Thursday, October 31, 2013

Emotions and Innovative Leadership: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Michele Vincenti, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The domain is Innovative Leadership, with emphasis on emotions and consciousness viewed through a phenomenological lens. In particular I am interested in understanding what people feel when they think of an innovative leader. The topic of innovative leadership is a very important domain to be studied because of its effect on the wellbeing of any organization.

Problem statement: I argue that emotions play an important role for followers in the way they see and evaluate their leaders; in addition, leaders need to understand the role of their and followers’ emotions in their relationship.

Approach: I used interpretative phenomenological research (IPA). IPA is a qualitative research approach committed to the examination of how people make sense of major life experiences. IPA provides a fascinating and very rich way of engaging with, and understanding other people’s worlds, which is the aim of this research.

Results: The major finding is that the innovative leader is a moral leader. The terms morality or ethics rarely emerged specifically in my interviews, but terms such as caring, trust, fairness and reciprocity, which are the cornerstone of morality, all emerged with high frequency. Informal leadership styles and leadership tools such as teaching and focus on details reinforce the understanding of an innovative leader.

Conclusions: The implications of my findings can be important to organizations that want to be perceived as innovative in their market. Leaders of such organizations can attend training to develop the leadership tools, leadership styles, and the cognitive themes identified in this research.

Keywords: innovative leadership, emotions, morality, AET theory, empowerment, leadership, leadership tool, leadership style, cognition, consciousness

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Accessing the Transcendent in Therapy: A Phenomenological Inquiry into How Therapists do Healing

Johannes Benedikt Schmidt, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This explorative inquiry examined the enaction of the transcendent in dyadic therapeutic encounters by analyzing therapists’ descriptions of what they identified as transcendent aspects of therapy. The transcendent is conceptualized as an otherness bearing its own ontic reality in contrast to the psychological, solipsistic concept of immanence based solely on a psychodynamic understanding of humans. A hermeneutic-phenomenological approach provided the methodological orientation for data collection in 10 therapeutic sessions. As researcher-client, I only videotaped sessions where therapists claimed to have integrated transcendent elements into their practice. Applying the method of stimulated-recall, I reviewed with therapists the video record of what had transpired during the session. Transcriptions of these discussions provided the foundational data for subsequent analysis.
All therapists reported the transcendent aspect of therapeutic enactions as a felt-sense, something that could not be fully captured and expressed through verbalized or written accounts. The therapeutic enaction of the transcendent will surface through varying shifts in being and an experience of being touched. While states of non-intentionality, receptivity, and double attention were enabling conditions for participating in the transcendent, the felt-sense conveyed a sense of spaciousness and the presence of a field. Being in this field has a transformative and healing effect on clients and therapists alike. The holding quality of the field alleviates the onerous sense of responsibility on the part of therapists, for whom the holding functions as a preserve against burn-out. Therapists described themselves as becoming conduits for other-directedness, with emergent intimacy and communion that instilled joy, lightness, creativity, and unanticipated solutions to problems and issues that clients brought into therapy.

Key Words: Transcendence, Transcendent Enaction, Therapeutic Spirituality, Ontology, Intimacy, Psychotherapy

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Impact of Leadership Training on the Civic Awareness and Leadership Development of Saint Croix Foundation Youth Advisory Council Members

Leslie Hamdorf, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This study examined the impact of 4 months of leadership training seminars and participation in a youth advisory council on the civic awareness and leadership development of members of the Saint Croix Foundation Youth Advisory Council (SCFYAC). The 16 members of the SCFYAC, between 14 and 21 years of age, participated in this study, which took place in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The instruments used in the study included the Civic Measurement Models: Tapping Adolescents’ Civic Awareness and individual interviews; both were administered at the beginning and end of the study. Results from the survey did not indicate significant growth for members; however, analysis of the in-depth interviews demonstrated that participants had a greater understanding of leadership and civic engagement at the end of the study. The theme that suggested this understanding included knowledge of skills that leaders exhibit. Data also indicated an increase in SCFYAC members’ perception that civic engagement by citizens improves the community. Another theme was the pivotal experiences of SCFYAC members throughout the study, which included learning leadership skills through experiential activities, being encouraged to engage in civic activity, being supported by peer SCFYAC members in their development as leaders, and participating in discussions at meetings. SCFYAC members anticipated that they would be engaged in civic activities in the future and they envisioned specific roles in which they planned to serve their community. The results suggested that participation in SCFYAC increased participants’ civic awareness and plans for future engagement. Canonical correlations from the survey instrument led to further understanding of what influenced the participants’ civic awareness and engagement. Parental involvement in civics and having political conversations at home, coupled with discussions among peers, seemed to encourage greater awareness than did exposure to media or even classroom lessons. It was recommended that facilitators and educators who wish to encourage adolescents in the area of civic engagement integrate experiential learning exercises into their instructional programs and training to help adolescents to develop confidence in their civic engagement.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Eating Problems in 8-, 12-, and 14-year-old Females from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN)

Kari L. Lannon, Fielding's School of Psychology

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and the development of eating problems in female children and early adolescents in the context of age and pubertal status and timing. Previous research indicated that women with eating problems and disorders frequently endorse a history of childhood sexual abuse. However, the studies were mainly retrospective and cross-sectional and with adult and late adolescent participants from middle to upper middle-class backgrounds. This dissertation was prospective and utilized both longitudinal and cross-sectional analysis strategies with matched group comparisons at ages 8, 12, and 14 between girls with lower family total estimated income who had a history of at least one allegation of childhood sexual abuse and those who did not. At age 8 the groups were matched on gender, age, ethnicity, and family’s estimated total income. At ages 12 and 14 groups were matched on age, gender, ethnicity, and pubertal status and timing. All participants were part of the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN).

