Congratulations to Dr. Emily Prather

Emily Prather graduation
Congratulations to Dr. Emily Prather, an alumna of the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, who graduated with her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi last week. I last saw Emily when she took a break from her predoctoral internship at Wellspan Behavioral Health in York, PA, to successfully defend her dissertation in April. Emily's dissertation focused on the role of anger, impulsivity, and emotion regulation in binge eating. After completing her internship last summer, she started a post doc position at Wellspan. She is now studying for the EPPP exam for licensure as a psychologist and beginning the job search process where she is interested in both clinical work and teaching.

It is fairly common for current doctoral students to have a hard time imagining that there will be a day when they reach the end of their graduate training. I certainly remember feeling that way. But like Emily just showed us, it really does happen. The classes, examinations, and dissertation writing do not last forever.

It was great to see Emily again for commencement and meet her family. Congratulations to Emily on the completion of her doctorate! Please stay in touch and let us know what is next for you.

Presentation Accepted for SEPA

We just learned that Niki Knight's proposal to present her research at the 2016 Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) conference in New Orleans was accepted. Niki will present The Dark Triad of Personality and Relational Aggression, based on work completed for her master's thesis.

Congratulations Niki!

Doctoral Admissions Deadline Approaching

Prospective students interested in applying to the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi have until December 1 to do so. Review of applications will begin shortly after the deadline. The process is highly selective, and a small number of applicants will be invited to campus to participate in our program's interview day. For information on doctoral admissions, see the program web page.

As explained on our page for students interested in joining the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, students who apply to work with Dr. Dahlen and receive an offer of admission to the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program are accepted to work in the lab.

Niki Knight Defends Master's Thesis

Niki Knight successfully defended her master's thesis today, The HEXACO and Dark Triad in Relational Aggression. Niki examined the HEXACO model of personality and Dark Triad (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) as predictors of proactive and reactive peer relational aggression in a college student sample.

With regard to the HEXACO model, the factors of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness were positively associated with proactive and reactive relational aggression in peer relationships. Machiavellian, narcissistic, and psychopathic traits were positively associated with reactive relational aggression; narcissistic and psychopathic but not Machiavellian traits were positively associated with proactive relational aggression. Taken together, Niki's results supported the utility of both the HEXACO model and the Dark Triad constructs in predicting peer relational aggression among college students.

Niki is a doctoral student in her third year of the program and will soon begin work on her dissertation.

Congratulations to Niki on a successful defense!

Caitlin Clark Proposes Dissertation

Caitlin Clark successfully proposed her dissertation today, an ambitious instrument development project aiming to validate a new self-report measure of relational aggression, the Young Adult Relational Aggression Scale (YARAS). Our hope is that the YARAS will ultimately prove to be a psychometrically sound means of assessing proactive and reactive relational aggression among emerging adults.

Many of the existing measures one finds in the adult relational aggression literature were adapted from measures developed with children and early adolescents. Others were developed for use in individual studies and have little evidence of reliability or validity. Still others are difficult to obtain because they were never published, have different versions without clear instructions for use, or do not distinguish between the proactive and reactive functions of relational aggression. Our hope is that the YARAS will be able to improve upon these and other limitations of existing instruments.

Caitlin is an advanced doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab who is in the process of applying for a predoctoral internship this year. With her successful dissertation proposal, she will soon be able to begin data collection.

Congratulations to Caitlin on completing this important milestone!

Daniel Deason Proposes Dissertation

Daniel Deason, an advanced doctoral student who will be applying for a predoctoral internship this year, successfully proposed his dissertation yesterday. He will soon be able to begin his data collection.

Despite evidence that relationally aggressive behaviors can cause problems for emerging adults, little is known about the nature of relational aggression among persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Daniel's dissertation, Hypermasculine, antifeminine: The role of masculine identity in relational aggression among gay men, will examine relational aggression and victimization in the peer relationships of gay men using Exclusively Masculine Identity Theory (EMIT; Kilianski, 2003). Specifically, he aims to test a model derived from EMIT in which adherence to masculine ideology is examined as a potential moderator of the predicted relationship between an index of participants' sex stereotypically and their report of relational aggression and victimization.

Congratulations to Daniel on presenting a complex proposal so clearly!

Panel on Relational Aggression at MPA

Caitlin Clark, Daniel Deason, Niki Knight, and Ashley Morrison presented a panel discussion on relational aggression last week at the 66th Annual Convention of the Mississippi Psychological Association in Bay St. Louis. The panel, Relational aggression among young adults, defined relational aggression and provided examples of proactive and reactive functions of the behavior, reviewed several popular misconceptions about relational aggression and the relevant research literature, addressed the limitations of our knowledge about relational aggression among emerging adults, and examined treatment options for reducing relationally aggressive behaviors.

