Senior Abstracts for 2010
As is true for most majors at Bates, all psychology seniors must complete a senior thesis. This archive lists the name, title and a brief summary (abstract) of the projects of select seniors who graduated in 2010.
Please check out our complete Senior Thesis Archive.
Note: indicates an empirical thesis project and indicates a community-based learning thesis project.
Click a name to view that student’s abstract, or scroll down to view all students.
Charlotte Danielle Brill
Kelly Elizabeth Gollogly
Esther T. Kendall
Ketner Lee Lappetito
Courtney C. Mitchell
Julian Sergej Benedikt Ramirez
Katherine D. Reilly
Daniel J. Rosenzweig
Virginia Leigh Smadbeck
Laura A. Smith
Marguerite Leigh Warner
Effects of Prescription Drug Advertisements on Students’ Pharmacological Optimism and Willingness to Use
The current study focused on the relationship between Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) and college students’ pharmacological optimism and attitudes toward prescription drugs. Due to the especially high rates of prescription drug abuse on college campuses, it is important to examine factors that may contribute to non-medical use of prescription drugs. Marketing strategies that increase pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer Advertisements may impact attitudes toward prescription medication. The present study surveyed undergraduates at a small liberal arts college in the Northeast. Results indicated that subjects did not show a greater tendency to seek prescription drugs after viewing an advertisement for a psychotropic drug than when shown an advertisement for Kleenex or for an allergy medicine. Instead, drug seeking behavior decreased in each condition after viewing advertisements. Similarly, participants in the Concerta condition were not more willing to use prescription drugs after viewing an advertisement for a psychotropic drug. Based on these findings, it is reasonable to infer that direct-to-consumer advertising is not contributing to increased misuse of prescription drugs among college students. Correlations were observed between frequency of alcohol use, drug seeking, and willingness to use prescription drugs non-medically. Due to the high rate of students who reported willingness to use prescription stimulants (17%), it is likely that non-medical use of prescription medications is somewhat socially acceptable on this campus.
Ukuthwasa: A Culture-Specific Syndrome?
This study investigates ukuthwasa, a South African phenomenon believed to be the calling to become a sangoma, a type of traditional healer. Based on Western medicine, ukuthwasa is considered a mental disorder due to the accompanying debilitating symptoms. Unstructured interviews were conducted with participants comprised of South African Western mental health professionals, izangoma (plural of sangoma), and South African key informants living in and around the Durban metropolitan area (N=13). Based on the interview data, there is a strong association between the initial symptoms of ukuthwasa and disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. However, the course of ukuthwasa differs from that of Western illnesses, suggesting cultural determinants of outcomes.
Non-Adoption of Hearing Aids by Hearing Amplification Candidates
The current study investigated the reasons why patients of a Maine audiology practice who were considered candidates for hearing aids decided not to use them. Participants (N=46) were sent a survey designed to assess possible factors that influence the non-adoption of hearing aids. Results indicated that the cost of the device was a highly influential factor in the decision not to use hearing aids. Other factors influencing the decision included stigma associated with hearing aids, participants’ attitudes about hearing aid performance, and vision or dexterity problems. Results also indicated that highly influential motivating factors for the future pursuance of hearing aids are the individual noticing more difficulty hearing, or a lower cost of the device. Possible uses of the data by the community partner are discussed.
The Negative Priming Effect: Inhibition or Episodic Retrieval
When people are asked to respond to an object that had just previously been ignored responses are slower relative to situations where people respond to an object that had not just been ignored. This finding is often referred to as negative priming. There are two major theories which account for this negative priming effect; an inhibition based theory and an episodic retrieval theory. In prior attempts to test these theories the familiarity of the target and distractor were not equated by researchers and as such, critics have dismissed the results of these studies. The current experiment equated the familiarity of repeated targets and distractors to enable proper testing of these theories. Twenty three participants completed the task. The findings are consistent with the episodic retrieval theory of negative priming.
Charlotte Danielle Brill
Exploring Alcohol Myopia in Alcohol-related Rape between Cross-sex Friends
The present experiment used alcohol myopia theory to explore the effects of actual and expected alcohol consumption (i.e., expectancy set), as well as social intimacy and sexual history, on responses to a rape scenario featuring cross-sex platonic friends. Alcohol myopia theory generally suggests that alcohol impairs the processing of environmental behavioral cues, such that only the most salient environmental cues are processed (Steele and Josephs, 1990). Interestingly, if disinhibitory environmental cues that encourage a risky sexual behavior compete with inhibitory cues that provoke fear by highlighting its negative consequences, the latter cues may be more salient to intoxicated individuals and actually impel them to endorse negative intentions to engage in that behavior (MacDonald et al., 2000). Thus, this experiment aimed to expand previous research on alcohol myopia theory and alcohol-related sexual assault between brief and romantic acquaintances research by exploring whether a non fear-provoking inhibitory behavioral cue could also impel intoxicated individuals to respond more cautiously to an alcohol-related, heterosexual rape scenario: a close, mutually important, and platonic friendship between the characters in the scenario. Alcohol consumption but not expectancy set affected how long it took participants to indicate that a man should stop making sexual advances, such that intoxicated participants had significantly shorter response latencies than did sober participants. Neither alcohol nor expectancy set affected ratings of the female character’s sexual arousal. Response latencies and arousal ratings were not related to social intimacy or sexual history. Taken together, the results suggest that when inhibitory behavioral cues are present, alcohol myopia may have a protective effect for intoxicated individuals attempting to determine when to stop their sexual advances. Implications for these findings suggestions for future research on the interpersonal and situational factors that contribute to alcohol-related rape are discussed.
