Dr. Bridget McConnell
1. INVESTIGATING THE CHARACTERISTICS OF INTERNET AND GAMING ADDICTIONS: A COMPARISON WITH GAMBLING ADDICTION
Gambling addiction is a well-researched behavioral addiction. Some people have suggested that internet and gaming addiction are also behavioral addictions, but there is currently very little research on these disorders. This project will investigate whether individuals who suffer from these newer behavioral addictions show similar characteristics as those shown by gambling addicts. This includes things like sensitivity to gains and losses and compulsivity
2. DISCRIMINATION TRAINING TO REDUCE FEAR OF PAIN-RELATED MOVEMENTS
Individuals who suffer from chronic pain tend to fear making movements that are associated with this pain. Often, this fear generalizes to other similar movements, which results in a wide restriction of mobility. This project will investigate the effectiveness of a discrimination training procedure to reduce generalization of fear of pain-related movements.
3. ACQUISITION OF FEARS AND ADDICTIONS ACROSS MULTIPLE CONTEXTS ON INCREASING RELAPSE
Much research has shown that conducting exposure therapy across multiple contexts can reduce the probability and degree of relapse. However, recent research has confirmed that acquisition of a fear or addiction across multiple contexts can negate the benefit of conducting exposure therapy across multiple contexts. This project will use virtual reality to investigate three potential mechanisms that are responsible for stronger relapse after learning occurs in multiple environments.
4. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF EXTINCTION CUES FOR REDUCING RELAPSE
Despite observing complete cessation of fear or cravings following exposure therapy for phobias or addictions, relapse commonly occurs. One method to reduce relapse is to use extinction (i.e., reminder) cues. However, research on the effectiveness of extinction cues is inconsistent. This projects will be a systematic review and meta-analysis of all of the research on extinction cues to assess whether extinction cues work and, if so, under what conditions are they effective in reducing relapse.
5. COMPARISON OF INSECT PHOBIAS ACROSS CULTURES: THE ROLE OF EVOLUTIONARY PREDISPOSITIONS
It is commonly accepted that some phobias are universal due to our shared evolutionary history as human beings. However, research outside of the western countries has not always supported this theory. This project will focus on arachnophobia and investigate its prevalence in an Asian country relative to western countries. It will also investigate the interaction of predispositions and learning to produce these fears.
6. PREDICTORS OF RELAPSE: THE ROLE OF INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES AND TREATMENT VARIABLES
Relapse is commonly observed after successful exposure therapy for reducing phobias and addictions. This project will investigate individual difference variables, such as personality factors, and treatment variables, such as the rate of inhibitory learning during exposure therapy, to understand what conditions are most likely to result in relapse following exposure therapy.
All of these projects are suitable for highly motivated candidates who are interested in pursuing a research-based PhD. Applicants should have a background in cognitive and/or clinical psychology. For some projects, a background in R is preferred but not required. For more details on these projects or to discuss other research interests, please contact Dr. Bridget McConnell (firstname.lastname@example.org).