Developmental Brown Bag
Selin Gulgoz, Doctoral Candidate, Developmental Psychology - Johnna Swartz, Doctoral Candidate, Developmental Psychology
Monday, April 15, 2013,
12:00 pm 1:00 pm
B247 East Hall
"The Relationship Between Gender Essentialism and Gender Attitudes:
Examining the Developmental Pattern in a Low-SES Sample in Turkey"
Selin Gulgoz, Doctoral Candidate,
Developmental Psychology - University of Michigan
Psychological essentialism is an early-developing belief that members of a category share an underlying natural essence, which can be used for making inferences about new category members. Studies show that children across cultures essentialize various social categories, like gender. It is also well documented that young children show preferences for members of their own social category. As generalized inferences about social categories may lead to biases, an important, unexplored question is how children’s essentialist beliefs about social categories relate to their attitudes toward members of those categories, and how this relationship changes across development within different cultural contexts.
The current study examined kindergarteners’ (N=24), 2nd graders’ (N=45), 6th graders’ (N=41), and adults’ (N=24) gender essentialism and gender attitudes. We chose a low-SES sample in Turkey, where we expected the relatively strict gender roles to highlight social categories for children early on. We gave children two induction tasks to measure their beliefs, and a teammate selection task and a resource distribution task to measure their attitudes. Our findings suggest that there are similar patterns in development of gender essentialism and gender attitudes. The developmental pattern we found, where older children tend to make fewer inferences based on social categories, is consistent with most literature. Surprisingly, adults displayed higher levels of gender essentialism and same-gender preference relative to 2ndand 6th graders, indicating that, in a low-SES, gendered community, cultural messages may compete with a developmental trend towards reduced gender essentialism and attitudes.
Bio: Selin Gülgöz is in her fourth year in the Developmental Psychology program. Selin received her bachelor's degree from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey. Broadly, she is interested in cognitive development and conceptual development. Her research focuses on children's essentialist beliefs about social categories, particularly gender, and how essentialist beliefs are transmitted through language. She is currently also collaborating with colleagues on studies examining children's concepts of living and non-living things, and children's understanding of extraordinary mental capacities.
"Changes in Prefrontal Cortex-Amygdala Connectivity Across Adolescence:
Insights From Multiple Imaging Modalities"
Johnna Swartz, Doctoral Candidate,
Developmental Psychology - University of Michigan
The prefrontal cortex is thought to play a key role in regulating emotion by inhibiting the amygdala, an emotion-processing region. Previous research has demonstrated increased organization of the structural white matter connections between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala across childhood and adolescence. However, no research to date has examined how structural connectivity of these white matter tracts relates to prefrontal cortex-amygdala function during these developmental periods, or how these relate to behavioral outcomes associated with emotion regulation, such as internalizing symptoms. In this talk, I will discuss a multi-modal diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional MRI (fMRI) approach to examine whether structural connectivity in the uncinate fasciculus (a major white matter pathway connecting the prefrontal cortex and amygdala) relates to amygdala response to emotional faces and to internalizing symptoms in children and adolescents. The results demonstrate that greater white matter connectivity within the uncinate fasciculus predicts reduced amygdala activation to sad and happy faces. Moreover, I will describe a mediational model in which amygdala activation to sad faces mediates the relation between uncinate fasciculus structural connectivity and internalizing symptoms. In addition, I will describe how these relations are moderated by pubertal development. The implications for using multiple levels of analysis, including brain structure and function, to examine the development of complex behavioral phenotypes will also be discussed.
Bio: Johnna Swartz received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tufts University and is currently a fifth year doctoral student in Developmental Psychology working with Dr. Christopher Monk. Her research interests include using brain structure and function to examine typical development during the periods of childhood and adolescence and to understand the development and course of anxiety disorders and autism spectrum disorders.