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Student-faculty research posters at Seattle conference

Emily Simpson

Emily Simpson ’11 and Associate Professor of Psychology Karen Yu presented To Cheat or Not to Cheat?  Sometimes, But Not Always, the Question at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making in Seattle, November 4–7.  The empirical study was largely designed and conducted by Emily during the fall semester of her senior year at Sewanee.

  • Studies of academic dishonesty typically rely on self-reports of actual behavior, estimates of behavior in hypothetical situations, or behavior in laboratory settings.  We assessed cheating within an actual college course via electronic records while maintaining individuals’ anonymity.  Thirty-five introductory psychology students completed two on-line quizzes alone or with other students present.  Computer logs revealed access to quiz-relevant information whose use was clearly prohibited yet easily achieved:  6 instances by 3 to 4 individuals across 70 quiz attempts, with 3 of these instances by one individual during a single quiz attempt.  Neither privacy level nor stress level (as manipulated) had an effect. Interestingly, the majority of students responding to a post-study questionnaire reported that accessing the online readings during the quizzes had not even occurred to them.

Dr. Yu also presented A Matter of Taste:  Gustatory Sensations Influence Personality Judgments, a project designed and conducted in collaboration with students in her Spring 2011 Cognitive Psychology course (Psyc 358). In alphabetical order, Ijeoma Anyanwu ’11, Lizzie Butler ’12, Caroline Dashiell ’11, Layne Ezzell ’12, Matthew Hagler ’13, Shameka Jennings ’11, Cathy Lambert ’12, Mary Mazyck ’11, Mary Lawrance McAfee ’12, Johanna McManus ’11, Cori Niemann ’11, Natalie Rothwell ’12, Elizabeth Stadler ’12, and Carly Warfield ’12.

  • Given the use of taste-related metaphors to describe individuals, might gustatory sensations actually influence personality judgments?  Fifty-five undergraduates sampled otherwise identical sweet or sour beverages and rated hypothetical individuals on various personality dimensions.  Taste influenced ratings:  participants sampling a sweet beverage rated an individual’s personality “sweeter” than those sampling a sour beverage, generally with larger differences for traits more strongly associated with the sweet-sour metaphor.  Personality judgments are thus influenced by sensory experiences such as the taste of a beverage recently consumed—a finding with potentially important implications for social interactions, impression management, and related decisions.

Funding for travel to this conference was provided by the University’s Office of Undergraduate Research, the Psychology Department, and the Dean of the College.

The Society for Judgment and Decision Making is an interdisciplinary academic organization dedicated to the study of normative, descriptive, and prescriptive theories of judgments and decisions.  Its members include psychologists, economists, organizational researchers, decision analysts, and other decision researchers.  The Society’s primary event is its Annual Meeting at which Society members present their research.  It also publishes the journal Judgment and Decision Making.