Exploring the Role of Nature and Movement in Attention Restoration
The current study examines restorative environments. It adds to a growing body of literature examining attention restoration theory (ART), first introduced by Kaplan and Kaplan in 1989. The theory explains that there are four qualities that characterize environments that foster attention restoration: being away, compatibility, extent, and fascination. Each of these qualities is present in nature, and experience in the natural environment has often been thought of as restorative. Another body of research looks at the relationship between physical activity and cognition. Findings suggest a positive association between movement and cognitive functioning. The current study used a psychological framework to measure the extent to which the natural environment and physical activity play a role in attention restoration. Undergraduate students took a test of attention, were attentionally fatigued, experienced one of four environmental stimuli, and were re-tested for levels of directed attention. The four environmental stimuli were characterized by high and low levels of the variables nature and movement. The results were unexpected in that participants in the condition with low levels of nature and movement were most restored. The puzzling results suggest that future research should examine conceptualizations of nature, the evolving perceptions of virtual experiences, and the way adolescents think about the natural environment.
When Favoritism is Fair: The Effect of Social Norms on the Demonstration of Bias
Previous research indicates that when individuals make hiring and admission decisions, their standards of excellence tend to shift based on the applicant’s social category. Some researchers have discovered that an effective way to counter individuals’ demonstrations of gender bias is to ask them to express the qualifications that they believe are the most important in influencing their hiring decision before viewing any applicant’s resume. However, other research has not replicated this finding with racial bias. The current study will attempt to determine if individuals’ beliefs about how socially acceptable the demonstration of bias is plays a principal role in whether or not their precommitting to criteria is effective at reducing discrimination. Three hundred and thirty-nine participants (162 males and 177 females) were electronically surveyed through CotterWeb Enterprises. Participants were encouraged to believe that demonstrating bias was either permissible or prohibited, precommitted to criteria or did not, and read about either a male or a female applicant. Findings support conclusions from previous research that an applicant’s social category influences the likelihood of the applicant being hired, and that precommitment is effective at reducing hiring discrimination, yet only when biases are thought to be prohibited.
Effect of Ingroup Identification on Threats to Belief in a Just World
A fundamental hypothesis of belief in a just world (BJW) explains that the awareness of innocent or relatable victims threatens individuals’ BJW, especially if the victim is an ingroup member (Aguiar, Vala, Correia & Pereira, 2008). The current study attempted to determine whether participants’ identification with their own ingroup moderated the effect of ingroup victims on threats to BJW. There were 120 undergraduate participants in this study, all of whom were self-described as White. Participants completed the White Identity Centrality Implicit Association Test created by Knowles and Peng (2005) to implicitly measure ingroup identification. The participants then read a prompt describing either a White victim (ingroup condition) or a Black victim (outgroup condition) and completed the modified Stroop task created by Hafer (2000) to measure threat to BJW. The predicted findings were that only participants with strong ingroup identities experienced threat to their BJW as a result of an ingroup victim. Implications for these findings included the consequences of ingroup identification and how we form our own scopes of justice.
Kelly Elizabeth Gollogly
How Stereotype Threat is affected by Gender Identification as Measured by the BSRI
The current study looked at the effects of stereotype threat on math performance for females who identified as having high levels of femininity or masculinity (regardless of gender identity) as measured by the BSRI. The predicted outcome had been that females who identified as being high feminine/low masculine (HF/LM) would perform worse on a math exam than females who identified as low feminine/high masculine (LF/HM) when stereotype threat was induced. In the control group, where stereotype threat was not present, it was theorized that both HF/LM and LF/HM groups would perform the same. If these results were shown then it would have indicated that levels of femininity/masculinity potentially played a role in the effects of stereotype threat. However the results of this study showed no main effect of gender identities, no main effect of stereotype threat condition, and no interaction. It could be that levels of feminity/masculinity do not play a role in stereotype threat but the small sample size (about seven participants in each condition) as well as controversial validity of the BSRI scale could also play a part in these null results. No overall stereotype threat effect was found.
Promoting Positive Youth Development in At-Risk Children and Adolescents
The promotion of positive youth development (PYD) has become a widespread goal of organizations that work with at-risk children and adolescents. After-school programs intend to enhance aspects of PYD by providing opportunities and support to assist youths in combating risk factors, such as exposure to poverty and family distress. Similarly, youth sport provides numerous positive benefits, including feelings of perceived competence and social affiliation, which can influence sport enjoyment and motivation to participate in youth sport in the future. Through the implementation of a track and field program, the present study sought to enhance feelings of perceived competence and social affiliation in seven at-risk children and adolescents from the Boys and Girls Club of Auburn/Lewiston. The study examined perceived competence, social affiliation, enjoyment, and motivation to participate in the future through both qualitative and quantitative measures. While qualitative results indicated that participants’ perceived competence and social affiliation increased, the quantitative results did not reveal such trends. Although there were no significant quantitative results, measures of enjoyment and motivation garnered high ratings. These results suggest that the program was effective in enhancing perceived competence and social affiliation, which seemed to influence participants’ enjoyment and motivation to participate in the future. Future research should focus on the long-term effects of youth sport programs, as well as age in relation to youth sport participation.
