2014-2015 Senior Comp Abstracts

Annie Altman

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Monali Chowdhury

The Effect of Socialization Factors on Empathizing and Systemizing Traits in College Students

Research indicates that someone’s empathizing and systemizing traits are predetermined at birth (Focquart et al., 2007). This current research looked to see if factors of socialization and the environment, specifically socioeconomic status, parents, parenting styles, siblings, sibling relationships, and sex affect a person’s empathizing and systemizing traits. Participants (N=99), consisting of male (n=17) and female (n=82) undergraduate students, took an online survey including measures of these various environmental factors along with the Empathizing Quotient and Systemizing Quotient. Results did not indicate any significant relationship between socialization factors and Empathizing Quotient and Systemizing Quotient scores, besides a significantly positive relationship between Sibling Relationship Questionnaire Warmth and a participant’s Empathizing Quotient score. This result indicates that the socialization factor of sibling relationships may impact a person’s Empathizing Quotient score. Insignificant results related to the other environmental factors could be a result of instruments used in this research that did not effectively capture the environmental factor that they were intended to. Other results indicated a difference between male and female participants regarding both the Empathizing Quotient and the Systemizing Quotient and a difference between sophomores and juniors on the Systemizing Quotient. Future research should investigate these environmental factors, in a variety of samples, to comprehensively understand the relationships between these factors and empathizing and systemizing traits in neurotypical males and females.

 

Haylee Andrews

Major: Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Sleep Schedule Regularization: Sleep Regularization Results in Quicker Reaction Times on a Dot-Probe Task

The effects of sleep regulation, sleep quality, and chronotype on attentional bias were studied in generally healthy college students. Participants were randomly assigned to either a sleep-as-usual group or a sleep regulation group (7 hours each night for five nights over a weekend). Participants completed a demographics questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Chronotype Questionnaire (Oginska, 1996). Actigraphs recorded sleep efficiency for each of the five nights. Participants returned to the lab after five nights and completed a dot-probe task. It was hypothesized that participants in the sleep-as-usual group would have a greater attentional bias towards threatening stimuli. Attentional bias refers to reaction time and number of probes correctly identified in either the threatening or neutral position. In addition, it was hypothesized that participants with an evening chronotype, low sleep efficiency (<85%) and poor sleep quality (PSQI score >5) would have greater attentional bias towards threatening stimuli. Participants in the sleep-as-usual group responded slower to threatening stimuli (M=542.13, SD=120.28) than the sleep regulation group (M=452.14, SD=68.49), t(29)=2.48, p=.02. In addition, sleep-as-usual participants responded slower to neutral stimuli (M=531.97, SD=107.22) than the sleep regulation group (M=451.61, SD=60.99), t(29)= 2.49, p=.02. There were no significant differences between sleep groups and number of correctly identified probes overall or number of threatening probes identified. Chronotype and sleep quality were not significantly associated with attentional bias. As predicted, participants with low sleep efficiency, correctly identified more probes in the threat position (M=46.27, SD=1.75) than participants with high sleep efficiency (M=43.31, SD=4.19), t(20.35)=-2.59, p=.02 showing a greater attentional bias towards threatening stimuli.

 

Trevor Barr

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Jeff Hollerman

The VPA Model of Autism and Effects on Avoidance Learning in Adult Male Sprague-Dawley Rats

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by socio-behavioral impairments, including impairments in social interaction, communication deficits, and patterns of restricted and repetitive behavior. Recently, an animal model of autism induced by prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) has been proposed as a way to study features of autism that cannot otherwise be studied in humans. The present study utilized the VPA model to examine differences in novel/familiar object preference, as well as performance on a two-way active avoidance learning task among VPA and control rats. VPA rats showed a significant preference for familiar objects, while controls showed a significant preference for novel objects. On the avoidance learning procedure, VPA rats exhibited lower numbers of both escapes and avoidances compared to controls. Additionally, although the results were not statistically significant, a trend showed that the number of avoidances for the control rats increased at a higher daily rate than for the VPA rats.

 

Kathryn Broeren

Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

Concussion History Does Not Influence Cardiovascular Stress Reactivity

The present study aimed to investigate differences in stress reactivity between those with a concussion history and those without. Previous research has shown that anxiety and stress may lead to negatively impact quality of life postconcussion. It was hypothesized that those with a history of concussion would have more stress reactivity than those with no history. Participants (N=21) were undergraduate students of Allegheny College. The participants completed a standards three-phase stress reactivity task. There was no evidence of significant differences in stress reactivity between those with a concussion history and those with no history of concussion. These findings suggest that the increased anxiety in situations is a perception and is not translated into changes in autonomic responses to stress.

 

Kathryn Brong

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Monali Chowdhury

The Relationship between Personality Facets, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mobile Phone Use and Attitudes

As mobile phones grow in popularity and become more ubiquitous to our daily lives, the differences in personal use and attitude towards the device may be important to understanding trends in behavior. This study sought to investigate how the different dimensions of the Big Five Personality Facets, as well as the Autism Spectrum Quotient, Empathizing Quotient, and Systemizing Quotient were related to different factors of mobile phone use and attitude. The latter of these measures were designed to discern between self-perceptions of Objective Use and Subjective Attitude. One hundred college students participated in the study completing all factors. The Systemizing Quotient was negatively correlated to forms of use and dependency, while the Autism Quotient was correlated to social application use. All five facets of personality were correlated with use or attitude in some way or another. Neuroticism was positively correlated to multiple forms of use, as well as dependency and enthusiasm for the device, while Openness-to-Experience was negatively correlated to use and dependency.

 

Shana Burns

Major: Psychology/Other

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

Effects of Fairy Tales on Responses to Morality from Boys and Girls

The fairy tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” has been passed down for generations and conveys ideas of parental boundaries of safety for children. Earlier versions reflect values of a patriarchal society and Protestantism, while modern revisions of “Little Red Riding Hood” depict gaining autonomy. The modern stories Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman and Red Riding Hood by James Marshall show how parents set boundaries to build a child’s self-esteem, positive worldview, and independence. The two stories were used in a study that focused on how children think about morality in “Little Red Riding Hood.” The study examined differences between the more serious Hyman and the more humorous Marshall versions, while also looking at differences between boys’ and girls’ responses. The study gave an option to cheat if children took more than one sticker after the story was read. It was predicted that the more humorous Marshall version would cause children to feel more sympathy for Little Red Riding Hood, while the Hyman version was expected to create more fear in the children. Also, it was expected that there would be an interaction with girls being less scared of Marshall’s Red Riding Hood, and it would cause them to show more sympathy than boys. Lastly, it was expected that the positive ending in the Marshall version would prime children to think more about the positive outcomes of moral behavior and, in turn, cause them to cheat less, especially for girls. The study found that children did not cheat more across conditions and that there were no sex differences for level of fear and feelings about the end of the story. Results showed that girls preferred Little Red Riding Hood as their favorite character, while boys preferred the hunter. Limitations and outlook are discussed.
Keywords: Fairy tales, empathy, sympathy, morality

 

Sarah Carlson

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Deb Dickey

The Effect of Gender Bias on Aesthetic Preference for 2D Visual Art

The current project examined gender bias and if it influences one’s preference for visual art in two-dimensional form. The sample consisted of female Allegheny College students (N=30), ages 18-23. Participating students were shown an image of a painting with the accompaniment of a short description of the artist to establish credibility that clearly states the artist’s gender as either male or female. After viewing the art and reading the accompaniment, participants then completed the Art Reception Survey, a 28 item questionnaire that looks at six factors, including cognitive stimulation, negative emotionality, expertise, self-reference, artistic quality and positive attraction on a five point Likert scale. It was hypothesized that those who viewed the art by the male artist would rank artistic quality and positive attraction higher than those who viewed the same art by the female artist. After statistical analysis, no significant results were found. Limitations and future research are discussed.

