Psychology, 2012
  • The Influence of Social Media on Attendance Levels at Events
    Thomas Ballas, Elissa Foster
    Mentor: Lindsay Fletcher


    With the growing popularity of the internet, new methods of communication have been developed, the most popular being social media. It offers ways to communicate, organize, and advertise. Studies have shown that social media is popular among the youth and its level of influence is worth investigation. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects and the reasons why social media is able to influence participation and attendance at events. The analysis of research and real life observation on Capital University’s campus suggests that the use of social media has a positive influence on attendance levels at campus events. Our research reinforces previous studies in the field and offers more concrete evidence to verify the influence social media has on events. Our findings can be used as a method to increase participation at events of any scale.

    Effect of Music Tempo on Academic Stress among College Students
    Paige Beckwith, Lauren Roy, Courtney Henze
    Mentor: Kathryn Bell


    Music has been used as a therapeutic tool for stress relief. Few studies, however, have focused on the extent to which certain qualities of music, including tempo, reduce academic stress among college students. This study’s objective was to determine whether fast-tempo, slow-tempo, or no music (silence) impacted college students’ academic stress levels. We hypothesized that individuals who listened to slow-tempo music would report lower levels of academic stress than those who listened to fast-tempo or no music. We also expected that individuals who listened to fast-tempo music would report higher levels of academic stress than those who listened to slow-tempo or no music. Participants (n = 99) recruited in three classes were randomly assigned to one of three conditions in which they listened to a three minute fast-tempo or slow-tempo musical selection or sat in silence for three minutes. Participants completed the Student Academic Stress Scale (SASS) and a demographic questionnaire. Academic stress levels did not differ significantly among individuals in the fast-tempo, slow-tempo, and silence conditions. Findings contribute to the growing body of literature on the impact of music on stress levels among college students.

    The Use of Language and the Effect on Perspective Taking
    Sarah Beinkampen, Justin See
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski


    Perspective taking has been extensively researched and linked to other behaviors such as empathy. Research shows that perspective taking increases identification with others. However, none have studied whether using first or third person language in writing elicits more perspective taking from the reader. By wording a vignette in both first and third person perspective, the current study examined whether first person language increased perspective taking. In two experiments, participants read a vignette written in either first person or third person and completed measures of perspective taking and personal fable (a form of egocentric thought). Participants also reported their level of support for the story’s main character. We discovered the participants that read the story written in first person reported lower perspective taking and yet more support for the story’s protagonist. Students that read the third person story had higher perspective taking scores but were harsher toward the story’s protagonist. This mismatch between the measure of perspective taking and the participants’ attitude toward the story’s protagonist should be examined further.

    The Effect of Technology on Working Memory Capacity
    Sarah Beinkampen
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson


    Previous research has demonstrated impacts of technology use on cognitive processes like memory and attention. The current study examines the impact of technology on working memory capacity. If the use of technology impacts the functioning of working memory, higher-order cognitive processes that rely on working memory will be impacted as well. Participants’ use of technology is assessed using a survey. Verbal and spatial tasks are used to measure working memory capacity. It is hypothesized that frequent use of technology correlates with working memory difficulties. The results increase our understanding of the relationship between technology use and mental processing.

    Gender Differences in Regret Associated with Adverse Drinking Outcomes
    Luke Bowers, Brittany Beach, Robin Justice
    Mentor: Kathryn Bell


    Preliminary research indicates that college women often report experiencing regret following sexual activity that occurs in the context of drinking. No known studies, however, have examined regret following other adverse drinking outcomes or gender differences in alcohol-related regret. The purpose of the current study was to examine gender differences in alcohol-related regret and explore the relationship between regret and alcohol use problems. The study was conducted in partial fulfillment of course requirements. It was hypothesized that (1) women would report significantly greater regret than men in reaction to scenarios describing adverse outcomes associated with alcohol use, and (2) that there would be a strong positive correlation between participants’ reported alcohol use problems and regret. Fifteen male and female college students completed an online survey containing a demographics questionnaire and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Participants also rated their regret in response to four scenarios describing adverse drinking outcomes. Women reported significantly greater regret than men in reaction to scenarios describing adverse drinking outcomes. Unexpectedly, there was no significant relationship found between participants’ alcohol use problems and their experiences of regret. Preliminary findings extend existing research by highlighting potential gender differences in regret in response to adverse drinking outcomes.

    Diagnosing Music Reading and Piano Playing Difficulties: A Comparison between a Master Piano Teacher and a Beginning Student
    Erin Brown
    Mentors: Sabato D. Sagaria, Beverly Rawles (class of 1951)


    Eye-tracking equipment such as Tobii could greatly enhance learning or teaching music, as well as diagnosing a students’ problems r in learning to play the piano or to read music. The purpose of this study was to compare eye-fixating behavior of a beginning student with known difficulties in reading music or playing the piano with eye-fixating behavior of master piano teacher. Tobii technology was used to characterize the eye-tracking behavior of a beginning piano student and a master piano teacher. Contrasting the differences in eye-tracking behavior between beginning and master piano players may help piano students improve their ability to read music and play the piano. Students could receive more individualized piano instruction and achieve greater success with less stress.