Male Body-Image Dissatisfaction: Increased Feelings of Weakness and Body Discontent Following Failure to a Female
Research suggests that young men have been becoming more susceptible to pressures for obtaining a muscular body over the past few years. ‘Threatened masculinity’ theory suggests that many men are working out in order to compensate for feelings of perceived weakness that arise from greater female equality in contemporary society. In accordance with this theory, a study by Mills & D’Alfonso (2007) has indicated that men experience greater body dissatisfaction following perceived failure to a female on a competitive task. The current study sought to determine whether men who perceive failure to a female, experience increased body dissatisfaction on account of feeling cognitively weak. There were 24 male undergraduate male participants in this study. Participants were given false performance feedback after completing a cognitive task, consisting of anagrams, that was presented aloud in a 2 (failure versus success feedback) X 2 (male versus female opponent) factorial design. Two 2X2 ANOVAs were run to determine the effect of feedback and opponent gender information on males’ body image dissatisfaction and cognitive weakness. A mediational analysis was used to assess whether men who perceived failure to a female experienced increased body dissatisfaction because they felt cognitively week. Predicted findings include increased feelings of weakness and greater body dissatisfaction among men who fail to a female. Results failed to support the main hypothesis that men who perceive failure to a female are more dissatisfied with their bodies. Future research examining this effect that tests a greater number of participants may show more promising.
Mortality Salience As A Potential Mediator Between Eliciting Moral Situations And Emotional Responses
This study hypothesized that mortality salience is a mediating variable of the established relationship between eliciting moral situations and subsequent emotional reactions (Greene, Sommerville, Nystrom, Darley, & Cohen, 2001; Haidt, 2001; Inbar, Pizarro, & Bloom, in press; Wheatley & Haidt, 2005). 51 students (13 male, 38 female) from a small New England private college were randomly assigned to either assess moral situations or non-moral situations, and then were given a Word-fragment Completion Task to assess death thought accessibility and a PANAS-M to assess emotional reactions. Mortality salience was not found to be a mediating variable, and therefore the hypothesis was not supported, t(49) = -1.44, p = .16. A main effect of moral condition on disgust and moral emotions was found, however. Implications of the results as well as for further research are discussed. Limitations of the study are also examined.
The Moderating Effect of Money on Mortality Salience and Worldview Defense: Is Money Enough?
Terror Management Theory (TMT) and the Meaning Maintenance Model (MMM) both argue that mortality salience (MS) leads to anxiety and distress, which causes worldview-bolstering responses (e.g., punitive responses towards a prostitute and harsh judgments towards an anti-U.S. essay). New findings (Zhou, Vohs, Baumeister, 2009) suggest that money creates a feeling of strength and acts as a buffer towards physical and emotional distress. The current study attempted to determine if money could buffer the anxiety associated with thoughts of death. Fifty-seven undergraduate participants either thought about their death (MS) or a neutral topic; within these groups, half counted money while half counted paper. This study was a 2 (MS: death vs. television) X 2 (materialism: money vs. paper) factorial design. To measure cultural worldview defense, participants were asked to rate the severity of a prostitution offense and provide a bond amount, as well as evaluate the authors and the arguments of a pro-U.S. and anti-U.S. essay. Contrary to the hypothesis, money did not act as a buffering mechanism and instead acted as a potential threat to cultural worldviews. Findings are discussed in light of terror management theory.
Sport Fan Motivations: An Examination of Personality, Gender, and Culture
Previous research suggests links between both sport fan motivations and gender, and sport fan motivations and culture (Wann, Schrader, & Wilson, 1999; Wann, Bilyeu, Brennan, Osborn, & Gambouras, 1999; Kaplan & Langdon, 2009). Furthermore, studies have also shown personality differences are also related to gender (Feingold, 1994). This study analyzes a possible relationship gender, personality types, and sport fan motivations, with the goal of being able to predict sport fan motivations using personality types. Additionally, this study examines differences in sport fan motivations between American and Australian cultures. The participants (N = 152) (108 Americans and 44 Australians) completed an online-survey, which assessed their levels of sport fandom (using the Sport Spectator Identification Scale), sports fan motivations (Sport Fan Motivation Questionnaire), and personality (the Big Five Inventory). The results of this study generally did not show a link between personality and sport fan motivations. However, several cross-cultural differences were found between American and Australian sport fans.
The Effects of Perceived Discrimination, Identity, and Socialization on Positive Outcomes in Jewish American Emerging Adults
As an ethnic minority, Jews have been subjected to great amounts of discrimination. Although past research with other racial minorities has investigated the relationship between group identification and such discrimination, little focuses on Jewish Americans as a stigmatized group. One hundred fifty-five Jewish American emerging adults (41 male, 113 female, 1 undifferentiated) participated in an online survey regarding Jewish identity, perceived discrimination, self-esteem, academic achievement, and socialization messages. Study 1 presented four identity profiles among Jewish Americans (alienated, idealized, buffering/defensive, and indifferent) and described how these groups differed in perceptions of discrimination. Study 2 indicated that certain socialization messages and religious observance affect Jewish identity. The implications of this project and ideas for future research with Jewish Americans are discussed.
