Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management

Doctoral theses

In 2015, 50 candidates were awarded a doctoral degree by the Faculty. Please see the following list with summaries of some of the most recent theses. Search in Diva for more.

Magnus Alm

Age alters audio-visual speech perception:
Identification and asynchrony perception during young and middle adulthood

Magnus Alm

Audio-visual speech perception changes during the lifespan, as research has shown for early childhood and late-adulthood. We sought to contribute to a more comprehensive lifespan understanding by comparing young and middle-aged adults from two perspectives: audio-visual speech identification and audio-visual asynchrony perception. Audio-visual speech identification entails recognizing and labelling speech, whereas audio-visual asynchrony perception entails using the perceived temporal alignment of auditory and visual speech signals to determine whether they belong to the same audio-visual event.

Paper 1 explored audio-visual asynchrony perception, and participants judged whether audio-leading and visual-leading syllables were synchronous or asynchronous. Whereas visual-lead sensitivity was unaffected by age, middle-aged adults were more sensitive to audio-lead than young adults. Audio-lead is naturally more predictable than visual-lead, making audio-lead sensitivity more susceptible to predictability dependent perceptual learning. That age affected audio-lead sensitivity specifically suggested that, with negligible sensory and cognitive differences between groups, age-related speech experience may have instigated perceptual learning.

Paper 2 evaluated the relationship between audio-visual asynchrony perception and cognitive processing speed, operationalized as recognition reaction time for syllables. Results confirmed similar cognitive processing speed for young and middle-aged adults. The expected relationship between cognitive processing speed and asynchrony perception was obtained for young adults. However, lack of such a correlation for middle-aged adults implied that age mitigates the influence of cognitive processing speed on audio-visual asynchrony perception, and audio-visual experience may reduce the influence of processing strain by focusing attention on the most relevant audio-visual speech cues.

Paper 3 addressed audio-visual speech identification and revealed an interaction of age and gender on visual speech influence. Whereas no gender difference was observed for young adults, middle-aged females relied more on visual cues in audio-visual speech identification than males. Because females were observed to be better speech-readers in both age groups, it was suggested that speech-reading proficiency in young adulthood could gradually shift females’ audio-visual perceptual strategy towards more visual reliance in middle-adulthood.

Collectively, the results show that audio-visual speech perception changes between young and middle adulthood, emphasizing the lifespan flexibility and ever-evolving nature of audio-visual speech perception suggested by previous research on children and older adults.

Anne-Lise Sæteren

Dealing with children with withdrawn behavior
- A narrative study of one teacher's dealings with a child with withdrawn behavior in ordinary classromm activities

Anne-Lise Sæteren

Being a teacher is a complex and intense job. The teacher has to deal with a diversity of children, and needs to adapt the teaching so each child can experience mastering at school, learn and develop. In addition to dealing with the children and guiding and leading their learning, the teacher also has to deal with the parents and interact in a professional fellowship. When the typical Norwegian elementary school teacher looks at the faces of the children in his/her class, the children who looks back has diverse needs. Some of the children can be defined as having withdrawn behavior. Previous research indicates that children with withdrawn behavior appear to be ignored by their teachers and classmates, and that these children do not participate in academic or social activities at school.

The theoretical framework of this study is socio-cultural theory rooted in Vygotsky’s body of work, with special focus on the relationship between the individual and the social context, the relationship between thought and speech, and between learning and development. Moreover, the study is based on three months of observations and video recordings in one elementary school teacher’s classroom and interviews with her to obtain a better understanding of her experiences and reflections.

This study highlights the teacher’s perspective, in contrast to many other studies in the field of withdrawn behavior.

Joakim Døving Dalen

The Relationship Between Social Context and Adolescent Psychological Distress
- Evidence from the Young-HUNT studies

Joakim Døving Dalen

Mental health problems and illnesses are highly prevalent and the consequences of having these problems can be severe, both for the one afflicted as well as significant others. The aim of the thesis was to examine how psychological distress in adolescence is related to family and school class context.

The thesis consists of the following four articles:

  • Family structure, family relations and psychological distress: Results from the Young-Hunt 3 study
  • The association between school class composition and suicidal ideation in late adolescence: Findings from the Young-HUNT 3 study
  • Gender differences in the relationship between school problems, school class context and psychological distress: results from the Young-HUNT 3 study
  • Is psychological distress in late adolescence associated with school class context during middle adolescence? Evidence from the Young-HUNT studies
While the first article examines the association between family arrangement, family relationship and psychological distress, the remaining articles explore the relationship between school class context and mental health. The second article investigates whether suicidal ideation is nested within school classes, and whether school class factors are associated with suicidal ideation. The third article considers whether school problems and school class context are associated with psychological distress, with a special emphasis on gender differences. Finally, the fourth article examines how psychological distress is associated with both past and present school class context.