    Tracking Eye Movement and Fixation to Explain the Ability of Learning Scientific Material
    Michael Burgess
    Mentor: Sabato Sagaria


    Previous work conducted in spring 2011 revealed that participants learned amino acids best when the information was offered to them in black and white with text. This finding sounds counterintuitive because students tend to highlight or associate an item with a relevant picture in order to learn the material better. To understand these results, learners’ eye-movements, fixations and fixation durations were measured using a Tobii T120 eye-tracker. The same amino acid information was presented in the same format as in the previous experiment to find where viewers are looking and what factors affect their ability to learn the material. Information from this study can be used to help identify causes of learning problems and may be helpful in reformulating how textbooks are made.

    Hope Quilt
    Jennifer Davis, Daston Campell, Brooke Fox, Jesi Howell, Courtney Otto, Jennie Pabst, Ryan Ross, Mary-Helen Skowronski, Ashley Stotesbery, Jessica Woodruff
    Mentor: Michelle Barsnack, Sharon Stout-Shaffer, Deborah Shields, Amy Oehlschlaeger, Andrea Thomas, Renda Ross, Dina Lentsner, Janette McDonald, Andrea M. Karkowski


    Art has been used as a way to inspire hope in people through times of crisis. The purpose of this project was to create a hope quilt. Students studying hope imagined what hope looked like and portrayed hope through a symbol or an image. Students were asked to think of a color that represented hope for them and then were asked to think of a symbol that represented hope for them. Students then designed the image that incorporated their color of hope and used different quilting techniques. Each piece was stitched together to create an enlarged quilted wall hanging. This project expands our understanding of hope by exploring the colors, images and symbols associated with hope.

    Experiences of Hope in a College Population
    Jennifer Davis
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski, Sharron Stout-Shaffer


    Hope is a vital part of life because it helps people cope with adversity and motivates people to achieve their goals. The purpose of this study was to examine how college students defined and experienced hope. I interviewed students and asked about their experiences with hope and how they defined hope. I expected to find two themes of hope. The first theme of hope would be concerned with their academics because college students feel a pressure to succeed in school. The second theme of hope would focus on the development of relationships because college students are transitioning from strong relationships with their families to strong relationships with their peers. Most of the literature on hope that exists used definitions of hope that had been developed by professionals. This study contributes to our understanding of hope by examining hope within a different population.

    Hope among International Students
    Brooke Fox
    Mentors: Andrea M. Karkowski, Renda Ross


    People face many challenges when they leave their homeland and come to live in the United States for an extended period of time. The purpose of this research is find out how these visitors from other countries use hope to overcome some of the challenges. I conducted focus groups with English language learners on Capital University’s campus. I asked what their challenges are and how they found hope in their experiences in order to overcome the challenges. I expect that they find hope and support from other students that are visiting from other countries. This project has the potential to break down some of the barriers that these students experience when they come to the United States.

    Psycho-Pedagogical Assessment: A Pilot Project
    Daniela Gaspari-Foley
    Mentor: Janette McDonald


    Previous research shows that 20% of middle school students do not have basic scholastic competences in reading, writing and calculating. The first signs of difficulties appear in nursery school. This pilot project intended to answer the question, why is a psycho-pedagogical assessment needed? We have benefited from the experiences of researchers who have worked on an aspect of children’s development called aptitudinal potential. Research in aptitudinal potential is insufficiently thorough. This project intended to measure child development in order to increase favorable conditions for fundamental learning. Based on the science of aptitudes, or douistic science, the project investigated what necessary knowledge was missing. Four schools of various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds were selected for an eighteen-month pilot project. The sample included 400 pre-school children from Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Home and socio-economic information initiated the project assessment. A diagnostic assessment was conducted at the beginning and a formative assessment was given at the end. Teacher training in douistic science was part of this pilot project. Findings suggest that training, as well as participation of the entire educative team, and the use of appropriate material, significantly improved the basic scholastic competences of the children.