Esther T. Kendall
Longevity in Endurance Sport: The Motives to Remain Competitive Over the Life Course
The purpose of this study was to investigate the motives master athletes use in order to compete. One hundred and forty six competitive athletes, participating in an endurance sport, over the age of fifty were surveyed. Intrinsic, extrinsic and social motivations were assessed, as well as competitiveness and athletic identity orientation. Results revealed that participants demonstrated high intrinsic and social motivation, and that competitiveness was more internally and socially driven. From qualitative responses, physical and mental benefits, social benefits as well as motivation were distinguished as primary reasons why master athletes continue to compete. These reasons all combine to improve sense of well-being and feelings of satisfaction and competence, which according to self-determination theory explain motivation.
Smoking Cessation and Best Practices in Support Groups: An Evaluation
Presently, tobacco use kills about 4-5 million people annually worldwide and is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Support groups have been one useful means for decreasing smoking rates. This study attempted to discover the best practices for running support groups. Using this knowledge, an evaluation of a support group run by Healthy Androscoggin in Lewiston, ME took place based on findings primarily from literature searches. The evaluation included two perspectives: the professional via rubric and consumer via questionnaire. Results suggested that the support group facilitator is consistent with recommendations, showing care, promoting autonomy, and increasing motivation to quit. Features of the support group were relatively consistent with recommendations, especially with location, but not with record-keeping. The rubric and questionnaire results together consistently suggested that pervasive motivation, story-telling, and lay knowledge were part of the group, while no follow-up after leaving the group or desire to have it existed. This suggests that this particular support group is unstructured and promotes freedom to make decisions. With these findings, and the preference for lay knowledge over evidence-based practice, perhaps organizations like the Health Education Authority should try to integrate more opportunities for lay knowledge.
PCP-induced behavioral changes in a hole-board apparatus as a rat model of schizophrenia
The glutamate NMDA receptor antagonist phencyclidine (PCP) has been shown to induce all three symptom sets of schizophrenia in healthy individuals, and has been used to reproduce these symptoms in animal models of the disorder. In the current and former studies conducted in our lab, acute injections of PCP (4.0 mg/kg) have been shown to induce hyperlocomotion and decrease head-dipping in rats within a hole-board apparatus (HBA), two behaviors presumed to reflect the positive and negative/cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, respectively. A typical antipsychotic has been shown to reduce the first symptom, and an atypical antipsychotic has been shown to reduce both symptoms, consistent with their respective clinical efficacies. The present study has two goals, the first of which is to attempt to further validate the HBA as a model by determining if the effects noted above can be mimicked by additional antipsychotics. The second aim is to use the HBA to examine the effects of drugs that alter transmission at the mGluR5 receptor, which has emerged as a potential drug target due to its association with the NMDA receptor. Preliminary research suggests that mGluR5 activation may have therapeutic potential across the range of symptoms. Therefore, drugs that activate this receptor may prove antipsychotic in our model, while drugs that block it may be propsychotic.
Ketner Lee Lappetito
A Child with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Portrait of His School Day
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder, which tends to present in elementary school, and is characterized by symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity (APA, 2000). The literature reveals, irrefutably, that children with ADHD tend to experience more difficulties in school than children without ADHD, which can have serious implications on the lives of these children. Thus, it is imperative to continue researching effective treatment strategies to improve the academic experiences of students with ADHD. The current study examined various off-task behaviors presented in one first-grade student with ADHD in order to capture a better glimpse of a typical school day for a child with ADHD. In addition, the researcher provides a review of the current evidence-based treatment strategies for ADHD relative to the participant’s situation, in hopes to present a new direction for the treatment of the participant.
Relationships: Do They Make You Impervious to the Effect of Money?
Money or the concept of currency is a pervasive and powerful entity, so much so that it transcends most cultures and acts as one of the driving forces for an individual’s behavior and attitudes. Past studies conducted with money as the basis have shown that when reminders of monetary value are presented to people, their personal and interpersonal behaviors change. The purpose of this study was to examine whether being in a relationship would decrease the effect of money priming on persistence and preference of group or solitary activities. There were 87 participants in this study (37 attached individuals and 50 unattached individuals), all of whom were students at Bates College. It was predicted that individuals who were in a relationship would not be significantly affected by the money prime because the dependency from that relationship would decrease the activation of the money prime. Findings suggest that relationship status (attached or unattached) decreased the effect of the money prime effect for persistence. Money priming was not for preference of group or solitary activities.
A Children’s Sing-Along: Exploring Familiar Songs, Vocal Model Choice and Pitch Accuracy
There is currently no standard method of assessing pitch-matching ability, and the obstacles of achieving standardization include: lack of knowledge about singing acquisition, analyzing faults and assessment component challenges. Dr. Annabel Cohen is the director of a research collaboration about singing called Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS). She has been developing an assessment method called the AIRS Test Battery. After a pilot study conducted last year, there were several concerns with the methodology. These included song choices, pitch models for assessment procedures and standardization challenges. The current study helped address these questions using sample of 19 five to seven-year-olds. They were tested on their familiar song preference and vocal performance, performance when using a recorded vocal model versus a live vocal model, and their overall enjoyment of the procedure. Results indicate that a recorded vocal model is an effective and enjoyable way to assess pitch-matching, and that the song Brother John is appropriate to use as a ‘familiar song’ in the test.
