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Thirteen posters and two papers at Scholarship Sewanee

25 psychology majors (and one minoring in psychology) participated in Scholarship Sewanee on April 29, 2011.  Twelve of the 48 posters and one of the 14 oral presentations were based on research in the Department.  One poster and one paper were based on research conducted at the Department’s Sewanee-at-Yale Directed Research Program.  Five Sewanee psychologists and three members of the Yale Child Study Center coached or otherwise participated in these projects.  As is traditional, the researchers remained close to their posters to discuss their project with those attending.

Sarah Clark ’11.  Challenges & resources of survivors of domestic violence.  Advisor, Sherry Hamby, Research Associate Professor of Psychology.

  • Advocacy for battered women often focuses on physical danger, but more attention needs to be paid to other familial, financial, and emotional risks. Research to date has likewise paid little attention to victims’ strengths and resources that can help with coping. 103 women from two sites in two southern states provided their perceptions of their risks and resources in a semi-structured format. Site 1 included current and recent shelter residents; Site 2 was a community support group for battered women. Although the risk of physical danger was reported by almost half (48%) of the sample and nearly 1 in 6 (16.5%) reported a fear of being murdered, many other risks were common. Concerns about children’s safety and wellbeing were reported by 43%, financial security issues by 53%, lack of social support by 44%, family rejection by 27%, and fear of losing custody by 27%. Despite the high reports of lack of social support and family rejection, family and friends were nonetheless two of the most commonly reported strengths (54% and 42%). Having faith (46%) and their church community (49%) were also commonly mentioned, as was having a job (40%). Implications for improving risk assessment and safety planning will be presented.

Sarah Clark ’11, Caroline Dashiell ’11, Elly Farrell ’11, Cathy Lambert ’12, Laura Logan ’11, Johanna McManus ’11, Caitlin McNaughton ’11, and Matney Rolfe ’11.  Cyberbullying:  the new way to bully.  [Psyc 363, Advanced Research Seminar in Psychology, Sherry Hamby instructor]

  • OBJECTIVE: To identify up-to-date trends in cyber-bullying and highlight the risks, consequences and contexts of cyberbullying in 2011.
  • METHOD: We held four focus groups lasting approximately one hour each. A total of 45 undergraduates participated (14 males, 31 females) in groups ranging from 9-13 members. Three groups were single gender (1 all male, 2 all female) and one was mixed gender. Group members were provided refreshments.
  • RESULTS: Grounded theory analysis was used to identify major themes in the transcripts. Major themes included: 1) Cyberbullying is easier than face to face bullying because it is less personal and more indirect, 2) Cyberbullying is minimized as a problem, 3) Using technology is seen as essentially consenting to cyberbullying; 4) Sometimes cyberbullying has serious consequences, and 5) There are steps you can take to partially protect yourself.
  • DISCUSSION: We hope to use these themes and the examples provided in the focus groups to develop a survey to assess the prevalence of this phenomenon. Cyberbullying has serious implications that are often under-recognized. They more we know about the severity and the effects of cyberbullying the more we can find ways to prevent it.

Hadley Mates ’11, Libba Coker ’10, Lucy Taylor ’10, and Karen Yu, Associate Professor of Psychology.  Reward preferences at school:  do children actually favor unhealthy food?

  • Childhood obesity is a serious and growing problem in the United States, with almost 1 in every 3 children classified as overweight or obese. Yet in schools and at home, good performance and behavior are often reinforced with relatively unhealthy food rewards. Might children actually prefer healthier rewards that could reduce the likelihood of obesity, such as more nutritious foods, or rewards that involve physical activity? To find out, we administered two questionnaires to 75 boys and 69 girls in 2nd to 5th grade. The first questionnaire allowed us to determine the most preferred rewards from several categories. The second questionnaire paired each of the top healthy and unhealthy food rewards with each of the top non-food rewards, asking children which of two rewards they favored for each question. Across all grade levels tested, the most preferred reward was a non-food reward. Thus, there are likely multiple benefits to the use of non-food rewards: a positive impact on children’s health and attitudes about food, and stronger incentive to work harder for their preferred reward.

Ijeoma Anyanwu ’11, Shameka Jennings ’11, and Lizzie Butler ’12.  Encouragement & its effects on student’s mindsets & test taking abilities in Sewanee University.  [Psyc 358, Cognitive Psychology, Karen Yu instructor]

  • Individuals are often encouraged with positive, and sometimes negative, instructions before performing any given task. To what extent does the induced mindset of such instructions affect completion of the task as well as the individual’s confidence in their ability to perform well in the presented task? In this study, 67 undergraduate students attending Sewanee: The University of the South were given a test of 5 visual illusions and 5 cognitive illusions (brain teasers) as a task to complete. Prior to completing these tasks, the participants each read a set of instructions that included positive, negative, or no encouragement at all. At the end of the study, participants completed a confidence rating scale as well. We hypothesized that the students that were given the positive encouragement would perform better on both tasks and have higher confidence ratings than the negative encouragement group and the no encouragement control group. The results of our study are still pending.

