Carroll College, Helena Montana

Honors Thesis Abstracts

2011 Honors Thesis Abstracts: Psychology

Understanding the Addictive Process as a Biological Brain Disease, and How this Leads to Compassion and Social Reform
Katie Garrison - Psychology, Honors Scholar Program

Drug and alcohol addiction is a very controversial issue in America today because some people view it as a biological brain disease while others see it as a moral defect or lack of willpower. Addiction is surrounded by shame and stigma, and it is destructive in multiple ways. Although there are a variety of perspectives on addiction, more and more research is pointing to the biological aspects that make addiction a chronic, progressive brain disease. There is now evidence of physiological changes in the brain due to drug use, and actual differences at the molecular level that mark a shift from controlled drug use to drug use that has become compulsive and out of the individual's control. Because of the mounting evidence of these brain changes, addiction can no longer be seen as a matter of individual choice. The individuals are powerless over their disease. By exploring the addictive process as a brain disease, it will be better understood how this complex and destructive force invades a person's life and takes over control. This perspective will promote understanding and compassion for those individuals suffering from addiction and also to their families who struggle with understanding the complexities of this disease. Addiction is cunning and pervasive. By its very nature addiction affects the individual's behavior, which so intimately reflects their qualities as a person. The only way to decrease the shame and torment that surrounds addiction is to deeply understand it. Addiction is not a choice, it is not a moral defect; it is it is a chronic and progressive brain disease that is worthy of attention and treatment.

An Analysis of Perceptual Awareness
Kari Halvorson - Psychology

Perceptual awareness describes the conscious processing of external and internal stimuli. External stimuli are processed through the five senses. Internal stimuli include psychology and physiology. Although people receive masses of stimuli they are not always aware of the processing of those stimuli. Both fields of psychology and philosophy explore the phenomenon of perceptual awareness. Psychology studies perceptual awareness through qualitative and quantitative research, as it relates to neuroscience, motion blindness, blind sight patients, change blindness, stress reduction and relaxation, immune functioning, relationships, mental health, therapy, relationships, and other areas. In philosophy, perceptual awareness is often referred to as mindfulness and is viewed as having implications with people's calling to enlightenment. Some philosophical theories, in particular eastern thoughts, encourage the mastery of perceptual awareness or mindfulness through practicing meditation. Although traditionally psychology and philosophy examine perceptual awareness in their distinct fields, both psychology and philosophy similarly contribute to the topic of perceptual awareness because they both define perceptual awareness, analyze gaps or problems with a lack of perceptual awareness, evaluate positive outcomes of perceptual awareness, consider moral, ethical, and religious/spiritual issues with perceptual awareness, and call to action personal and social observations. "An Analysis of Perceptual Awareness" holistically investigates the multifaceted elements of perceptual awareness by investigating similarities and roles in psychology and philosophy.

Academic Procrastination as a Predictor of Explanatory Style in College Students
Christina Hoppe - Psychology

The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether having a higher level of academic procrastination had a significant influence on the type of explanatory style found in college students. The study focused on negative explanatory styles, ones that attribute events to internal, stable, and global causes, and positive explanatory styles, attributions to external, unstable and specific causes, as correlates of procrastination. Male and female college students (N=86) in the introductory psychology course at Carroll College were given the Academic Attributional Style Questionnaire (AAS Q) to measure their explanatory style and the Procrastination Assessment Scale-Students (PAS) to measure procrastination level. Results indicated that while there was not a significant overall correlation between the scores on the AAS Q and the PASS , a significant positive relationship was found between students who had a higher level of procrastination and a negative explanatory style. Statistical analyses produced support for the hypothesis that students who procrastinate on academic assignments will have a greater tendency to use a negative explanatory style. The implication is that students with a negative explanatory style will put assignments off longer and perform poorer on tasks, creating additional work and unnecessary stress. Ideas and suggestions for further investigation are also discussed.