Three third year Psychology students from Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) presented their dissertations at the national Conference of the British Society for the Study of Individual Differences (BSPID) last week.

Covering topics including postnatal depression, adult stress and life goals, Eniko Wagner, Tyler Cameron and Lauren Paul, showcased their work in front of a large audience of peers, researchers and academics.

Vulnerable Dark Triad traits and postnatal depression

Eniko presented a data blitz oral presentation on “Low relationship satisfaction mediates the relationship between vulnerable Dark Triad traits and postnatal depression”. The presentation linked to Eniko’s dissertation which examined whether individuals high in the vulnerable dark triad traits of vulnerable narcissism, secondary psychopathy and borderline personality disorder may be at risk of developing postnatal depression (PND) and whether relationship satisfaction with their partner might explain this risk.

The vulnerable Dark Triad traits are characterised by socially disagreeable characteristics such as aggression and low agreeableness, but also neuroticism and anxiety which suggests that they may have an increased likelihood of being associated with postnatal depression. Findings showed that poor relationship satisfaction was a significant influential factor in the relationship between secondary psychopathy, vulnerable narcissism and PND, but not borderline personality disorder.

Childhood deprivation and adult stress

Tyler Cameron presented a poster on “Childhood deprivation and adult stress: can the relationship be attenuated by environmental factors?”. Research reliably demonstrates the negative cognitive and behavioural issues that are caused by childhood deprivation and its later impact on successfully coping with stressful life events in adulthood. The aim of this study has been to examine sub-facets of childhood educational and health deprivation to further define the impact and explore whether environmental factors can attenuate the impact on stress in adulthood.

It was also explored whether the sub-facets of childhood deprivation would have differing impacts on the coping with stress in adulthood. 148 participants took part in an online survey to measure the degree of current life factors (social support, partner attachment, insight planning and control, altruism, resilience, religiosity) and negative life events, perceived stress and anxious thoughts. The Indices of National Deprivation was used to measure overall, health and educational childhood deprivation.

Results showed partner attachment to positively predict anxious thoughts in adulthood whilst altruism, friend support and resilience reduced them. Negative life events were positively predicted by insight planning and control, but negatively predicted by childhood parental relations. Perceived stress was predicted when there was a higher level of childhood educational deprivation and partner attachment and negatively predicted by resilience and family support.

Regarding the types of deprivation and associated worries, education deprivation positively predicted meta worries in adulthood and parental relations negatively predicted them. Environmental factors did not significantly mediate the impact of childhood elements on adult stress. Findings demonstrate the long-term impact of childhood deprivation and the importance of environmental factors when coping with stress in adulthood.

For her work Tyler was awarded ‘Poster of the Day’ which was a significant achievement considering she was up against PhD and post-doctoral students.

Life goals, wellbeing, and the formative years

Lauren Paul presented a poster on “Life goals, wellbeing, and the formative years; a study examining young adult’s life goals and the factors that affect their formation”. Young adulthood is thought to be a time where individuals are faced with more decisions about the direction of their lives than any other developmental period. Here, they set goals in which to shape and guide their lives. Literature suggests that the importance and attainment of life goals and whether these are intrinsically or extrinsically oriented is related to wellbeing.

The current study extends previous research on life goals by examining the roles life history strategy and socioeconomic status play in young adults placing importance in and achieving intrinsic and extrinsic goals and their relationship with wellbeing. Additionally, the study explored psychological need satisfaction, resilience, and locus of control as mediators of these relationships. A total of 89 participants completed seven psychometric measures in an online survey.

Intrinsic goal importance and attainment and extrinsic goal attainment were positively associated with wellbeing. Psychological need satisfaction mediated the relationship between intrinsic goals and psychological wellbeing. Life history strategy but not SES was associated with both psychological wellbeing and intrinsic goal importance and attainment.

Moreover, mediation effects were found for resilience but not locus of control, implying that resilience is an important factor in reducing the negative affect that adverse childhood experiences can have on goal attainment. The findings suggest that developing and achieving intrinsic goals is essential for young adult’s wellbeing and they emphasise the importance of examining a child's background as an explanation of how these goals developed.

"Innovative, interesting and ambitious"

Dr Alyson Blanchard, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at BGU, oversaw the students and felt the University should be proud of their efforts:

“Tyler, Lauren and Eniko have performed extremely well in their dissertations this year. They worked incredibly hard and demonstrated resilience and commitment despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Their studies were innovative, interesting and ambitious, and this is validated by the acceptance for presentation at a national conference which is a fantastic achievement for any undergraduate student. Eniko did especially well for giving an oral presentation, and both Lauren and Tyler’s posters were highly popular and received excellent feedback.

BGU should be proud of Tyler, Lauren and Eniko. They have been exemplary in representing the university and as students who were a pleasure to supervise.”

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