Ariel Breaux is the 2018-2019 Campus Representative Coordinator for the AP-LS Student Committee! Ariel keeps are the Campus Representatives up to date on the APLS happens to share with the rest of the students in their program. She worked hard this summer to update our list of campus representatives and get more information from them about their needs. Ariel took some time to answer some questions so we could all learn more about her. Thanks, Ariel!
If you could only have 3 non-psychology books on your bookshelf, what would they be?
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, Harry Potter (any one of them honestly) by J.K. Rowling and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Why psychology and the law?
Over the years before going into graduate school I noticed the discrepancy in the availability of mental health services for individuals involved in the legal system, specifically little to no mental health services until mandated by court or while incarcerated. I realized that forensic populations are often filled with individuals that need these services the most, which motivated me to direct my energy into clinical work in correctional and other forensic settings.
What is one professional goal you have?
My one professional goal is actually a new goal I’ve set for myself. I want to work towards getting more involved with mental health policy and eventually having a position that allows me to be more involved in working to change or fix some of the systemic problems seen in the criminal justice system.
What is your favorite city and why?
My favorite city has to be New Orleans, LA. I went to college there and seeing the melting pot that is the city of New Orleans, LA, both good, bad, and ugly, helped me to become more culturally competent and inspired me to learn more about other’s cultures, as well as being open to learning from those I interact with.
If you were not in graduate school what would you do?
For the most part my aspirations have always involved graduate school in some shape or fashion, but if I graduate school was not an option, I would likely be involved in musical theatre in some shape or fashion. I’ve always had an affinity for theatre and regret not being more involved after college.
Jill is a second-year PhD student in Clinical Psychology with a forensic concentration at Montclair State University. She recently had a first-authored paper accepted in Aggression and Violent Behavior. Congrats, Jill!
Title: Violent Behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Who's at Risk?
Abstract: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a range of complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Over the last decade, there has been increased media attention focused on the relationship between ASD and violent behavior due to a number of school shootings and high-profile criminal cases involving offenders with alleged ASD diagnoses. This coverage and these incidents have given rise to public concern and led to the perception that people with ASD are predisposed to violent behavior. In this manuscript, we provide a comprehensive review of the literature bearing on the relationship between ASD and violent behavior, and in doing so, characterize which people with ASD are most likely to be violent and under what circumstances. We conclude that, on the whole, while research findings are mixed, they lend support to the assertion that ASD does not cause violence, and indicate that when violent behavior occurs in people with ASD, it is the result of third variables including poor parental control, family environment, criminality, bullying, or psychiatric comorbidity (e.g., psychosis), that go undetected or untreated. The conclusions of this review have implications for families, clinicians, and policymakers, as a greater understanding of ASD-related violence risk is needed to combat misconceptions about people with ASD and the stigma associated with these conditions.
Read the paper here!
Sarah Moody is the 2018-2019 Communications Officer for the AP-LS Student Committee! She is a second year Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada-Reno. The student membership interacts most with Sarah, as she has been keeping the Facebook and Twitter accounts up to date! Sarah took some time to answer some questions about herself and her professional development. Thanks, Sarah!
If you were not in graduate school what would you do?
As an undergraduate, I double-majored in psychology and Spanish. For a while, I was considering pursuing psycholinguistics. I think the development of language in the individual person and the evolution of language at large are fascinating. If I hadn’t pursued psychology in graduate school, I might be working in linguistics (which, honestly, probably still would have landed me in graduate school).
What is your favorite city and why?
My favorite city is Seville, Spain. I studied abroad in Spain during undergrad and completely fell for southern Spain and Seville, in particular. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been—which is likely why it’s been a setting for Star Wars and Game of Thrones scenes! The people are kind, the weather is great, and the food is to die for.
My favorite American city is Boston. As such a (relatively) young country, the U.S. has few places as rich with history as Boston. I road tripped down the east coast two years ago and Boston was far and away my favorite. It’s quaint, historical, and has great coffee shops, neighborhoods, and recreation areas to explore!
Why did you join the AP-LS Student Committee?