A Mediational Examination of the Relationship Between Transformational Leadership Behaviors and Athlete Self-Efficacy
Sport coaches attempt to employ positive beliefs and optimal styles of leadership to most effectively influence their athletes’ behaviors and beliefs. Transformational leadership styles have been suggested as the best forms of leadership to make a positive impact on athletes. Transformational behaviors such as inspirational motivation and individual consideration influence athlete self-efficacy. The current study proposed that transformational leadership behaviors, such as inspirational motivation and high performance expectations, exhibited by coaches would positively influence the self-efficacy ratings of athletes, while also controlling for a mediating relationship of athletes’ perceptions of coach self-efficacy influencing the athletes’ self-efficacy. The mediational relationship was not found to be significant. However, transformational leadership behaviors significantly predicted athletes’ perceptions of coaching efficacy. Also, various other demographic variables had an effect on athlete self-efficacy.
Courtney C. Mitchell
The Effect of Affirming Relational Selves on Replenishing Self-Regulation
Recent research has found that a subset of self-affirmation, affirming core values, replenishes self-control when the resource has been depleted. The current study examined whether another category of self-affirmation relational selves, is able to counteract self-regulatory depletion. 56 undergraduate students at Bates College participated in the study. Participants completed a writing task that induced self-regulation in half of the sample. Half of the participants were instructed to free write on a topic, while the other half was given the same topic but told not to use the letters a or n. Participants then completed a writing task wherein half the participants affirmed a relational self and the other half completed a filler task. Finally, the participants’ ability to self-regulate was measured using the Stroop task. Results found that overall, affirming a relational self was unsuccessful at replenishing previously depleted self-regulation. An interesting additional finding showed that among participants who had not been induced to regulate and found interpersonal relationships to be important to their self-identity, the relational self-affirmation boosted their self-regulatory ability above and beyond what was seen in the control condition.
The Impact of Social Networks Within the Teen Room at the Lewiston Public Library
Adolescence is a challenging stage of life. Social networks can foster the development of assets such as resilience in adolescents that can improve their psychological well-being (Brennan, 2008). Social networks can be created and strengthened through community agency (Brennan, 2008). The social networks of adolescent attendees of a local youth after-school program were evaluated across three fields (school, neighborhood, and the Teen Room) using visual and questionnaire methods. Participants were eight users of the after-school program. Degree of closeness and positive relationship qualities were measured. It was found that relationships were closest in school, where as the Teen Room had the most positive relationships. The results indicated that the Teen Room fosters positive social networks that influence well-being outcomes.
Cooking Made Easy: A Healthy Eating Behavior Change Intervention for Adolescents
Research shows that adolescents who help cook food at home have healthier eating behaviors than those who do not assist with preparing food. Interestingly, there is very little research on the effectiveness and use of cooking classes as an intervention for healthy eating behavior changes. The current study developed a cooking program, using the transtheoretical model of change as its framework, to demonstrate the effectiveness of cooking classes as a behavior change intervention. The program was assessed using quantitative and qualitative measures. Results showed that adolescents’ eating behaviors improved, when they did not face conflicting barriers at home. Based on the study’s findings, the use of cooking classes as a healthy eating intervention for adolescents is highly encouraged.
Julian Sergej Benedikt Ramirez
The Effect of Novel Stimuli on Working Memory: Testing Students Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Those Without
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder. There has been little research to date that has examined certain types of working memory in relation to ADHD patients. The n-back task is a test that assesses working memory: This task has been used with both ADHD and control participants, but no studies have been conducted to assess the effects of different types of cues on memory using this task. The current study looked at the effects of a novel sounding cue on performance in the n-back task. This study used 61 participants, between the ages of 17 and 22. Participants were divided into two groups: ADHD Diagnosed and non-ADHD participants. The study found no differences between the ADHD and control group in terms of performance. The novel tone helped all participants detect information better if it appeared with the target. Tones in general improved performance on this task if presented during the target trial. Tones in general helped all participants detect information if presented during the encoding of information. Implications of these findings could further develop our knowledge and understanding of the effects of stimuli on working memory.
Katherine D. Reilly
The Effect of Playful Versus Academic Learning Experiences on Preschoolers’ Cortisol Levels
The decline of play in the lives of children has sparked great concern among developmental psychologists and early childhood educators. Although research suggests that children learn best when they are playing, many parents, educators, and policymakers have turned to more direct-instructional programs in the hopes of fostering greater intellectual gains. Some research has shown a link between direct-instructional programs and higher stress levels. Experimental research was conducted to find more compelling evidence about this association. Preschoolers from the Lewiston/Auburn area participated in one of two experiments (Experiment 1: N = 31; Experiment 2: N = 38) in the developmental laboratory at Bates College. Half of the participants participated in a learning experience designed to simulate a play-based preschool curriculum. The other half participated in a learning experience designed to simulate a direct-instructional preschool curriculum. Saliva samples were obtained before and after the learning experiences and were later analyzed for concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. In Experiment 1, children in the play condition, on average, did not experience a significantly different cortisol change from children in the academic condition over the course of the learning experience. Modifications to the experiment were made, and results from Experiment 2 showed that children in the play condition experienced a significantly greater decrease in cortisol levels over the course of the learning experience from children in the academic condition (p = .045). These results provide stronger evidence about the suggested link between different types of preschool programs and stress levels, giving parents, educators, and policymakers more information to consider as they choose what types of learning experiences are most beneficial for preschoolers.
