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Dr Damian Scarf Research Interests

Damian Scarf

Tel 64 3 479 7636
Email damian@psy.otago.ac.nz
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Media and Executive Function

Theories regarding the impact of media on development can largely be grouped into content-based and content-independent categories. Content-based theories argue that the impact of media on aspects of development differs depending on content. Content-independent theories argue that many of the impacts of media occur irrespective of the content children are exposed to. Currently, we investigate aspects of both content-based theories (e.g., the impact of Disney princesses on gender stereotypes) and content-independent theories (e.g., the impact of fast-paced media on executive function).

Social Identity and Adolescent Mental Health

Derived from social identity theory and self-categorisation theory, the Social Identity Approach to Health (SIAH) holds that groups provide us with a sense of meaning and belonging, and that these identity processes have a significant positive impact on our health and wellbeing. With respect to adolescents, multiple group memberships serve as a protective factor during significant life transitions, are an antecedent of self-esteem, and are predictive of better mental health. Currently, we focus on the benefits of existing group memberships (e.g., family, school, etc.) and the potential for new group memberships (e.g., sail-training voyages) to improve adolescent mental health.

Adolescent Alcohol Consumption

Young adults have the highest alcohol use of any age group and many drink with the specific aim of becoming intoxicated. Within this high-risk age group, university students stand out, consuming more alcohol than their non-university attending peers. As a result, university students not only have a higher incidence of alcohol use disorders, but also report a higher incidence of harm resulting from alcohol such as blackouts and negative sexual experiences. Currently, we investigate novel methods for curbing alcohol consumption and harm.

Publications

Scarf, D., & Colombo, M. Knowledge of the ordinal position of list items in pigeons. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, In press.

Scarf, D., Terrace, H.S., & Colombo, M. (2011). Planning abilities of monkeys. In Monkeys: Biology, Behavior, and Disorders. New York: Nova Science Publishers (pp. 137-150).

Scarf, D., Danly, E., Morgan, G., Colombo, M., & Terrace, H. (2011). Sequential planning in rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta). Animal Cognition, 14, 317-324.

Scarf, D., Miles, K., Sloan, A., Seid-Fatemi, A., Goulter, N., Harper, D., & Colombo, M. Brain cells in the avian 'prefrontal cortex' code for features of slot-machine-like gambling. PLoS ONE, 6, 1-7.

Scarf, D., & Colombo, M. (2010) Representation of Serial Order in Pigeons (Columba livia). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36, 423-429.

Scarf, D., & Colombo, M. (2010). A positional coding mechanism in pigeons after learning multiple three item lists. Animal Cognition, 13, 653-661.

Scarf, D., & Colombo, M. (2010). The formation and execution of sequential plans in pigeons (Columba livia). Behavioral Processes, 83, 179-182.

Scarf, D., & Colombo, M. (2009). Eye movements during list execution reveal no planning in monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 587-592.

Scarf, D., & Colombo, M. (2008). Representation of serial order: A comparative analysis of humans, monkeys, and pigeons. Brain Research Bulletin, 76, 308-312.