Introducing Adijah Battle

Adijah Battle
Adijah Battle is a first year master's student in the Counseling Psychology program at Southern Miss. She is originally from North Carolina, where she graduated in from the University of North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in psychology in 2016.

As an undergraduate, Adijah worked as a research assistant with a professor who was studying mindfulness. After deciding to continue her education, she applied to the Counseling Psychology Master's Program at Southern Miss because she was impressed with the benefits of the program's in-house training clinic and the high pass rate on the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) obtained by graduates of the doctoral program.

Adijah joined the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab and is currently completing a literature review on depression and social media use. She also hopes to study various aspects of personality during her graduate training. After completing the master's program, Adijah plans to pursue a doctoral degree. She would eventually like to open a private practice with a focus in treating adults.

When asked for advice concerning potential applicants to our master's or doctoral programs, Adijah expressed her belief in the importance of being aware of what one is seeking from graduate training before one applies. Not only does this tend to be associated with a greater probability of success in obtaining admission to a program, but it allows one to begin graduate training with a clear goal in mind toward which one can strive in an efficient manner. Good advice!

Daniel Deason Defends Master's Thesis

Daniel Deason successfully defended his master's thesis today, Personality and Relational Aggression in College Students: The Role of Social Anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity. Daniel's study examined the utility of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality, as well as social anxiety and rejection sensitivity in predicting relational aggression in college students' peer and romantic relationships.

In examining the zero-order correlations between the FFM constructs and relational aggression, both peer and romantic relational aggression were inversely related to agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability (i.e., the inverse of neuroticism). Thus, more relationally aggressive students scored lower on agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

When peer relational aggression and romantic relational aggression were each regressed on the five FFM constructs, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability emerged as significant predictors. Students reporting more relational aggression tended to be more extraverted, less agreeable, and have lower emotional stability.

Based on the literature, the strongest case could be made for the role of agreeableness and emotional stability. So, sequential regressions designed to take student gender and race into account were conducted. Agreeableness and emotional stability predicted peer relational aggression; emotional stability predicted romantic relational aggression.

Finally, the incremental validity of social anxiety and rejection sensitivity was tested over and above participant gender, race, and the full FFM. Social anxiety but not rejection sensitivity demonstrated evidence of incremental validity here. Interestingly, extraversion joined agreeableness and emotional stability as predictors of both peer and romantic relational aggression, suggesting that this variable may be more relevant than was previously thought.

Additional analyses will be needed to better evaluate the potential role of participant gender and race, so we will be sure to share them here once they are completed.

Dark Personalities and Relational Aggression

The "Dark Triad" of personality refers to narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, three constructs with links to overt aggression and other socially undesirable behaviors. Despite the utility of these variables in understanding a variety of behaviors, relatively little is known about their potential role in relational aggression. Moreover, there may be other "dark personality" constructs not adequately represented in the Dark Triad that could be helpful in understanding relationally aggressive behaviors (e.g., sadism).

We recently started collecting data for a couple of studies examining the possible role of the Dark Triad constructs in relational aggression and how they fit into broader models of personality, such as the Five Factor Model and the
HEXACO model of personality.

These studies fit our goal of learning more about relational aggression among emerging adults. In addition, it seems that the study of dark personality constructs may be beneficial in some of our other research areas (e.g., anger and traffic psychology).

Niki Knight Proposes Master's Thesis

Niki Knight, a doctoral student in her first year of the Counseling Psychology Program, successfully proposed her master's thesis today, The HEXACO Model of Personality and Dark Triad in Relational Aggression. She can begin data collection after obtaining IRB approval.

Niki's thesis will examine the relationships between the constructs represented by the HEXACO personality model and relational aggression in college students, focusing on the role of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness. Additionally, she will assess the predictive utility of the Dark Triad constructs (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) in predicting proactive and reactive relational aggression.

Relational Aggression in College Students

Relational aggression is a form of aggressive behavior in which the aggressor harms others by deliberately manipulating, damaging, or threatening to damage their relationships, feelings of acceptance or inclusion, and/or social status (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Werner & Crick, 1999). The destructive nature of relational aggression among children and early adolescents has been established for some time, but relatively little was known about relational aggression in older adolescents and emerging adults until recently.

Research conducted at the
Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab has focused on contributing to the growing literature on relational aggression in college students. Below is a summary of three recent studies conducted at the lab.

Czar, Dahlen, Bullock, and Nicholson (2011) explored the potential role of psychopathic personality traits in relational aggression among college students. Both primary and secondary psychopathic traits predicted relational aggression, and these relationships did not vary by gender. This suggests that psychopathic traits (e.g., a lack of empathy or remorse, dishonesty, impulsivity, antisocial behavior), known to predict overt aggression, may also be relevant to understanding relational aggression.

Prather, Dahlen, Nicholson, and Bullock-Yowell (2012) found that male and female college students reported engaging in similar levels of relational aggression in their dating relationships. Students with traditional (as opposed to egalitarian) sex role attitudes were more likely to engage in dating relational aggression, regardless of gender. In addition, the acceptance of couple violence predicted dating relational aggression over and above trait anger and sex role attitudes. Taken together, the results suggest that college students who experience more frequent and intense anger than their peers, hold traditional sex role attitudes, and are more accepting of intimate partner violence are more likely to commit acts of relational aggression in their dating relationships.

Dahlen, Czar, Prather, and Dyess (2013) found that college students who described themselves as more relationally aggression reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, academic burnout, and the misuse of alcohol. The correlates of relational victimization were similar, suggesting that both relational aggression and victimization can be disruptive to college students' social and emotional functioning. Dahlen and colleagues (2013) also found that anxiety, trait anger, and personal problems related to alcohol use predicted relational aggression in peer relationships while taking students' gender, race, and experiences with relational victimization into account.

Sarah Burghaus Proposes Thesis on Driving Anger

Sarah Burghaus, a doctoral student in her second year, successfully proposed her master's thesis yesterday. She hopes to begin data collection in January.

We know that driving anger is a robust predictor of aggressive driving, non-aggressive forms of unsafe driving, and a number of crash-related conditions (e.g., near misses, losses of concentration while driving). Sarah's thesis, Relationship of Mindfulness, Empathy, and Consideration of Future Consequences to Driving Anger, will examine three variables which may mitigate the experience of driving anger: trait mindfulness, empathy, and the consideration of future consequences.

Sarah will determine whether these variables can enhance the prediction of driving anger beyond the contribution of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality. If these variables can explain additional variance in driving anger, it will help to support a case for assessing these constructs as part of a comprehensive evaluation of driver risk and may inform the development of more sophisticated models for understanding the proximate factors contributing to unsafe driving.

Daniel Deason Proposes Thesis on Personality and Relational Aggression

Daniel Deason, a doctoral student in his second year, successfully proposed his master's thesis today. He did a great job presenting his study and obtained approval from his committee to move forward.

Daniel's thesis, Personality and Relational Aggression in College Students: The Role of Social Anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity, will examine the utility of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality, social anxiety, and rejection sensitivity in predicting relational aggression between peers and romantic partners. We expect that some of the Big Five personality factors will predict relational aggression but that social anxiety and rejection sensitivity will explain additional variance in relational aggression beyond the contribution of the FFM.