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Academic Presentations

2013

Scheuneman Scott, I., Goldin, M., Chauhan, A. (2013, Jan). The leadership journey of research assistants at “Acting Together” (CURA Project). Paper Presentation at the Leadership Conference, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC, Canada.

2012

Bhatt, G., Tweed, R., Dooley, S., Viljoen, J., Douglas, K., Gagnon, N., & Besla, K. (2012, Oct). Gender differences in character strengths, social connections, and beliefs about crimes among adolescents. Paper presentation at the International Social Sciences Conference, Izmir, Turkey.

Gender differences in character strengths, social connections, and beliefs about crimes among adolescents

Dr.  Gira Bhatt, Dr. Roger Tweed, Steve Dooley, Dr. Jodi Viljoen, Dr. Kevin Douglas, Dr. Nathalie Gagnon and Kashmir Besla

Most gang-involved youth in Canada are predominantly males (94%) and between the age of 16 and 18 (Youth Gangs in Canada, 2007). However, young adolescent girls are now increasingly seen among youth gangs (Girls, Gangs, and Sexual Exploitation in British Columbia, 2010). Within the strength-based framework for research targeting social problems such as youth violence and criminal gang activities (Tweed, Bhatt, Dooley, Spindler, Douglas, & Viljoen, 2011), a study was conducted in local high schools in British Columbia, Canada, in which 194 boys and 226 girls aged 12 to 14 participated. The results of the preliminary analyses of the data indicated several gender differences among the participants’ character strengths, social connections, and cognitive beliefs pertaining to violence. Boys in comparison to girls, reported a higher level of self-esteem, and a stronger belief in violence as a way to deal with conflicts. Girls reported higher satisfaction in the area of friendship than boys. Additionally, girls reported higher levels of parental monitoring of where they were, who they were with and what they were doing. These preliminary findings suggest that prevention strategies would serve the youth well when they are derived from a targeted gendered strategies with a focus on a strength-based approach for a positive adolescent development.

Bhatt, G., Tweed, R., Dooley, S., Viljoen, J.L., Douglas, K., & Gagnon, N., (2012, March). Authenticity Associated with Adult-Directed Leisure Activities. Poster presentation at the meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Authenticity Associated with Adult-Directed Leisure Activities

Dr. Gira Bhatt, Dr. Roger Tweed, Steve Dooley, Dr. Jodi Viljoen, Dr. Kevin Douglas and Dr. Nathalie Gagnon

Authenticity (i.e., being true to yourself) as a character trait is praised in popular youth culture.  In particular, movies and books targeted at youth often contain heroes and heroines who display authenticity in pursuing their own life dreams and rejecting the goals that others press on them.  Empirical research also suggests value for authenticity.  In particular, self-reported authenticity among youth has been associated with reduced levels of violence and reduced likelihood of cognitions supporting violence (Tweed, Bhatt, Dooley, Gagnon, Douglas, & Viljoen, 2011).  However, one could debate the types of experiences that promote self-perceived authenticity.  First, one could argue that authenticity develops when youth are given much freedom from adult influence; youth in these situations would not be highly involved in structured, adult-directed leisure activities.  In contrast, one could hypothesize, consistent with some aspects of an attachment perspective (e.g., Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Neufeld & Mate, 2006), that involvement in adult-directed activities promotes positive attachments with authority figures which will give youth the confidence to be authentic.  This analysis examined relations between leisure activities and self-reported authenticity among 417 youth aged 12 to 14.  In this analysis, five types of activities that tend to be adult-directed were examined:  involvement in the arts, community groups organized by adults, religious activities, school clubs, and volunteer work.  Also, two types of authenticity were assessed (Wood, Maltby, Baliousis, Linley, & Joseph, 2008): authentic living (e.g., “It is better to be yourself than to be popular”) and resisting external influence (e.g., reverse score of “I am strongly influenced by the opinions of others”).  For both boys and girls, involvement in these adult-directed activities (a composite score) was associated with increased self-perceptions of authentic living (r=.24, p<.001 for girls; r=.23, r=.001 for boys).  When examining individual activities, involvement in the arts produced the largest effect sizes (r=.19, p=.004 for girls; r=.29, p<.001 for boys) though low power limits our ability to conduct adequate comparisons of similar effect sizes here.  In contrast to these findings, for boys, involvement in these adult-directed activities was associated with lower scores on the other authenticity subscale (resisting external influence).  This analysis suggests that involvement in adult-directed activities for both boys and girls is associated with an increased self-perception of authentic living.  For boys, involvement in these activities is associated with a lower resistance to influence, which might be good or bad depending in part on the source of the influence,