Results from the current study mainly supported the overall hypothesis that eating problems are impacted by a history of childhood sexual abuse (p < .05). At all three time periods the group of sexually abused girls had significantly more eating problems than the matched group of girls with no sexual abuse history. Although in the predicted direction, significant differences were not found when eating problems were analyzed over time. Results partially supported the hypothesis that early period onset (prior to age 11) might increase risk for development of eating problems.
Keywords: sexual abuse, eating problems, eating disorders, body perception, period status and timing, menarche status and timing, Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect, LONGSCAN

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Electroencephalographic (EEG) Brainmap Patterns in a Clinical Sample of Adults Diagnosed with an Internet Addiction

Mari K. Swingle, Fielding's School of Psychology

This research examined the electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns of 30 adults qualified as having Internet Addiction (IA) as determined by revised scoring of the Internet Addiction Test (IAT). Data collected from this sample were compared with a normative (non-clinical) and a clinical EEG database. Data were also collected on patterns of Internet usage, gender, sexual orientation,and levels of psychopathology including depression, anxiety, and ADHD as identified by standardized instruments (BAI, BDI, ASRS-v1.1, SCL-90-R). The EEG and the standardized test results revealed a pattern of neurological deregulation supporting the position that IA is a co-occurring disorder. Systematic collapsing of the EEG data further revealed a pattern of central deregulation in slow frequency wave lengths. This study also identified a new classification system of IA based on qualitative differences in Internet engagement. A trend that the severity of neurological deregulation is associated with the self-assigned degree of immersion with the Internet is apparent . Trends by gender and sexual orientation were also noted.

Key Words: Internet Addiction, Digital Addiction, EEG, Phenotype, Signatures, Deregulation

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sexual Orientation Identity Change in Previously Heterosexual-Identified Mid-Life Women

Jeanne M. Miller, Fielding's School of Psychology

Although much has been written about sexual orientation identity development in general, little research has been conducted into the experiences of previously heterosexual-identified women who discover same-sex attractions in mid-life. The present study explored the subjective experience of such women in an effort to understand how these women make meaning of their shift in sexual-romantic attractions, what impact the experience of sexual orientation identity change has on overall identity structure, and how traditional models of sexual orientation identity development do or do not illuminate their experiences. It is necessary to increase our knowledge in this area to enhance our ability to treat and educate both the women undergoing such an experience and the providers who may encounter them in practice. Interviews were conducted with 14 previously heterosexual-identified women who discovered sexual and romantic attractions to other women in mid-life and subsequently changed their sexual orientation identity from heterosexual to lesbian. Interviews were then analyzed for common themes and processes. Previously heterosexual-identified women who subsequently identify as lesbian appear to recast the meaning of past events in the service of maintaining a cohesive life narrative that fits with current social constructions of what it means to be lesbian. They do this within the larger context of social, psychological, and cultural parameters that make up their current and past "indigenous psychology." For this group of women, although sexual orientation identity formation follows traditional developmental models, it is clear that there are distinct tasks to be accomplished, including the resolution of cognitive dissonance over conflicting roles, identities, and value systems. These tasks were made especially difficult because the women had to undo or redo identities that were previously considered complete. Additionally, all the women in the present study experienced a period of moratorium exploration before settling into their new sexual orientation identity. This moratorium may also have allowed several women to move from a previously foreclosed identity status to a new identity achievement status.

Keywords: mid-life lesbian, sexual orientation identity formation, indigenous psychology, autobiographical time, sexual fluidity

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being the Other: An Autoethnography of Cross-Cultural and Sexual Identity Experiences

