Submitting Abstracts

February 29th was the deadline for submission of abstracts to the UWF Student Scholar’s Symposium. Being both a chronic procrastinator and an insufferable over-achiever, I submitted two abstracts at the eleventh hour. I’m really excited about presenting with both of them; in fact, the second will also be presented at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) in New Orleans. Our presentation is at 1:30 pm on April 1st, so look us up if you’re there!

Cultural Protective Factors on the Mental Health of Language Brokers
Speed, E. and Rainey, V.R.

Language brokering (translating for family members who do not speak the dominant language) significantly and positively correlates to academic performance and to fluency in both languages involved, but it also correlates to high levels of depression due to the stress of translating in complex and developmentally inappropriate settings. In this study, we predicted that cultural values that emphasize the connectedness of the family unit (e.g., “familism”) will moderate the adverse psychological effects of language brokering. Using the Mexican American Cultural Values scale and the Vancouver Index of Acculturation, we explored various protective and risk factors of collectivist cultural values on the development of depression and anxiety (measured by Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire and Penn State Worry Questionnaire scores) in adolescent language brokers. When language brokers were heavy translators as adolescents (14-18 years of age), they appear to have a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety during emerging adulthood. We found that for anxiety levels, having a higher sense of familism helped to alleviate some of these symptoms. For depression, we found the opposite. Language brokers with higher independent mainstream values had lower levels of depression. It seems that being connected to both cultures, rather than just one culture, is very important to language brokering adolescents.

Predictors of Success: The Effects of Personality Factors and Executive Function on Academic Achievement in College Students
DiRienzo, M.L., Speed, E., Moore, R.E., and Rainey, V.R.

Grit is a non-cognitive personality trait that has been shown to be a predictive factor of goal attainment. The current study extended these results by examining grit as a predictor of academic success in a regional, comprehensive university atmosphere, which is a typical environment in which grit may be advantageous. This study also explored the concepts of grit and executive function as indirect influences on academic success, rather than direct predictors. Previous research has established strong relations between the personality trait conscientiousness and academic performance. Merging these areas of research may lead to a greater understanding of the interaction of different personality variables in predicting collegiate success.

Data was collected from 88 students. The Big Five Personality Inventory, the cognition battery of the NIH Toolbox, and the Grit Short Form were given to participants. GPA was also collected. Preliminary analyses show that the relation between grit and academic performance is more complex than previously suggested. The relation was shown to be positive, but only in the presence of certain personality characteristics. These data suggest that grit plays a role in GPA only when combined with average to high levels of conscientiousness. Therefore, as levels of grit and conscientiousness increase, GPA tends to increase. These findings support our assertion that a more complex relationship exists between grit and GPA. Data using executive functions as moderators is currently being analyzed.

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