Dooley, S., Gagnon, N., Bhatt, G. & Tweed, R. (2012, May). The Active Community Engagement Model: Fostering active participation in evaluation projects among diverse community stakeholders. Training workshop presentation at the Canadian Evaluation Society Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Active Community Engagement Model: Fostering active participation in evaluation projects among diverse community stakeholders

Steve Dooley, Dr. Nathalie Gagnon, Dr. Gira Bhatt and Dr. Roger Tweed

This workshop introduces a comprehensive approach for creating meaningful community collaboration on for evaluations involving diverse stakeholder groups.  First, workshop participants will be introduced to the Active Community Engagement model (ACE), a set of processes, procedures and techniques that have been developed to fully engage diverse community stakeholders in the evaluation process. ACE has been a key feature of Acting Together, a five year federally funded youth violence research project involving more than 15 diverse community partners. An overview of the model is presented including practical lessons learned from the implementation of this project. Second, participants will roll up their sleeves and engage in a hands on utilization of sample techniques that they can consider for use in their own work. Finally, a facilitated discussion will consider the challenges in measuring community participation in applied evaluation research. While more and more community based research projects are utilizing collaborative partnerships between large groups of stakeholders, an ongoing challenge in collaborative partnership work has been to ensure participation goes beyond token involvement. This challenge is exacerbated when working with diverse interests and perspectives.

Knowlton, B. (2012, March). Youth gangs: Scare tactics that work. Poster presentation at the biennial conference for the Society for Research on Adolescence, Vancouver, BC.

2011

Tweed, R., Bhatt, G., Dooley, S., Gagnon, N., Douglas, K., Viljoen, J. (2011, July). Violence and character strengths. Poster presentation at the meeting of the World Congress of Positive Psychology, Philadelphia, USA.

Violence and character strengths: The role of gratitude and authenticity

Dr. Roger Tweed, Dr. Gira Bhatt, Stephen Dooley, Dr. Nathalie Gagnon, Dr. Kevin Douglas, and Dr. Jodi Viljoen

Violence and character strengths were examined among boys and girls aged twelve to fourteen (N=178).  The goal of this analysis was to highlight character traits that may protect youth against involvement in violence.  In this self-report study, gratitude and authenticity emerged as having significant negative relations with self-reports of fighting within the previous six months for both boys and for girls.  These same character strengths also had negative relations with attitudes supportive of violence.  The research suggests that violence researchers should examine gratitude and authenticity longitudinally and even experimentally to assess whether the relation is causal.  If these strengths reduce violence, then, anti-violence intervention specialists could seek to build both of these strengths.  This type of research helps fulfill the calls by some theorists for positive psychology to more frequently integrate positive and negative variables in empirical research and theory (e.g., Wong, 2009; Linley, Joseph, Harrington, & Wood, 2006).

Brodersen, E., Viljoen, J., Douglas, K., Tweed, R., Bhatt, G., & Gagnon, N. (2011, July). Comparing resilience factors between gang-involved and non-gang involved youth offenders. Poster presentation at the 11th meeting of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services, Barcelona, Spain.