Congratulations to Caitlin, Daniel, Niki, and Ashley on a job well done!

Tenure-Track Assistant Professor Positions in Counseling Psychology at Southern Miss

The Department of Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi is soliciting applications for 4 tenure-track Assistant Professor positions, including 2 in Counseling Psychology and 2 in Experimental Psychology. More information about these positions can be found on the department's website. Applications are submitted online at

If you know of qualified applications seeking academic jobs in these areas of psychology, please share this information with them.

Lab Welcomes Diana Garrett

The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab in the Department of Psychology is pleased to welcome Diana Garrett, a new undergraduate member joining us this semester. Diana is a psychology major and criminal justice minor who is interested in obtaining research experience. She plans to apply to masters programs in counseling psychology and is interested in someday working as a counselor in a juvenile detention center. She is on track to graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi in December.

We are happy to have Diana join the lab and are looking forward to working with her this semester.

David Boudreaux Defends Dissertation on New Measure of Attitudes Toward Anger Management

David Boudreaux successfully defended his dissertation yesterday, Refinement of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale. Using a sample of college student volunteers, he confirmed the factor structure of the scale developed for his master's thesis and obtained additional evidence in support of its reliability and validity.

It is hoped that this measure will ultimately provide clinicians will a tool for assessing client perceptions of anger management. Now that we know something about how the measure works with college students, the next phase of development will likely involve data collection in non-college and clinical samples.

David recently started his predoctoral internship at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL. He had very positive things to say about his experience so far and recommended this site to future students interested in VA internships.

Congratulations, David!

Free Online Training in Military Culture for Health Care Providers

Seal of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (1989-2012)
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest provider of predoctoral internship training for doctoral students in psychology, and so it is no surprise that many of the doctoral students who have worked at the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab complete their internships at VA sites. We have a couple doctoral students who will be applying for VA internships in the next couple months, and some of our previous students are employed as psychologists in the VA system.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Employee Education System and Mental Health Services and the Department of Defense have made online training in military culture available at no cost for community health providers, including students in training. The course, Military Culture: Core Competencies for Health Care Professionals, is divided into four modules:

I found the training very informative, and I think it would be a great resource for students planning to work with veterans, especially those interested in VA internships.

Continuing education credits are available for licensed providers, and supplemental material is available from the Center for Deployment Psychology. It looks like the program is set to expire in early November, so do not procrastinate if this is something you'd like to do.

Lab Welcomes New Master's Students

The Anger and Traffic Psychology lab is pleased to welcome two new master's students who will be joining us when they enter the Counseling Psychology Master's Program at the University of Southern Mississippi in the Fall. Michael Vidana graduated from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls and has been working with adolescents in a high school through Americorps. Taylor Nocera graduated from Auburn University and has worked locally at the Women's Center in Hattiesburg and at a group home for adolescents in Alabama.

Congratulations to Taylor and Michael on their admission to the master's program! We are looking forward to their arrival in Hattiesburg.

David Boudreaux's Dissertation Defense Scheduled

After receiving approval from his committee, David Boudreaux has scheduled his dissertation defense for Monday, August 24 at Noon. We expect to have a few thesis and dissertation proposal and defense meetings in the next few months, and this will be a good one for students interested in seeing what a dissertation defense looks like to attend.

David's dissertation, Refinement of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale, involves the continued development of a brief self-report measure of attitudes toward anger management he developed for his thesis. After confirming the factor structure of the measure in a new sample, David evaluated internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and construct validity. As a result, we have a much better sense for how the measure performs and where the development process should go next.

Upgrading Our Lab Space

Almost a year ago, we gained some lab space that we share with Dr. Madson's College Alcohol Research Team. Now that we have had this space for some time, we are developing a better sense of what we might do with it in the future and how to make it even more useful.

Over the summer, I was able to replace our ancient lab computer with a newer one that should be far more usable since it can run current software and connect to the Internet. I think we could also use this computer as a central hub for storing shared resources (e.g., electronic copies of journal articles, examples of successful IRB proposals, completed theses and dissertations, electronic copies of research questionnaires).

Dr. Madson and I are hoping to clear out some of the unnecessary furniture soon and hope to make some additional upgrades in the months ahead.

Lab Welcomes Skylar Hicks

The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is pleased to welcome our newest doctoral student, Skylar Hicks. Skylar recently accepted an offer of admission to the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi and will be joining the lab in the Fall of 2015.

Skylar completed her bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of New Orleans, where she worked in Dr. Monica Marsee's Youth Social and Emotional Development Lab. She has been working as a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center. Her interest and experience in overt and relational aggression make her an excellent fit for the lab.

Congratulations to Skylar on her admission! We are looking forward to working with you in Hattiesburg.