Hadley Mates ’11, Leigh Anne Pickett ’11, Catherine Bryson ’11, Jeannette Robb ’11 and C. Albert Bardi, Associate Professor of Psychology.  Preliminary properties of a new measure of Assertiveness, Strategic Assertiveness and Passivity.  [Psyc 363, Advanced Research Seminar in Psychology]  [Catherine Bryson is a Biology major with a minor in Psychology]

  • Extant measures (e.g., Rathus, 1973) conceptualize assertiveness as social boldness and frankness. Studies assessing minority groups in the U.S. (e.g., Hall & Beil-Warner, 1978) with a variety of measures of assertiveness have yielded group differences that may be best accounted for by the historic application of measures developed on European-Americans to other cultural groups. A recent qualitative study (Chandrasekaran, Clark, Croasdaile, Mates, McNair, Pickett & Bardi, 2010) found that in addition to traditionally-defined assertiveness, Latinos endorse themes of strategic assertiveness as a mode of dealing with interpersonal conflict. The current study seeks to create a valid and reliable measure of three separate behavioral categories: assertiveness, strategic assertiveness, and passivity. A sixty item pool was created using qualitative study themes and theoretically-derived alteration of existing scale (e.g., Rathus, 1973) items. In order to gauge potential problems with item content, two focus groups of students of minority identity were held. Post focus group revision of the item pool yielded 50 items. The 50 item pool was administered with a scale of social desirability to several psychology classes. Results of statistical analyses including item distributions, reliability of proposed scales and social desirability responding are presented.

Shameka Jennings ’11, Emily Nicholson ’11, Miriam Pate ’11 and C. Albert Bardi, Associate Professor of Psychology.  Reactions to the Campus Climate Survey:  policy considerations for multicultural students at Sewanee.

  • This study sought to explore and assess multicultural students’ academic, social and personal experiences at the University of the South. The researchers conducted individual interviews with a standardized set of questions. Participants were briefed with the results of a recent campus climate survey and interviewed about related issues such as witnessing and/or experiencing racial discrimination or harassment, academic expectations, social expectations, overall content level with their college experience, and what changes they would like to see implemented. Participants in the study were multicultural students ranging from freshmen to seniors at the University of the South. Tentative yet recurring themes included the conflict between a highly positive academic experience and an unsatisfactory social life, issues of academic and social opportunities and support for diverse students on campus compared with the mainstream and dominant culture, experiences of insensitivity in and outside of the classroom, lack of diversity in faculty and staff, and concerns regarding retention of multicultural students over four years of education. Using the thematic data collected, suggestion for policy changes and implementation are offered.

Emily Simpson ’11, Linda Mayes, M.D., and Helena Rutherford, Ph.D.  Investigating maternal distress tolerance:  the Simulated Baby Paradigm.  [Linda Mayes (C ’73) is Arnold Gesell Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), of Pediatrics and of Psychology in the Yale School of Medicine;  Chair, Directorial Team, Anna Freud Centre at London.  Helena Rutherford is Postdoctoral Associate in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine.]

  • Much literature has devoted itself to examining the infant’s developmental relationship to the mother. Everyone from Bowlby to Ainsworth has speculated on the matter, yet little research has examined the developmental relationship of the mother to the infant. Mothers undergo a complex neurobiological transition into parenthood, where there is a shifting of focus to the new baby. To any mother, a crying baby is distressing, and repeated efforts to soothe an infant increase the stress response experienced by the mother. Therefore an important component of parenting is being able to successfully regulate stress reactivity and distress in the parenting situation. Using a simulated baby, this experiment seeks to explore the nature of maternal response to infant distress. Some basic questions of the study concern the similarity or uniqueness of maternal distress tolerance to the simulator versus other non-maternal distress tolerance tasks, as well as individual differences in emotion regulation, reward sensitivity, and maternal anxiety and depression. Thirty-five mothers completed extensive parenting questionnaires, a computer activity designed to measure non-maternal distress tolerance, one measuring reward sensitivity, and an interaction where they were instructed to soothe the crying simulator. Initial results indicate that the persistence times on the non-maternal distress tolerance task do not correlate with the persistence times with the maternal distress tolerance task (the simulator interaction). These early findings suggest that a mother’s response to infant distress is unique among activities demanding distress tolerance, reflecting the necessity of research involving this crying simulator paradigm.