I first considered joining because I have friends and colleagues who have served in the past (and currently serve!) who rave about the experience. I’m passionate about APLS as an organization and wanted to dive in deeper than my annual participation in the conference. Especially after volunteering with the high school outreach program at last year’s conference, I knew I wanted to volunteer within the organization to a greater extent. I ran for my position as the Communications Officer because I have experience with organizational social media and wanted to help promote my favorite group online.
What advice would you give undergraduate students thinking about graduate school?
Get involved in research! I’m sure it has been said before—I heard it a lot!—but it really is critical to have research experience before entering graduate school. My time in a lab as an undergraduate not only boosted my graduate school application, but it taught me so much about the research process, the field, and what grad school is like. It also helped me create relationships with grad students and professors, both at my institution and others. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am now if I hadn’t blown up professors’ emails asking for an RA position going into my sophomore year.
Why psychology and the law?
As a psych major, I was required to take a 1-credit “careers in psychology” course. As much as I dreaded it, the course offered a plethora of valuable information. It was the first time I heard about something called “forensic psychology” and decided to pursue it further. I looked up some professors at my institution who did research in the area, joined a lab, and fell in love! I believe psychology can be practically applied to so many areas of life for the better, and the criminal justice system is certainly one area that needs improvement and can benefit from psychological research.
Sarah, on the right, pictured with a poster at the Western Psychological Association Conference.
Elizabeth Quinn is a senior at Northwestern University getting her undergraduate degree in Psychology! She presented her research (The Role of Implicit Disgust in Hate Crimes Against Gay Men) at the 2018 Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago, IL and the 2018 Society for Personality and Social Psychology's annual conference in Atlanta, GA! Congratulations Elizabeth, keep up the great work!!
The Role of Implicit Disgust in Hate Crimes against Gay Men
In hate crimes committed against gay men, victims are often blamed for provoking the violence. This argument is the cornerstone of the infamous “gay panic defense,” which legally legitimizes this behavior in 48 American states. Until now, the role of implicit disgust has yet to be explored in blame decision-making. In the current preregistered study, we examined the association between implicit disgust and blame decision-making in hate crimes against gay men. Participants (N = 252) completed a version of the Implicit Association Test adapted to assess implicit disgust and then read a case scenario detailing a homicide that ensued from an altercation between two adult men. Next, participants completed scales of blame attributed to the victim and indicated the extent to which they believed the case should be ruled as a hate crime. Results indicated that increased implicit gay-disgust associations were associated with increased blame attributed to the victim. Although implicit disgust was unrelated to defendant blame, individual levels of implicit disgust were associated with perceptions that the hate crime statute should be applied. As implicit disgust associations with gay men increased, perceptions that the homicide constituted as a hate crime decreased. The current findings suggest that implicit disgust may contribute to victim blaming in hate crimes against gay men; however, experimental evidence is needed to determine whether implicit disgust causally influences victim blaming and perceptions of hate crimes.
Emily is a first-year student at Indiana University, pursuing a PhD in School Psychology. She presented her research at the annual meeting of the AP-LS in Seattle, WA in 2017. Congratulations, Emily!
The Role of Compassion Fatigue and Years of Experience in Child Custody Decisions
Abstract: Compassion fatigue is defined as a worker’s diminished ability to empathize with clients (Adams, Figley, & Boscarino, 2008). It is common among “helping workers” and can result in psychological detachment from clients as a coping mechanism (Dane, 2000). In the present study, we explored the relationship between social workers’ compassion fatigue and years of job experience on child custody case judgements. Participants read a vignette depicting a mother who had lost custody of her son due to neglect allegations, but was attempting to regain custody. Supporting hypotheses, as compassion fatigue increased, recommendations that the mother receive custody increased. Additionally, increased compassion fatigue was associated with increased beliefs that reunification was not in the child’s best interest (e.g. the child would have no potential if reunited with the mother) and was simultaneously associated with increased beliefs that the mother was a good parent (e.g. the mother was of high character). As years of job experience increased, recommendations that the mother receive custody increased. Increased years of experience was also associated with increased beliefs that the mother was a good parent (e.g. the mother has recovered from her addictions) and was simultaneously associated with increased beliefs that reunification was not in the child’s best interest (e.g. the child would have no potential if reunited with the mother). The effect of years of experience on custody rulings was mediated by compassion fatigue. This study provides strong evidence that compassion fatigue leads to client detachment, disengaging, and work-related pessimism.
