Brett M. Wells

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, United States

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Publications (5)7.39 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Contemporary theories of child physical abuse (CPA) emphasize the proximal role of social cognitive processes (many of which are implicit in nature) in the occurrence of parental aggression. However, methods that allow for the systematic examination of implicit cognitive processes during the course of aggressive interactions are needed. To address this need, the present study was designed to examine the utility of the Word Game, an innovative procedure designed to assess implicit changes in schema accessibility during the course of an interpersonal exchange involving aggressive response options. The game involves a series of competitive reaction time trials which are actually lexical decision making trials designed to determine the accessibility of schema throughout the game. Each parent was led to believe that they were competing against another player with whom they exchanged sound blasts of varying intensities. Participants in the present study were parents who were either low (n=50) or high (n=20) risk for CPA. Results revealed that high CPA risk parents behaved more aggressively than low CPA risk parents and that provocation augmented the aggressiveness of all participants. Among high CPA risk parents, positive schema became less accessible (whereas negative schema became more accessible) following lost rounds. At the conclusion of the game, high CPA risk parents reported more aggressive motives than low CPA risk parents. Further, aggressive motives significantly mediated the association between CPA risk status and aggressiveness (i.e., mean sound blast selections). Collectively, results support the potential utility of the Word Game as a means of advancing the study of social cognitive processes involved in parental aggression.
    Child abuse & neglect 06/2012; 36(6):498-509. · 2.34 Impact Factor
  • Brett M. Wells, John J. Skowronski
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    ABSTRACT: The authors examined whether there was evidence of choking under pressure (CUP) among professional golfers on the 2009 PGA Tour. Following the suggestion of Beilock and Gray (2007), choking was determined via within-golfer comparisons. Analyses yielded strong evidence of CUP in that evidence of performance decline was greatest when pressure was greatest. That is, across a span of 28 years, 4th-round tournament scores were significantly worse than 3rd-round tournament scores. Moreover, the magnitude of the choking effect was related to a player's position on the leaderboard: The closer a player was to a tournament lead, the larger his choking score. Finally, the nature of the analyses conducted makes it unlikely that the obtained effects can be solely attributed to statistical phenomena such as regression to the mean.
    Basic and Applied Social Psychology - BASIC APPL SOC PSYCHOL. 01/2012; 34(2):175-182.
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    ABSTRACT: Although the Child Abuse Potential (CAP) Inventory is generally considered to be a reliable screening tool for assessing child physical abuse risk, there is concern that it may lack internal consistency when completed by adolescents (Blinn-Pike and Mingus, J Adolesc 2000;23:107-11). This concern has been reflected in subsequent reviews summarizing the CAP's psychometric properties (Walker and Davies, J Fam Violence 2010;25:215-27), and calls for data on the reliability of the CAP Inventory as completed by adolescents have been issued (Blinn-Pike, J Adolesc Health 2002;30:148). The purpose of this study was to provide additional data examining the internal consistency of the CAP Inventory as completed by adolescents in a variety of contexts. This study included five samples comprising 3,281 adolescent and adult respondents who completed the CAP Inventory. Two samples included at-risk mothers who were enrolled in home-visiting services and were participating in program evaluations. Three samples included college students the majority of whom were nonparents participating in the research to explore the risk of physical abuse among children. The analyses showed high internal consistency estimates for the CAP Inventory abuse scale as completed by adolescent mothers (Kuder-Richardson reliability coefficient range = .90-.96). Moreover, regardless of the sampling technique, parental status, or demographic characteristics, our analyses revealed overall good to excellent internal consistency estimates for the CAP Inventory abuse scale as completed by adolescent respondents. Indeed, the internal consistency estimates obtained from adolescent respondents were similar to the estimates obtained for adult respondents in each of these same samples. Our results provide strong support for a claim of good to excellent internal consistency of the CAP Inventory with adolescent samples.
    Journal of Adolescent Health 04/2011; 48(4):351-7. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Past research suggests that spontaneous trait inference (STI) and spontaneous trait transference (STT) may reflect different cognitive processes, the former being inferential and the latter associational. The present research was designed to explore whether either or both of these processes involve thinking that occupies cognitive capacity. Four studies suggest that reductions in available cognitive capacity reduce both STI and STT effects, both on measures of savings in relearning (which reflect the strength of trait associations with a person) and on trait ratings measures (which reflect the strength of trait inferences made about a person). Similar results were obtained using an individual difference measure of cognitive capacity. Although these results suggest that STI and STT are similar, in that both exhibit interference from reductions in cognitive capacity, other results, such as halo effects in trait ratings, support previous assertions that their underlying processes are distinct.
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology - J EXP SOC PSYCHOL. 01/2011; 47(6):1116-1126.
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    ABSTRACT: The intensity of emotions associated with memory of pleasant events generally fades more slowly across time than the intensity of emotions associated with memory of unpleasant events, a phenomenon known as the fading affect bias (FAB). Four studies examined variables that might account for, or moderate, the bias. These included the activation level of the emotions, individual differences in dispositional mood, and participant expectations of emotion change across time. Results suggest that (a) although emotion activation level was related to overall fading of affect, it was unrelated to the FAB; (b) dispositional mood moderated the FAB, but could not fully account for it; and (c) although participants' predictions of event-related emotion change across time were somewhat veridical, the FAB emerged even when these predictions were accounted for statistically. Methodological and theoretical implications for research on the affect associated with autobiographical events are discussed.
    Memory 06/2009; 17(4):428-44. · 2.09 Impact Factor