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An Honours degree in psychology provides a more extensive exposure to the knowledge and practice of the discipline; and in particular, the research process. In addition to the courses required to obtain a BA in Psychology, Honours students write an Honours thesis (Psyc 500). Admission to the Honours stream is based partially on GPA, only those who have excelled as undergraduate students are accepted into the stream. This academic excellence is recognized with the Honours distinction. Students who are accepted into the Honours stream write an Honours thesis, in which they research, design, and analyze the results of an independently executed study. This study is carried out in collaboration with a thesis supervisor (faculty member), who provides advice, direction, and, if possible, resources for carrying out the study. This all culminates in a year-end conference in which students will present their research findings to their St. Mary’s peers and professors as well as to the wider community. This year our Annual Psychology Honours Conference will be held online.

Psychology Honours Capstone Conference

Monday, April 19th, 2021 on Microsoft Teams
9:00am-12:00pm

Join by clicking here during the event!

Schedule

9:00am: Emma Warman presents, “Post-Secondary Student’s Social Media Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
9:30am: Mat Robinson presents, “Gender Bias and Hiring Decision Within the Job Market”
9:50am: Stephanie Bauer presents, “COVID-19, Ageism, and Aging Anxiety in Post-Secondary Students”
10:10am: Violet Cieslik presents, “Associations Between Screen Time and Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Strengths and Difficulties in Preschool Populations”
10:30am: Keighley Schofield presents, “Effects of Virtual Guided Mindfulness meditation for Young Adults with Physical disabilities and Limited Mobility”
10:50am: Angélica Boucher presents, “Short-term Impact of Horseback Riding on Children’s and Adolescents Wellbeing”

Post-Secondary Student’s Social Media Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Loneliness is a complex emotion that can cause feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. Specifically, post-secondary students are at risk of experiencing higher levels of loneliness than other populations due to the multiple transitions they experience while attending post-secondary education. A suggested way for post-secondary students to experience higher levels of social connection with others is to use social media (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Discord, TikTok, etc.). Social media is an important tool that may offer its users increased levels of social connectedness and decreased levels of loneliness. In addition to this, the intention that a social media user approaches the platform may influence the outcomes they experience. Women tend to use social media to feel connected with others, while men tend to use social media to experience external validation. The current study focused on measuring loneliness and social connectedness to predict the participants’ time spent on social media. The study recruited 103 post-secondary students, ranging from 19-35 years old. Overall, non-binary/third gender participants scored the highest loneliness scores, followed by females, and then males who experienced the lowest loneliness scores. In regard to social connectedness, males experienced the highest levels, followed by female then non-binary/third gender. The study demonstrated a positive correlation between time spent on social media and loneliness scores, while a negative correlation of social connection and time spent on social media occurred.

Emma Warman

Driven by an intense interest in the tangled amalgamation of culture, language and human insight that is English, Ashley Menard is working to complete her undergraduate degree at St. Mary’s. She is particularly fascinated by the interplay between fiction and truth, and the way words have the power to sculpt or reflect reality. Currently Ashley is not in fact surviving the pandemic at all, and is rather a zombie dragging herself from task to task, hopeful that an appropriate helping of brains may come along, sooner rather than later.

Emma Warman has enjoyed her four years at St. Mary’s University studying psychology. She is a passionate student who is looking forward to continuing her education at St. Mary’s this fall in the Elementary Education after-degree. Together with Dr. Porter, Emma has enjoyed the challenges and learning opportunities that come with completing research.

In her free time, Emma enjoys spending time outdoors, taking care of her house plants she has acquired through the pandemic, and working with children. She has a passion for seeing others succeed, and this can be demonstrated through her work as an Educational Assistant for children with developmental delays, and working with children who have disabilities.

Gender Bias and Hiring Decision Within the Job Market

People’s ability to have equal opportunities when applying for jobs is paramount to having the best hiring practices within the working environment. Understanding the factors that can influence these equal opportunities is the purpose of this study. This study will look at multiple topics that can impact an individual’s ability to receive a job interview. Firstly, the study will examine the impact of resumes online vs traditional hardcopy, and the hiring biases experienced among genders. The study will explore the effects of attractiveness and photos on resume applications. This study will also examine whether or not an in-group bias is present with male and female interviewers against the other sex. The study found that different levels of attractiveness did impact the perceived quality of applicants and the likelihood they would be offered an interview. However, the hypothesis that in-group bias was present with male and female interviewers against the other sex was not supported. This study’s main findings were that both male and female applicants with no picture attached to their resume were perceived better and more likely to be offered an interview than any other level of attractiveness. These results suggest that the level of attractiveness does not improve a person’s ability to be hired. This research will provide important information regarding its impact on online recruitment processes. It will also shed light on potential roadblocks with fair opportunities in job applications and issues companies should be aware of when recruiting online.

