psychology

Ernest Jouriles named SMU’s first G. Dale McKissick Endowed Professor of Psychology

Ernest JourilesErnest N. Jouriles, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor in SMU’s Department of Psychology and an internationally recognized expert in the psychology of family and relationship violence, has been named the University’s first G. Dale McKissick Endowed Professor of Psychology. He will begin his new duties on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.

The professorship was made possible in 2014 through the estate of SMU alumnus McKissick, who graduated with a B.B.A. degree in 1950 and M.B.A. degree in 1954.

Jouriles has several programs of research (in collaboration with SMU Professor of Psychology and Dedman College Senior Associate Dean for Research Renee McDonald). One program focuses on violence in adolescent romantic relationships and is dedicated to reaching a better understanding of risk factors for sexual and relationship violence among adolescents, and using this knowledge to develop and evaluate interventions for preventing such violence.

A second program focuses on children’s exposure to interparental conflict and violence. Through this research, Jouriles aims to better understand why children’s exposure to interparental conflict and violence sometimes leads to mental health problems and sometimes does not. He also uses this knowledge to develop and evaluate interventions to assist children in high-conflict and violent families.

Jouriles received his Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from Stony Brook University in 1987, at which time he began work as an assistant professor at the University of Houston. He joined SMU as chair of the Department of Psychology in 2003 and served in that position for 12 years, until summer 2015. During that time, he established the department’s APA-approved doctoral program in clinical psychology.

He has published more than 100 scientific articles, chapters and books, and his research has appeared in journals including the Clinical Psychology ReviewPsychology of ViolenceJournal of Adolescent HealthJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology and Behavior Therapy, among others. In addition, he has directed or co-directed numerous funded research projects. He also teaches research methods and developmental psychopathology at SMU and assists agencies in the Dallas community in helping them provide empirically supported services to families and children.

> Learn more about Ernest Jouriles’ research at the SMU Research blog

Research: SMU study finds helicopter parenting harms boys and girls in different ways

Students Studying in Fondren Library CenterSMU researchers have found surprising gender differences in how college students react to misguided parenting. Their findings on the impact of helicopter parenting and fostering independence have been reported in a new article, “Helicopter Parenting, Autonomy Support, and College Students’ Mental Health and Well-being: The Moderating Role of Sex and Ethnicity,” in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Measuring both helicopter parenting as well as autonomy support — fostering independence — was important for the researchers to study, said family dynamics expert Chrystyna Kouros, SMU assistant professor of psychology and an author on the study.

“Just because mom and dad aren’t helicopter parents doesn’t necessarily mean they are supporting their young adult in making his or her own choices,” Kouros said. “The parent may be uninvolved, so we also wanted to know if parents are actually encouraging their student to be independent and make their own choices.”

The researchers found that young women are negatively affected by helicopter parenting, while young men suffer when parents don’t encourage independence.

“The sex difference was surprising,” said Kouros, an expert in adolescent depression. “In Western culture in particular, boys are socialized more to be independent, assertive and take charge, while girls are more socialized toward relationships, caring for others, and being expressive and compliant. Our findings showed that a lack of autonomy support — failure to encourage independence — was more problematic for males, but didn’t affect the well-being of females. Conversely, helicopter parenting — parents who are overinvolved — proved problematic for girls, but not boys.”

The study is unique in measuring the well-being of college students, said Kouros, director of SMU’s Family Health and Development Lab. The tendency in research on parenting has been to focus on the mental health of younger children.

“When researchers do focus on college students they tend to ask about academic performance, and whether students are engaged in school. But there haven’t been as many studies that look at mental health or well-being in relation to helicopter parenting,” she said.

Unlike children subjected to psychological control, in which parents try to instill guilt in their child, children of helicopter parents report a very close bond with their parents. Helicopter parents “hover” out of concern for their child, not from malicious intent, she said.

What helicopter parents don’t realize is that despite their good intentions to help their child, it actually does harm, said Naomi Ekas, a co-author on the study and assistant professor of psychology at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

“They’re not allowing their child to become independent or learn problem-solving on their own, nor to test out and develop effective coping strategies,” Ekas said.

Young men that reported more autonomy support, measured stronger well-being in the form of less social anxiety and fewer depressive symptoms.

For young women, helicopter parenting predicted lower psychological well-being. They were less optimistic, felt less satisfaction with accomplishments, and were not looking forward to things with enjoyment, nor feeling hopeful. In contrast, lacking autonomy support wasn’t related to negative outcomes in females.

“The take-away is we have to adjust our parenting as our kids get older,” said Kouros. “Being involved with our child is really important. But we have to adapt how we are involved as they are growing up, particularly going off to college.”

Other co-authors on the study are Romilyn Kiriaki and Megan Sunderland, SMU Department of Psychology, and Megan M. Pruitt, Texas Christian University. The study was funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at UT-Austin.

— Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

Three years of ‘educational diplomacy’ between SMU and Pakistan culminate in 2015 Islamabad conference

Workshop participants at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University

Participants in a workshop at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University. (Photo courtesy of thePeshawar.com)

Two professors and a clinical graduate student from SMU’s Department of Psychology will travel halfway around the world to help the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) of Peshawar, Pakistan, host an international psychology conference in Islamabad on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015.

The conference, “Advancing Women Issues: Local and Global Directions,” will feature 55 speakers and 400 participants from across the region. It’s the culminating effort of a three-year partnership between SMU and SBBWU supported by a $1.2 million U.S. State Department grant.

“I look at it as educational diplomacy,” says SMU Psychology Department Chair George Holden. “The U.S. State Department wanted to do something to help relations between the countries and recognized the need to help Pakistan develop its educational system so the Pakistanis can better improve their country.”

