Introducing Skylar Hicks

Skylar Hicks
Skylar Hicks is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Louisiana, where she graduated from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

As an undergraduate, Skylar was involved in two different research labs. The Stress Physiology in Teens (SPIT) Laboratory led her to examine the interplay between stress exposure, biological trajectories, and adolescent development in understanding why certain individuals develop psychopathology. Her time with the Youth Social and Emotional Development Laboratory was spent identifying social, emotional, and cognitive factors related to the development and maintenance of aggressive behavior in youth.

She applied to Southern Miss because the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab overlapped with her research interests in aggression. Skylar recently proposed her master’s thesis, The Role of Emotion Regulation in the Relationship between Trait Anger and Aggression, and is currently collecting data. She hopes to research other forms of aggression, such as sexual aggression. Skylar’s career interests include working in a maximum-security prison, as well as a psychiatric unit or major hospital.

When asked for advice concerning potential future applicants to our program, Skylar mentioned the importance of gaining research experience, as it can be helpful in defining a career path and in assessing which graduate programs best align with one’s personal research interests.
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Emily Prather Defends Dissertation on Anger and Binge Eating

Emily Prather successfully defended her doctoral dissertation yesterday at the University of Southern Mississippi, Predictors of Binge Eating in College Women. Emily's study evaluated the relationships among four theoretically relevant factors hypothesized to predict subclinical binge eating in a sample of college women: trait anger, anger suppression, impulsivity, and emotion regulation.

Emily started by confirming the four-factor structure of the UPPS Impulsivity Scale (Whiteside & Lynam, 2001) through confirmatory factor analysis. Multiple measures of impulsivity have been used in the literature, and the UPPS is one of the newer ones. Given that there has been some disagreement over the optimal factor structure, it was important to make sure that the four-factor structure of this measure would be confirmed in this sample. After confirming this factor structure, Emily found that the urgency and lack of perseverance factors predicted binge eating. Urgency was a hypothesized predictor, but the utility of perseverance was unexpected and suggests that the role of impulsivity in binge eating may be somewhat broader than previously thought.

Trait anger predicted binge eating over and above general negative affect, suggesting that there seems to be something about one's propensity to experience angry feelings that may be particularly useful in understanding binge eating. The tendency to suppress anger in an unhealthy manner also predicted binge eating, and both anger suppression and emotion regulation partially mediated the relationship between trait anger and binge eating. It appears that anger management and the development of emotion regulation strategies may be worth exploring for college women with subclinical binge eating.

Emily is currently
completing her predoctoral internship at Wellspan Behavioral Health in York, PA. She recently accepted a postdoc position with Wellspan to begin this summer.

Congratulations, Emily!
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