 

Emily Christ

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

Effects of Animal Interaction on (Dis)Honesty

There is a gap in literature between animal interaction and moral behavior. Building on existing research, the present study attempted to study the implications of oxytocin on moral behavior, specifically honesty and cheating, by inducing oxytocin through animal interaction. Forty-seven undergraduate students were given an anagram test under the assumption that they were participating in a study that looked at the effects of animal interaction on academic performance. The experimental condition (n = 24) interacted with a therapy; and the control condition (n= 23) read a story about a dog. Subsequently, participants were instructed to solve a set of anagrams in order; the first three anagrams were solvable and the fourth was not. After eight minutes, the participants were asked to report the number of anagrams solved, which would correspond to the amount of raffle tickets entered into a drawing for one of two gift cards. Results indicated that there was no significant difference in cheating between the experimental condition and the control condition. Limitations and future research is discussed.
Keywords: animal interaction, moral behavior, oxytocin, honesty

 

Rebecca Cohen

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

The Effect of Chronic and Acute Stress on College Students’ Unethical Behaviors

There is no research directly linking chronic sleep restriction (resulting in chronic stress) and cheating. A gap also exists in the research of how acute stress may affect unethical behavior. 37 undergraduates were recruited to participant in the current study which examined the correlation between chronic sleep restriction and cheating and experimentally manipulated acute stress to test its effects on cheating. Chronic sleep restriction was measured using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (Johns, 1991) while chronic stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). These scales were correlated with the number of matrices solved and over-reported in number-search-paradigm frequently used to assess unethical behavior (Gino, Ayal, & Ariely, 2009). Participants were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions: in the acute-stress-condition, participants completed the Trier Social Stress Test (Kirschbaum, Pirk, & Hellhammer, 1993); participants in the no-acute-stress condition were asked to briefly brainstorm what they may say during a job interview. Results indicate limited support for the hypotheses that stress and sleep restriction are associated with increased cheating. More research is needed to fully explore the effects of chronic sleep restriction, chronic stress, and acute stress since these factors may result in immoral behavior. Knowledge of what motivates and impacts individual’s behaviors is essential for understanding how larger groups and organizations function- such as college students, businesses, and other subgroups of society where an individual’s immoral behavior is typically discouraged for the benefit of the greater good.
Keywords: Acute stress, chronic stress, immoral behaviors

 

Nicole Coogan

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

The Effects of Volunteerism on Identification with all Humanity

Identification with all humanity (IWAH) is characterized as caring for humankind regardless of religion, race, or other distinguishing factors. Because identification with all humanity is a new idea, little is known about its origin and if it can be taught. This study explored the possibility that identification with all humanity is a teachable construct by means of volunteering. To do so a team of eleven volunteers was followed over the course of a weeklong mission trip. IWAH was measured both before and after the service project. Results indicate that IWAH scores across the three categories of identification (the community, the country, and humanity) increased from the pre-test to the post-test.

 

Perri Corsello

Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Jeff Cross

The Effects of 8-OH-DPAT on Behavior and Cell Proliferation in the Basal Ganglia of 6-OHDA Hemiparkinsonian Rats

Parkinson’s disease, being one of the most commonly occurring neurological disorders, is the degeneration of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra leading to symptoms of motor abnormalities. The treatments currently available for Parkinson’s disease are initially effective, but lose their ability to treat the symptoms as time goes on. 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino) tetralin hydrobromide (8-OH-DPAT) is a 5-HT1A serotonin receptor agonist that stimulates the proliferation of astrocytes via the release of the protein S100β. This increased presence of astrocytes has been shown to result in the increased protection of neurons due to the antioxidants and trophic factors supplied to the neurons as well as the homeostasis of cytokine concentration brought on by this increased astrocyte presence. The present study intended to observe the effects of 8-OH-DPAT on behavior and cell proliferation in a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) Sprague-Dawley rat model of Parkinson’s disease. Behavioral testing was performed upon the animals after the lesion and 8-OH-DPAT treatment regimen and histological analysis was performed with the use of a Golgi-Cox stain as well as a Tyrosine Hydroxylase stain. Cell counts and morphology of the cells were analyzed. Proliferation of astrocytes compared between the control and treatment groups did not appear to display differences, however, behavioral testing indicated a recovery of function in the experimental animals from the 6-OHDA lesion.

 

Alexandra Cristofoletti

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

The Effect of Musical Tempo on Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Reactivity in the Presence of Stress

In this study, the effect of listening to different music with differing tempos during a stressful cognitive task was explored. Participants (N=41) completed a serial subtraction task, and were randomly assigned to one of three conditions; they either listened to fast paced music (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement), slow paced music (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata 1st Movement), or no music during the stress portion of the task. The aim of this study was to determine the affect the musical tempo would have on systolic and diastolic cardiovascular reactivity. Results showed that there was no statistical significance for either group; indicting tempo does not have a concrete affect on systolic and diastolic cardiovascular reactivity.

 

Matthew DeMichiei

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Patricia Rutledge

The Effect of Situational Power on Discrimination Against Convicted Felons

Previous research on the concept of power, an individual’s perceived ability to control the outcomes of others with the use of rewards or punishments, has found that high power orientation is associated with a number of negative social effects. Individuals given power are more likely to exhibit decreased compassion, empathy, and perspective taking, as well as increased moral hypocrisy, stereotyping behavior, and racial bias. However, existing research has not explored the effects of power on discrimination towards nonracial stigmatized groups. The present study investigated these effects by measuring discrimination towards convicted felons in participants primed in either high or low power conditions. Convicted felons face several challenges upon release from incarceration, such as political disenfranchisement and difficulty finding housing and employment. Discrimination may be more prevalent in individuals with power over felons in these situations, such as landlords, employers, and lawmakers. Participants were primed for high and low power conditions by recalling a time in their lives where they have either had power over people or where an individual had power over them. Participants were then asked to assess either a felon or a non-felon on using a Feeling Thermometer and an aggregate score derived from the Person Perception Test and Behavioral Intentions Index. The study used a 2 x 2 factorial design, and the results were analyzed using a two way between-subjects ANOVA. Results showed no significant interaction between priming condition and target felon status on either the aggregate score (p = .785) or the Feeling Thermometer rating (p = .597). However, results seem to suggest that this was due to problems with the priming task, rather than a true lack of interaction between the independent variables. This suggests that this study should be replicated with a different priming method.