Comparing resilience factors between gang-involved and non-gang involved youth offenders

Etta Brodersen, Dr. Jodi Viljoen, Dr. Kevin Douglas, Dr. Roger Tweed, and Dr. Gira Bhatt

Gang involvement is a disconcerting issue for Canadian youth due to its connection with involvement in more extreme delinquent acts (Esbensen & Huizinga, 1993) and due to the increased risk of victimization gang members experience (Melde, Taylor, & Esbensen, 2009). Past research on contributing risk factors to gang involvement found that factors such as deficits in social problem solving skills, lack of family involvement, and poor family communication (Li et al., 2002) are related to gang membership. As past research has shown, resilience factors add to the predicative ability of risk factors alone when judging a youths’ likelihood to reoffend (Stouthamer-Loeber, 2002). However, little research exists which focuses on resilience factors present in the lives of gang and non-gang offenders which may contribute to adolescents’ gang/criminal involvement. The present study is part of a longitudinal project which follows youth offenders while on probation. At baseline, youth were given the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) and offending patterns/gang involvement were recorded. Comparisons were made on external and internal asset categories to observe whether youth differed in resilience factors based on past/present gang involvement. Results indicate that gang involved youth did not differ from their non-gang involved peers on aspects of resilience measured by the DAP. Of particular interest is the finding that these youth did not differ on the scales related to social competency and support, which were predicted. Findings will be discussed in terms of their relation to intervention measures and the potential connection between gang and non-gang involved youth.

Knowlton, B. (2011, May). Youth gangs: Scare tactics that work. Poster presentation at Connecting Minds, Richmond, BC, Canada.

Youth gangs: Scare tactics that work

Brooke Knowlton

Typical anti-gang messages often evoke fear of being shot or arrested. However, persuasion research suggests that injunctive norms (e.g., fear of societal disapproval) can have greater power. Thus, a new type of anti-gang message was created that relied on injunctive norms. The study examined the persuasive power of message type (typical or injunctive) and medium type (poster or text), on participants’ attitudes towards gangs. Participants (N = 40; 33 females; 7 males) were shown a slide show, and following this, completed a Gang Attitudes Questionnaire. Injunctive norms (e.g., societal, family, and peer disapproval) produced stronger anti-gang attitudes than did typical anti-gang messages that evoke fear of being shot or arrested.

Bhatt, G., Besla, K., Chattha, D., Lalli, B., Purewal, S., & Sanghera, B., (2011, May). Intergenerational issues: Bringing together community wisdom and academic rigor. Paper presentation at the Transnational Punjabis in the 21st Century, Abbotsford, BC, Canada.

Intergenerational issues: Bringing together community wisdom and academic rigor

Dr. Gira Bhatt, Kashmir Besla, Devinder Chattha, Dr. Bikker Singh Lalli, Sarjeet Purewal, and Balwant Sanghera

Emigrating from one cultural context to another requires a certain set of hard decisions as to which pieces of cultural baggage may be carried on and which pieces must be let go. The academic researchers have examined this issue within the frame of “acculturation”, which has led to prolific research literature. Although of value, academic research in its strive to be objective, rational, and empirical, often ends up being an ivory tower, which epitomizes its disconnect from the community. The lived experiences of the immigrants, which are just as valuable but mostly barred from this ivory tower, have to find different avenues to express their voices. Can these two solitudes; academic and community, be bridged? Updating the methods and practices honed through accommodating the real life stories of immigrants and the experience of communities may eventually lead to a strong bond with this ivory tower to bridge a gap between the two. This presentation will showcase an integrated approach that brings together academic rigor and community wisdom to examine intergenerational issues faced by Punjabi immigrants to Canada: i) education, ii) language, iii) gender, and iv) marital relationships.

Tweed, R., Bhatt, G., Dooley, S. (2011, March). Youth life satisfaction associated with parental monitoring. Poster presentation at the meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington DC, USA.