Mat Robinson

I will be completing the 4-year honors psychology program and will graduate with a minor in management as of april 2021. I mostly play basketball through a mens leuage hosted by the CSMBA, Calgary Senior Mens Basketball Association. In my future I looking towards getting a masters and the a phd in the industrial organization field. My current research project on hiring biases within the workplace, has helped me to further decide that this is the direction I wish to purse with furthering my education.

COVID-19, Ageism, and Aging Anxiety in Post-Secondary Students

During COVID-19, ageism has become an even more important topic; impacting the mental, physical, and social health of older adults. Elevated ageism and aging anxiety levels are suggested to negatively correlate with knowledge and positive intergenerational experiences. The present study explored the impact(s) of COVID-19 experiences, education/knowledge, and intergenerational contact on ageism and aging anxiety of post-secondary students (N = 95) during COVID-19. Scores were evaluated using the Fraboni Scale of Ageism (FSA), Anxiety about Aging Scale (AAS), the Palmore Facts on Aging Quiz (FAQ) as a measure of knowledge, and four items assessing Quality/Quantity of Contact (from Drury et al. [2016]). Findings revealed knowledge/education and intergenerational contact are related to ageism and aging anxiety, with contact (especially quality) having a larger impact. Overall, the more quality exposure the young adult had, the more positive their attitudes were towards older adults. While significant relationships were observed between both FSA and AAS scores and degree type, results favoring Psychology students, overall, the study also found students who had taken aging courses were significantly more anxious than those who had not. Further, results from AAS subscales suggest gender differences in anxiety. The present study also observed those who knew an older adult who either tested positive for or had passed away from COVID-19 were more anxious than those who did not. The implications for future research to further analyze the impact of such events on young adult post-secondary students will be discussed.

Stephanie Bauer

Stephanie is a final year Psychology student minoring in Sociology and Science Studies. With the help of her dedicated supervisor, she has honed in on her academic skills through independent research. Stephanie is active within the St. Mary’s community, participating in both the Student Ambassador Program and President’s Volunteer Team, as well as being President of the Psychology Association. She is interested in a career whereby she can help others. With grandparents with major neurocognitive disorders, Stephanie would like to advocate for the fair treatment and compassion of those who cannot do so for themselves. She aims to pursue an academic career to further investigate the association between neuropsychology, aging, and perception to further her knowledge in cognitive, age-related psychological issues. Although she enjoys keeping busy and working with others, she is excited to take the next step toward whatever her future may hold!

Associations Between Screen Time and Behavioral, Emotional, and Social Strengths and Difficulties in Preschool Populations

The effects of screen time on child development is an area of research that is relatively unexplored but increasingly important to understand. The aim of this study was to examine if parental reports of daily screen time predicted total difficulty scores for children aged two to four on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for parents (SDQ-P). Total difficulty score on SDQ-P reflects symptoms of conduct disorder, hyperactivity-inattention, peer relations, and emotional difficulties, whereby higher scores are reflective of higher difficulty and low scores are reflective of the reverse. The sample was comprised of 85 parents of preschoolers aged two to four (n = 39.22 months) from Calgary, Alberta. Parents completed an online four-part Qualtrics survey that included: a consent form, a parental-report of screen time, an online demographics survey, and an online version of the SDQ-P. A multiple regression in SPSS was used to analyze the data. Parental education was controlled for and added as a predictor in the multiple regression analysis. Results showed that when taken together, screen time and parental education did not significantly predict total difficulty scores on the SDQ-P. However, when screen time was held constant parental education did positively predict total difficulty score. These results show that more research is needed to evaluate the relationship between screen time and subsequent developmental outcomes in preschool aged children.

