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An Analysis of Stimulus Confrontation as Self-Help for Specific Phobias: A Scholarly and Personal Narrative

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Perhaps by some ingrained sense of human preparedness, phobias are an outlier in the world of conditioning. Again and again, they are highlighted as the only thing which avoidance makes worse, rather than alleviates. My own fear of insects had

Perhaps by some ingrained sense of human preparedness, phobias are an outlier in the world of conditioning. Again and again, they are highlighted as the only thing which avoidance makes worse, rather than alleviates. My own fear of insects had reached its most severe level just as I began learning about phobias, and avoidance, in my undergraduate psychology courses. There, I learned that avoidance of the phobic stimulus \u2014 in my case, insects \u2014 seemed to be a fundamental element of maintaining a phobia, and I was more than guilty of it. Following this realization, I endeavored into what I would later come to call Stimulus Confrontation: A self-designed therapeutic course of action to overcome my fear. This thesis, then, is the record of this project. It weaves together my scholarly research on phobias with my own personal narrative concerning the employment of Stimulus Confrontation, beginning with the etymology and proposed etiologies of phobias, followed by an overview of contemporary treatment options available and a recounting of Stimulus Confrontation as applied to my own phobia. Told from her own perspective, English writer and journalist Jenny Diski's book, What I Don't Know About Animals, tells of her own arachnophobia, and includes an honest account of the fear and anxiety it caused for her, as well as her own journey to overcome it. Like my own, Diski's phobia \u2014 arachnophobia \u2014 had come to affect her everyday life. Prior to seeking treatment for her fear at the age of 58, Diski too had learned to avoid the thing which she so feared. Inspired by What I Don't Know About Animals, the personal anecdotes I have included throughout this thesis serve to elaborate upon my personal experience with my own insectophobia, and the cessation of avoidance that led to substantial progress in overcoming my fears. Throughout this thesis, I refer to this cessation of avoidance as Stimulus Confrontation, with the intention that following the same process I did may benefit others in overcoming their own specific phobias.

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2015-12

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Equating user experience and Fitts law in gesture based input modalities

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The International Standards Organization (ISO) documentation utilizes Fitts’ law to determine the usability of traditional input devices like mouse and touchscreens for one- or two-dimensional operations. To test the hypothesis that Fitts’ Law can be applied to hand/air gesture based

The International Standards Organization (ISO) documentation utilizes Fitts’ law to determine the usability of traditional input devices like mouse and touchscreens for one- or two-dimensional operations. To test the hypothesis that Fitts’ Law can be applied to hand/air gesture based computing inputs, Fitts’ multi-directional target acquisition task is applied to three gesture based input devices that utilize different technologies and two baseline devices, mouse and touchscreen. Three target distances and three target sizes were tested six times in a randomized order with a randomized order of the five input technologies. A total of 81 participants’ data were collected for the within subjects design study. Participants were instructed to perform the task as quickly and accurately as possible according to traditional Fitts’ testing procedures. Movement time, error rate, and throughput for each input technology were calculated.

Additionally, no standards exist for equating user experience with Fitts’ measures such as movement time, throughput, and error count. To test the hypothesis that a user’s experience can be predicted using Fitts’ measures of movement time, throughput and error count, an ease of use rating using a 5-point scale for each input type was collected from each participant. The calculated Mean Opinion Scores (MOS) were regressed on Fitts’ measures of movement time, throughput, and error count to understand the extent to which they can predict a user’s subjective rating.

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2015

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Effects of elderly priming on driving speeds: a driving simulator study

Description

Research on priming has shown that a stimulus can cause people to behave according to the stereotype held about the stimulus. Two experiments were conducted in which the effects of elderly priming were tested by use of a driving simulator.

Research on priming has shown that a stimulus can cause people to behave according to the stereotype held about the stimulus. Two experiments were conducted in which the effects of elderly priming were tested by use of a driving simulator. In both experiments, participants drove through a simulated world guided by either an elderly or a younger female voice. The voices told the participants where to make each of six turns. Both experiments yielded slower driving speeds in the elderly voice condition. The effect was universal regardless of implicit and explicit attitudes towards elderly people.

