A number of APS Interest Groups offer awards each year that encourage and recognise excellence in the psychological area relevant to the Interest Group. The 2014 recipients are profiled below.
Sarah is a Kombumerri Aboriginal woman who is studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours at Griffiths University, Queensland. Sarah intends to continue her academic career by undertaking postgraduate studies in clinical/neuropsychology. Through acquisition of specific knowledge and skill sets, as well as the broader knowledge and skills developed with her psychology degree, plus attendance at the APS Annual Conference, Sarah is motivated to become a highly-qualified and prominent psychologist within the Indigenous community.
Tarren Leon, APS Student Subscriber
Tarren is studying a Bachelor of Arts in psychology at the University of Western Sydney. Tarren’s attendance at the APS Annual Conference in September provided her with valuable exposure to a range of psychology fields, as well as some of the leading figures within those fields. It is hoped that this will help her to refine the course of her future studies in psychology. Tarren aspires to become a positive role model for other Indigenous people in Australia.
Thesis title – Acceptance in chronic pain and sports injury rehabilitation
John's PhD thesis comprised six studies that investigated aspects of the use of acceptance in chronic pain and introduced a contextual behavioural science (CBS) approach to athletes undergoing sports injury rehabilitation. John's research addressed practice-based issues, including monitoring progress and identifying relevant treatment targets and predictors of outcome. His work contributed to a CBS approach in the area of chronic pain and sports injury rehabilitation, which is relevant to a variety of disciplines, including sports medicine, physiotherapy and sport and exercise psychology.
Thesis title – Hegemonic masculinities and heteronormativities in contemporary books on fathering and raising boys
Sarah was commended on an outstanding Honours thesis, which provided understanding of the effects of heteronormativity and hegemonic masculinity upon gay fathers and gay young people. Additionally, her thesis demonstrated the ongoing marginalisation of gay fathers and young people by using a rigorous critical psychological analysis of popular books on the topic of parenting. This highlighted the need for more inclusive popular accounts of parenting and childhood that acknowledge the diverse experiences of parents and children.
Thesis title – Mindfulness at work: Identifying the pathways to employee psychological health and wellbeing
Stephanie’s research was found to contribute significant knowledge to mindfulness research in occupational health psychology. Her research elucidated possible mechanisms through which mindfulness may affect occupational stress outcomes, namely primary appraisals. The quality of the design and execution of the diary, and the systematic review of research in the area was commended. The research contributes to the emerging area of inquiry of mindfulness at work, and helps illuminate the important role mindfulness can play in the protection and promotion of employee health and wellbeing.
Thesis title – Multilevel effects of the psychosocial work environment in occupational stress: Evidence from cross-sectional, longitudinal, and quasi‑experimental studies
Jennifer’s thesis tackled complex issues in occupational stress research and demonstrated valuable skills in numerous forms of data analysis, including multilevel, prospective and quasi-experimental design and analysis. The data supported the idea that individual resources may buffer stress reactions to a greater degree when workgroup resources are low. Jennifer’s research underscored the role of the dynamics in workgroup situations by assisting understanding of workplace experiences such as support, turnover and wellbeing, and raised the potential of delayed effects of emotional demands on stress outcomes.
Thesis title – Disability support workers: Exposure to work-related violence. A qualitative study of the types of violence, their impact and interventions
Mardi targeted the occupational hazard of violence and challenging behaviour arising from client care in the disability support sector. Every participant reported having experienced some form of violence at work. Several stress-risk indicators were identified, including task design that combined a high level of responsibility with lack of supervision and unpredictable client behaviour. Qualitative thematic analysis showed indicators of strain in this sample, which included the expression of apprehension and fear, stress and anxiety, increased requests for leave, work-to-home interference and high staff turnover.
Thesis title – Being ‘here first’ determines ‘what’s fair’ for immigrants
Ben’s thesis contributes to our theoretical understanding of anti-immigrant prejudice by tracing it back to notions of ownership and threat, and provides suggestions to address prejudice and thereby promote peace. This research provided a strong contribution to our understanding of bias and discrimination towards immigrants. The thesis also delineated the existing related constructs from autochthony and used an Autochthony Orientations Model to describe attitudes and how they engender prejudice in the presence of intergroup threat. This is especially true when immigrants are seen to ‘rule in the landlord’s house’.