 

Chloe Donohue

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Juvia Heuchert

Authentic Movement, Music, and Current Mood State

The present study assessed the relationship between participants current mood state and authentic movement done with and without music. The participants in this study consisted of 40 Allegheny College students, ages 18 to 22. Participants were required to complete the POMS2-A before and after a five minute authentic movement session that was self directed, either with or without music. The hypothesis was that both high energy and low energy authentic movers would improve current mood state. Additionally, it was hypothesized that participants who heard music during their authentic movement session would experience a greater current mood state improvement. The results showed that the kind of authentic movement the participant engaged in, both with or without music, had no significant effect on current mood state, and therefore the hypothesis was not supported. It is suggested that future research investigates how freedom of self-expression can improve a current mood state in an individual.

 

Taesha Foster

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Patricia Rutledge

Retail Therapy and Its Relationship to Self-esteem and Self-efficacy in Female College Students

Self-esteem is a person’s sense of personal worth and self-confidence. Self-efficacy is the degree to which a person feels of their ability to complete tasks and goals. The purpose of this study is to observe how retail therapy is related to both self-esteem and self-efficacy in female college students. The hypotheses are that individuals with higher apparel budgets will display higher retail therapy activity, participants with lower self-efficacy will display higher retail therapy, and participants with lower self-esteem will display higher retail therapy activity. To analyze the research questions participants took 3 surveys online: The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the General Self-Efficacy Scale, and the Retail Therapy Scale. Through correlations the only research question that was found statistically significant was that individuals with higher apparel budgets displayed higher scores of retail therapy. Further implications and suggestions for furthering the findings are discussed as well.

 

Breana Gallagher

Major: Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

Does listening to music affect performance on visuospatial and language-comprehension tasks differently between musicians and non-musicians?

Musicians often refer to music as a language, but the current study investigates whether musicians automatically process music in the same way English speakers automatically process English, and the potential implications of that relationship. Three groups defined by their musical expertise, were each given a visuospatial and a language-comprehension task in the presence of music and in silence. The present study hypothesized that musical listening affects performance on cognitive tasks differently between musicians and non-musicians such that musicians would score lower on the language-comprehension task in the presence of music (because they are essentially processing two languages at once). Additionally, the study was designed to investigate relationships between musical sophistication and performance on cognitive tasks, hypothesizing that those with greater musical sophistication would perform better on both the visuospatial and language-comprehension tasks. Participants scored higher on the language-comprehension task in the silence condition. However, participant’s scores on the visuospatial task did not differ significantly between the music and silence conditions. These results suggest that cognitive tasks can be hindered by musical listening, but it is task specific. Implications and limitations are discussed.

 

Rebecca Gallup

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

An Acute RCT of Loving-Kindness Meditation and Its Effects on Identification with All Humanity and Unethical Behavior

There is a gap in research directly linking loving-kindness meditation (LKM) to moral behavior. There is also no current research exploring the effects identification with all humanity (IWAH) on unethical behavior (cheating). 31 undergraduate college students were recruited, but after several exclusions, the remaining sample consisted of 18 participants. The current study examines the effects of loving-kindness meditation on moral behavior and IWAH. The hypothesis of the study was that participants practicing a 12-minute loving-kindness meditation daily for one week would increase their IWAH thus reducing cheating on a math matrices task. The study consisted of three parts: the orientation session, the week long guided meditation practice and the cheating assessment. The results of the study concluded that an acute loving-kindness practice does not effect cheating. There were no differences between the LKM condition and the relaxation condition in terms of cheating behavior or IWAH scores. Participants in the LKM condition found the meditation to be more difficult, they felt less absorbed, more restless and less calm. Identification with all community was correlated with over-reporting matrices. Identification with all humanity was correlated with both reporting matrices over seven and actual matrices solved. There were several limitations that need to be addressed in future studies.

 

Chelsey Gooch

Major: Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Rodney Clark

Nicotine’s Effect on Symptoms in Phencyclidine Model of Schizophrenia in Rats

Anecdotal evidence suggests that smoking cigarettes may help some schizophrenic individuals to manage their symptoms, especially negative symptoms. The present study examined whether nicotine administration might antagonize the behavioral effects of PCP (a pharmacological model for schizophrenia). Rats were trained to respond for food reinforcement under a differential reinforcement of low rate 10 second (DRL-10″) schedule of food presentation. Response rates were recorded with saline injections, varying doses of PCP (0.1-3.0 mg/kg), and injections of both PCP and (-)nicotine (0.056 mg/kg). Nicotine (0.056 mg/kg, I.P.) did not antagonize the behavioral effects of PCP (1.0 mg/ml, I.P.) to a statistically significant extent, but there was some improvement with the addition of nicotine. Future studies should further explore the potential of nicotine as an antagonist in schizophrenia models.

 

Andre Green

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Monali Chowdhury

The Effect of The Autism Phenotype and God Image on Moral Reasoning

The purpose of this project is to explore the relationship between the participants personal God Image and sub-clinical traits of autism. Research suggests that traits of autism exist in the general population as broader autism phenotype (Baron-Cohen). Participants will be given the Autism Quotient, Systemizing Quotient, and Empathizing Quotient, and then with a religious questionnaire that asses an individual’s particular God image. Then the participants will be presented with situations of moral dilemma, to see how the presence of a god in one’s life and subclinical traits of autism effects there judgment.

 

Brittany Griffith

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

A Study of the Effects of Modern Racism and the Absence of Religion in Social Movement Organization

The purpose of this research was to examine the roles of religion and prejudice as they affect social movement organization around issues of racial injustice and inequality. In particular, I analyze the importance of black churches during the Civil Rights Movement in their unique ability to create unity, inspire hope and motivation, and produce an influential leader who ultimately mobilized collective action in the form of nonviolence among his followers against the blatant discrimination characteristic to the Jim Crow South. I then acknowledge the movement’s gradual separation from the church and discuss how this transformation affected the organization of collective action in the movement and how that effect has sustained for decades. Subsequently, I examine the situation in America today regarding social movement organization around issues of racial inequality. I specifically address modern racism, in its more insidious form, and how this affects the organization of protests and events that resemble the beginning of a movement. My hypothesis is that the absence of religion as a source of unity, motivation and hope, and leadership works in combination with the metamorphosis of modern prejudice to make social movement organization around issues of racial injustice more difficult today. Finally, I review a variety of social psychology perspectives offered to address the reconciliation of race relations that might be useful for improving movement organization.

 

Adam Herman

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Patricia Rutledge

Effects of Music, Genre, and Lyrical Content on Aggressive Behavior

Music is a form of media that is constantly around us. I investigate whether its constant presence has an effect on our aggressive behavior through different genres (heavy metal, rap, classical), and through lyrical content. Results suggest that music and genre do have an effect on aggressive behavior, but not as large of an effect as lyrical content.

 

Greta Hilbrands

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Monali Chowdhury

Examining the Link Between Problematic Internet use, Traits of Autism, and Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders

The Internet, though extremely useful and important, may become problematic in individuals with certain traits (Finkenauer, Pollmann, Begeer, & Kerkhof 2012; Rosen, Whalin, Rab, Carrier, & Cheever 2013). In this study the relationship between problematic Internet use, traits of autism, and symptoms of psychiatric disorders in 127 college students was investigated. It was hypothesized that students who exhibited more of the traits associated with autism would be more likely to report problematic Internet use. Further, presence of traits of autism would be linked with presence of symptoms of other psychiatric disorders of depression, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These hypotheses were supported by the research findings. There was a small significant correlation (r = 0.22) between the presence of traits of autism and problematic Internet use. Traits of autism were also significantly correlated with symptoms of depression (r = 0.31), social anxiety (r = 0.53), and OCD (r = 0.30). These results have implications for understanding the broader autism phenotype or the presence of traits associated with autism in the general population. Risks of problematic Internet use and symptoms of other psychiatric disorders associated with the presence of such traits indicates the need for more elaborate help structures for mental health on college campuses.