    An Exploration of Variables that Influence Eye-Witness Susceptibility to and Awareness of Misinformation (Honors Capstone Project)
    Sierra Hill
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson


    Previous research has provided evidence that memories of eye-witnessed events are highly suggestible. By incorporating post-event information, the accuracy of an individual’s memory for the original event decreases. In addition, prior evidence suggests that participants’ reading and eye fixation times lengthen when the presented material does not match their expectations. The current study investigated participants’ awareness of the misinformation presented in a narrative that is read after viewing an event (brief film clip). The viewed events were either familiar or unfamiliar and chaotic or calm. It is hypothesized the participant memories were most suggestible after viewing a chaotic and unfamiliar event. Specific eye movements and eye fixations on the misleading words were evaluated using an eye tracker in order to determine if participants are aware of the suggested information while reading. The results broaden our understanding of both the impact of suggested post-event information on the accuracy of memory and how aware we are of this type of information when it is encountered. The suggestibility of memory has a significant effect on the quality and accuracy of memory, which impacts the legal system when dealing with eyewitness testimony.

    Helping Single Mothers Means Helping their Children: A Community Engagement Project with CHLOE, Inc.
    Leanne Howard, Taylor Niemira, Caitlin Harville, Caitlin Bierman, Justin Damron, Jazmin Soto
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski


    The prevalence of single motherhood is increasing. Unfortunately, research indicates that single motherhood has detrimental effects on the child (Choi, 2010), particularly when the mother is young (i.e., 17 – 24 years old). The purpose of this study was to assess the needs of single mothers. Single mothers were recruited via social networking sites and through contacts in the community. The mothers completed the survey, which assessed their needs, online or using a paper and pencil. We expected to find areas in which their needs were not being met, for example social support and mental health. This research led to a better understanding of the needs of single mothers, particularly for the current generation of young single mothers. This information will be used by CHLOE, Inc., a community-based organization whose mission is to help young single mothers, to develop programing and services for single mothers.

    Hope across Cultures
    Jesi Howell
    Mentors: Renda Ross, Kathryn Bell


    The purpose of this project is to gain insight into how people from diverse backgrounds define hope. I examined differences due to variables such as age, religion, race and ethnicity to determine potential influences on how people define hope. Participants were video recorded as they described what hope means to them. They were also asked to provide a personal symbol of hope. I expected to find differences due to demographic variable in how people perceive hope and the symbols that they identify with hope. This project contributes to our understanding of hope because it surveys a diverse selection of people, showing similarities and differences across personal experience.

    Does Language Use (First and Third Person) Affect how Likely the Participant is to Support the Student's Grade Appeal?
    Emma Kidwell, Katelynd Shoff
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski


    We hypothesized that participants that read a story about a grade appeal written in the first person were more likely to approve the student’s grade appeal than those who read the same story written in the third person story. Fifty-three undergraduate students from Capital University participated. The participants completed a pretest that contained a measure of personal fable and demographic items, they then read the story that was randomly assigned to them. After reading the story, participants completed a quiz about the story, a measure of perspective taking, and an item that assessed their level of support for the student’s appeal. Results showed that participants who read the story in the first person, as compared to participants who read the story written in the third person, scored significantly higher on the posttest perspective taking measure [F(1, 48) = 5.183, p = .027, with 10% of the variance accounted for by story] and reported greater support for the student’s appeal [F(1, 48) = 4.785, p = .034, with 9% of variance in scores accounted for by story]. We conclude that language, and specifically the use of first or third person, influences perspective taking.

    College Students' Perceptions of Parents' Political Activity and Knowledge of Recent Political Issues
    Brianna Murphy, Emalee Mounts
    Mentor: Kathryn Bell


    College students have varying levels of political participation and knowledge. One factor influencing their levels of political participation and knowledge is how involved their parents are in politics. To examine the relationship between college students’ perceptions of their parents’ political involvement and students’ knowledge of recent political issues, sixty-two traditional male and female undergraduate students were surveyed in partial fulfillment of requirements for a research methods course. Students completed a three-part survey including a demographics questionnaire, a survey on students’ perceptions of their parents’ political involvement, and a questionnaire assessing students’ knowledge of recent state and national issues and government leaders. Consistent with the study’s hypothesis, results indicated there was a significant positive correlation between perceived parental political involvement and students’ knowledge of recent political issues. The results suggest that parents could be an influence on college students’ political knowledge. Further research is needed to better understand how parents might influence their children’s political knowledge and values.

    Does Hope Affect Persistence?
    Taylor Niemira, Jedda Decker, Ryan Ross, Danielle Taylor, Brittany Bosch, Jennifer Davis, Andrew Garcia, Adam James, Donna Lang, Courtney Otto, Laura Pierce, Adam Ross, Nema Saleem, Ryan Sherrock, Whitney Skidmore, Jacqueline Swietochowski, Hannah Wilde
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski


    Hope is the belief in the ability to attain a desired goal and having a method for attaining the goal. Persistence is also needed for goal attainment. The purpose of this study was to examine how hope affects persistence. Participants completed measures of hope, mood, and life events; these variables were used as control variables. Then participants watched either a hope-inspiring video or a control video and completed a measure of persistence. We expected to find that participants that watched the hope video persisted longer than participants that watched the control video; however, the opposite occurred. Students in the control condition persisted longer than students in the hope condition. While most of the research on hope was correlational, this study provides experimental evidence of the effect of hope on persistence.