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2012

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Understanding team cognition through communication analysis: measuring team interaction patterns using recurrence plots

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By extracting communication sequences from audio data collected during two separate five-person mission-planning tasks, interaction patterns in team communication were analyzed using a recurrence-based, nonlinear dynamics approach. These methods, previously successful in detecting pattern change in a three-person team task,

By extracting communication sequences from audio data collected during two separate five-person mission-planning tasks, interaction patterns in team communication were analyzed using a recurrence-based, nonlinear dynamics approach. These methods, previously successful in detecting pattern change in a three-person team task, were evaluated for their applicability to larger team settings, and their ability to detect pattern change when team members switched roles or locations partway through the study (Study 1) or change in patterns over time (Study 2). Both traditional interaction variables (Talking Time, Co-Talking Time, and Sequence Length of Interactions) and dynamic interaction variables (Recurrence Rate, Determinism, and Pattern Information) were explored as indicators and predictors of changes in team structure and performance. Results from these analyses provided support that both traditional and dynamic interaction variables reflect some changes in team structure and performance. However, changes in communication patterns were not detected. Because simultaneous conversations are possible in larger teams, but not detectable through our communication sequence methods, team pattern changes may not be visible in communication sequences for larger teams. This suggests that these methods may not be applicable for larger teams, or in situations where simultaneous conversations may occur. Further research is needed to continue to explore the applicability of recurrence-based nonlinear dynamics in the analysis of team communication.

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2012

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The development of robust intuitive decision making in simulated real-world environments

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Intuitive decision making refers to decision making based on situational pattern recognition, which happens without deliberation. It is a fast and effortless process that occurs without complete awareness. Moreover, it is believed that implicit learning is one means by which

Intuitive decision making refers to decision making based on situational pattern recognition, which happens without deliberation. It is a fast and effortless process that occurs without complete awareness. Moreover, it is believed that implicit learning is one means by which a foundation for intuitive decision making is developed. Accordingly, the present study investigated several factors that affect implicit learning and the development of intuitive decision making in a simulated real-world environment: (1) simple versus complex situational patterns; (2) the diversity of the patterns to which an individual is exposed; (3) the underlying mechanisms. The results showed that simple patterns led to higher levels of implicit learning and intuitive decision-making accuracy than complex patterns; increased diversity enhanced implicit learning and intuitive decision-making accuracy; and an embodied mechanism, labeling, contributes to the development of intuitive decision making in a simulated real-world environment. The results suggest that simulated real-world environments can provide the basis for training intuitive decision making, that diversity is influential in the process of training intuitive decision making, and that labeling contributes to the development of intuitive decision making. These results are interpreted in the context of applied situations such as military applications involving remotely piloted aircraft.

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2011

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The impact of working memory, tags, and tag clouds, on search of websites

Description

Although there are many forms of organization on the Web, one of the most prominent ways to organize web content and websites are tags. Tags are keywords or terms that are assigned to a specific piece of content in order

Although there are many forms of organization on the Web, one of the most prominent ways to organize web content and websites are tags. Tags are keywords or terms that are assigned to a specific piece of content in order to help users understand the common relationships between pieces of content. Tags can either be assigned by an algorithm, the author, or the community. These tags can also be organized into tag clouds, which are visual representations of the structure and organization contained implicitly within these tags. Importantly, little is known on how we use these different tagging structures to understand the content and structure of a given site. This project examines 2 different characteristics of tagging structures: font size and spatial orientation. In order to examine how these different characteristics might interact with individual differences in attentional control, a measure of working memory capacity (WMC) was included. The results showed that spatial relationships affect how well users understand the structure of a website. WMC was not shown to have any significant effect; neither was varying the font size. These results should better inform how tags and tag clouds are used on the Web, and also provide an estimation of what properties to include when designing and implementing a tag cloud on a website.

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Date Created
2011

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The effects of stress and mood on cognitive performance

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When discussing human factors and performance, researchers recognize stress as a factor, but overlook mood as contributing factor. To explore the relationship between mood, stress and cognitive performance, a field study was conducted involving fire fighters engaged in a fire

When discussing human factors and performance, researchers recognize stress as a factor, but overlook mood as contributing factor. To explore the relationship between mood, stress and cognitive performance, a field study was conducted involving fire fighters engaged in a fire response simulation. Firefighter participants completed a stress questionnaire, an emotional state questionnaire, and a cognitive task. Stress and cognitive task performance scores were examined before and after the firefighting simulation for individual cognitive performance depreciation caused by stress or mood. They study revealed that existing stress was a reliable predictor of the pre-simulation cognitive task score, that, as mood becomes more positive, perceived stress scores decrease, and that negative mood and pre-simulation stress are also positively and significantly correlated.