 

Robert Jackelen

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

How Cognitive Load Affects Spatial Working Memory Performance in Video Game Players and Non- Video Game Players

The main goal of the present study was to examine how cognitive load affects spatial working memory performance in video game players and non-video game players. A 2×2 between subjects design was used with cognitive load (low vs. high) and video game experience (video game player vs. non-video game player) as the between subjects variables. Thirty-eight participants took part in a video game playing manipulation of cognitive load, and then had their spatial working memory tested through the use of a
Corsi test. Results indicated that video game players performed better on spatial working memory task than non-video game players. Results showed that level of cognitive load had no effect on spatial working memory performance. Overall, the results replicate previous research about the positive effect of video game playing.

 

Matthew Jankowiak

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

Can Mood And Race Affect College Students’ Views In A Controversial Court Case?

The main goal of the present study was to determine if mood and race could affect college students’ views on the outcome of a controversial court case. The present study used a mood manipulation task to manipulate participants’ moods prior to reading a summary of a court case and answering questions about their views on the defendant, who was either Black or White, being guilty or not guilty. A one-way, between subjects design was used with the independent variables of mood (happy/sad) and race (Black/White) serving as the between subjects variables. The dependent variables in the study were the participant’s responses to a questionnaire that was given to them after reading the controversial case. Forty-eight participants participated across four conditions, as they were randomly assigned to one of four control groups: Black-Sad, Black-Happy, White-Sad, White-Happy. Results indicated that, in accordance with previous research, mood did in fact play a role in the participants’ decision-making process, as those in a sad mood were “somewhat upset” by the White defendants’ actions as opposed to those in a happy mood that responded they were simply “a little bit” upset. However, results also indicated that participants found the defendant’s actions more offensive when the defendant was White instead of Black, which goes against what previous research has shown. Overall, while the findings of the present study seemed to act in accordance with previous research on mood, the findings of the present study on race failed to replicate what previous research has discovered thus far.

 

Aviv Lang

Major: Other

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

Adjusting the Prism: Testing the Anchoring Effects of Color

While numeric anchoring effects have been researched extensively, alternative anchors have been less extensively researched. The current study explores the literature on anchoring and expands the existing research by examining color as a visual anchor. Beginning with Tversky and Kahneman’s classic anchoring model, the current study explores various models and methods for creating anchoring effects. Building on this previous research, the present study tested color anchors by showing participants green, blue, or white (control) images. Participants were asked to select the actual logo color for a fictitious brand and then asked to rate how likely they would be to purchase either a green or blue version of three different kitchen appliances. The results of the current study indicate that color does influence perception of logo colors. However, product preferences were not significant across green and blue anchor conditions. Further research is needed using other colors and products to discern the role of color as an anchor. The results highlight the potential range of applications for the anchoring effect beyond its classical numeric application, as well as a new perspective on the role of color in branding and product preferences.

 

Veronica Lang

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

Academic Cheating at Allegheny College: An Analysis of the Major Factors Influencing Students’ Decision to Cheat

Between 2012 and 2014, the media has been swarming with cases of academic cheating scandals in the United States. Existing research has already identified a number of factors that are predicted to be contributing and deterring college students’ from engagement in academic cheating. Factors such as: Grade pressure, an individualistic mentality, and the presence of an honor code. This study sought to learn about factors that are influencing students’ engagement in academic cheating and the effectiveness of deterrents such as the honor code on Allegheny’s campus. 413 students voluntarily agreed to participate in an online survey that inquired about the participants’ histories of cheating, contributing/deterring factors for cheating, attitude toward cheating, commitment to the honor code and reporting rates. Results indicated that the fear of receiving a failing grade was ranked as both the highest contributing factors as well as the highest deterring factors. Results also suggested that students with histories of cheating exhibited more lenient attitudes toward the behavior. Finally, those with lenient attitudes appeared to be less committed to the honor code, and less likely to report another individual for cheating.

 

Andrea Leon

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Patricia Rutledge

Solitary Drinking Across Different Age Groups

The current review aimed to research solitary drinking across different ages groups. Adolescents, young adults, and adults were compared in order explore differences in solitary drinking. Motivational models of alcohol use, coping drinking motives and tension reduction theories were researched in order identify the reasons why people drinking alone. Many of the research articles in this review were cross-sectional and this was a limitation. Future research studies should be longitudinal studies in order to be able to predict how drinking to cope and solitary drinking can affect individuals. Research showed that the severity of solitary drinking consequences were different for each age group. Research also showed the prevalence of solitary drinking was different across cultures.

 

Sara Marchello

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

Acute Light Therapy does not Elicit Increased Cardiovascular Stress Reactivity in Young Adults with Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Objective: The following study aimed to evaluate the relationship between acute light therapy and cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) to a cognitive stress task in undergraduate participants with depression. It explores the history of Seasonal Affective Disorder and depressive symptoms. The prevalence of SAD and depressive symptoms was examined on students who previously showed several depressive symptoms through questionnaires. It was hypothesized that those participants who underwent the 10,000- lux light therapy and showed depressive symptoms would show greater reactivity while participating in the stress reactivity task given, when compared to students that also showed having winter depressive symptoms, but underwent the 100-lux light while partaking in the same stress task. The participants who received 100-lux light would have blunted reactivity.
Methods: The participant’s systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and mean arterial pressure were observed during a baseline, stress, and recovery period while partaking in a stress reactivity test to compare the differences or similarities of the effect the active 10,000-lux light had on the individuals compared to a regular 100-lux light. Demographic information, the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), and the Seasonal Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ) were used to screen for depressive symptoms. Participants (N=31) were then randomly assigned to either a regular 100-lux light or active 10,000-lux light therapy. A serial 17- subtraction task was administered during the stress period while systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and heart rate (HR) were measured.
Results: Thirty-one college undergraduate participants participated in this study. The results did not support the hypothesis; the 10,000-lux light did not show significantly higher reactivity than the 100-lux light. The data shows that the stress task did not elicit a response on the participants because there was not an increase in reactivity for those who underwent 10,000-lux light therapy. Conclusion: The findings and results of this study do not support the hypothesis. Looking at the results for this study, it shows that the stress task did not have an effect on the participants who showed having depressive symptoms. The overall mean blood pressure for both the 100-lux light group and the 10,000-lux light group reported being average/normal blood pressure (MBP Baseline 122.67/71.73, MBP Stress 123.34/75.65, and MBP Recovery 120.30/71.19). Reactivity was calculated by the difference of stress period and baseline period. There was no significant difference between the reactivity of 100-lux light and 10,000-lux light. Overall, the stress task did not elicit the expected increase in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure.

