Northwestern students to present at psychology conference

Two May graduates and an alumna of Northwestern College have been selected to give poster presentations at the 28th annual Association for Psychological Science convention May 26–29 in Chicago.

Amanda Jackson, a 2015 psychology graduate and intake specialist at Seasons Center for Behavioral Health in Orange City, will present her poster, “Self-Injury and Parenting: The Mediating Effects of Hope and Mental Distress.” She investigated how negative parenting behaviors may serve as one of the risk factors for nonsuicidal self-injury in adolescents and young adults. The results of her study suggest that negative parenting increased emotional distress and decreased hope, which is associated with an increased propensity to self-injure.

Jenna Kitchenmaster, a 2016 psychology graduate, will present her poster, “Connecting in the Digital Age: Belongingness, Media and Social Media, and Well-Being.” Her research explored the relationship between belongingness, as defined by the sense of feeling accepted, and engagement with media, social media and others. She also examined the impact of these variables and behaviors on depression. Her results suggest that while social media and media provide users with some sense of belonging, direct social interaction is a more effective means of coping with social disconnection and depression.

Richaela Matthew, a 2016 psychology graduate, will present her poster, “Stigma of Mental Illness: Label and Etiology Effects on Ascriptions of Humanity and Spirituality,” at the conference. “The stigma of mental illness is a very prevalent phenomenon, and its effects include shame, guilt, isolation and avoidance of treatment services,” says Matthew. “However, recent theoretical developments speculate that dehumanizing aspects of mental illness stigma may be influenced be etiologic, or causal, factors.”

Matthew’s research examined the effects of labeling and etiological explanations on humanity and spirituality for three types of stigmatizing conditions: intellectual disability, psoriasis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her research suggests that labeling someone as mentally ill or intellectually disabled causes more dehumanization than the label of a visually stigmatizing physical condition like psoriasis.

All three research projects were supervised by Northwestern psychology professors Dr. Terry Chi and Dr. Laird Edman.

The annual conference seeks to bring together researchers and academics to share data and ideas on innovative research in psychological science.