Marci Weber ’13 and C.J. Phillips Pitts ’12.  Professors’ perceptions of students’ academic success based on students’ race & clothing formality.  [Psyc 251, Research Methods, C. Albert Bardi instructor]

  • This study examined the potential GPA that 41 college professors predicted for students based on a photograph of either a White male in formal clothing, the same White male in casual clothing, a Black male in formal clothing, or the same Black male in casual clothing. The formality of clothing had no significant effect on the Potential GPA, or expected academic success, that the participants recorded. Although mostly of White racial background, the professors tended to expect higher academic success from the Black student, regardless of the clothing he was pictured in. Because of the obtrusiveness of this measure, it is possible that this reverse race effect is due to overcompensation for the Black students based on the professors’ awareness of their own possible prejudices. The implications of this reverse effect may be that, in actual grading, professors are not as likely to grant higher grades to Black students as they were in a study that clearly involved racial topics. Alternative explanations, such as the possibility that different race-based factors may have such negative impacts on academic success that they overwhelm any overcompensation by professors, are also discussed.

Shelby A. Bartlett ’12.  Mia Hamm or Michael Jordan?  The gender of sports magazine covers over the past 60 years.  [Psyc 251, Research Methods, Warren D. Craft instructor]

  • Since the introduction of Title IX in 1972, America has experienced a steady increase in female athletic participation. Thomas (2008) reports that before Title IX, approximately 300,000 (1 in 27) girls participated in sports. Now, women participate in sports as much as men: for example, almost 3 million (1 in 3) girls participate in high school sports. This study aims to see if Sports Illustrated has adjusted the gender of their covers to match the rise of American females competing in sports. We examined the gender categories of Sports Illustrated in the years 1957, 1967, 1977, 1987, 1997, and 2007, initially hypothesizing that Sports Illustrated would follow the trend of increasing female athletic participation and put more women on the magazine’s covers. However, Sports Illustrated did not increase the number of females featured on their covers, despite the dramatic increase in the number of women participating in high school and college sports. Although the number of male-dominated covers has continued to increase over the past several decades, the number of female covers has remained virtually the same.

Matt  Hagler ’13, Cathy Lambert ’12, and Natalie Rothwell ’12.  The effect of perceived social norms on generosity.  Advisor, Karen Yu, Associate Professor of Psychology.  [Matt Hagler is an English major.]

  • Generosity, defined as one’s willingness to give, has been studied in a variety of contexts. The present study sought to uncover the effect that mindset could have on generosity. Specifically, we manipulated mindset by presenting social norms of generosity. Undergraduate students of a small liberal arts college were asked to complete an online questionnaire supposedly measuring student participation in outreach programs. Embedded within the questionnaire were statistics that established different social norms for generosity. There were three conditions: one in which the statistics were high, one in which the statistics were low, and a neutral condition in which no statistics were given; students were randomly assigned to one of these conditions. Following these manipulation questions were two evaluative questions that measured generosity through the participants’ allocation of funds to outreach and charity. These evaluative questions were followed by an abbreviated version of the Interpersonal Generosity Scale (IGS). Data collection is complete, but analysis and conclusions are still pending.

Lillian Oliver McLemore ’13.  Author gender in literary, financial, & entertainment magazines.  [Psyc 251, Research Methods, Warren D. Craft instructor]  [Lillian McLemore is an English major.]

  • Since the early 20th century, women have been making their way into the professional workplace. To investigate the extent to which women have achieved parity in the field of print journalism, I recorded the gender of each author noted in a diverse sample of magazines in literary, financial/news, and entertainment categories (the sample included, for example, publications such as The New Yorker, People, and The Wall Street Journal.) Of the 776 author name occurrences, roughly 43% were female, 57% male. That moderate imbalance, however, glosses over a more extreme disparity: of the 215 author name occurrences in entertainment magazines, 39% were male and 61% were female. Of the 561 author name occurrences in Literary/News/Financial magazines, 68% were male and 32% were female. Although the overall gender prevalence difference is not exceedingly large, there is a significant and persistent imbalance between the subcategories.

Michelle Ghandi ’12.  The relationship between home range and foraging behavior of semi-free ranging Lemur catta on St. Catherine’s Island, Ga.  (oral presentation;  also presented as a poster)  Advisor, Timothy Keith-Lucas, Professor of Psychology.  [Michelle Ghandi is a Biology major with a minor in Philosophy.]