Violet Cieslik

Violet Cieslik has spent the last six years working towards completing her Honours Psychology degree at St. Mary’s University. She started at St. Mary’s in 2015 and hit the ground running by joining the student union and taking on the role of VP Events in her second year. Though the position did not last long as she took the exciting opportunity to move to Paris and become a nanny. This adventure was foundational in guiding Violet in her journey as it allowed her to step back and see where she truly wanted her future go. She then decided to make a return to Canada and pursue a teaching degree at the University of Lethbridge. While in Lethbridge she had a practicum in a grade four classroom, maintained her placement on the Dean list, and fully emersed herself in her academics. This newfound success guided her home to St. Mary’s to pursue the honours program. This program gave her the opportunity to combine the knowledge and experience she had gained from her previous adventures, into a harmonious study that involved both her passions for child development and learning. Now, as Violet has been accepted into the Master of Psychology program at the University of Victoria, she plans to embrace each and every opportunity life throws at her.

Effects of Virtual Guided Mindfulness meditation for Young Adults with Physical disabilities and Limited Mobility

The existing literature on utilizing mindfulness meditation to help deal with pain is extensive. However, the extent to which it is effective for young adults with physical disabilities and mobility limitations is not represented in the literature. Therefore, the current research intended to examine the effects of 4 weeks of daily mindfulness meditation on pain and pain acceptance for this population. Following limitations throughout the 4 weeks, including difficulties with recruitment and high rates of attrition, a shorter intervention was implemented in order to observe the effects of a single mindfulness meditation on pain. However, similar limitations were encountered with this second design. The lack of participation may have been indicative of a poor fit of intervention modality and the population being explored, or other external variables (i.e., the COVID19 pandemic). Given the limitations, sufficient data was not collected and therefore, conclusions are made based on the limitations observed during the intervention. Due to the limitations of this study, it is concluded that in attempting to address pain levels and acceptance of pain, virtual mindfulness meditation may not be the most effective way in reducing pain and raising acceptance of pain for those with physical disabilities and mobility limitations. Although given the success of previous research, it is possible that without additional stressors, the intervention may have been more successful.

Keighley Schofield

Keighley Schofield is in her final semester of her 4-year Psychology degree with a minor in History. She hopes to work in the healthcare field in the future, working with children and youth with disabilities. Keighley plans to continue her education so that she is able to continue her work with this population. Currently she works as a volunteer with Alberta Health Services which has fueled her passion for working with children and youth in the medical system.

Short-term Impact of Horseback Riding on Children’s and Adolescents Wellbeing

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, children and adolescents are at higher risks of experiencing anxiety and stress (Imran et al., 2020). Even though there has been research indicating that equine-assisted interventions have benefits for populations with psychological and physical conditions (Earles et al., 2015; Kendall et al., 2015), not much research has been done on how recreational horseback riding helps improve stress and wellbeing in non-at-risk children and adolescents. Therefore, this study looked at whether a horseback riding lesson can help reduce stress and improve mood in non-at-risk children and adolescents. Stress and affect levels of beginner and novice riders (n = 16) at a local stable were evaluated before and after a horseback riding lesson. The horse-rider bond was also evaluated, as it may play a role in the effectiveness of horseback riding for reducing stress and improving mood. The study found that there was a significant increase in positive affect and a significant decrease in negative affect and ‘Nervous’ scores after the lesson compared to before. When comparing riders who were deemed to have a ‘High’ or a ‘Low’ bond with their horses, it was found that the ‘High’ bond group had a significantly greater increase in positive affect after the riding lesson compared to the ‘Low’ bond group. Although close to significance, relationship with bond was not significant for negative affect, ‘Nervous’, or ‘Calm’ scores. Overall, this study provides some support for the use of horseback riding in helping children and adolescents improve stress and wellbeing.

Angélica Boucher

Angélica Boucher is a fifth-year honours psychology student at St. Mary’s University. In her third year of university, she happily transferred to St. Mary’s to obtain a degree in psychology. Angélica’s favourite courses included Neuropsychology, Child Psychology, and Adolescent Psychology. She was also awarded placement on the Dean’s list throughout her three years at St. Mary’s and currently adores her job as a research assistant at the University of Calgary. During her time at St. Mary’s, Angélica developed a keen interest for research on human-animal interactions. Angélica loves animals and is the proud mom of a chihuahua named Bubbles. She also has a soft spot for horses ever since her first horseback riding lesson at the age of 8. She hopes to eventually obtain training and experience in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy to share her passion of animals within a therapeutic setting.

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