Michelle M. Pena is a fifth year student at Florida International University pursing a PhD in Legal Psychology. She presented her research at the Annual meeting of AP-LS in Seattle, WA in 2017! Congratulations, Michelle!
Kaitlynn Richardson is a 3rd-year student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She presented her presentation at the APLS Access Path to Psychology and Law Experience Program. Congratulations, Kaitlynn!
I am a third year student in the Department of Biological Sciences and in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I aim to someday obtain an M.D.- Ph.D. with the Ph.D. in social psychology. I began working, and continue to work, in Dr. Bette Bottoms’ Laboratory of Psychology and Law. I have been assisting in the completion of research aimed at understanding how jurors come to decisions in cases of child abuse where the child may be either victim or perpetrator; understanding how jurors come to their decisions in cases of child abuse and animal abuse. For both of these cases, we studied factors that influence jury verdicts; such as, race, gender identity, and how masculine and/ or feminine one views oneself to be. The roles that I played in this research overall are brainstorming hypotheses, entering and checking data, reviewing documents to be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and doing literature reviews.
During the Spring 2017 semester, I was accepted into the APLS Access Path to Psychology and Law Experience Program. This program seeks to put people who are from underrepresented communities in positions to become competitive graduate school applicants. In addition to the financial support that this program provides, students within this program become involved and gain (further) exposure to research.
Christina Perez is a second-year Experimental Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Toledo. She presented her poster titled Cognitive and Social Predictors of Memory and Suggestibility Among School-Aged Children at the 2017 Annual Conference in Seattle, WA. Congratulations, Christina!
Why are some children more suggestible than others? We examined recall and recognition memory regarding a staged event among 59 4- to 9-year-olds. An event was staged for children, and several days later, they were interviewed with misleading questions. After a week delay, they were interviewed with recall and yes-no questions. A battery of cognitive (IQ, standardized memory) and social (compliance, anxiety) measures was administrated. Several of the standardized memory scales were associated with children’s correct free recall but were not associated with suggestibility. Suggestibility was positively associated with anxiety and compliance.
Noelle Mathew, a 4th-year clinical psychology PhD student at Palo Alto University, presented a paper at the 2017 American Psychology-Law Society Conference in Seattle, WA titled Examining Childhood Maltreatment Rates and Psychometric Properties of the CTQ-SF in an Ethnically Diverse College Sample. Congratulations on a wonderful presentation, Noelle!
The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form is a reliable and valid screening measure for childhood maltreatment in adults (Bernstein et al., 2003); however, research to date includes samples of limited diversity. The current study seeks to estimate rates of childhood maltreatment and examine the psychometric properties of the CTQ-SF in a sample of 233 ethnically diverse college students. While, a chi-squared test of model fit revealed that the data did not adequately fit the five-factor model structure (𝝌²(265, N = 233) = 394.66, p≤.001), the RMSEA and CFI indicate a good model fit (RMSEA = .05, CFI = .97). Results indicated the estimated maltreatment rates significantly differ across ethnic groups and internal consistency is good or acceptable for all subscales except the Physical Neglect subscale. Asian participants reported significantly higher rates of emotional abuse compared to both Hispanic and Caucasian participants. Hispanic and Asian participants reported significantly higher rates of emotional and physical neglect compared to Caucasians, but did not differ from each other. Differences in reported maltreatment rates may be due to higher rates of maltreatment in certain ethnic groups; however it is also possible that different groups may interpret and endorse items differently. Results suggest CTQ-SF has a similar structure in an ethnically diverse sample, and demonstrates acceptable internal consistency for all scales but physical neglect, consistent with prior research with primarily Caucasian samples (Pavio & Cramer, 2004). Limitations include limited generalizability beyond college student population, use of broad ethnic categories, and reliance on a single self-report assessment of childhood maltreatment.
About the Editor:
The American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychology Association) Student Committee is composed of elected student leaders representing the interests of our student members.