Highlights from the 2020 APA virtual conference



Highlights from the 2020 APA virtual conference

08 Aug 2020    

Highlights from the 2020 APA virtual conference

August 6-8, 2020

By: Miriam Crinion

The Empowerment Initiative Lab at UNL is attending the first ever virtual American Psychological Association convention this month! Although we are sad about the missed networking opportunities of an in-person conference, we are secretly happy that we can livestream conference sessions from home in our pajamas.

Some highlights of this year’s conference include keynote speeches from Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist who focuses on narcissistic personality disorder, Dr. Anthony Barnhart, a cognitive scientist and magician, and Dr. James Hamblin, a former preventative medicine physician and author of If Our Bodies Could Talk and Clean. There are also many presentations on the psychological toll of COVID-19 and the role psychologists can play during a pandemic. Another added benefit of this virtual conference is that all sessions will be available to stream for an entire year. So instead of binging Hallmark Christmas movies over the holidays, we can continue to watch APA conference sessions to learn more about the expansive field of psychology.

The Empowerment Initiative Research Lab has an impressive presence at APA 2020. Dr. Sue Swearer, Guadalupe Gutierrez, Raul Palacios, Cody Solesbee, and former lab member Dr. Cixin Wang participated in the symposium, “Risk and Protective Factors for Bullying and Mental Health among Sexual Minority Youth.” The results from the lab’s study found that there is a difference between non-heterosexual (e.g., gay/lesbian, bisexual, questioning, pansexual) and heterosexual youth in their reports of bullying victimization. Post hoc analyses indicated that among non-heterosexual groups did not reveal significant differences. Also, there were significant differences between non-heterosexual and heterosexual youth in depression, indicating that lesbian/gay individuals had lower depression symptomatology than those who self-identified as bisexual, questioning, and pansexual. Additionally, results indicated that there was a significant difference between non-heterosexual and heterosexual youth in their anxiety levels. Further, post hoc analyses revealed that gay/lesbian had lower anxiety scores than those who self-identified as bisexual, questioning, and pansexual. Gay/lesbians may show lower levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms because they have an established identity in comparison to the other three non-heterosexual groups. In addition, moderation analyses were conducted, and the results showed that sexual orientation moderated the relationship between bullying victimization and anxiety. There was a significant interaction that showed an enhancing effect that as victimization increased, anxiety increased for both heterosexual and non-heterosexual youth. Interestingly, heterosexual youth who endorsed high total bullying victimization scores showed the highest anxiety levels. This may be because non-heterosexual tolerance or threshold for anxiety levels are higher than heterosexual individuals.

Our lab also has seven poster presentations at the conference. Guadalupe Gutierrez, Alia Noetzel, and Raul Palacios presented the poster, “Not all internalizing symptoms are equal: Psychometric analyses in a Latinx sample.” Linnea Swanson, Catie Carney, Sam Kesselring, and Raul Palacios presented the poster, “Promoting positivity: The interaction of optimism and coping on depression.” Sam Kesselring, Catie Carney, and Linnea Swanson presented the poster, “The role of LGBQ identity status in bullying involvement.” These posters presentations all utilized data from the Born Brave Experiences study.

Results from “Not all internalizing symptoms are equal: Psychometric analyses in a Latinx sample,” indicated the importance of using cultural relevant instruments to assess Latinx populations because there are important differences in culture and language that influence response patterns among Latinx participants. The results showed that Mexico’s and Spain’s items loaded on two factors (e.g., somatic and cognitive), whereas Columbia’s items loaded in three factors (e.g., cognitive, somatic, and affective). As researchers and clinicians, it is important to consider cultural differences in research, use culturally adapted instruments to assess psychological well-being, and develop appropriate and relevant prevention, intervention and treatment plans for Latinx populations.

The poster “Promoting positivity: The interaction of optimism and coping on depression” examined the relationship between self-reported coping skills, optimism, and depressive symptoms in young adults. Results suggested that optimism has a positive impact on coping skills and depressive symptoms. Those who reported higher levels of optimism displayed higher levels of coping skills and lower levels of depressive symptoms. Findings underscore the need to promote optimism as an initial intervention for individuals presenting with depressive symptoms.

“The role of LGBQ identity status in bullying involvement” examined the relationship between sexual identity (i.e. identity affirmation and internalized homonegativity) and bullying involvement (i.e. bully and victim). Results found that LGBQ youth who identified as targets of bullying reported higher levels of internalized homonegative beliefs than LGBQ non-targets. These findings indicate that psychologists and school-based professionals should assess underlying cognitive functioning and incorporate methods to promote empowerment and identity acceptance when intervening in bullying situations that involve LGBQ youth.

Miriam Crinion and Catie Carney presented the poster, “Perceptions of power imbalance across roles in the bullying dynamic” and Sam Kesselring, Taylor Morris, and Catie Carney presented the poster, “Power imbalance: Internalizing problems in youth involved in bullying.” Both research presentations used data from the Target Bullying Intervention study.

