ERIN DUNNE, PHD

RESEARCH INTERESTS:

  • Aging, health, & well-being
  • Personality & adaptive self-regulation

EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology – Clinical Profile) (2012)
    Concordia University
    Montreal, QC
  • Master’s of Arts (Psychology – Clinical Profile) & Certificate of Clinical Psychology (2006)
    Concordia University
    Montreal, QC  
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours in Psychology) (2003)
    Standing: First Class with Distinction
    University of Victoria
    Victoria, BC

ACADEMIC AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS:

Thesis Completion Award 2010 ($4,000)
Concordia University

Applied Psychology Centre Internship Fellowship 2009 – 2010 ($20,000)
Applied Psychology Centre, Concordia University 

APA Student Travel Award 2008
American Psychological Association 

Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS): Doctoral 2006 – 2009 ($105,000)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 

Bourses de Doctorat en Recherche 2006 – 2009 ($60,000)
Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (declined)

Doctoral Tuition Remission Award 2006 – 2009 ($6,000)
Concordia University 

CPA Certificate of Academic Excellence (Outstanding Masters Thesis) 2006
Canadian Psychological Association 

Graduate Fellowship 2005 – 2006 ($5,000)
Centre for Research in Human Development

Canada Graduate Scholarship: Master's 2004 – 2005 ($17,500)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 

Graduated on Dean’s List 2003
University of Victoria

Hector William Hadland Scholarship in Psychology 2002 – 2003
University of Victoria

University of Victoria President’s Scholarship 2002– 2003
University of Victoria

Entrance Scholarship 1998 – 1999
University of Victoria
SCIENTIFIC CONTRIBUTIONS:

Publications

Dunne, E., Wrosch, C., & Miller, G.E. (2011). Goal disengagement, functional disability, and depressive symptoms in old age.  Health Psychology, 30, 763-770.

Wrosch, C., Schulz, R., Miller, G. E., Lupien, S., & Dunne, E. (2007). Physical health problems, depressive mood, and cortisol secretion in old age: Buffer effects of health engagement control strategies. Health Psychology, 26, 341-349. 

Wrosch, C., Dunne, E., Scheier, M. F., & Schulz, R. (2006). Self-regulation of common age-related challenges: Benefits for older adults’ psychological and physical health. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 299-306.

Presentations


Wrosch, C., & Dunne, E. (2010, May). Goal disengagement and depressive symptomatology in older adulthood.  Symposium conducted at the 3nd Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Motivation, Boston, MA.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2009, July). The longitudinal associations between functional disabilities, goal adjustment capacities and depressive symptoms in older adults. Poster presented at the 19th International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics World Congress, Paris, France.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2008, August). Older adults’ emotional well-being: Long-term benefits of letting go. Poster presented at the Annual American Psychological Association Convention, Boston, MA.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2008, January). Letting go: The long-term beneficial effects of goal adjustment capacities on older adults' depressive symptoms. Poster to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Albuquerque, NM.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2007, January). Goal adjustment capacities: Implications for older adults’ physical health and emotional well-being. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Memphis, TN.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2006, August). Physical health, depressive mood, and cortisol dysregulation in older adults. Poster presented at the Annual American Psychological Association Convention, New Orleans, LA.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2006, October). Acute physical symptoms and negative affect in later life: The influence of social support. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Gerontology Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, Quebec City, QC.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2005, September). Regret in later life: Adaptive coping strategies, health, and psychological well-being. Poster presented at the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health’s National Best Practice Conference: Focus on Seniors’ Mental Health, Ottawa, ON.

Dunne, E., & Wrosch, C. (2005, June). Physical health symptoms and negative emotions in older adults: The effects of goal adjustment capacity across subsequent days. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Montreal, QC.

Wrosch, C., & Dunne, E. (2004, November). Acute physical symptoms and negative affect: The influence of goal adjustment. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Washington, DC.

Wrosch, C., & Dunne, E. (2004, October). The role of regret on well-being and health in the elderly: The importance of adaptive self-regulation. Symposium conducted at the Canadian Association of Gerontology Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, Victoria, BC.

MEDIA COVERAGE:
 
http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/08/the-psychology-of-bitterness-10-essential-lessons/244064/
DOCTORAL THESIS: 

My doctoral thesis examined the role of goal adjustment capacities in protecting older adults from the experience of depressive symptoms when they are confronted with functional disability. Results from my first study (Dunne, Wrosch, & Miller, 2011) found that the onset of functional disability among older adults can lead to steep increases in depressive symptoms over time, but only among older adults who were also unable to disengage from goals that they could no longer attain. By contrast, older adults who experienced the onset of functional disability but were able to disengage from unattainable goals reported relatively stable levels of depressive symptoms over time, which were similar to levels reported by older adults without functional disability. This indicates that when experiencing functional disability problems, the ability to withdraw effort and commitment from goals that are no longer attainable can help older adults avoid increases in depressive symptoms over time. These results highlight the how important it is for individuals to be able to disengage from unattainable goals as they age and are confronted by age-related challenges.

The second part of my doctoral research focused on the development and validation of a scale that measures specific goal adjustment strategies related to activities of daily living (ADL) goals among older adults with functional disability. The development of a scale that assesses specific goal adjustment strategies related to ADLs is important as it can help illuminate some of the pathways through which general goal disengagement and goal reengagement capacities can influence older adults’ well-being, and lead to better quality of life for the aging population. Results from my research has indicated two-factor format for our ADL-Goal Adjustment Scale, which related to the psychological disengagement from ADL goals, and the compensatory reengagement in modified, or scaled back, ADL goals. These factors also demonstrated good concurrent validity and convergent validity, and were related to lower levels of depressive symptoms among our sample of older adults with functional disability. Finally, my research also showed that the psychological disengagement factor mediated the relationship between general goal disengagement capacities and depressive symptoms, while the compensatory reengagement factor mediated the association between general goal reengagement capacities and depressive symptoms.

MASTER'S THESIS:

My master’s thesis examined the ways in which older adults can adaptively management acute physical health stressors in order to maintain their emotional well-being. This is important, as physical health problems have been shown to be a major contributor to the experience of depressive symptoms in the elderly. One important facet of maintaining emotional well-being across the lifespan is through the pursuit and accomplishment of goal attainment. However, the experience of acute physical symptoms may hinder older adults’ ability to make progress towards these goals. In such circumstances, individuals' goal adjustment capacities can help maintain a sense of control and prevent the experience of negative emotions that stem from constraints on goal attainment and repeated failure experiences. Specifically, goal disengagement may protect individuals from the negative effect of failure, while goal reengagement may help individuals maintain a sense of purpose in life. Using data from a sample of 215 older adultsI found that acute physical health problems predicted both same-day and increases in negative emotions across three days. Additionally, both goal disengagement and goal reengagement capacities moderated the relationship between acute physical problems and same-day negative affect, while goal disengagement buffered the relationship across days. Thus, goal adjustment capacities represent one important pathway through which older adults may maintain quality of life despite age-related challenges