Ashley Moushegian | Summary 2021-2022 | Volen National Center for Complex Systems
Department of Psychology
Co-brooding and its impact on symptom internalization before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
Internalizing symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are widespread and debilitating. These symptoms peak in emerging adulthood and have further increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-brooding, a style of stress response involving the mutual encouragement of negative affect, may have played a role in this increase in symptoms during the pandemic. We identified two potential mechanisms by which co-brooding may have contributed to this increase during the pandemic: 1) Co-brood rates may have increased early in the pandemic. 2) The association between co-brood and internalizing symptoms may have increased early in the pandemic. We also expect the association between co-brooding and internalizing symptoms to be stronger in females than in males. These hypotheses were tested on a sample of 433 Brandeis undergraduate students, with the following subsamples: 279 participated before the pandemic, 154 participated at its onset, and 57 participants participated at both time points. Co-brood rates did not differ significantly between pre-pandemic and early subsamples, nor did rates change significantly in the longitudinal subsample. Similarly, the association between co-brood and internalizing symptoms did not change significantly from before the pandemic to its onset and the association between co-brood and internalizing symptoms did not differ. not significantly between men and women. In short, our data does not confirm any of our hypotheses. Since previous research on co-brooding has been conducted primarily with children, it is possible that the effects of co-brooding differ in emerging adult populations. Further research will need to be conducted on emerging adult populations to understand this possible change in co-brood outcomes.
In addition to continuing my own research this summer, I was able to mentor three new members of the Hampton University lab. None of them had worked in a psychology lab before, so it was rewarding to help them gain confidence in their research skills and end the summer with a completed project. The teamwork aspect of research has always been one of my favorite aspects of working in a lab. I really enjoy helping others, so it was important for me to spend some of my time this summer helping new members of our team. I taught them to use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), to interpret the results and to create a research poster. In addition to helping them succeed in something they previously had no experience with, this mentorship has also helped me appreciate all that I have learned over the past few years in my lab from my Principal Investigator and graduate student mentors. The MR Bauer Summer Scientific Research Fellowship gave me the time to help others alongside Professor Snyder and her graduate students while completing my own research project. Through my freelance project, I was able to learn a new statistical analysis program, write a manuscript, and explore future directions for research based on the results of my study. Learning from PhD students as well as Professor Snyder gave me insight into the lives of PhD students in psychology. Expanding the scientific literature surrounding stress response styles has been an extremely rewarding experience and one that I will carry with me throughout my career.
Another experience that will remain etched in my memory was when all my analyzes turned out to be insignificant. At first, I was extremely disappointed with this result. I had been working on this study for over a year and spent a considerable amount of time doing background research and submitting a pre-registration. We also had a sizeable sample of 433 participants, so this result was unlikely due to a power issue. What helped me reframe this result were the responses from my CP and my mentor. They reminded me that as long as my background research and assumptions were reasonable, any results are useful and valuable in scientific research. My study focuses on co-brooding in emerging adults, and the vast majority of research on co-brooding has previously been conducted on children. Looking back, I saw that an insignificant result is fascinating. Perhaps co-brood effects change over lifespan. A hard-hitting style of communication in children can lose its effect in adulthood. I am excited to complete the rest of my manuscript and use the skills I learned over the summer to further my research career.
I loved how the MR Bauer Scholarship maintained a focus on using what we learned to give back to our community. I used my experiences as a psychology major and researcher this summer to volunteer at Grotonwood Camp, a summer camp dedicated to helping children and adults with a wide range of psychological, learning and developmental difficulties. behaviour. Working with these children helped me build my motivation to better understand how people live with different psychological and behavioral challenges and how best to support them. I hope that my research in Professor Snyder’s lab will one day make a practical difference in the lives of children and adults suffering from anxiety and depression.