 

Emily Marecic

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Deb Dickey

College Students’ Perceptions of Dating Violence

Previous studies have examined how gender can affect the perception of dating violence. In multiple studies, the participant, the perpetrator, and the victim can vary in gender. In the following study, the participants included 74 college students (n=47 males; n=27 females) currently attending Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The participants were randomly assigned one of two vignettes where the perpetrator was always a male with a female victim (heterosexual relationship). The difference between the two vignettes was related to Greek life dating violence or dating violence with no relation to Greek life. The results were not significant. No participant, regardless of gender, perceived any form of violence to be justifiable, whether or not the perpetrator was a member of a Greek life organization.

 

Nicole Masters

Major: Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

Experiences of physical and emotional abuse are associated with blunted cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress

Background: Blunted cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress has been associated with early adversity and traumatic life experiences. However, most studies on exposure to trauma capture this adversity as either a binary variable or as a function of frequency.
Aim: The aim of the study was to examine how both the type of traumatic experience (emotional or physical) and the additive effect of two types of trauma relates to cardiovascular reactivity to acute psychological stress in young adults.  Methods: Participants (N = 125) were screened using the Revised Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire (SLESQ-R). A sub-sample of participants (age, M = 19.7, SD = 1.03 years, 81% female) were then semi-randomly selected to attend a laboratory session and were categorized as: no abuse (NA; n = 16), physical abuse (PA; n = 17), emotional abuse (EA; n = 17), or physical plus emotional abuse (PPEA; n = 14). Heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were measured at baseline and during a standard laboratory mental stress task. Reactivity was calculated by subtracting the mean baseline measure from the mean stress task measure for HR, SBP, DBP, and MAP. Group differences in demographic characteristics, baseline cardiovascular activity, and cardiovascular reactivity were analyzed using separate chi-square and ANOVA.Results: There were no significant differences between groups in age, gender, baseline cardiovascular activity, DBP reactivity, or MAP reactivity. There were significant differences in HR reactivity, F(3,60) = 2.94,p = 0.040, pη2 = 0.128, and SBP reactivity, F(3,60) = 3.39, p = 0.024, pη2 = 0.145. Post-hoc analyses revealed that the PA and PPEA groups had significantly lower HR and SBP reactivity compared to the NA group. While not statistically significant, it is notable that the PPEA group had lower reactivity means, across all physiological measures, than the PA or EA groups.
Conclusion: Our data accord with previous work suggesting a relationship between traumatic life experience and blunted reactivity. While the clinical implications and mechanism behind blunted reactivity remain unclear, future work should explore these relationships further to better understand how blunted reactivity may manifest as increased risk for poor health outcomes among individuals exposed to trauma.

 

Maura Matvey

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

The Effect of Accent Prejudice on Subjective Well-Being of Non-Native English Speakers

The purpose of this research was to examine the relationship between accent prejudice and well-being in nonnative English speakers. The literary analysis in Spanish of this research examined the interaction of accent prejudice and subjective well-being mediated through cultural identity in the novel De cómo las muchachas García perdieron el acento by Julia Álvarez. The purpose of the experimental portion of this research was to examine the effects of accent prejudice on the subjective well-being and recall abilities in nonnative English speakers. This study sought to find whether an experience of accent prejudice lowered the subjective well-being and increased recall abilities in nonnative English speakers. Participants (N=17) completed a pre-test version of the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire before reading either a prejudiced or neutral news article. Participants then completed a post-test version of the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire and a post-test questionnaire which included a recall task based on the information from the articles. The results of this study did not support the hypothesis that an experience of accent prejudice would decrease subjective well-being and increase recall abilities in nonnative English speakers. Although significant results were limited, this interdisciplinary research has promising directions for future research.

 

Morgan Mechlenburg

Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

Effects of Caffeine on the Rate of Change Detection

The present study examined the effects of caffeine on the rate and accuracy of change detection. The change detection task involved object placement variation in the background and foreground of 10 scenes. The initial and modified images of a scene were alternated, separated by a blank interval (flicker paradigm). Participants (N=34) were randomly assigned to consume caffeinated coffee, caffeinated tea or decaffeinated coffee. The reaction time of detecting the change and accuracy of detecting the change were both analyzed. Results indicated that participants were more accurate at detecting foreground changes than background changes, which supports previous literature regarding figure-ground placement. Caffeine did not have a significant effect on the reaction time or accuracy of change detection. It is important for future research to continue to identify factors that may help to increase our ability to detect changes.

 

Nia Miller

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Deb Dickey

How Race Affects College Students’ Perceptions of Transgender Women

This study examined how race affects college students’ perceptions of transgender women. The basis of this research is an argument for a shift from a homogenous sexuality based focus in marginalized sexual and gender studies to an intersectional gender based focus. Participants were presented with a fictional transgender student and asked if they would be willing to work with the student on a group project. The race of the fictional student varied between black and white. The hypotheses were that 1) participants would respond more favorably to the white transgender student and 2) male participants would respond less favorably to both students. The data was not significant, most likely due to the small sample size.

 

Kathryn Mohan

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Monali Chowdhury

“How are you doing?”: An in-depth look at advanced theory of mind, sub-clinical traits of autism, and social acting among college students

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a condition that is inherently tied to social behavior. This study explored traits associated with autism and their relationship to social acting ability among college students. Social acting is when one participates in pro-social behavior that is considered appropriate by society’s standards, even if the behavior is considered to be a lie. An example of this is when someone passing you on the street asks “how you are doing?” and you respond that you are good, despite that not always being the truth. Using two measures of social acting—self-designed social behavior vignettes and The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT)—this study assessed participants on their social acting understanding. Participants were also tested for their trait loading of autism, as measured by the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), Empathy Quotient (EQ), and Systemizing Quotient (SQ). It was predicted that higher trait loadings of autism would correlate negatively with social acting scores, due to deficits in social skills that often accompany autism. The present study found that there were no significant relationships among the variables.

 

Marisol Moreno

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Brian Saltsman

The Use of Video Games To Improve Reaction Time

Recent research has provided evidence of a link between playing action video games and enhancement of cognition abilities. People who play video games or gamers have surpassed non-gamers in cognitive tasks and tests. Twenty-one students from Allegheny College served as participates. Based upon their prior gaming experiences, participants were categorized into First-person shooter gamers (FPSGs) and non-first-person shooter gamers (NFPSGs). In terms of gamer status 28.6% (n=6) were FPSGs, and 71.4% were considered NFPSGs (n=15). This study aimed to determine whether playing FPS games enhanced reaction speed. After a review of the data the first research question was answered and provided support for the hypothesis. Participants who were considered FPS gamers had a slight increase in reaction speed relative to those who lacked FPS game experience

 

Charles Mosca

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

Sound Induced Meditation on Beginning and Non-Meditators

Meditation is a series of self-regulation practices that focuses an individual on improving their awareness, attention, mental wellbeing (mood) and for some, their spiritual life. Meditation would conventionally require years of practice to reach the deepest levels of consciousness. Typically the deepest meditative state is achieved by Zen monks, who display alpha frequencies at 8.5 Hz and theta waves at 0.7 Hz on their EEGs. There are new meditation programs that help the average individual meditate by using sound frequencies to induce meditation. The brain mimics these frequencies, which brings the mind into a state of mediation. For this study, the program that is being used is called the Zen12 program by Karl Moore. The track that is used from the program is the level 1 meditation track that produces a 10 Hz Alpha Frequency. The original hypothesis was: participants who listen to the meditation track will have improved mental wellbeing and concentration over the control group. Participants (N=26) were divided into either the meditation group or the control group. The mediation group listened to the 10 Hz meditation track while the control group listens to an orchestral music track “Time” authored by Han Zimmer. The participants completed two concentration tasks from CambridgeBrainScience.com with the control group scoring higher than the meditation group on the feature match task. Participants answered items from The Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS Watson et al., 1988). In terms of overall mental wellbeing, there is no big difference between the participants. However meditators recorded to be more distressed, jittery and active while those in the control group recorded feeling more determined. It was discovered that sound frequency meditation will not improve mental wellbeing or concentration over orchestral music in a single listen.

