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Combating deaths of despair in Montana

Cassidy June Alexander, University of Montana

Deaths by suicide, alcoholism and drug overdose are known as the deaths of despair. This research project seeks to explore efforts in Montana to combat deaths of despair.

In 2018, The Commonwealth Fund explored rising trends of deaths of despair at the state level. It found that from 2005 to 2016, the rate of deaths of despair increased in every state and the Disctrict of Columbia. Among the highest rates of deaths of despair is Montana. While this analysis provides valuable insight into the deaths of despair, there are many more factors that contribute to deaths of despair in rural America.

Montana, like much of rural America, is typically painted as one big place filled with similar people facing similar experiences. But in reality, Montana’s geographic, demographic and socioeconomic landscapes are remarkably diverse. Over the past few years, the American Communities Project has identified 15 types of counties (African American South, Aging Farmlands, Big Cities, College Towns, Evangelical Hubs, Exurbs, Graying America, Hispanic Centers, LDS Enclaves, Middle Suburbs, Military Posts, Native American Lands, Rural Middle America, Urban Suburbs and Working Class Country) that make up rural America and can explain trends and changes across the country at the local level.

This project focuses on Montana counties and their community types. Using county-level data of what is being implemented to combat the rising trend, this research could help inform treatment for those more susceptible to deaths of despair at the county level in Montana.

The Effect of Familiarity on Truthiness Judgement

Karina M. Carlson, University of Montana, Missoula

Judgments on whether a statement is true are influenced by various factors. For example, Newman et al. (2012) found participants rated a statement as true if it was presented with a related photo, even if the photo did not provide any evidence that the statement is true. This phenomenon is known as the truthiness effect. Despite a large number of existing studies, little has been known about the mechanism underlies the truthiness effect. In the memory literature, previous studies demonstrated that simply repeating an item, such as a word, makes it more memorable (Jacoby & Whitehouse, 1989), suggesting that mere exposure facilitates conceptual processing and leads to high familiarity. The aim of the current study is to investigate whether pre-exposure of a photo increases familiarity, which influences people to judge a statement as true regardless of whether the statement is true. Considering the effect size of Newman et al.’s study, this study is recruiting about 65 participants from the psychology subject pool. Sixty-four photos and statements from Newman et al.’s study are used as materials. The study consists of two phases: a pre-exposure phase, and a judgement phase. During phase 1, a series of photos are shown to participants, and they are asked to make a likeness judgment for each. In phase 2, they are shown a series of statements with a photo or no photo, where they will determine the truthfulness of the statement. Critically, half of the photos in phase 2 are used in phase 1. Expected results are that participants judge statements as more truthful when they are presented with a photo and when the photo has been pre-exposed. These results add to the truthiness-effect literature on how familiarity through pre-exposure of a photo makes things more believable and true even if the statement is indeed false.

The Perception of Intimate Partner Violence in Formal Reporting

Libby Freeman

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a form of violence that is committed by someone that is a steady or serious partner. IPV includes multiple types of violence such as physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. 43% of women and 28% of men on college campuses experienced some form of IPV (Tsui & Santamaria, 2015). Rates of IPV have been studied quite frequently but the perception if it is a crime has not. Even with the lack of research, we believe that the perception of IPV being a crime will affect the rates of formal reporting. Data for this experiment was obtained from an online Safe Campus Survey (SCS) conducted at a Northwest University during the Fall 2018. We will look at the correlation between the number of formal reports of IPV and whether the victim thought it was a crime. If the perception of whether or not IPV is a crime is limiting reporting, then we need to educate people. By knowing that the violence that is being experienced is a crime, hopefully more people will want to make a formal report.

The Psychological Undertones for Delayed and Non-Treatment Seeking Behavior After Concussion

Nicholas G. DeBellis

Purpose: The goal of this project is to gain a general understanding for why individuals don’t seek or delay seeking help after sustaining a concussion. We believe that this project is important for helping us to identify why people don't seek treatment while shedding light on the dark figure that exists within mental health and sports culture. We hold that the data gathered from this project will allow us to empathize and help reeducate individuals by addressing existing stigma around concussions.

Methods: Using an interactive survey on Qualtrics and the University of Montana student population, we hope to discern the reasons medical attention is delayed or never sought in addition to examining what information the public should be educated in, in order to reduce the number of under-reported injuries.

Significance: In the United States, over 750,000 head injuries each year result in hospitalization (Barrer & Ruben, 1984) and one such injury occurs every 16 seconds (Swiercinskey, Price, &Lead, 1993). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 300,000 sports related concussions occur annually in the United States (McCrea, Hummeke, Olsen, Leo, &Guskiewicz, 2004). Concussion has gained ground as a pronounced health problem and substantial research has been dedicated to comprehending its effects. As a result, public understanding has considerably increased in recent years. Despite increased awareness, research suggests underreporting of concussion symptoms is still widespread (Asken, McCera, Clugston, Snyder, Houck, &Bauer, 2016). This study will help us shed light on why people never seek help and allow us to address stigmatizing beliefs.