Roosmarijn Goldbach and Matija Čuljak win FSW Thesis Prizes 2022
The master thesis: for many students it is a true crowning glory. Some theses are truly excellent. Those are rewarded with the FSW Thesis Prize. This year, this award was won by Roosmarijn Goldbach (master’s Psychology) and Matija Čuljak (research master’s Psychology), who respectively researched borderline personality disorder and the impact of daylight saving time on an individual level. Congratulations, Roosmarijn and Matija!
Every year, the Faculty Board asks the institutes of Education and Child Studies, Psychology, Political Science, and Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology to nominate their best master thesis for the FSW Thesis Prizes. A jury, consisting of members from all corners of the Faculty, then get to work assessing and judging them.
A complex thesis about a complex disorder
Roosmarijn Goldbach finished the Clinical Psychology specialisation of her master’s in Psychology with her award-winning thesis titled ‘‘Childhood Emotional Maltreatment, Aspects of Emotion Regulation, and the Intrapsychic Symptoms and Behavioral Expressions of Borderline Personality Disorder’. Her supervisor was Anne Krause.
Emotional maltreatment in childhood is linked to difficulties with emotion regulation, which is in turn linked to symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). But not all people with BPD show dysregulated behaviours. What is the relationship between childhood emotional maltreatment, emotion regulation, intrapsychic BPD symptoms, and dysregulated behavioural expressions? That is the question that Roosmarijn researched. You will have to wait a little longer for the results of her study: the thesis is being prepared for publication with Roosmarijn as first author!
The jury was impressed by the complexity of the thesis: from the complicated clinical condition being researched to the statistical approach and analyses. Roosmarijn shows self-taught mastery, says the jury report.
‘I was surprised by how easy it can be to conduct research if you are passionate about the topic,’ says Roosmarijn. She now works at PsyQ, where she treats people with psychological problems.
A new methodology for a well-known problem
Matija Čuljak, who successfully finished the Cognitive Neuroscience specialisation of the research master’s Psychology, earned the award for his thesis ‘Effect of daylight saving time measured as impulse response in smartphone behavior’. His supervisor was Arko Ghosh.
Prior studies have already shown that traffic accidents and health problems increase following daylight saving time transitions. But what is the impact of those transitions on individuals? That question was central to Matija’s research, in which data about the smartphone use of hundreds of participants was studied. You will have to be patient for the results: Matija’s thesis is being prepared for publication as well!
The jury report emphasises the outstanding level of the statistical analysis, that goes beyond the techniques taught in the research master’s curriculum. Matija has successfully mastered the details of this approach on his own, notes the jury.
Matija: ‘I was surprised when my supervisor put this methodology forward, because it is not really used in psychology. Because of this, there was no framework on how to apply it to our problem. It took some time and effort to get a grip on the fundamentals and to be able to apply it correctly for our purposes.’
Assessing the theses: how did the jury get to work?
‘In previous years, it was difficult to compare the nominations from different institutes well,’ says Ralph Rippe, chair of the jury. After all, each institutes has its own background and approach to the master theses.
Ralph: ‘That is why we used a new assessment rubric [a set of criteria which allows the judges to evaluate the theses consistently, ed.] this year. Each of the six jury members evaluated the nominated theses in advance via the rubric; only during the jury meeting, we discussed the combined scores and evaluations. This resulted in very purposeful interaction and, quite quickly, an unanimous recommendation of the winners.’
Text: Emma Knapper