Exploring Homeless Youth’s Strengths and Goals Through Photovoice
Recent research on homeless youth has taken a strengths-based approach by studying their strengths and determining how to help them maximize their resources. The current study explored homeless youth’s strengths and future aspirations through a grassroots method called photovoice. Five participants from a transitional living program took pictures representing their strengths and goals. From a discussion session and the use of grounded theory, participants’ strengths were categorized into three themes: their relationships, their personality and what they do. In addition, participants’ goals were categorized into three themes: agentic goals, hedonistic goals and finding the drive. Results showed that participants were more focused on their relationships than on their future goals. The results of this study can help agencies that work with homeless youth.
Should I Eat That? Egocentric Bias and Women’s Restrained Eating
Previous research has indicated females tend to eat in a restrained manner compared to males in order to satisfy social norms or achieve a desired body state. The purpose of the current study was to analyze differences in perception between female eaters and observers. The sample consisted of 75 undergraduates where 26 females (targets) were interviewed on camera and 26 females (observers) and 23 males (observers) watched the interviews. Post-interview, female targets rated how many cookies they believed observers would recall were in front of them as well as how they thought observers would see them in terms of relevant (e.g. greed) and irrelevant (e.g. humor) traits. Male and female observers made actual ratings of the female target in terms of these aspects. Female targets did not differ from male or female observers in terms of how many cookies they believed others would recall, yet differences in ratings on relevant and irrelevant traits were found. Implications are discussed.
Classroom Curriculum: Promote the Skillful use of Working Memory Function and Academic Achievement in a Special Needs Population
Site DescriptionThe Renaissance School in Auburn, Maine is a yearlong, special purpose school affiliated with St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, of Lewiston, Maine. The student body consists of 25 to 30 students who range in age from 6 to 14 and whom must have a diagnosed educational disability (ED) and at least one diagnosis, based on Axis 1 of the DSM-IV criteria, which interferes with their education. Common diagnoses at the Renaissance School are Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder (CD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Asperger Syndrome, Depression, Mental Retardation (MR), Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Autism. Along with meeting these diagnostic requirements, accepted students must be able to participate in the school program in a meaningful way, which will enable them to academically and behaviorally benefit from attendance. Furthermore, a student’s legal guardian must agree to participate in the school’s educational and treatment program.The Renaissance School is licensed to meet both the educational and behavioral needs of its students, who have not been able to succeed in, and who are not able to safely attend, public school. The special education and behavioral treatments offered at the school include child psychiatry, social work, behavioral nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and psychological services. The school staff includes special education specialists, a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, a secretary, a behavioral nurse, occupational therapists, behavioral therapists and social workers. The mission of this school is to cognitively, behaviorally and emotionally rehabilitate students to a level that enables them to safely and successfully re-enter the public school system. Paul Smith, an 8-years-old, Caucasian, right-handed student at the Renaissance school, represents a composite case of a class of five boys, who were observed between September 18, 2009 and November 20, 2009. Paul was referred for this current evaluation because he has had impaired academic and behavioral performance over the year he has spent at the Renaissance school. The intention of this evaluation is to offer suggestions for curricula, based on Paul’s specific needs, which will promote his social, behavioral and academic competencies, in order to increase his ability to attend a mainstream classroom.
The Potency of Anticipatory Regret Within the Ultimatum Game
The purpose of the present study was to determine if anticipatory regret was powerful enough to outweigh monetary benefit so that participants would forgo utility maximization in order to minimize regret. The sample consisted of 83 Bates College students, both male and female, who played the ultimatum game. Participants were randomly assigned to three conditions: control (no feedback), feedback if rejected, and feedback if accepted. Participants played a $5 ultimatum game acting as both the proposer and the responder. In the experimental conditions, proposers were told they would learn the responder’s minimum acceptable offer, creating the potential for regret. By examining mean offer rates for each condition, it was determined that regret aversion did not outweigh utility maximization. Additionally, personality measures, aimed at explaining any differences observed in offer rates, produced largely insignificant results.
Daniel J. Rosenzweig
A Look into the Unknown: Viral, autoimmune, & Nonspecific Encephalitis
Encephalitis is a neurological condition in which the parenchyma of the brain swell as an immune system response to a perceived infection, just as other tissues might. Unlike other bodily tissues, edema in the brain produces intracranial pressure, which, if unsuccessfully treated, can cause permanent damage to other regions in the brain and sometimes death. The high proportion (In Australia, 57.2% according to Huppatz et al., 2009) of encephalitis cases reported as having nonspecific etiology, are often assumed to be viral in etiology. However, there may be evidence in the form of patterns of symptoms and recovery that may uncover a subset within the nonspecific group. This group is likely to have increased recovery rates as well as more moderate symptoms, and may be milder forms of encephalitis or possibly autoimmune forms. The current study attempts to isolate this subgroup. The original hypothesis could not be tested, but other significant results were found. Using a one-way ANOVA and Pearson correlations, age at encephalitis onset was shown to have a main effect on coma duration (p < .01) and outpatient rehabilitation (r = -0.72, p < .05). Implications of findings, limitations and future directions are discussed.