Eve Kedar, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

In this autoethnographic study I present topics including othering, growing in relationships from childhood to adulthood, coming out, and developing from being othered to becoming an agent of change. These topics are presented as autoethnographic vignettes. The vignettes are critically analyzed from multiple perspectives, to provide the rich multidimensional touch points that describe our lives (Anderson, 2006; Etherington, 2007). These perspectives include Helms’ (1990) perspective on racial identity, Bussey and Bandura’s (1999) take on developmental gender identification, and Jones’ (2012) ideas for resisting homophobia in schools. Othering (Caballero, 2009; Dwyer & Buckle, 2009) is looked at as a racial, religious, gendered, and cultural phenomenon. Emigration is also discussed from the perspective of internalized oppression (Williams, 2012). In addition, LGBTQ topics are explored (Butler, 1993; Culler, 2007; Duke, 2008). My research provides content on the experiences of moving from a conformist stance toward peer acceptance, to embracing the emergent self and becoming an agent for change (Gur-Ze’ev, 2005; Jensen, 2011). Included are cross-cultural experiences as well as the impact of a militarized culture on the feminist experience (Feldman, 2000; Hauser, 2011; Klein, 2002). The implications of this research can be far reaching and include changing educational perspectives and developing policies that acknowledge othering when it happens. It is possible to other yourself, as reflected in a vignette about choosing to live in the closet rather than experience being ostracized by being true to my sexual identity. My intention is to promote a better understanding of those who are othered by themselves and by their environment. By sharing and analyzing the experiences reflected in the vignettes, it is possible to open additional educational perspectives and to celebrate diversity through shared experiences. Future research can explore the changes in perspectives of those reading these shared experiences, find additional ways to impact educational policies, and change for the better for those currently being othered within educational and employment environments. These changes can lead to educating and employing a larger pool of acceptable problem solvers who will become available to engage with the world’s complex challenges such as the environment, safe water resources, global economic structure and global health concerns.

Keywords: autoethnography, educational policy, France, identity development, Israel, Jews, LGBT, othering, sexual orientation, social advocacy, women’s studies 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaching Content Material through Reader’s Theater

Melissa Forney, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

When it comes to content area material, much of what students read and learn is predicated on information they have read before and are supposed to remember. Teachers often use silent reading and round robin reading as preferred reading methods to help students learn content area material. The objective of this study was to test reader’s theater against round robin reading and silent reading to determine if reader’s theater is a viable method of helping students understand and retain information.

Three fourth-grade classes read three different stories and plays using three different reading treatments: silent reading, round robin reading, and reader’s theater reading. Students took post-tests for understanding and retention and participated in a post-study survey along with their teachers. Reader’s theater in one class was found to have superior scores for understanding and retention compared to silent reading, but in another class it was found to have inferior scores compared to round robin reading for both understanding and retention. In other instances, reader’s theater was at least equivalent to silent reading and round robin reading when mean test scores were examined. This study, therefore, would suggest that reader’s theater may be superior to, equivalent to, or inferior to traditional reading approaches with regard to helping students understand and retain content knowledge.
There were some confounding factors in the findings that raised questions about variances in classroom teachers, subject matter, and student ability.
Key Words: reader’s theater, silent reading, round robin reading, understanding, retention, reading treatment, group reading, benefits of reader’s theater, content knowledge

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Acculturation experiences and personality characteristics of Greek Americans

Neophytos (Neo) Papaneophytou, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study investigated how the dimensions of heritage culture and mainstream culture identification, and four dimensions of acculturation, namely integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization, are associated with the mental health and personality characteristics of first-generation Greek-Americans (including Greek-speaking Cypriots). In order to measure personality and psychopathology the MMPI-2-RF RC scales were utilized. This study was significant in its conceptualization of acculturation. The use of the RC scales has rarely been found, and it is the first time it is being employed with regard to a Greek-American community sample of first generation immigrants. Results indicated that lower mainstream-culture identification was associated with higher scores on Demoralization (RCd), Somatic Complaints (RC1), Cynicism (RC3), Ideas of Persecution (RC6), and Aberrant Behaviors (RC8); and lower heritage-culture identification was associated with higher scores on Somatic Complaints (RC1) to the direction of psychopathology. Individuals testing in the Separated category, that is, who continued to identify more with their heritage culture and less with their new (mainstream) culture experienced more somatic problems. The performance of the sample was in line with prior research, and the findings of this study are consistent with previous studies that found different levels of acculturation to have differential impact on the MMPI-2-RF performance, and studies that found higher identification with both mainstream culture and heritage culture were associated with more favorable mental health outcomes. Findings supported the premise that both mainstream and heritage cultures offer benefits for people living in and/or experiencing multiple cultures. In addition, the findings of this study indicated support for the bidimentional model of acculturation as most participants had a high identification with both mainstream and heritage cultures.

Key Words: MMPI-2-RF, MMPI-2, RC scales, acculturation, acculturation strategies, bidimensional model of acculturation, unidimensional model of acculturation, Greek-Americans, immigration, mental health.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Mindfulness Works: Identifying Mediating Variables in A Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Relapse in Substance Use Disorders

Stephanie Steinman, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study examined three variables rumination, cognitive/ behavior (CB) flexibility, and self-compassion to determine if they mediate the relationship between mindfulness and relapse on substances. Seventy-one adults diagnosed with a substance use disorder participated in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) aftercare group. They completed a series of questionnaires regarding the three mediating variables before and at the conclusion of the group. They also completed weekly check-in questionnaires asking about what and how much (if any) substance use they engaged in during the week. Only eight participants used substances during the 8-week group and therefore analyses related to the mediating effect could not be completed. The MBRP group did increase mindfulness, CB flexibility, and self-compassion and decreased rumination. In addition, participants reported the problems cravings/ urges caused in their lives decreased following participation in the MBRP group.