Overall, the results of the empirical analyses are in line with previous research on the topic. They suggest that the association between variables at the school class level and psychological distress is limited. On the other hand, individual factors related to both family and school class context, appear to be strongly associated with psychological distress.

Knut Vesterdal

The Roles of Human Rights Education in Norway
– A Qualitative Study of Purposes and Approaches in Policy and in Upper Secondary Schools

Knut Vesterdal

The topic of this thesis is the roles of human rights education (HRE) in Norway. This is a qualitative, interpretive study with document-and discourse analytical approaches to Norwegian steering documents, combined with in-depth interviews of teachers in Social Studies in a sample of upper secondary schools. The starting point of the thesis is the international legal definitions of HRE. The study further builds on work within this research field, with critical cosmopolitan theory and educational approaches to human rights as the theoretical foundation. The aim of the study is to understand and discuss the roles of HRE in the Norwegian school system, and to contribute to the theoretical fundament of Social Studies Education.

The main findings in my study point to human rights primarily as a platform of values, and as an inclusive principle in the steering documents, while there are fewer indications of comprehensive HRE as empowerment to critical participation in society. Furthermore, the study shows that HRE also serves the role as a component of national identity construction, where the image of Norway as a harmonic human rights regime is constituted both for domestic consumption and as valuable political currency internationally. The teacher interviews mirrors these tendencies, even though it also shows varied interpretations of its essence. This material shows support of HRE, particularly as a bulwark against apathy and anti-democratic tendencies. Additionally, findings point to dichotomizations, where the harmonic Norway is presented as a contrast to foreign countries. Here, brutal human rights violations dominate the narratives, and are primarily seen as a problem outside national borders. This may make the student’s own context less relevant, thus leading to complacency and creating less space for active participation where critical reflection concerning the nexus between local, national and global obligations is essential. The findings, however, do not differ substantially from international studies on HRE. As in Norway, the concept is often interpreted synonymously to a form of democratic upbringing where the focus is on voter education and loyalty to national, political institutions rather than a comprehensive approach to learning for human rights.

Sladjana Lazic

Bottom-up Perspective on Post-violence Legitimacy and Transitional Justice
– Lessons from Serbian Sandžak

Sladjana Lazic

This thesis explores internal dynamics of post-violence legitimacy in the context of transitional justice (TJ) from a standpoint of the local Serbian Bosniaks - those who were during the 1990s exposed to direct state-sponsored or state-tolerated violence. As such, this thesis presents an empirical, exploratory and discovery-oriented work which sheds light not only on the social meanings and perceptions of legitimacy, violence, and justice from the perspective of those who were harmed, but also on how the victims with their experiences and knowledge situate themselves within the existing institutional transitional justice context(s) and ideological discourse(s), and how they relate to such situation.

Specifically, this study revolves around the following questions: 1) Have the transitional justice mechanisms and processes contributed to the result that victims from Sandžak and their families recognize the new post-violence socio-political constellations as legitimate, and to feel again like full members of the polity?; 2) What have the victims asked for after period of violence?; 3) How victims' rules of recognition of post-violence socio-political constellations relate to those envisioned and promoted through and with TJ mechanisms? Through engagement with these questions, I have striven not only to expand transitional justice scholarship on Serbia (which have been lacking empirical people-oriented studies), and to shed the light on Sandžak area that has been traditionally neglected in the Balkan area studies, but also to further contribute to cumulative empirical evidence of critical transitional justice and peacebuilding scholarship which are focused on discovering conditions for sustainable peace.

The overall conclusion is that transitional justice processes and mechanisms, in their current ideological and institutional form, design, and manifestation in Serbian context have been unable to properly address victims' needs and justice claims, in particular their socio-economic justice demands and need for recovery of life. The experience of transitional justice processes and mechanisms in Serbia, did not establish enough grounds for the victims to feel fully included in the polity in the way they had expected. The formal procedures which were introduced as a response to past injustice were neither effective nor efficient in delivering the kind of justice(s) the victims had expected to get. Paradoxically enough, the effects of transitional justice and ordinary democratization endeavors created a feeling of continuity of injustices and exclusions among the victims. This feeling of continuity of sufferings and exclusions provides a basis for deficit of legitimacy of the post-2000 socio-political constellations and governance.

See more theses: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Wed, 25 May 2016 10:42:00 +0200