 

Christopher Muise

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Monali Chowdhury

Traits Associated with Autism and Demonstration of Social Cognition

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are typically defined by deficits in social emotional reciprocity, deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors, and deficits in developing, maintaining and understanding relationships (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) This study sought to determine whether neuro-typical college student’s amount of behavior traits associated with ASDs had an influence on their social cognition. It was hypothesized that individuals with a higher prevalence of Traits associated with Autism and lower scores on the Empathy Quotient would demonstrate a lower ability to understand a social situation through a narrative about a still image. Results did not indicate a correlation between the ASD and the social cognition scores, social cognition measure needs to be modified prior to use in future studies.

 

Meghan Murphy

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

The Effects of Karma on Moral Decision Making Using a Ticket Allocation Paradigm

There is minimal research examining the effects of karma on moral decision making, specifically research on supernatural agents and their potential effect on moral behavior. This study was conducted to examine karma’s effect on moral decision making using a ticket allocation paradigm. 41 undergraduates were recruited to participate in the current study which examined the correlation between dispositional superstition and ticket allocation and experimentally manipulated karma to test its effects on ticket allocation. A self-generated priming tool was used to induce karmic ideals before participants completed the study. Using the ticket allocation paradigm participants allocated 10 tickets between themselves and another fabricated participant. Results indicated little support for the hypotheses that activating the concept of karma can influence an individual’s moral behavior. More research is needed to fully explore the effects of karma on moral behavior. Knowledge of what influences and motivates an individuals’ moral behavior is essential for understanding how individuals, such as business leaders or political figures, make decisions that can impact a large group of people’s livelihood. Further limitations and implications are discussed.
Keywords: Karma, Supernatural Agents, Moral Behavior, Priming tools

 

Caitlin Nealer

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Patricia Rutledge

An Analysis of the Effects of Gender on Underhand and Overhand Throwing Velocity in Collegiate Baseball and Softball Players

Research on gender differences is a growing realm of psychology which looks to provide insight as to why men and women are described and treated differently in psychological and physical aspects. The aim of this study was to aide in the deflating of stereotypes and biases that hinder each gender in different ways including the workplace, relationships, schooling and athletics. What this study has done was examine the effects of gender on throwing velocity for two types of throwing styles. Both underhand and overhand throwing styles were observed in a sample of 7 women’s division III collegiate softball players and 7 men’s division III collegiate baseball players. Results show a significant main effect of gender on throwing velocity (p<.001), a significant main effect of throwing type on throwing velocity (p<.001) and a significant interaction effect of gender and throwing type on velocity (p<.001). The reason I decided to study this topic is because I identify closely with the sport of softball and was excited to further my understanding of not only the sport but other implications and similarities it has with its cohort, baseball.

 

Katelyn Nicewander

Major: Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

Lavender Essential Oil Aromatherapy Does Not Reduce Cardiovascular Reactions to Acute Psychological Stress in the Laboratory: Results from a Preliminary Randomized Control Trial

Exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress is predictive of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Separate literature has suggested that aromatherapy aids in alleviating stress. While a paucity of research exists, aromas have been associated with improvements in psychological and physiological health states. The study aimed to evaluate cardiovascular reactivity and recovery during an acute psychological stress task in the presence of lavender essential oil. Participants (N=64) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control with no aroma, lavender essential oil, or melaleuca essential oil (active-control). Aromas were diffused for the entirety of the task. Heart rate (HR), systolic (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were measured during 10-minute phases of baseline, stress, and recovery. Post-stress task and olfaction perception questionnaires were completed. Reactivity was defined as the difference between average stress and baseline phases. No significant condition differences were found for the demographic variables, cardiovascular measures, post-stress inventories, HR and DBP reactivity, or recovery time points. SBP reactivity was significantly different between conditions as was how the groups perceived the aromas in terms of relaxation and invigoration. Post-hoc tests revealed that the melaleuca group had significantly higher SBP reactivity than the control group; while the lavender group, compared to the control group, found the smell of lavender to be more relaxing and invigorating. Notably, but not significant, across all phases, the control group consistently maintained lower cardiovascular measures and reactivity in comparison to the aroma groups. The presence of aromas seemingly elicits an activating cardiovascular response during acute psychological stress. Despite the perception of positive affect and olfaction appeal, reactivity was not reduced and recovery was not accelerated when lavender aroma was present.

 

Gavin Nirmaier

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Elizabeth Ozorak

Effects of Exercise and Humor on Mood

Exercise and humor, and their respective effects on mood, have been widely studied in past psychological research. The present study attempts to build on the theoretical framework, as well as specific studies, to further the research in this field of study. The present study primarily hypothesizes that the combination of exercise and humor will have a significant effect on the increase of pleasant mood and decrease of unpleasant mood in participants greater than the effect that exercise or humor may have when left uncombined. Secondly, it is hypothesized that the lowest mood alterations will be recorded for the humor only group (the only group lacking exercise). The study exhibited an improvement in overall mood F(1,15)=9.963, p=.016, increase in pleasant mood F(1,15)=6.319, p=.04, and decrease in unpleasant mood F(1,15)=10.215, p=.015. These findings indicate that although the hypothesized treatments (exercise only, humor only, exercise with humor) had no significant effect on participants, the fact that they performed any of the treatments had a significant impact.

 

Cameron Olson

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

The Relationship Between Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy, and Playing Time in Collegiate Soccer Players

Previous research focusing on the self-esteem and self-efficacy of athletes has been conducted to examine a possible relationship to athletic performance. Results of those studies have shown that athletes exhibiting greater levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy tend to perform better than those with lower reported levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy. Previous literature fails to address potential sources of an athlete’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. In order to address this gap the levels of athletic self-esteem and self-efficacy as well as, general self-esteem and self-efficacy were measured in forty-three (28 male, 15 female) varsity soccer players at Allegheny College (Meadville, PA), in order to examine if the amount of playing time received during the 2014 season was a related variable. It was hypothesized that those players receiving greater amounts of playing time demonstrate higher self-reported, levels of athletic self-esteem and self-efficacy as well as, general self-esteem and self-efficacy than those receiving lesser amounts of playing time. However, the results obtained showed no significant correlation between playing time and general self-esteem, playing time and general self-efficacy, and playing time and athletic self-efficacy. A significant negative correlation was present between playing time and athletic self-esteem. This did not support the original hypothesis, and suggests those receiving more playing time had lower levels of athletic self-esteem. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.

