Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Theses

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    Early maladaptive schemas associated with performance anxiety aetiology and phenomenology in classically-trained musicians
    Kirsner, Jennifer ( 2018)
    Music performance anxiety (MPA) is widespread amongst performing musicians, although research into developmental factors involved in its manifestation is minimal. The aim of this research was to explore the impact of childhood experiences with parents along with patterns of dysfunctional cognitive schemas that develop through childhood (‘Early Maladaptive Schemas’; EMSs) on the manifestation and severity of MPA in adulthood. Study 1 investigated the relationship between EMSs and MPA through online surveys. Study 2 then expanded on Study 1 by exploring childhood parenting experiences associated with the development of both EMSs and MPA through qualitative interviews. Study 1 employed 100 adult professional, amateur, and student classical musicians from across Australia (recruited via email and social media). Participants completed the Young Schema Questionnaire (Young, 2005) and the Kenny Music Performance Anxiety Inventory (Kenny, 2011). Factor analysis revealed four higher-order EMS factors, one of which was a significant predictor of MPA. This factor (entitled ‘Inadequacy/Impaired Autonomy’) comprised themes of failure, catastrophising, and incompetence/dependence. Study 2 included eight participants from Study 1, five of whom scored one standard deviation or more above the mean K-MPAI score and three of whom scored one standard deviation or more below the mean K-MPAI score. Participants were interviewed about experiences of parenting during childhood and adolescence, along with their experiences of MPA and musical training. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore themes in the interview data, which revealed three key parenting styles related to the development of MPA: Poor Parental Involvement and Availability, Unpredictable Parental Mood and Anger, and Parental Expectations and Overcontrol. Findings from both studies are discussed in light of clinical applications and interventions, and implications for both parents and music educators.
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    Developmental and maintaining processes in social anxiety, and the impact upon social adjustment
    FABER, CHRISTINA ( 2013)
    Social anxiety disorder is the second most prevalent anxiety disorder in Australia and subthreshold social anxiety symptoms are experienced by a large majority of the population. Prevailing theoretical and treatment models primarily emphasise maintaining factors such as biased information-processing, but neglect developmental mechanisms which are important for both the conceptualisation and treatment of social anxiety. Using a cross-sectional methodology, the present study investigated the relationships between social anxiety and the developmental variables of adult attachment style and early maladaptive schemas. Additionally, the influence these variables have upon emotion sensitivity, which was used to measure biased information-processing, was explored. The relationship between social anxiety and social adjustment was examined to ascertain the level of functional impairment experienced as a result of social anxiety, a neglected area in the literature. The research consisted of two studies. The first study involved 348 undergraduate students, and the second study included 40 individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Participants completed the Social Phobia Scale, Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, Relationship Scales Questionnaire, Young Schema Questionnaire – Short Form, Social Adjustment Scale – Self Report, and the Morphed Faces experimental task. In addition, the clinical participants were compared with 80 participants from the first study – 40 who had high social anxiety scores, and 40 who had low scores. The results attest to the importance of preoccupied and fearful attachment styles in the onset of social anxiety, the protective influence of a secure attachment style, as well as the detrimental effect of social anxiety upon functioning. Early maladaptive schemas from the disconnection and rejection and impaired autonomy and performance domains, as well as subjugation and emotional inhibition, were important predictors of social anxiety. In addition, many of these schemas mediated the relationship between insecure attachment and social anxiety. The conceptualisation of attachment according to the dimensions of attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance was supported in the context of social anxiety. Overall, there was little difference between the high socially anxious group and clinical group on attachment and early maladaptive schemas, with both groups demonstrating elevated scores on these variables in comparison to the low socially anxious group. The clinical group, however, was faster and more accurate at identifying emotions, and had poorer social adjustment. In the first study, no significant relationships were found between emotion sensitivity and social anxiety. The findings elaborate upon prevailing cognitive-behavioural models which emphasise maintaining factors, and substantiate the importance of both maintaining and early environmental factors in social anxiety. The assertions that early maladaptive schemas may be derived from internal working models were supported, and insight has been provided into the cognitions underlying attachment organisations in socially anxious individuals. These studies suggest that understanding social anxiety symptoms as attachment-related psychopathology could be beneficial for early intervention and longer-term treatment gains.