    The Representation of Hope among Various Spiritual Traditions
    Courtney Otto
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Deborah Shields, Sharron Stout-Shaffer, Renda Ross


    Hope is perceived, experienced, defined, and represented in different ways in different spiritual traditions. In order to be effective clinicians and researchers, psychologists need to understand different worldviews. The author studied literature pertaining to the definition of hope in various spiritual traditions, as well as artistic representations of and metaphors for hope from these different spiritual traditions. It was expected that the concept of hope would be similar across spiritual traditions, but the symbolic representation of hope would be different in each spiritual tradition. Most of the current literature does not compare concepts of hope from the perspective of different spiritual traditions, even though many relate their definition of hope to their spiritual tradition. This study is important because it examined hope from a spiritual perspective and included both definitions and explanations of hope and artistic and symbolic representations, important components of spiritual traditions.

    A Box of Hope, a Case of Despair
    Jennie Pabst
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Deborah Shields, Sharron Stout-Shaffer, Michaele Barsnack, Renda Ross


    Hope and despair are important aspects of the human experience and different people see these emotions in different objects and images. The purpose of this display is to depict the variety of images that represent hope and despair. I created a display that incorporates items and images that symbolized both hope and despair and I have analyzed these in the context of the literature about hope. I found both similarities and differences in the images that people reported to me. This research contributes to our understanding the interrelationships between hope and despair and how those interrelationship manifest through visual imagery.

    Concepts of Hope
    Ryan Ross
    Mentor: Janette McDonald


    Snyder’s construct of hope is widely used by researchers and it includes agency (the belief in the ability to attain a goal) and pathways (strategies for attaining a goal). However, the popular definitions of “hope” and Snyder’s construct are so disparate that Snyder may be describing another cognitive phenomenon entirely. The purpose of this study was to determine whether Snyder’s construct accurately describes the layperson’s perceived experience of hope. I expected to find that most people would disagree with Snyder and offer more traditional definitions. That is, people would not think of hope as a goal-attainment strategy, rather, people would provide a vast array of different definitions. This work demonstrates whether Snyder’s construct of hope is describing hope as it is experienced, as the definition is intended to do.

    Exploring Hope through Play
    Mary-Helen Skowronski
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Andrea M. Karkowski, Deborah Shields, Sharron Stout-Shaffer, Michaele Barsnack, Renda Ross, Dina Lentsner, Andrea Thomas


    Research has shown that having hope enables the individual to successfully deal with the inevitable challenges encountered in life. Hope may allow us to have a clear sense of what our potential is and how we can make things better. Hopeful individuals feel that they have an important role to play in their family, community and world. By creating a "toy with purpose", I aim to highlight that children can develop an understanding of hope through the creative process of play. To that end, I used fabric to make a wall-hanging with various pieces that can be detached and reattached in a way that encourages children to develop self-awareness and to explore the notion of hope. This project extends our understanding of hope by examining hope through child's play.

    Figures of Hope
    Jessica Woodruff
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Deborah Shields, Sharron Stout-Shaffer, Michaele Barsnack, Renda Ross, Dina Lentsner, Andrea Thomas


    Hope can mean different things to different people. Because hope is associated with creative process, I created a visual piece of artwork that allowed me to explore hope in the various contexts of my life and to develop a sense of personal awareness and self-knowing. I took 24 photographs of objects that describe hope to me and make me hopeful. I then developed a book from those photographs which I entitled "Figures of Hope." This visual depiction of my personal definition of hope has given me a deeper understanding myself. The process of sharing explorations of hope has a two-fold outcome: (1) to enhance my personal hope through self-explorations, and (2) to foster others’ hope by sharing these explorations with others. This work can empower others to be more conscious and self-reflective.

    Children’s Academic Achievement, including Stress Relating to Children and College Students (Honors Capstone Project)
    Sarah Zipf
    Mentor: Sabato Sagaria


    Previous research has shown the importance of several factors regarding children’s academic achievement. These factors are children’s relationships, extra-curricular involvement, school attendance, health, and factors beyond children’s control. The current study examined these factors in more detail in childhood and through late adolescence. I investigated stress in young children and college students. Using the self-reporting method, participants completed a survey that probed the stressful events that occurred in the previous year using the Life Stress Instrument for Classroom Use. Participants rated their stress level before and after completion of the survey and identified coping strategies. It was hypothesized that in order to appropriately deal with amount of stress college students’ experience, the student needed to understand and learn to deal with stress in early childhood. This research expands our understanding of the origins of stress and how stress manifests throughout development. This research also identifies strategies to cope with that stress experienced by college students.