Results from “Perceptions of power imbalance across roles in the bullying dynamic” showed that popularity is a commonly endorsed power imbalance feature in the bullying dynamic. Interestingly, bystanders perceived that victims were more likely to have many friends. This is inconsistent with the literature on victimization and social competence and warrants further examination. It could be that number of friends is not always a buffer against victimization, since bullying is a peer group phenomenon and groups of friends can be targeted by bully perpetrators - not just the individual.

“Power imbalance: Internalizing problems in youth involved in bullying” examined whether the endorsement of a power imbalance by perpetrators and targets of bullying is associated with reported internalizing problems (i.e. anxiety and depression). Results indicated that targets and perpetrators who perceived a power imbalance had significantly higher mean ratings of reported anxiety symptoms than their counterparts who did not endorse a power imbalance. Targets of bullying who endorsed a power imbalance also had significantly higher mean ratings of reported depressive symptoms than those who were bullied, but with no perceived power balance. These findings demonstrate that perceived power imbalance is a critical feature of bullying and should be assessed and taken into consideration when evaluating bullying involvement among youth.

Cesar Torres, a research assistant at the Nebraska Department of Education, analyzed state bullying data for the presentation, “Empowering students to report bullying behavior.” The poster presentation explored ways to empower students to report bullying behavior in order to prevent future acts of violence that may lead to tragedy. The researchers found that students who witnessed bullying behavior had the most negative views toward their school compared to other bullying roles. Additionally, the research team found a relationship between students' decision to report incidents of bullying and their perception of their school environment. The most common action taken by students who witnessed incidents of bullying was to ignore the situation. This study has important implications regarding building relationships with students and creating positive school environments.  

Lastly, Kelley Wick collected data from college students in California and Nebraska to determine the impact of faculty support on university students. Kelley’s poster is titled, “Fostering connection: The importance of faculty involvement on student retention.” Results from this multi-site study indicated that faculty support is an important component to student psychosocial wellbeing, which has been found to strongly correlate with student retention and resilience to pursue educational goals in higher education. Additional findings from the second study conducted in Nebraska suggested that one of the mechanisms by which faculty are able to support university students may be through their ability to increase their students’ academic self-efficacy, which in turn, supports their wellbeing. These findings suggest that faculty members play a critical role in the overall wellbeing in their students.

We are excited to be virtually attending APA this year. Our lab plans to hold watch parties to support each other’s work at APA. Here are all of the citations and links to PDFs to our APA posters:

Crinion, M. P., Jones, C., & Swearer, S., M. (2020, August). Perceptions of power imbalance across roles in the bullying dynamic [Poster Presentation] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Gutierrez, G., Palacios, R., Noetzel, A. G., Swearer, S. M., & Svoboda, S. (2020, August 6-8). Not all internalizing symptoms are equal: Psychometric analyses in a Latinx sample [Poster presentation] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Kesselring, S.A., Swearer, S.M., Jones, C.M., Swanson, L.R. (2020, August). The role of LGBQ identity status in bullying involvement[Poster Presentation] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Kesselring, S.A., Swearer, S.M., Morris, T.I., & Jones, C.M. (2020, August). Power imbalance: Internalizing problems in youth involved in bullying[Poster Presentation] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Swanson, L. R., Swearer, S.M., Jones, C.M., Kesselring, S.A., & Palacios, R. A. (2020, August). Promoting positivity: The interaction of optimism and coping on depression. [Poster Presentation] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, D.C., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/.

Swearer, S. M., Palacios, R. A., Gutierrez, G., & Solesbee, C. (2020, August 6-8). Bullying and mental health disparities among sexual minority youth. In C. Wang (Chair), Risk and protective factors for bullying and mental health among sexual minority youth [Symposium] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Torres, C. A., Noetzel, A .G., Swearer, S. M., Palmer, J. & Palacios, R. A. II. (2020, August). Empowering students to report bullying behavior [Poster Presentation] American Psychological Association, Washington D. C., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Wang, C., Swearer, S. M., Palacios, R. A., Gutierrez, G., & Solesbee, C. (2020, August 6-8). Risk and protective factors for bullying and mental health among sexual minority youth. In C. Wang (Chair), Risk and protective factors for bullying and mental health among sexual minority youth [Symposium] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/

Wick, K.M., Stevenson, T.L., Ramm, E., Kesselring, S.A., Swanson, L.R.,  Meyers, L., Swearer, S.M., & Clark, C.A.C. (2020, August). Fostering connection: The importance of faculty involvement in student retention. [Poster Presentation] American Psychological Association convention, Washington, DC., USA (Virtual) https://convention.apa.org/.

 

 


Nebraska Bullying Prevention and Intervention Initiative