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Abrams Presents at The University of Florence

January 18, 2013

Ken Abrams, Assistant Professor of Psychology, recently gave two invited talks at the University of Florence. The first was titled, "Empirically-Keyed and Factor-Analytic Methods of Personality Test Construction," which discussed the modern, analytical methods of test construction that result in personality tests high in both reliability and validity. Abrams discussed how many popular personality tests, such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test and Thematic Apperception Test, are projective in nature and based upon dated, psychoanalytic theories. These modern tests have proven to be of great use in clinical and forensic settings.

The second talk was titled, "Provoking Panic in the Laboratory: The Use of Respiratory Challenges to Study Why Smoking Promotes Panic Disorder." It featured much of Abrams’s work performed at Carleton which tested the hypothesis that nicotine dependence promotes panic through biopsychosocial consequences of chronic smoking and repeated withdrawal syndromes. To do so, he and his team recruited heavy smokers and had them re-breathe a gas mixture containing a high concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 hypersensitivity has been established as a specific marker for panic disorder, and they predicted that smokers in withdrawal would experience more severe respiratory and cardiac symptoms, greater subjective anxiety, and more panic symptoms in response to the procedure. Their results have been consistent with this prediction and suggest that nicotine withdrawal does promote panic disorder. 

Written by Anna Versen '14