 

Kaleigh O’Rourke

Major: Neuroscience

Comp Advisor: Sarah Conlkin

Impaired Systolic Blood Pressure Recovery from Acute Psychological Stress in Young Women with Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors

The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is estimated to affect 25% of the North American population and in the future will likely surpass smoking as the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease making it a prominent issue in health. MetS is characterized by any three of the five following metabolic abnormalities: excess abdominal adiposity, insulin resistance, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, increased triglycerides, and high blood pressure. In addition, each metabolic abnormality is a risk factor for the development of MetS. Studies focusing on cardiovascular reactivity to acute psychological stress have determined that both relatively exaggerated and blunted reactivity to stress are associated with poor health outcomes. The current literature supports the hypothesis that individuals with MetS will have blunted reactivity to the stress task when compared to controls. Participants (N=23) were undergraduate women, age 18-22. In the laboratory, metabolic measurements were obtained in a fasting state and cardiovascular measurements were obtained for rest, stress, and recovery phases during a stress task portion. Results indicated a significant difference in systolic blood pressure (SBP) recovery between no risk factors and MetS risk factors groups, showing poor SBP recovery from the stress task in the MetS risk factors group. Impaired SBP recovery from acute psychological stress may be indicative of future cardiovascular risk status. The present study indicates that metabolic risk factors are associated with differences in blood pressure reactivity to and recovery from acute psychological stress which may have negative implications for future health.

 

Yazmin Pena

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lauren Paulson

The correlation between personality traits on the ability to distinguish conveyed emotion in non-native music

The present study investigated whether or not personality traits are correlated with the ability to accurately identify emotions in non-native songs. Participants (N=43) were asked to listen to clips of Malian music and attempt to distinguish between three possible emotions (happiness, sadness, envy). Afterwards, they were given the NEO-FFI-3 assessment to examine their personality traits. Based on previous research, it was expected that individual’s high in Openness would be the most successful in correctly labeling songs, due to their ability to be creative and intellectual. A multiple regression analysis was run and results showed that there was no statistical significance suggesting that personality had an effect on this distinguishing between emotions. Limitations included sample size, fixed aged and similarities in personalities.

 

Tyler Prinkey

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

Linguistic Families: The Effect of Language on Attribution of Culpability and its Influence on Foreign Language Education

The purpose of this research was to examine how people of Germanic and Romantic language families are attributed guilt when they commit a moral infraction. The literary analysis of this research examined Middlebury College and the growth and decline of language programs due to historical influences such as major world wars and economic depressions. The purpose of the experimental portion of this research was to measure the effect that language stereotypes have on the attribution of speaker culpability. In order to examine the dependent variables: assessment of culpability, assessment of positive characteristics, and assessment of negative characteristics, participants (N=27) were presented a scenario in which a speaker neglected to help an elderly lady. After each participant was randomly assigned to a condition: German male or German female, French male or French female; each participant was asked to answer a questionnaire assessing the speaker. The results of the study did not support the hypotheses of the study, that German speakers would be attributed higher levels of culpability when compared to French speakers, and that male speakers would be attributed higher levels of culpability than female speakers. Although the results of this study had limited significance, this study shows promise for future research.

 

Rachel Raczynski

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

YOU’VE GOT MAIL: The Influence of All-caps Font Type “Shouting” in E-mail

The purpose of this research was to examine the influence of senders’ use of all-caps font type “shouting” in e-mail. More specifically, the e-mail recipient’s perceptions of the likability and the personality of the sender was examined. Thirty-five participants responded to an e-mail about green initiatives at Allegheny College asking if they would like to take part. Participants were randomly assigned to respond to either an e-mail that does not use all-caps (N=18) or an e-mail that uses all-caps “shouting” (N=17). Participants completed a post-test questionnaire after responding to the e-mail. It was hypothesized that the use of all-caps font type would decrease the perceptions of the sender’s likability and participants would be less willing to take initiative in the environmental effort if they perceived the sender as less likable. Also, it was predicted that the sender would be perceived to have more extraversion, less agreeableness, less conscientiousness, less emotional stability, and less openness to experience when the e-mail included all-caps. The results showed minimal support for the hypotheses. The use of all-caps e-mail was perceived as less professional and more enthusiastic, and the sender was perceived as less knowledgeable and less conscientious.

 

Katie Ranker

Major: Psychology/Other

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

Gender Effects on Judgment of Infidelity in Heterosexual Monogamous Relationships

As a result of our society being built on a patriarchal structure, American college students live by a sexual double standard in which women who deviate from sexual norms face harsher consequences than men who behave in the same way. Currently a gap exists in the research of how unfaithful members of monogamous relationships are judged. The study collected data from 63 Allegheny College students using an online survey in which participants were randomly assigned to a narrative describing the behavior of either a male transgressor or a female transgressor who is unfaithful to their long-term monogamous partner. Participants were asked to answer nine post-experimental survey questions in addition to the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996) and the Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1999). Results were analyzed in a 2×2 ANOVA, which found a main effect of participant sex in one outcome variable, main effects of transgressor sex in three outcome variables, and an interaction effect in one outcome variable. These results provide evidence that people are more surprised to hear about women cheating and that people are more likely to judge a transgressor’s partner when the transgressor is a woman. The interaction effect also suggests that men offer some slack to women who cheat on their boyfriends, which contradicts the hypothesis. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.

 

Christian Reese

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Patricia Rutledge

The Impact of Moral Licensing on Consumer Choice

Morality is a term that is defined as behaviors that are labeled right or wrong. Moral licensing is a psychological concept that describes a decreased drive to perform moral acts following a prior moral act. Research has supported the validity of this concept across multiple studies. The present study examined the impact of moral licensing on consumer choice when participants were presented with products that donate a portion of their profits to a charitable organization. College students (N = 22) were randomly assigned to a writing activity that either morally licensed them or kept them morally neutral. The success of the manipulation was measured by a manipulation check. Moral licensing was measured by the self-descriptive ratings that participants gave on positive, negative, and neutral adjectives on a numerical scale from one to five; five represented a strong descriptor and one represented not a descriptor. Subtracting the negative adjective scores from the positive adjective scores provided a measure for moral licensing. Consumer choice was measured by the number of selected products with a charitable donation included. In addition to measuring consumer choice of morally licensed participants, a simple post-test was conducted to see how the licensing of these individuals carried through into a second moral decision. Participants were asked to decide between donating a dollar to charity and receiving a dollar. There were no conclusive results found in this study. Possible explanations for the failure of moral licensing affecting consumer choice included varying moral standards of participants, the environment where testing took place, the absence of a measure for baseline morality, and the failure of the manipulation to license participants.

 

Erica Restich

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Elizabeth Ozorak

Cross-cultural study of the professional workforce in Sweden and the United States, with a focus on the influence of lagom in Sweden.

