PhD Completion Seminars - June 2016

The School would like to congratulate Divya Peter, Paula G. de Barba and Francis Puccio who presented their PhD completion seminars earlier this week.


PhD Candidate: Divya Peter

Supervisor: Dr Heidi Gazelle

Date Monday 6th June

Title: Self-compassion, Self-criticism and Parent-child Attachment Moderate the Relation Between Anxious Solitude and Psychosocial Adjustment in Early Adolescence.

Abstract: Considerable research suggests that there is a great deal of heterogeneity in the internalizing trajectories of anxious solitary children. Therefore, our central question is why do some anxious solitary children develop unhealthy developmental trajectories whereas others do not?  The overall aim of the thesis was to extend our understanding about the cognitive and relational factors that could contribute to adjustment trajectories in anxious solitary children. Study 1 explores how self-processes could lead to heterogeneity in internalizing trajectories in a pre-adolescent population. Study 2 explores the contribution of children’s attachment representations of their parents (both maternal and paternal) in the self-compassion and self-criticism trajectories of anxious solitary children from 5th through 7th grade.  Results suggested that it is worthwhile to target self-compassion and self-criticism processes in anxious children while designing interventions for internalizing difficulties. In addition, it is important to consider parental attachment security mechanisms in anxious solitary children to better understand these self-processes.


PhD Candidate: Francis Puccio

Supervisor: Dr Isabel Krug

Date: Tuesday  7th June

Title: The Longitudinal Transmission of Effects Between Symptoms of Eating Pathology, Depression, and Anxiety

Abstract: Past research has identified a high level of comorbidity between eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. This thesis examined the longitudinal transmission of effects between symptoms of each disorder with the view to better understanding their direction of effects. Study 1 was a systematic review and meta-analysis of the longitudinal relationship between eating pathology and depression. Studies 2 and 3 examined the longitudinal trajectories and direction of effects between symptoms of eating pathology, depression, anxiety, and negative affect. Study 4 tested a revised version of an etiological model of bulimic pathology known as the Dual Pathway Model, and examined evidence for potential bi-directional effects between symptoms of eating pathology with depression, and that also examined the influence of negative urgency, a facet of impulsivity, on the model. Results indicated that eating pathology and depression are concurrent risk factors for each other, and that eating pathology and anxiety are risk factors for each other at different stages during adolescence. Findings illustrate the clinical importance of disambiguating the respective facets of eating pathology symptoms to understand the relative risk that each facet confers to depression and anxiety, and vice versa.  Results also indicate that shared risk factors (e.g., negative urgency, body dissatisfaction) might be instrumental in reducing symptoms of eating pathology and negative mood.


PhD Candidate: Paula G. de Barba

Supervisors: Mary Ainley, Gregor Kennedy, Jennifer Boldero

Date Tuesday 7th

Title: Autonomous learning and achievement motivation in online learning environments.

Abstract: This program of research developed new understandings of how students’ personal characteristics influence their learning processes in online environments, particularly in a novel mode of online study – massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Based on identified gaps in the educational psychology literature, it established clear trajectories of situational interest in online learning environments, determined distinct relationships between students’ individual interest and their self-directed and self-regulated learning patterns, and employed novel learning analytics techniques to understand these phenomena. 


PhD Candidate: Matthew Blake

Supervisors: Professors Nicholas Allen and John Trinder

Date Thursday 9th June 10:00 – 11.00 am

Venue Redmond Barry building, 12th floor conference room

Title: The SENSE Study (Sleep and Education: learning New Skills Early): Post-intervention effects of a randomised controlled trial of a cognitive-behavioural and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention among at-risk adolescents

Abstract: There is growing recognition that many adolescents obtain insufficient or poor quality sleep, which is a risk factor for mental health problems. This study investigated the post-intervention effects of a group sleep intervention among at-risk adolescents. Adolescents experiencing sleep and anxiety problems participated in a randomised controlled trial comparing a sleep improvement intervention with an active control ‘study skills’ intervention. The sleep intervention improved objective and subjective sleep measures, anxiety symptoms, pre-sleep arousal and sleep hygiene awareness. Findings also indicated that the pre-sleep period is particularly important for adolescents’ sleep quality, suggesting it should be a target for new treatments.