Promoting Cultural Awareness among Adolescents: A Service Learning Experience with the Civil Rights Team
The Lewiston Middle School Civil Rights Team (CRT) aims to reduce the occurrence of bias-motivated violence and tension among students. The Team endorses a safe environment by instituting preventative measures that raise awareness of ethnicity and race. Research indicates that interracial contact between groups reduces hostility and anxiety, and promotes positive intergroup attitudes, empathy, and trust. In order for intergroup contact to influence the targeted members, several features must be in place. The situation requires acquaintance, equal status, institutional support, and cooperation (Allport, 1954). Based on these elements, the current project encourages interaction between two groups of middle school students in a set of activities suited to promote positive attitudes about the other.
The Role of Self-Efficacy with regards to Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: ‘Eat Your Colors’
In contemporary America, Americans are facing a health outlook that is characterized by an unhealthy population. In order to combat this serious issue health organizations have looked for ways to correct this problem. One such program is ‘Eat Your Colors’, a diet intervention program designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by using a simple guideline for the users to follow, thus allowing their increasing self-efficacy to increase as a result in increased competence. However this intervention has not been studied in a college population. Additionally, research suggest that amount of information provided to participants can effect their knowledge, thus leading to an increase in self-efficacy.. Therefore this experiment will test the ‘Eat your Colors’ program in a college population. Specific attention will be paid with regards to the amount of information provided to participants by means of three interventions in order to find which is most effective. The results will help researchers better understand nutrition intervention programs in college populations.
Implementing a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program for Local At-Risk Youth
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment, which blends standard cognitive behavioral therapy with eastern meditation practices. Although previous research has demonstrated its effectiveness with adolescents suffering from a wide range of psychological disorders, DBT is not currently offered as an outpatient service in the Lewiston-Auburn community. In order to provide therapeutic treatment to the increasing number of at-risk youth in the community, a local group home for teens is preparing a grant proposal for state funding, so that DBT can be offered as one of its outpatient services. The present study assessed how to best implement this program by investigating how DBT has been adapted for adolescents, barriers associated with DBT for adolescents, local adolescent commitment to undergoing therapy for their target problems, and adolescent interest in DBT techniques. Results support interest in DBT among community members and indicate that many local youth are not only exhibiting negative behaviors that DBT has been shown to improve, but that they are motivated and ready to commit to therapeutic treatment. Implications and limitations of these results are discussed.
Virginia Leigh Smadbeck
Breaking the Social Exclusion Cycle: Does Recalling Social Exclusion From a Field Perspective Lead to More Prosocial Behavior?
Researchers have documented that social exclusion often causes individuals to be more aggressive, selfish, self-defeating, and unhelpful. Assuming that these qualities make one more likely to be excluded again in the future, social exclusion can be a vicious cycle. Recent research suggests that individuals who use a field perspective when recalling an experience of exclusion significantly increase their primary needs (belongingness, control, self-esteem, meaningful existence) relative to those who use an observer perspective. The current study explored whether participants who used a field perspective to recall exclusion demonstrated significantly more prosocial behavior than those who used an observer perspective due to the established links between social exclusion, empathy, and prosocial behavior. Thirty-four female and ten male Bates College students were randomly placed into four conditions (exclusion/field; exclusion/observer; inclusion/field; inclusion/observer), and there were no significant differences in empathy and prosocial behavior between conditions. However, an unexpected trend occurred such that excluded participants were more empathetic and helpful than included participants. Implications for these results are discussed.
Laura A. Smith
The Effect of a Mood Induction Procedure on the Emotional Stroop Task
Gilboa-Schechtman, Revelle, and Gotlib (2000) found a mood congruency effect where a participant’s affect interacted with word valence in the emotional Stroop task. However, this study did not control for varying lexical characteristics in all word lists, a factor which was later determined to be of importance by Kahan and Hely (2008). Upon controlling for word frequency, word length, and orthographic neighborhood as well as word valence, results indicated a significant interaction of word valence and word frequency on participants’ response times. Specifically, participants had the slowest times when responding to low frequency, emotionally negative words. The current study altered the moods of 123 participants in order to investigate whether the emotional valence of words presented in a Stroop task interacts with mood and whether this differs depending upon the frequency of the words seen.