At the conference, Holden will present the SMU and SBBWU’s joint research on trauma in Peshawar, where the threat of a terrorist’s bomb is never far from mind. During a Friday, Dec. 11 workshop, SMU psychology professor Lorelei Rowe and graduate student Rose Ashraf will present the latest version of Rowe’s popular psychological assessment tool, SCID-5, which helps doctors diagnose their patients through an interview-like examination process.

Other presenters will focus on topics such as promoting the well-being of women and children in Pakistan and the impact of Nepal’s earthquake on Nepalese women and children.

The SMU-SBBWU partnership is one of 20 funded by the State Department. All 20 partnerships connect American universities with universities in Pakistan or Afghanistan. SMU’s grant also brought SBBWU students and faculty to SMU, where they interacted with SMU students and faculty in an exchange of ideas and education.

— Kenny Ryan

Steven C. Currall named SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs

Steven C. CurrallSteven C. Currall, whose record of academic leadership includes achievements at Rice University, University College London and the University of California-Davis, has been named vice president for academic affairs and provost at SMU, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Currall, a psychological scientist, becomes SMU’s chief academic officer as the University begins its second century of operation. He will oversee all aspects of academic life, including admission, faculty development, libraries, the curriculum and study abroad. He will supervise SMU’s seven degree-granting schools and will hold departmental appointments in three of them – Management and Organizations in the Cox School of Business; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems in the Lyle School of Engineering; and Psychology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Most recently, Currall served as senior advisor for strategic projects and initiatives to the UC Davis chancellor, and previously served as dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC-Davis.

“Steven Currall brings the perfect combination of experience and skills to lead SMU’s rise among the nation’s best universities,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He brings interdisciplinary perspectives that are central to our academic mission going forward. He possesses expertise in the sciences and technology as well as in the humanities and social sciences, insights that are critical for SMU’s progress and that reflect the challenges and opportunities of a complex society. We are delighted to welcome him to SMU and back to Texas.”

“I am thrilled and honored to join the SMU community as the next provost,” Currall said. “SMU has a foundation of academic excellence, its teaching and research are transformational, and its interdisciplinary ethos fosters innovations by faculty and students that are positively impacting Dallas, the state of Texas, the nation, and beyond.  I am grateful to President Turner and the search committee for the opportunity to serve SMU. I look forward to listening, learning, and partnering with my colleagues to propel SMU into an ever higher orbit.”

Currall served as dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC-Davis for more than five years, during which time the school reached the highest ranking in its history, before becoming the chancellor’s advisor. He describes himself as an “organizational architect” and has conducted research in organizational behavior, innovation, entrepreneurship, emerging technologies, trust and negotiation, and organizational governance.

He is lead author on Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity (Oxford University Press, 2014) and a frequently quoted source for national and international media.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Currall received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; a master of science in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and a bachelor of arts cum laude in psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

As chancellor’s advisor at UC-Davis, Currall has facilitated campus-wide deliberations on the university’s strategic vision for its role in the 21st century, including how UC-Davis will address global challenges relating to food, health, and energy. He developed plans for an additional UC-Davis campus in Sacramento. He co-led development of a blueprint for increasing annual research expenditures to $1billion. He led the development of a new framework for recognizing faculty excellence and a methodology for eliminating faculty salary disparities due to gender or ethnicity.

Currall also has served as the vice chair and member of the executive committee of  the board of directors for the 10-campus University of California system’s Global Health Institute.

He spent 12 years at Rice University, where he was the William and Stephanie Sick Professor of Entrepreneurship in the George R. Brown School of Engineering and a Rice faculty member in the departments of management, psychology, and statistics.   He was founding director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. He was formerly vice dean of enterprise and professor of management science and innovation in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at University College London and a visiting professor at the London Business School.

At the invitation of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Currall served as a member of the Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group. His other honors include:

Currall’s appointment ends a nationwide search through a committee led by SMU Cox School of Business Dean Albert Niemi.

“Steve Currall will be an outstanding addition to the SMU leadership team,” said Niemi. “In particular, his background in strategy and planning will be a tremendous asset as SMU embarks on a new strategic plan for 2016-2025.”

“I want to thank Steve for his dedication to UC-Davis over the years, and in particular while he served as my senior advisor during this last year,” UC-Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said. “Steve will bring to Southern Methodist University strong academic leadership and a deep understanding of the needs of students, faculty and staff. We know he will contribute to and help advance the wonderful culture and distinguished reputation of SMU.”

Currall will be joined in Dallas by his wife, Cheyenne Currall, Ph.D. Read Currall’s full curriculum vitae.

SMU Prof. George Holden to speak at congressional briefing on corporal punishment in public schools Nov. 18, 2015

George Holden, SMU Professor of Psychology

George Holden, SMU Professor of Psychology

SMU Professor and Psychology Department Chair George Holden will speak before a congressional briefing titled “Spare the Rod: Protect the Child” from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18 in Washington D.C.

Holden, a leading expert on parenting, discipline and family, will participate in a panel designed to tackle the ongoing phenomena of corporal punishment in schools – which is still legal in 19 states, including Texas, though outlawed in Dallas and the state’s other metropolitan areas.

“There’s very limited research about the impact of corporal punishment in schools, but what research is available is focused on how much it’s used and to whom its used on,” Holden says. “It’s mostly used on minority students and students with disabilities.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat from Florida, is hosting the briefing, which will be attended by congressional staffers. Hastings’ goal, says Holden, is to introduce a bill that will outlaw corporal punishment and paddling of children in schools.

Holden believes this is the second recent attempt to pass such a bill. In 2011, New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy introduced a bill called the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act,” which failed to make it out of committee.

The 19 states where corporal punishment in schools is still legal are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

– Kenny Ryan

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