  • Previous data show that a positive relationship exists between home range and foraging behavior in many primates, including Lemur catta: increased range is correlated with increased home range. One study showed a positive correlation between home range size and metabolic need (Harvey and Clutton-Brock, 1981). However, the animals used in this study inhabit Madgascar (where lemurs are endemic) and feed on a diet of mostly natural fruit (such as tamarind). The broad goal of this project was to determine how closely the semi-free ranging L. catta of St. Catherine’s Island exhibit similar behavior of those in the wild, with special attention to foraging. In order to research this, four female Lemur catta were chosen as the subjects (JEN ’96, SAL ’08, JAY ’08, NEW ’92). All four animals are of different semi-free ranging troops. The two older females are dominant matriarchs (JEN, NEW) of their respective troops. All animals were born on St. Catherine’s Island on which lemurs have been semi-free ranging since 1985. All troops are fed once a day on a diet of fruit and primate biscuit, though they are known to eat some vegetation on St. Catherine’s. Focal samples were also recorded on the same four subjects with GPS collars opportunistically between 600 and 2000 hours, with at least twenty hours on each subject. Data collection occurred from June 6, 2010 to August 2, 2010. Using these data, we were trying to answer the following question: is there a positive correlation between foraging and home range of the lemurs (exposed to different conditions than those in Madagascar)? We found that the lemur with the greatest range (NEW) was doing the greatest amount of foraging and the individual with the smallest range was doing the least amount of foraging. If these lemurs were provided a different diet (both in amount and composition), it is reasonable to expect that range would increase as a result of increased foraging.

Chris Hague ’11.  Does an apple a day keep the autism away?  A review of nutritional remedies to autism spectrum disorders.  (oral presentation)  Advisor, Fred Volkmar, Irving B. Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Pediatrics, of Psychiatry and of Psychology in the Yale School of Medicine;  Chief, Child Psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital;  Chair, Child Study Center]

  • I plan to discuss the effects and effectiveness of nutritional remedies to treating autism. In the wake of the recent natural food craze and the fear of over medicating children, many parents have been turning to more “homeopathic” and natural remedies to treating autism and autistic behavior. However, like the majority of naturalistic cures and diets on the market, most of the evidence about their success is based on small case studies with dubious experimental designs that have many confounding variables such as concurrent therapy, use of additional medication drugs, and age. In this paper, I therefore plan to summarize the theoretical premises that this treatment is based on, research the current evidence, evaluate their credibility, and then, based on my findings, conclude with my own opinion of whether these treatments have any empirical backing to support them and, if not, what further research needs to be conducted and what considerations need to be considered when designing an experiment to test them. Whether parents should adopt them will be discussed.

Two psychology majors were among the student participants in posters in other academic fields:  Ijeoma Anyanwu ’11 and Mary Mazyck ’11.

Ijeoma Anyanwu, Caroline Crider, Cain Green, Ben Haggerty, Charles Hughes, Cameron Jefts, Samuel Martin, Nicholas Pusateri, and Peter Schutt.  Sculpting sound:  electronic music projects.  [Musc 214, Electronic music:  synthesis and digital recording, James Carlson instructor]

  • Technology largely shapes the music we hear every day. The use of music synthesis in techno and ambient music are the most obvious examples, but sampled sounds, MIDI and digital recording techniques are often used for all genres whether the listener knows it or not. The students of Musc 214: Electronic Music will present introductory information about the many things they have learned this semester, including the many virtual instruments in Reason software and the digital recording software ProTools. Student presenters will also be hosting listening stations at which the public can hear the music they recorded this semester. These projects range in style from avant-garde techno to acoustic folk and evidence a considerable mastery of some very powerful technological music-making tools.

Mary Mazyck, Catherine Bartenstein, Charlie Williams, and Elizabeth Wilson.  Potential mountain lion habitat on the Domain & barriers to its access.  [Combined class project:  Biol 222, Advanced Conservation Biology, Jonathan Evans instructor, and EnSt 217, Fundamentals of GIS, Christopher Van de Ven instructor]

  • Although mountain lions were declared extinct in the eastern United States in 2011, there is continued interest in the possibility of small surviving populations in remote areas. In the last several years, there have been many unconfirmed sightings on the Cumberland Plateau, including the Domain of The University of the South. We hypothesize that the Domain facilitates mountain lion movement through the greater undeveloped lands of the southern Cumberland Plateau. To analyze this, we categorized roads as barriers to movement based on pavement type, width, and traffic density for mountain lion crossing. We also classified the suitability of land of the Domain for the movement of mountain lions based on its forest cover type, land use history, as well as housing density. We combined all of these data into a geographic information system (GIS) to output the most likely corridors for mountain lions to enter the Domain as well as significant barriers to their movement. With this analysis, we found that there are two likely corridors in which a mountain lion could successfully pass between the suitable habitat south of the Domain into areas of suitable habitat west of the Domain.

Scholarship Sewanee is made possible by Walter and Mayna Nance;  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;  the Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee;  The Office of the Dean of the College;  Physical Plant Services;  Tammy Elliott;  and Print Services.