Thesis title – Sacred devotion through social interaction: Group-based values and psychological pathways to political activism and radicalism
Alison’s research into radical activism demonstrated that more mainstream, peaceful forms of political engagement can emerge from social interactions with like‑minded people, including indirect forms such as observing an interaction or discussing issues online. The research indicated that social interaction could facilitate the support of more extreme, often illegal or violent forms of action when people perceive ‘sacred’ moral values to be involved in the issues at stake. These findings could have important practical implications for the goals of promoting peace and preventing conflict in the community.
Thesis title – Older workers and the dark side of engagement
Traci’s research investigated whether proactive behaviour at work was negatively related to proactive behaviour in relation to health concerns and retirement planning. Results revealed that older workers who scored highly on engagement in work reported sufficient energy to anticipate future health and retirement needs, and to take proactive action. In contrast, the research found an inverse relationship between work absorption and proactive behaviour in health and retirement planning, supporting the idea that investment of personal resources in one domain can result in a lessening of resources in another.
Thesis title – Teaching positive reappraisal emotion regulation to older adults to facilitate coping with chronic physical illness
Jamie’s research investigated coping in older adults with chronic disease who were allocated to either a positive reappraisal, cognitive restructuring, or supportive counselling intervention. Participants who received positive reappraisal significantly increased their coping level with chronic physical illness compared to those receiving the other interventions. The results showed positive reappraisal can be taught to older adults and is associated with increased positive emotion and personal control, and decreased helplessness and illness-related distress. This award supported Jamie to present to the European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies .
Thesis title – Comfort or cued consumption? The role of negative mood, food cues and impulsive personality as determinants of appetite
Anerike’s research investigated the role of negative mood and food cues as determinants of appetite, and demonstrated that exposure to food cues had a stronger relationship with overeating behaviour compared to negative mood. These research results also highlighted that negative mood might not exacerbate the effects of food cues in individuals with disordered eating. The importance of considering the impact of exposure to food cues in prevention and intervention programs for disordered eating was made clear.
Thesis title – Motivations for forgiveness, forgiveness, and mental health
Belinda’s research investigated assessment and understanding of underlying motivations for forgiveness. The study validated a scale to measure motivations for forgiveness, as well as investigating the efficacy of an ‘Enright Forgiveness Program’ intervention. The results supported the clinical effectiveness of this program in promoting a response of forgiveness towards an offending person. Further, treatment group participants were observed to show clinically significant and reliable improvements or recovery on measures of anxiety, depression and stress symptoms. Finally, motivations for forgiveness were observed to show differential responses to treatment involvement.
Thesis title – Young women’s construction and subjective experiences of their post-cancer fertility
Amy’s project used a social constructionist epistemology to examine young women’s construction of their post-cancer fertility. The research provided evidence of fertility as being much more than a physiological state, and illuminated the role of the discursive context of women’s lives in influencing how they experience themselves in relation to their post-cancer fertility. The results also highlight the need for healthcare professionals to provide information about fertility at a level deemed satisfactory by younger women themselves, to ensure the wellbeing of these women in the area of reproductive health.
The College Awards profiles in the April 2014 edition of InPsych omitted to include two recipients of the Robyn Winkler Award conferred by the APS College of Community Psychologists. We sincerely apologise for this oversight.
The Robyn Winkler Award recognises excellence in projects in the field of community psychology and was awarded to Dr Lauren Breen MAPS and posthumously to Dr Sasha Stumpers MAPS. Laureen Breen received the Award for her project establishing a sustainable road trauma support service in Western Australia, and Sasha Stumper received the Award for her project on how older adults make meaning of their experiences of ageing.
Read the two recipients’ award profiles at: www.psychology.org.au/inpsych/2014/ april/2013CollegeAwards/