Department of Psychology Recent Research Outcomes - Fall 2015

Alumni and Student Survey Regarding Perceptions of an Ignatian Education
Kayla Gross, Samantha Happ, Megan Randolph, Megan Rush, & Michael A. Kirkpatrick

The purpose of this study was to highlight through an online survey objectives central to an Ignatian education at Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU). The survey was taken by 558 WJU past or current students, with self-report data gathered on class or alumni status, graduation year, Catholic high school attendance, Jesuit high school attendance, and psychology major/minor status. The 25 content questions on the survey were chosen by a focus group of researchers and designed to encompass the main aspects of a Jesuit education. Each question was rated on a 1-5 Likert scale, with 1 indicating that the participant strongly disagreed with the statement and 5 indicating strongly agree. Each item was also timed so that researchers could interpret the findings based on how long answering each question took; assuming those that were more easily identified would result in faster response times. This was based on the idea of prototype theory research by Smith, Rips, and Shoben (1974). The last item on the survey asked for a personal testimony of participants' time at Wheeling Jesuit which will be analyzed qualitatively at a later date. When data were analyzed, no significant effects were found for psychology majors/minors. However, a multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant differences among questions, response times, and over decades since graduation. Older graduates took longer to answer each question than later ones, which may be due to a lack of familiarity with the technology, increased amounts of reflection, or more time needed to recall more distant events. Participants rated most highly at WJU opportunities to grow in their faith, to become a lifelong learner, and to grow morally. All questions resulted in responses over a mean of 3 suggesting that all Ignatian principles surveyed were present in some form at WJU, but some were more recognizable than others.

Impact of Mental Diagnoses on Perceptions of Responsibility
Jonathan Settle, Aimee Spencer, Madison Booth, and Juan Pablo Troconis Bello

Our study examined the impact that different mental disorder diagnoses have on the perceptions of the level of responsibility that the affected individual has for their disorder. Participants were given a consent form before the study and were assured that they could withdraw from the study at any time. Our study used a questionnaire which participants completed in order to gauge their attribution of responsibility and the level to which they felt people with that mental disorder had the capacity to get over their problems. The survey included descriptions of each diagnosis and ten statements on which participants rated their level of agreement on a 5 point scale, 1 indicating strong disagreement and 5 indicating strong agreement. The mental disorders involved were ADHD, alcoholism, antisocial personality disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, bulimia, schizophrenia, and specific phobia. A total of 142 undergraduate students, mostly traditionally college aged from a private liberal arts university participated in the study. Participants rated on average, those with alcoholism as being the most responsible for their condition, with bulimia coming in second, and specific phobia coming in third. Participants rated those with ADHD, schizophrenia, and autism as being the least responsible for their condition. Participants also rated those with alcoholism, bulimia, and antisocial personality disorder as being significantly more capable of getting over their problems on their own than those with other mental disorders.

Stigma Associated with Mental Disorders
Courtney Champ, Jaci Glorioso, Kayla Gross

One hundred forty-one undergraduate students were given a survey that consisted of 8 pages, each containing a brief description of a different mental disorder. Participants rated their level of agreement regarding their attitudes about those specific mental illnesses. The statements that we were most interested in were: A person with this disorder should be ashamed; Knowing they have this diagnosis is likely to make people with this disorder feel bad about themselves. The rating scale used a 5 point scale, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. From there, we collected data and analyzed two statements that were on the survey about shame and stigma. The data were combined and analyzed using a repeated measures one-way ANOVA. These results show that participants associate more stigma and shame with: Alcohol Use Disorder, Bulimia, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder than with for Schizophrenia, Specific Phobia Disorder, and Autism-Spectrum Disorder.

The Perception of Otherness in Mental Disorders
Alicia Avila, Peyton Geary, Kelci Thompson, and Carolyn Blattler

When people think of someone who is diagnosed with a mental disorder, a certain otherness creates a barrier and makes them think of someone who is different from themselves. Simply labeling someone as having a mental disorder creates social distance. That social distance increases depending on the severity of the diagnosed disorder. 142 undergraduate students at the university, 70 males, 71 females, and 1 unidentified, took a survey. Using a 5-point scale that ranged from 1= strongly disagree to 5= strongly agree, they rated 8 different diagnoses (Antisocial Personality Disorder, Autism-Spectrum Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Bulimia, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Specific Phobia) on 10 different statements based on otherness, responsibility, dangerousness, stigma, and self-fulfilling prophesy. Our study focused on perceived otherness. Using a one-way ANOVA to analyze the data, results showed there was a significant difference. People see those diagnosed with a mental disorder as othered, particularly those diagnosed with schizophrenia and antisocial disorder. Our results are consistent with our experimental hypothesis and previous studies.

Perceived Dangerousness of DSM Diagnoses
Ryan Maguire, Albert Schrimp, Cecil Rich, and Hannah Gossett

A total of 142 undergraduate students, 70 self-identified men, 71 self-identified women, and one student who chose not to disclose their gender were given an identical survey which asked them to rate their level of agreement on 10 statements regarding 8 different DSM diagnoses. These diagnoses were varied, and included alcohol use disorder, antisocial personality disorder, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, bulimia, specific phobia, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. Level of agreement was based on a 5-point scale, with 1=strongly disagree, and 5=strongly agree. Our analysis focused on 2 of the 10 statements and their respective ratings on the 8 diagnoses; these statements covered "dangerousness to self" and "dangerousness to others" for all 8 diagnoses. Our results were analyzed using 2 repeated measures one-way ANOVAs with 8 levels. Furthermore, our results showed that there were robust differences in the perceived level of danger towards both self and others among the diagnoses. Alcohol use disorder was seen as the most dangerous towards others; while bulimia had the highest perceived level of danger towards self. Also, of the 16 means calculated, only the perceived dangerousness towards others result for bulimia was below the "disagree" threshold score of "2". So, our results show that there is a perceived level of danger from all but one diagnosis, and that the level of perceived danger is quite varied depending on the diagnosis.

Responses to Public Displays of Affection in Same- and Other-Sex Couples
Brittany Bennington and Elizabeth Sacco

Undergraduates imagined same- or other-sex couples engaging in public displays of affection ranging from hand holding to simulated sex, then rated those behaviors. Results suggest that male-male public displays of affection are seen as less appropriate and more sexual, whereas affection between women is seen as similar to affection expressed by a woman and a man. These results may have implications for understanding situations in which disapproval, or even violence, against gay men is likely.

The Impact of Remorse and Orientation on Sexual Assault Sanctions
Johannes Strauss, Taylor Ulisse, and Sarah Sleevi

Undergraduates read scenarios describing a campus date rape involving either two heteros, two gay men, or two gay women, where the perpetrator either did or did not express remorse during a student conduct board hearing, then indicated sanctions they thought appropriate for the perpetrator and the perpetrator's level of responsibility. The perpetrator was given significantly harsher sanctions and held significantly more responsible when not remorseful than when remorseful. Sexual orientation did not impact the results.