Youth life satisfaction associated with parental monitoring

Dr. Roger Tweed, Dr. Gira Bhatt, Stephen Dooley

Parental monitoring (i.e., parents keeping track of youth activities and friends) may create resentment among some youth.  This resentment could cause parents to hold back from monitoring for fear of being too invasive.  Prior research, however, suggests that parental monitoring is associated with reduced delinquency.  The current analysis involved self-reports by twelve to fourteen year old boys and girls (N=175).  The analysis supported prior research by showing that parental monitoring was negatively associated with indicators of delinquency (fighting among girls and beliefs supportive of violence among boys and girls).  The analysis also showed, however, that parental monitoring was associated with elevated life satisfaction.  The analysis did not address the limits of this effect (i.e., whether beyond a certain ceiling, monitoring is associated with negative outcomes), but did find that in typical cases, monitoring is associated with both reduced delinquency and increased life satisfaction.  A longitudinal or even experimental study could help clarify whether monitoring is the causal variable in this relation.

2010

Tweed, R., Bhatt, G., Dooley, S., & Spindler, A. (2010, November). Reasons to not commit crimes. Poster presentation at the meeting of American Society of Criminology, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Reasons not to commit crimes

Dr. Roger Tweed, Dr. Gira Bhatt, Stephen Dooley, and Andrea Spindler

This study examined individual differences in conscious reasons to not commit crimes.  This approach combines elements of rational choice theory and social control theory.  Consistent with rational choice theory, this study examines perceived payoff of choices related to crime.  Consistent with social control theory, this study focused on constraints on criminal behaviour.  Few prior studies have combined these elements and no study to our knowledge has sought to develop a tool to assess individual differences in reasons not to commit crimes.  For this initial exploration, the research examined reasons not to commit crimes among youth who were mostly not involved in serious criminal behaviour.  Thus, the research began with a study using open-ended questions asking university students to list their reasons not to commit crimes.  Next, a questionnaire was constructed that included at least four rating scale items representing each major construct that emerged in the free listed responses.  Next, this rating scale was administered to 395 students and component analyzed to identify the underlying constructs.  Most of the hypothesized factors emerged in the oblimin rotated principal component analysis.  Next, this questionnaire will be administered to a more diverse and younger sample to assess generalizability of the constructs.

Tweed, R., Bhatt, G., Dooley, S., Spindler, A., Douglas, K., & Viljoen, J. (2010, August). Youth violence and positive psychology: Research and applied potential through integration. Paper presentation at the 6th Biennial International Meaning Conference, Richmond, BC, Canada.

Youth violence and positive psychology: Research and applied potential through integration

Dr. Roger Tweed, Dr. Gira Bhatt, Steve Dooley, Andrea Spindler, Dr. Kevin Douglas and Dr. Jodi Viljoen

One topic receiving little if any attention within positive psychology is the application of positive psychology to youth violence.  However, a positive psychology approach to youth violence may not only be possible, but beneficial.  In the past, positive psychology has largely ignored aversive outcomes such as youth violence.  Because of this inattention to aversive outcomes, positive psychology could be criticized as being somewhat imbalanced.  Positive psychology has largely ignored challenges faced by many in society.  We will argue that some core constructs and perspectives from positive psychology can be integrated into youth violence research and interventions.  In particular, the study of strengths can be integrated into research and interventions targeting youth violence.  Dimensions such as gratitude, forgiveness, sense of meaning, altruism (or at least apparent altruism), prudence, and humility have received attention within positive psychology.  Empirical evidence suggests that these and other positive psychology constructs may also reduce levels of violence.  However, youth violence research and interventions seldom integrate these types of constructs.  Thus, positive psychology may contribute to research and interventions for youth violence.  Furthermore, youth violence research may bring greater balance to positive psychology.

Tweed, R., Dooley, S., & Bhatt, G. (2010, June). Protecting youth from gang-involved violence. Facilitated discussion session at the meeting of Pathways to Resilience II, Halifax, NS, Canada.

Protecting youth from gang-involved violence

Dr. Roger Tweed, Steve Dooley and Dr. Gira Bhatt

This brief presentation will describe one particular approach to learning about strengths (social and personal) that protect kids from getting involved in gang violence.  The strength model used here is easy to understand and makes sense to many community stakeholders.  Furthermore, the strength orientation reduces barriers to involvement from school personnel and community members and may provide good guidance for interventions.    This project is part of a larger community collaboration that includes program evaluation, and qualitative and quantitative research.