The purpose of this study is to examine the influence that lagom has on the Swedish working environment. A compare and contrast analysis of Swedish and American cultural norms was utilized to identify their influence on behavior in the professional work place. The United States and Sweden are international leaders in a variety of sectors. Although we work together in reaching similar goals, our approach and pathways to achieving results differ tremendously. To identify cultural values in each country, interviews with American and Swedish people were conducted. After conducting the interviews, clear cultural distinctions were identified in each country’s society. The cultural norms of each society influence the behavior and attitudes of the people in each country, creating different dynamics in each society’s workforce. Americans repeatedly described that their outgoing, assertive, work and money driven behavior was a result of the capitalistic and individualistic society that is the United States. Swedish people repeatedly described how their behavior and ways of thinking are influenced by the lagom philosophy and collectivist mindset and ideology in Swedish society. The goal in identifying implicit and explicit differences and similarities among each society is to improve cultural understanding and awareness for people traveling, working or living in each country. The Swedish American Green Alliance and the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce are two organizations that provide numerous opportunities for Swedish and American young professionals to live and work abroad between the two countries. The results of this project may potentially be utilized as an educational tool or resource for trainees moving to either country to better prepare for the acculturation process during the transition to a new culture.

 

Mia Scalzitti

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lydia Jackson

The Effects of Pornography on Objectification of Women

This study looks at gender and history of porn watching in participants in relation to their objectification of women. The study consisted of 62 participants (51 women and 11 men), 40 of which had watched pornography before. One person was not sure if they had watched it. They were asked a series of questions about how much they watched pornography and at what ages throughout their lives they have watched pornography. Then they took the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, which was used as a measure of objectification of women. Results showed a slight, though not statistically significant, correlation in frequency of pornography watching at young ages and high ambivalent sexism scores. There was no relationship between ever having watched pornography and ambivalent sexism scores. There was also no relationship between gender and ambivalent sexism scores. However, there was a significant difference in the benevolent sexism (a subcategory of ambivalent sexism) scores of males and females. Males had higher benevolent sexism scores, which means they have higher levels of implicit sexism, meaning that they do not overtly degrade women, but they internally ascribe to sexist ideals.

 

Marina Scarantino

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Lauren Paulson

The Effect of Body Image on Food Preference and Choice in Student Athletes

The purpose of this study was to see if body image has an effect on food preference and choice in college student-athletes. For three days, participants (N=30) exercised during their scheduled practice times and when finished were asked to chose which type of foods they prefer most (showing pictures of different food types). Afterward, they recorded what they chose to eat in an electronic food diary. Also, on the last day, participants completed a body image questionnaire. The main focus was looking for relationships between body image, food preference and food choice. In addition to previous research, this study looked to see if student-athletes with high confidence in body image choose the foods they said they preferred after exercise. Results showed that there was no significance for body image effecting food preference and choice. Although, significant data was found when comparing mean scores of males and females on the Multidimensional Body Self-Relations Questionnaire.

 

Shannen Segiel

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Elizabeth Ozorak

Effect of Athletic Competition Level on Well-Being

The main purpose of this paper was to examine the differences in well-being between varsity and intramural athletes at a Division III college. Aspects of well-being involved in this study included eudaimonia happiness, hedonic enjoyment, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, identity formation, and general subjective well-being. It was expected that intrinsically motivated athletes would possess greater well-being than extrinsically motivated athletes, that varsity athletes would be more extrinsically motivated than intramural athletes, that varsity athletes would report lower levels of well-being than intramural athletes, and that varsity athletes would use their sport to self-identify in other aspects of their lives more so than intramural athletes. Seventy-seven Allegheny College students which consisted of 50 varsity soccer players and 27 intramural soccer players participated. A set of surveys which included a Personally Expressive Activities Questionnaire (PEAQ), a Sports Motivation Scale (SMS), and a Subjective Well-Being Scale were used to assess participants. The results were analyzed using independent measures t-tests, paired samples t-tests, as well as correlation analyses. The results indicated that the varsity athletes had significantly higher eudaimonia, hedonic enjoyment, extrinsic motivation, and identity formation scores. There was not a significant difference between the intrinsic motivation between the two groups of athletes. Overall, the varsity athletes had significantly higher well-being than the intramural athletes.

 

Ryan Spinelli

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Rodney Clark

The Effects of Anxiety and Nicotine on a Cognitive Task

The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between nicotine dependency and its effect on the Stroop test, and examine the relationship between anxiety and the Stroop. In addition, this study looked at how anxiety and nicotine dependence affected a participant’s performance on the Stroop. Participants (N=27) were asked to complete a short demographic questionnaire, the BAI® and a modified version of the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence including the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence-Smokeless Tobacco. Participants took a Stroop test which included 12 incongruent and 12 congruent randomly ordered word colour combinations. Results showed that the BAI, the FTND and FTND-ST did not correlate to any other variables, however there was significance between the RT two the Stroop tasks.

 

Matthew Turner

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Aimee Knupsky

EFFECT OF VARIETY OF ENGLISH ON L2 VOCABULARY CUED-RECALL TASK AND ATTITUDES OF NOVEL LEARNERS

The purpose of the current study was to examine the effect of the variety of English used by the instructor on success on an L2 cued recall task and learners’ judgments of the instructor.
Participants (N=44), who were native-English speakers with no prior experience in German (L2), completed an L2 vocabulary lesson. A one-way between subjects design was used, with variety of English as the independent variable, and reaction time, accuracy scores, and attitude measures as the dependent variables. Participants were shown 12 photo-objects and the German translation was given audibly by a recording of the instructor. Those in the non-English group heard only the German word, played twice. Those in the strong-accented English condition heard the German and English translations. The English in the strong-accented condition was modified to contain a strong German accent. The weak-accented English condition was exposed to the same stimuli as the strong-accented group, only the English was spoken with a weak German accent. Participant completed a cued-recall task in which they had to name the pictures in German, and their reaction times and responses were recorded. Afterwards, participants completed an attitudes questionnaire. The variety of English was not found to have a significant effect on accuracy scores or learner attitudes. Results indicate that using the learner’s L1 may not have an effect in novel learners, but research still points to the importance of context when considering pedagogical methods in the L2 classroom.

 

Westley Vicente

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Deb Dickey

College Students’ Perception of Intimate Partner Violence in Gay Couples

This study examined college students perception of intimate partner violence in gay couples and whether non-physical violence would be perceived as less serious than physical violence. Participants were college students’ from Allegheny College, a small private liberal arts college in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The only requirements from the participants were that they were the age of 18 or older and attended Allegheny College. There were two scenarios for this study, one that depicted physical violence and one that depicted non-physical violence. Other variables such as sex, gender, education, height, weight, and race of the gay couple were kept the same for both variables. There were not an equal amount of participants for each scenario due to some participants not agreeing to the informed consent form or completing the questionnaire. Therefore, the results were compressed and showed that college students’ perceived violence, whether physical or non-physical violence, in gay couples as a serious issue.

 

Stephanie Von Ahnen

Major: Psychology

Comp Advisor: Rodney Clark

The Effects of Professors’ Verbal Behavior on Students’ Attitudes and Performance

This study focuses on the effects of professors’ verbal behavior on students’ attitudes and performance in a classroom setting at Allegheny College during the Fall 2014 semester. Attitude can be defined as the student’s intention for the class while performance is defined as the amount of effort put into the class. Classes at Allegheny College were randomly selected and n=111 potential participants were given the option to complete Students’ Perceptions of the Classroom Assessment Environment Scale, Flander’s Interaction Analysis Categories, and Work Ethic Traits Behavior Indicators Inventory online via surveymonkey. In total, n=28 participants completed the surveys during a two-week time span. Results were analyzed for significance and correlation.