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Date Created
2014

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The relationship between team briefings and non-routine events: developing a model of team briefings in the operating room

Description

Preoperative team briefings have been suggested to be important for improving team performance in the operating room. Many high risk environments have accepted team briefings; however healthcare has been slower to follow. While applying briefings in the operating room has

Preoperative team briefings have been suggested to be important for improving team performance in the operating room. Many high risk environments have accepted team briefings; however healthcare has been slower to follow. While applying briefings in the operating room has shown positive benefits including improved communication and perceptions of teamwork, most research has only focused on feasibility of implementation and not on understanding how the quality of briefings can impact subsequent surgical procedures. Thus, there are no formal protocols or methodologies that have been developed.

The goal of this study was to relate specific characteristics of team briefings back to objective measures of team performance. The study employed cognitive interviews, prospective observations, and principle component regression to characterize and model the relationship between team briefing characteristics and non-routine events (NREs) in gynecological surgery. Interviews were conducted with 13 team members representing each role on the surgical team and data were collected for 24 pre-operative team briefings and 45 subsequent surgical cases. The findings revealed that variations within the team briefing are associated with differences in team-related outcomes, namely NREs, during the subsequent surgical procedures. Synthesis of the data highlighted three important trends which include the need to promote team communication during the briefing, the importance of attendance by all surgical team members, and the value of holding a briefing prior to each surgical procedure. These findings have implications for development of formal briefing protocols.

Pre-operative team briefings are beneficial for team performance in the operating room. Future research will be needed to continue understanding this relationship between how briefings are conducted and team performance to establish more consistent approaches and as well as for the continuing assessment of team briefings and other similar team-related events in the operating room.

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Date Created
2014

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Impatience and driving speeds: a driving simulator study

Description

Research on priming has shown that exposure to the concept of fast food can have an effect on human behavior by inducing haste and impatience (Zhong & E. DeVoe, 2010). This research suggests that thinking about fast food makes individuals

Research on priming has shown that exposure to the concept of fast food can have an effect on human behavior by inducing haste and impatience (Zhong & E. DeVoe, 2010). This research suggests that thinking about fast food makes individuals impatient and strengthens their desire to complete tasks such as reading and decision making as quickly and efficiently as possible. Two experiments were conducted in which the effects of fast food priming were examined using a driving simulator. The experiments examined whether fast food primes can induce impatient driving. In experiment 1, 30 adult drivers drove a course in a driving simulator after being exposed to images by rating aesthetics of four different logos. Experiment 1 did not yield faster driving speeds nor an impatient and faster break at the yellow light in the fast food logo prime condition. In experiment 2, 30 adult drivers drove the same course from experiment 1. Participants did not rate logos on their aesthetics prior to the drive, instead billboards were included in the simulation that had either fast food or diner logos. Experiment 2 did not yielded faster driving speeds, however there was a significant effect of faster breaking and a higher number of participants running the yellow light.

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2014

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Towards predicting completion for United States Air Force (USAF) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) training

Description

Civilian and military use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) has significantly increased in recent years. Specifically, the United States Air Force (USAF) has an insatiable demand for RPA operations, that are responsible for fulfilling critical demands in every theater 24

Civilian and military use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) has significantly increased in recent years. Specifically, the United States Air Force (USAF) has an insatiable demand for RPA operations, that are responsible for fulfilling critical demands in every theater 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (United States Air Force, 2015). Around the clock operations have led to a manning shortage of RPA pilots in the USAF. The USAF MQ-9 “Reaper” Weapons School trains tactical experts and leaders of Airmen skilled in the art of integrated battle-space dominance (United States Air Force, 2015). Weapons Officers for the MQ-9 platform are also critically under-manned, with only 17% of allocated slots filled (B. Callahan, personal communication, January 28, 2016). Furthermore, the leading cause of training attrition has been attributed to lack of critical thinking and problem solving skills (B. Callahan, personal communication, January 28, 2016); skills not directly screened for prior to entering the RPA pilot career field. The proposed study seeks to discover patterns of student behaviors in the brief and debrief process in Weapons School, with the goal of identifying the competencies that distinguish the top students in Weapons School.

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2017