Bhatt, G. (2010, June). Reducing youth gang violence: Using the Popular Media, Forums, and other Means of Reaching out to the Community at Large. Facilitated Discussion at the meeting of Pathways to Resilience II. Halifax, NS, Canada.

Reducing youth gang violence: Using the Popular Media, Forums, and other Means of Reaching out to the Community at Large

Dr. Gira Bhatt

This brief presentation will describe ways in which people unfamiliar with the media dissemination can get started in using the various forms of media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV shows, publicforums, and other means of reaching out to the community at large..  As part of a project on reducing youth violence, I have begun writing editorials, organizing community meetings, organizing forums, and making media appearances.  As someone formerly unfamiliar with this role, I will share some strategies that can help make these strategies successful for people new to this role.

Dooley, S. (2010, June). Reducing youth gang violence: Building Community Collaboration with Service providers and other Stakeholders. Pathways to Resilience II Conference. Halifax, NS, Canada.

Reducing Youth Gang Violence: Building Community Collaboration with Service providers and other Stakeholders

Steve Dooley

This brief presentation will focus on the bumps to expect when organizing successful collaborations between academics and community stakeholders.  Over a three year period, we have collaborated with community members to develop a project focused on strength-based reduction of youth gang violence.  Steering committees can become large and governance  challenging, but collaborations have great benefit in terms of drawing from the strengths and knowledge of all participants.  The result can be dramatic in terms of community cooperation in addressing social problems such as youth violence.

Tweed, R. (2010, June). Reducing youth gang violence: Learning about strengths that protect kids. Pathways to Resilience II Conference. Halifax, NS, Canada.

Reducing Youth Gang Violence: Building Community Collaboration with Service providers and other Stakeholders

Steve Dooley

This brief presentation will focus on the bumps to expect when organizing successful collaborations between academics and community stakeholders.  Over a three year period, we have collaborated with community members to develop a project focused on strength-based reduction of youth gang violence.  Steering committees can become large and governance  challenging, but collaborations have great benefit in terms of drawing from the strengths and knowledge of all participants.  The result can be dramatic in terms of community cooperation in addressing social problems such as youth violence.

Assoon, M., Bhatt, G., Tweed, R., Reichl, A., & Dooley, S. (2010, June). Actor-Observer bias in perception of violence. Poster presentation at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Winnipeg, MA, Canada.

Actor-Observer bias in perception of violence

Meiko Assoon, Dr. Gira Bhatt, Dr. Roger Tweed, Arleigh Reichl and Steve Dooley

Violent acts involving young adults is  an issue of great concern. Importantly, a certain tendency to discount the responsibility for violent act when it is committed by friends or own children, raises further concerns. This research was aimed at examining the effect of Actor-Observer bias on causal attributions of young adult violence. It was hypothesized that 1) causal attributions made by young adults and parents would depend on the relationship between the  observer and  the violent actor and 2) attributional complexity, narcissism, aggression, blame, and social desirability would be associated with levels of actor-observer bias. Hypothetical  scenarios depicting violent acts and corresponding measures of Actor-Observe bias were presented to  90 young male adults and 90 parents.  Participants also completed a questionnaire assessing attributional complexity, narcissism  attitude towards aggression, blame and social desirability. The results partially supported the hypotheses.  The implications of the findings are examined in the context of community involvement in law-enforcement.

