8 watched videos of male and female informants fixing toys in one of two conditions: either the boy and the girl both succeeded at fixing the toys, or the girl succeeded and the boy failed. The children then answered questions about the informants' abilities to fix other toys. An omnibus ANOVA failed to yield any significant effects of the sex of the informant, though there was a significant effect of condition across age groups and a significant effect of age in the Sally Fixer condition. There is some evidence that nonconformity with gender stereotypes influences children's opinions on informants' play abilities. Further research is needed on the development of children's gender stereotypes, given that children do express gender biases in other contexts.
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    Changing caregiving quality for neurodevelopmentally at-risk infants: Executive function and behavior outcomes
    Sellers, Kristin (2011-05)
    Neurodevelopmental impairment in infancy is an established risk factor for poor cognitive and behavior outcomes later in life. However, environmental factors such as high quality caregiving could be protective against these biological risks. Longitudinal data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being was used to assess the relationship between difficult temperament and risk for neurodevelopmental impairment in infancy and outcome behavior problems and executive function five years later. Quality of caregiving these children received at both ages was measured. Change in caregiving quality was tested as a moderator in difficult temperament predicting behavior problems, and risk for neurodevelopmental impairment predicting executive function. It was hypothesized that increases in the quality of caregiving would result in (a) fewer problem behaviors based on initial measures of difficult temperament, and (b) better than expected executive function outcomes based on initial risk for neurodevelopmental impairment. Difficult temperament was found to predict problem behaviors 5 years later. Similarly, risk for neurodevelopmental impairment in infancy was found to predict lower executive functioning 5 years later. Findings from this study could guide the development of effective interventions for children displaying neurodevelopmental impairment shortly after birth.
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    Political Ideology and Support for Universal Health Care: The Roles of Thinking Styles and Executive Functioning in the Judgments of Older Adults
    Neustadter, Eli (2011-05)
    In contemporary American politics, Democrats and Republicans have become increasingly polarized along ideological lines. This division is especially apparent in the debates surrounding the possibility of universal health care given the passage of the new health care reform bill this past year. Converging evidence from historical and psychological accounts of ideology suggest that differences in thinking styles are associated with ideological differences. Given their importance as a unique political cohort, as well as known age differences in information processing styles and executive functioning, older adults (N=86) completed self report measures and a verbal fluency task to elucidate the relationship between information processing styles, executive function, political ideology and support for universal health care over the period when the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was debated and then passed. We found that older adults' political beliefs formed cohesive ideologies along a liberal/conservative spectrum. Ideology significantly accounted for differences in party support for increased government funded healthcare, whereas understanding of the health care bill had no effect on participant support of the bill. We also found that preferences for rational thinking styles and maintained executive functioning were associated with liberal ideology in older adults. Moreover, rational processing and executive function were uniquely correlated with support for universal health care in addition to party affiliation. These results are discussed within the context of Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory in addition to general psychological and sociological accounts of political beliefs in older adults.
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    Gist for Risk: Link between Impulsivity and Fuzzy-Trace Theory Explanations of Adolescent Risk Behavior
    Romer, Adrienne (2011-05)
    Adolescence is characterized by a steep increase in risk taking behaviors. Research indicates that individual differences in impulsivity are highly correlated with adolescent risk taking (Verdejo-Garcia, Lawrence, and Clark, 2008). Fuzzy-Trace Theory, a dual-process theory, proposes that differences in decision-relevant information processing predict decision outcomes (Reyna and Brainerd, 1995). Gist-based reasoning relies on qualitative information processing that emphasizes the abstract meaning of decision alternatives (e.g., avoid risk), whereas verbatim-based reasoning represents a form of quantitative, literal information processing (e.g., the specific risk of getting pregnant). Research suggests that gist processing is risk preventing, whereas verbatim processing is risk promoting (Mills, Reyna, and Estrada, 2008). The present study examines whether positively-valenced gist processing of decision-relevant information (e.g., approach risk) can account for the information processing of highly impulsive adolescents. Participants were 929 (28% male) late-adolescent students (mean age 19.7 years) recruited from undergraduate classes at Cornell University. They were administered an online survey with self-report measures of gist and verbatim processing associated with sex- and alcohol-related risk behavior, self-report measures of different facets of impulsivity, a delay discounting task, and a measure of real-world risk taking behavior. Results show that positive gist and impulsivity measures are positively associated with sex- and alcohol-related risk behavior. Mediation analyses suggest that positive gist is a significant mediator between impulsivity and risk behavior. The results indicate that positive gist is an important correlate of adolescent risk behavior and a significant mediator of the association between impulsivity and risk taking.
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    Looking to the Past to Develop the Future: Autobiographical Memory, Future Episodic Thought, and Self Concepts in Easterners and Westerners
    Gould, Tracy (2011-05)
    The link between dialectical thinking, mental wellbeing, future episodic thought, and the self-concept was assessed between Caucasian (N = 80) and Asian (N = 57) cultural groups. In the first task, participants were asked to recall six autobiographical memories, three positive and three negative, in three different domains: family, school, and relationships with others. It was found that the emotional valence of the future episodic thought was dependent on both the valence of the memory as well as the domain, contrary to past research that illustrated that future episodic thought is globally more positive than autobiographical memories. Group differences emerged in the positivity of participants' self-concepts from past to present, while both Caucasians and Asians exhibited more positive statements in the future than the past or present. Dialectical thinking was also negatively correlated with more positive statements in the present self than the past self . Lastly, participants exhibited similar patterns in their graphical responses to patterns of change from past, to present, to future.
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    The Interaction of Emotion and Cognition in Memory Biases across the Life Span
    Lehembre-Shiah, Eugenie (2011-05)
    Much research has looked into the various information processing changes that occur as we age. Most cognitive processes decline with age, while emotion regulation may remain intact. This study attempts to better understand biases that occur in recognition memory as we age. Socioemotional selectivity theory suggests that older adults attend to the positive valence more than the negative valence due to a shift in time perspective and an increased motivation to capitalize on more emotionally satisfying experiences. Fuzzy trace theory posits that we have two information processing streams: the gist stream, which captures the overall meaning of the information, and the verbatim stream that takes in the details. In this study, recognition memory was assessed for valenced (positive and negative) as well as sentence-type (verbatim or gist) processing in order to study the combined effects of emotion and cognition in memory across the life span. Older adults were found to remember more positive gist statements than any other type suggesting abias towards the positive valence and gist type processing. The results show that both of the above theories combine to illuminate what type of information older adults attend to, process and retain.
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    The Dynamics of Infant Attention
    Dilzell, Kristen (2011-05)
    Attention allocation and visual foraging are adaptively important behaviors in providing information about the world for effective goal-directed behavior and survival. Timely re-direction of gaze facilitates integration of information and provides exposure to new information, which is crucial during development. Steady-State Visual Evoked Potentials (SSVEPs) elicited in the extrastriate cortex by flickering stimuli can sensitively measure attentional switching. This study aimed to investigate the dynamics of attention in 3-month-old infants using SSVEPs by looking at how an attention-getting sound stimulus altered the spatial allocation of attention towards three flickering rubber ducks. For both the gaze fixated duck and non-fixated ducks, there was a significant decrease in relative amplitude of SSVEPs after a sound event was administered compared to a control event. This indicates that the sound stimulus served to globally decrease attention to all three ducks. Our results suggest that using SSVEPs can tell us new information about the dynamics of infant attention that could not be assessed using gaze alone, such as the intensity and direction of attention.