All posts by Sarah Alyce Hartley

College and Stress

I needed an article that talked about stress, and that validated my choice to study college students as opposed to another group.

One word can describe this article: bingo.

This article goes into detail describing how and why college students are so stressed out all the time. The article also illustrates some side effects of stress, such as loneliness and anxiety.

Wright, J. J. (1967). Reported personal stress sources and adjustment of entering freshmen. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 14(4), 371-373. doi:10.1037/h0024750

 

Social support

One of the main problems I encountered when brainstorming about my proposal was determining a way to measure social support.

Luckily I found an article describing the Social Support Questionnare (SSQ) which provides quantitative data about the amount and perceived quality of support received. The questionnaire asks about the number of people on whom one could receive support from in a variety of situations. It also asks participants to rank their satisfaction with this support. The numbers are then averaged to provide a singular score.

 

Sarason, I. G., Sarason, B. R., Shearin, E. N., & Pierce, G. R. (1987). A brief measure of social support: Practical and theoretical implications. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4(4), 497-510.

LGB familial support.

This article doesn’t exactly relate to my topic, but it deals with stress and social support for those in a minority group. I had some reservations about using this article, because negative social effects of being a vegan are hardly comparable to the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community. Once I read another one of my articles, I was able to find a connection between familial support that, while it is not quite the same, it can be compared as both groups can rejected by their families.

I found this interesting because it discovered that close, familial support meant more in reducing stress levels than peer support or overall satisfaction with the support.

This has slight implications in how social support for vegans might differ from non-vegans.

 

Burton, C. L., Bonanno, G. A., & Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2014). Familial social support predicts a reduced cortisol response to stress in sexual minority young adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 47(0), 241-245. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.05.013

Brief Mood Introspection Scale

I knew I wanted to use the BMIS, I just needed to know what it was exactly. The BMIS uses series of adjectives such as “happy” and “sad” to provide a better quantitative measure of overall mood that the PSS. I used this in my proposal to determine the overall moods of vegans and non-vegans.

 

 

Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988). The experience and meta-experience of mood. Journal of personality and social psychology55(1), 102.

Vegans forever

A study from Medical Hypotheses found that a low-methionine diet can increase longevity, especially when coupled with a low calorie diet, which is also proven to slow the aging process. However, it can be kind of hard to limit the intake of a specific amino acid.

UNLESS you’re a vegan, in which case, it’s pretty much a breeze.

I found this article really interesting from a nutritional standpoint, and I plan to use it as background information on the health benefits of a vegan diet.

McCarty, M. F., Barroso-Aranda, J., & Contreras, F. (2009). The low-methionine content of vegan diets may make methionine restriction feasible as a life extension strategy. Medical Hypotheses, 72(2), 125-128.

Glowin’ Hormones

I used an excerpt from this book to learn about chemiluminescent assays for cortisol. It had easy to follow steps and some great pictures. Basically, serum samples are treated with certain proteins and enzymes that bind to cortisol and that cause it to break away from plasma proteins. Then an electrode is inserted into the sample and a charge is run through it. The brighter the chemiluminescence, the less cortisol is in the same

 

Nussey, S. S., & Whitehead, S. A. (2001). Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach. United Kingdom: Bios Scientific Publ

100 ways to Measure Cortisol

OK, so it may be slightly less than 100 ways, but this article provides a wide variety of assays to measure cortisol levels. It also provides great background on the hormone itself. This article also tells how precise an assay could be, what the environmental impacts are, and most importantly, what everyone else is doing.

For my proposal, the differences in the measurement abilities of different tests are significant due to the fact that I’m measuring both salivary and serum cortisol levels.

Kirschbaum, C., & Hellhammer, D. H. (1994). Salivary cortisol in psychoneuroendocrine research: recent developments and applications.Psychoneuroendocrinology19(4), 313-333.

PSS – everybody’s doing it

I noticed another blog post about the PSS, and I’m not surprised but it may be the greatest tool.

The perceived stress scale (PSS) has been shown to provide significant representation of stress individuals, while providing quantitative data to researchers. This is super useful in my proposal, as provides a more cultural perception of stress, rather than just a blood or saliva biomarker.

 

Cohen, Sheldon, Kamarck, Tom., Mermelstein, Robin. 1983 A Global Measure of Perceived Stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 24(4):385-396

Stress and Diet in European Adolescents

If being in college has taught me anything about food, it’s that stress-eating is a painfully real thing. I was so proud in April of my freshman year that I had successfully avoided the freshman fifteen. And then dead week and finals happened.

When I found  European adolescents’ level of perceived stress is inversely related to their diet
quality: the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study, my first thought was, “Duh.” However, this study has some pretty interesting methodology and specific results.

For one, this study has every single variable ever. Gender, amount of sleep, parental education, pubertal stage, BMI, and level of physical activity were all variables that were controlled for or not controlled for in certain situations, allowing for more specific results than just, “stress eating is a thing”. Hierarchical Linear Models (HLMs) were used for this.

The study found that in adolescents, higher levels of stress were correlated with more food that are less healthy. In women, their food choices were also less diverse.

 

 

Vegetarians, Vegans, and What It’s All About

The article The vegetarian option: varieties,
conversions, motives and careers by Beardsworth and Keil may actually be the best source ever. It comes across as an almost mini-ethnography of vegetarians and vegans in a certain area of the UK, and has more information than I ever thought I would need.

The most relevant background information for my proposal might not be in the results, but in the methodology. Beardsworth and Keil used what they referred to as the “snowball method” in which they gathered participants for their study by reaching out through the social groups of the vegetarians or vegans that were already signed up. They relied on the social groups of vegans and vegetarians to get participants! This makes my hypothesis sound way more plausible!

Though this study was qualitative, Keil and Beardsworth developed and interesting scale from 1-6 which sort of measured how vegetarian a participant was. A type 1 vegetarian would occasionally eat meat (observing the hospitality clause or perhaps just indulging), while type 6 was totally plant-based. Although I wanted to study vegans exclusively, this may be beneficial in terms of how vegans define veganism.

Also, there was a substantial amount of qualitative data on social interactions of vegetarians/vegans and their families or other non-vegetarians. Which is again, super great information for my proposal.

 

This article is a great source of information and also a great read.