2009

Bhatt, G. (2009, June). Match made in heaven? Or strange bed-fellows? Reflections on the rewards, challenges, and barriers to academic-community research partnership.Paper presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Match made in heaven? Or strange bed-fellows? Reflections on the rewards, challenges, and barriers to academic-community research partnership

Dr. Gira Bhatt

Human behavior does not occur in isolation. Social context is integral to human beings. Yet, most academic psychologists are expected to remain within the bounds of their empirical, quantitative research aimed at creating clean data by “isolating” variables. They may parachute their research assistants into the community to gather “raw” data but then these data must be beamed back to the research labs for a cleansing process.  Academic researchers however, are increasingly being asked to extend their research into the community so that the ideal of “giving psychology away” may be attained.  In fact most social science funding agencies routinely make this a requirement. The buzzwords are “Knowledge Dissemination”, “Knowledge Mobilization”, “Knowledge Translation” and the like, which imply that the academic research must reach and impact the community. This goal requires an active involvement of the community in the research process. Within this frame, the presentation will highlight the process of creating an academic-community partnership for a research project on youth violence in Surrey, BC. In particular it will examine the challenges of bringing together a team of 7 academic researchers, 3 community researchers, and 11 community organizations. The theoretical and practical implications of attempting the track of a community-focused research involving mixed methodology (quantitative and qualitative) as well as a mixed blend of researchers (academic and community members) will be examined.  The presentation will be concluded with reflections on the many detours, sharp curves, and some backtracks of a journey on a path of academic-community research alliance.

Tweed, R., & Bhatt, G., & Dooley, S. (2009, April). Cognitive processes associated with law-abiding behavior. Paper presentation at the meeting of the Applied Positive Psychology, Warwick, UK.

Cognitive processes associated with law-abiding behavior

Dr. Roger Tweed, Dr. Gira Bhatt and Steve Dooley

BACKGROUND:  Much research has studied psychological processes associated with criminal behavior.  Positive psychologists can instead study psychological processes associated with law abiding behavior.

OBJECTIVES: This series of studies followed a positive psychology approach by examining conscious reasons for law-abiding behavior.  In particular, the questions asked about conscious reasons for not engaging in crime.

METHODS: In Study 1, Canadian young adults (n=70) responded to open ended prompts asking why they do not engage in criminal behavior.  For Study 2 (n=327), a scale was developed to assess these conscious reasons.  In Study 3, participants completed this conscious reasons inventory and the VIA Strengths questionnaire.

RESULTS: Ten main reasons for avoiding criminal behavior emerged.  Nine internally consistent subscales were developed to assess the reasons.  Cultural subgroups (East Asian-Canadian, South Asian-Canadian, and Euro-Canadian) significantly differed in some of these reasons not to commit crimes.

CONCLUSIONS: Thus, positive psychology may have relevance for crime prevention.  Internally consistent subscales are now available to assess reasons not to commit crimes.  These reasons have significant relations with cultural background and possibly with psychological strengths.  These reasons could be used in interventions promoting law abiding behavior.

Tweed, R., & Bhatt, G. (2009, April). Conscious reasons for avoiding crime: A preliminary comparison of cultural groups. Poster presentation at the 89th Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association. Portland, OR, USA.

Conscious reasons for avoiding crime: A preliminary comparison of cultural groups

Dr. Roger Tweed and Dr. Gira Bhatt

An analysis was conducted of conscious reasons for not engaging in crime. The sample included 327 university students from Canada and was subdivided into those identifying themselves as Chinese-Canadian, Indo-Canadian, and other Canadian (primarily of Western European descent). Participants responded to a series of 53 rating scale statements on reasons to not engage in criminal behavior. Scales were constructed based on prior theory corrected by internal consistency findings in this sample. Prior research by Joan Miller suggests that morality in parts of India is guided by duty toward in-group members. In keeping with that prior work, those in this sample who identified themselves as being of Indian descent were more likely to report avoiding crime because of the impact it could have on others. Prior research on culture by Joan Miller also suggests that North American culture cultivates a sense of morality that serves to prevent rather than promote behavior. In keeping with those prior findings, in this sample, those identifying themselves primarily as Canadian were more likely than the others to agree that they avoided crime because it went against their morality. Other research suggests that some East Asian cultures are more focused on preventing personal consequences than on maximizing personal gains when compared to some other cultural groups. That observation was again supported here. The findings suggest that conscious reasons to avoid crime provide a fertile area for further cross-cultural examination.