Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University,
Biobanking — a new environment for psychological research and applications
Biobanking is an emerging medical, research, and social institution that has many im- plications for psychological science and practice. The bibliographic study of abstracts and full text articles retrieved from major databases (PsycInfo, PubMed, EBSCO, SAgE) indicates that the role of psychology in the establishment and functioning of biobanks is not well articulated. Two promising directions of biobank-based studies are concerned with studies of risk factors for various disorders and with genetic and epigenetic mecha- nisms of psychological and behavioral trait development, and are closely tied to a devel- oping model of a new “personalized” medicine. It is important to carefully select the psy- chological variables and measurements, with consideration of their suitability for genetic studies, possibilities for networking and sharing of results, economic limitations, and biobank purposes. Of special importance is a systemic foundation of mental functions that requires not only the assessment of efficacy, but also the search for simple, natural, and objectively observable components. Applied tasks of professional psychologists in the field of biobanking can be defined, such as donor selection and management of ethi- cal issues. As a new technology, biobanking poses several challenges to society and the individual that need to be studied in order to prevent misuse and to earn the public trust. The hidden dangers of eugenics-like ideas, of consumer practices with genetic products, and of over-emphasis on human enhancement are particularly stressed. We conclude that while biobanks represent a promising and fertile ground for psychological research and applications, there is a need for a comprehensive psychology of biobanking to make them fruitful.
Keywords: biobank, depositories of human biological samples, personalized medicine, molecular genetics of human behavior, phenotype description
Intimate Partner Violence: An Overview of the Existing Theories, Conceptual Frameworks, and Definitions
Background: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, spousal abuse, and relationship violence, among other names, is becoming a widely recognized social and public health problem. Theory and practice suggest it is vital that the issue be addressed comprehensively in both the healthcare and socio-legal contexts. The theoretical perspectives underlying inquiries into the nature and etiology of the IPV phenomenon are of fundamental importance in promoting our understanding of how to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the problem. In order to integrate various aspects of knowledge about the phenomenon, it is important to consider and evaluate the approaches to IPV currently prevalent in the field.
Objectives: The present article aims to provide a critical overview of the existing theories, methodological frameworks, typologies, and definitions of Intimate Partner Violence.
Design: The present paper reviews the international literature on the conceptual frameworks and definitions of IPV. First, it draws on the conceptual frameworks of violence; it then reviews relevant theories and definitions of IPV considered from sociocultural, individual, and integrative perspectives. The disparities, limitations, and explanatory powers of these theories, as well as their clinical and research applications, are discussed in an attempt to bring more clarity into the current state of understanding in the field.
Results and Conclusions: Our review suggests that there is no universally accepted definition of IPV, nor a conceptual framework that would encompass the complexity of the phenomenon. Some of the theoretical frameworks for studying IPV appear to provide potential advantages over others, but their empirical viability has yet to be determined. We argue that, due to the complex multifaceted nature of IPV, a narrow theoretical stance might exclude a variety of exploratory factors and limit understanding of the phenomenon.
Keywords: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV); theory of IPV; domestic violence; spouse abuse, interpersonal violence; violence against women (VAW).
Gender Differences in Interactions with Avatars of Diverse Ethnic Appearances
Background. Gender differences exist in almost every aspect of our lives. Individuals have an array of different social expectations with regard to behaviors, communication, appearance, attitudes, and social roles, but these expectations tend to be based on whether the individual is male or female. Currently, many social studies have been done with the help of virtual reality technologies. They have been effectively applied to the study of many social phenomena such as nonverbal communication, social skills training, social anxiety rehabilitation, etc. Recently considerable attention has been paid to issue of gender differences during social interaction with the virtual partners, avatars. However, the question of gender differencesduring interactions with avatars of diverse ethnic appearances has seldom been studied.
Objective. The goal of this study was to investigate the gender peculiarities of interaction with avatars of different ethnic appearances. We used the CAVE virtual reality system to study gender differences in interpersonal distances which were maintained with avatars.
Design. We designed four three-dimensional virtual scenes with avatars of four different ethnic appearances. They were avatars of Slavic, Asian, North Caucasian, and African appearance. All the avatars were male. e participants (who all identified as Russians) were immersed in virtual environments with the help of the CAVE virtual reality system. Their task was to approach the avatar, present herself/himself in any way they wanted, and give instructions for the work. During the task the interpersonal distances between the participants and the avatars were measured. After leaving the CAVE, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire assessing the Presence effect.
Results. The results showed gender differences in how much interpersonal distance was maintained: women preferred to keep shorter interpersonal distances with their virtual partners than men did. Moreover, the results showed the impact of ethnic appearance on interpersonal distances. Women approached the avatars of their own ethnic group more closely and kept further away from the avatars of other ethnic groups. Unlike the women, the men stayed the same distance away from the avatars of different ethnic groups. Both gender groups kept equally far away from the avatar of African appearance. Gender differences were also revealed in the participants’ estimates of the Presence effect.
Keywords: gender differences, interethnic interaction, interpersonal distance, avatar, Presence effect, CAVE virtual reality technology