Accepting Applications from Incoming Master's Students

Colourful Crystal Ball
The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is now accepting applications from students admitted to the Master's Program in Counseling Psychology for the Fall of 2015. Interested students are encouraged to contact Dr. Dahlen with any questions and to indicate interest in joining the lab.

We plan to delay decisions until early to mid June to make sure that we are able to consider all interested master's students before making decisions.

New Look for Lab Website

Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab website
The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab website has a new look. At least, I'm in the process of giving it a new look. The basic structure is in place, but more changes are coming. The old version of our website had become dated and was starting to generate some problems for those attempting to view it on mobile devices. I'm hoping that the new version will be easier to view on a variety of screen sizes.

I have updated the software I used to develop and maintain the website (
Rapidweaver) to the most current version, and I am using a new design template from ThemeFlood. As time permits, I hope to add more pictures and try to streamline the organization of the site a bit.

If you encounter any problems or find things that are not working as they should, please
let me know.

Emily Prather Defends Dissertation on Anger and Binge Eating

Emily Prather successfully defended her doctoral dissertation yesterday at the University of Southern Mississippi, Predictors of Binge Eating in College Women. Emily's study evaluated the relationships among four theoretically relevant factors hypothesized to predict subclinical binge eating in a sample of college women: trait anger, anger suppression, impulsivity, and emotion regulation.

Emily started by confirming the four-factor structure of the UPPS Impulsivity Scale (Whiteside & Lynam, 2001) through confirmatory factor analysis. Multiple measures of impulsivity have been used in the literature, and the UPPS is one of the newer ones. Given that there has been some disagreement over the optimal factor structure, it was important to make sure that the four-factor structure of this measure would be confirmed in this sample. After confirming this factor structure, Emily found that the urgency and lack of perseverance factors predicted binge eating. Urgency was a hypothesized predictor, but the utility of perseverance was unexpected and suggests that the role of impulsivity in binge eating may be somewhat broader than previously thought.

Trait anger predicted binge eating over and above general negative affect, suggesting that there seems to be something about one's propensity to experience angry feelings that may be particularly useful in understanding binge eating. The tendency to suppress anger in an unhealthy manner also predicted binge eating, and both anger suppression and emotion regulation partially mediated the relationship between trait anger and binge eating. It appears that anger management and the development of emotion regulation strategies may be worth exploring for college women with subclinical binge eating.

Emily is currently
completing her predoctoral internship at Wellspan Behavioral Health in York, PA. She recently accepted a postdoc position with Wellspan to begin this summer.

Congratulations, Emily!

Paper on Parenting and Relational Aggression Published

Our latest paper on relational aggression is now available in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. The full citation is below. Congratulations to Caitlin!

Clark, C. M., Dahlen, E. R., & Nicholson, B. C. (2015). The role of parenting in relational aggression and prosocial behavior among emerging adults.
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24, 185-202. doi: 10.1080/10926771.2015.1002653

David Boudreaux Matches at Tampa VA

Today is APPIC Phase I Match Day, the day when doctoral students in applied psychology programs who have applied for predoctoral internships learn whether they have matched with internship sites. David Boudreaux has matched at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL.

Congratulations, David!

Developing a Measure of Relational Aggression

The Spring semester is about to begin, and we have several projects approaching the end of the data collection phase. One of the first for which we hope to wrap up data collection and begin data analysis involves the development of a new self-report measure of relational aggression in college students.

Our new measure aims to assess general/peer relational aggression and romantic relation aggression on separate scales and to permit each type of relational aggression to be divided into proactive and reactive functions. For example, a relational aggressive behavior like spreading a malicious rumor about a friend behind his or her back could be proactive (i.e., unprovoked, planned, done for gain) or reactive (i.e., done out of anger or in response to provocation, unplanned, impulsive). We also included items designed to measure electronic forms of relational aggression, a dimension important to college students but not found in existing measures.

Instrument development is usually a length and complex endeavor. We started by conducting a literature review in order to make sure we had a clear definition of relational aggression. We then developed an initial item set on the basis of focus groups with college students and a review of existing measures appropriate to either adolescents or adults. The focus groups were especially useful because they revealed some important limitations of existing measures and provided us with ideas for relevant content that had not occurred to us. After several rounds of revising items, we submitted our item set to several experts on relational aggression. We revised the item set again based on the input of the expert reviewers. Now we are close to completing the step of administering the new items along with a few existing measures of relational aggression and related constructs to a large sample of college students. This will allow us to examine the factor structure of the item set, reduce the number of items while maximizing reliability, and examine the concurrent and discriminant validity of the resulting measure.

While we hope to complete this phase of the project this semester, many additional steps will remain. In fact, we are planning for the next few steps to be carried out as Caitlin Clark's dissertation. We will be at this project for awhile, but we hope to end up with a measure that has some useful advantages over the option currently available.