Enhancing Preschoolers’ School Readiness Through Sociodramatic Play
Preschool programs provide students with school readiness skills that have both short and long term positive effects on academic achievement. Executive functioning skills such as self-regulation, problem-solving, planning, and goal-oriented thinking have been identified as valuable in preparing children for school. Play, particularly adult-guided play, enhanced executive functioning. The current study began as a collaborative effort with the Auburn preschool program director to strengthen the school readiness of the students. The study implemented a four-week long play intervention that involved guiding a group of four students at a time through various role-playing scenarios for 25-30 minutes periods, four days a week. To maximize the benefits of dramatic play, the students were led through planning, doing, and reviewing their actions during the play period. The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version (BRIEF-P) was completed by the teacher before and after the intervention to assess the effectiveness of the play intervention on their executive functioning. Classroom field notes and a reflective interview with the preschool teacher at Walton Elementary School were also recorded. Results showed that eight out of the nine BRIEF-P scales used to assess the students’ executive functioning moved in the desired and expected direction, indicating an improvement in executive functioning skills. Two out of the nine scales, Shift and Working Memory, were found to be statistically significant. Qualitative data revealed that social interactions and group cohesiveness were also noticeably improved following the play intervention. In addition, the students’ play became much more directed and complex after participating in the intervention. Findings suggest that play interventions have a positive effect on preschoolers’ executive functioning skills, social i! nteracti ons, and general play development.
Enhancing Preschoolers’ School Readiness Through Sociodramatic Play
Preschool programs provide students with school readiness skills that have both short- and long-term positive effects on academic achievement. Executive functioning skills such as self-regulation, problem-solving, planning, and goal-oriented thinking have been identified as valuable in preparing children for school. Play, particularly adult-guided play, enhanced executive functioning. The current study began as a collaborative effort with the Auburn preschool program director to strengthen the school readiness of the students. The study implemented a four-week long play intervention that involved guiding a group of four students at a time through various role-playing scenarios for 25-30 minutes periods, four days a week. To maximize the benefits of dramatic play, the students were led through planning, doing, and reviewing their actions during the play period. The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version (BRIEF-P) was completed by the teacher before and after the intervention to assess the effectiveness of the play intervention on their executive functioning. Classroom field notes and a reflective interview with the preschool teacher at Walton Elementary School were also recorded. Results showed that eight out of the nine BRIEF-P scales used to assess the students’ executive functioning moved in the desired and expected direction, indicating an improvement in executive functioning skills. Two out of the nine scales, Shift and Working Memory, were found to be statistically significant. Qualitative data revealed that social interactions and group cohesiveness were also noticeably improved following the play intervention. In addition, the students’ play became much more directed and complex after participating in the intervention. Findings suggest that play interventions have a positive effect on preschoolers’ executive functioning skills, social ! interact ions, and general play development.
The Effects of Environmental Infantilization on Perceptions of the Elderly
With the population of the world aging rapidly, issues related to geriatric healthcare are gaining priority in the minds of citizens and policymakers. Infantilization of the elderly is one recurring theme within eldercare institutions that must be addressed. Infantilization, also termed patronization, describes any instance in which someone treats an older individual as a child, thereby discrediting her lifetime of experiences. Some kinds of infantilization, such as speech infantilization, have been studied in recent years, with findings indicating that people who view elders being verbally infantilized rate these elders as less competent, less alert, and weaker than those who viewed elders as not verbally infantilized (Giles, Fox, & Smith, 1993). However, little is known about how environmental infantilization affects perceptions of the elderly. Thus, the current study employed a 2 (room condition: infantilized, noninfantilized) x 2 (ageism: low, high) between subjects experimental design in an attempt to determine how environmental infantilization affects positive and negative perceptions of the elderly. Contrary to the hypotheses, neither room condition nor ageism significantly impacted composite positive or negative trait ratings of a hypothetical elder. However, ratings of some individual character traits, such as independence, significantly differed across room condition. Implications of these specific findings and directions for future research are discussed.
Psychostimulant Use Beyond College: Expectations and Motives for Future Use Among College Students and Recent Graduates
Psychostimulant use is growing at a concerning rate in the United States. Adolescents are being diagnosed with ADHD and being prescribed psychostimulants on a frequent basis. These adolescents are continuing to use in college, and the use of psychostimulants with and without a prescription is widespread. This study explored whether students planned to continue their use of psychostimulants, both with a prescription and illicitly, after they graduated college. A larger percentage of alumni continued using after college than the percentage of students who planned to continue using. 47% of recent alumni who used ADHD medication with a prescription in college and 33% of alumni who used illicitly in college continued using after graduation. The motives for continued or discontinued use were examined, and differed depending on type of user, gender, and frequency of use. The study consisted of approximately 96 junior and senior undergraduates and 337 alumni who graduated in the previous five years. Participants completed an online survey about their stimulant use and expectations of future use. This study showed that the majority of use discontinued after college, but a larger percentage of use continued than was expected.
Marguerite Leigh Warner
Naturalistic Language Intervention: Improving Speech Intelligibility Through A Token Economy System and Social Scripts
Speech intelligibility refers to the listener’s ability to interpret and understand what the speaker is saying. Speech intelligibility problems can be detrimental to children’s growth if they are not corrected at a young age. In the past, the analog approach to language develop has been the most common form of speech intelligibility training used with children. However, a growing body of research has supported at more naturalistic approach to language development. It has been thought that this inclusive, hands-off approach is more similar to typical language development, and thus, has a better carryover to real life conversations. The current study used this naturalistic approach with a 6-year old boy with identified speech and language delays. The specific speech delay that was targeted was his speech intelligibility. In addition to using naturalistic language techniques, an ABC intervention design was used in which a token economy and social scripts were administered. Progress was measured through speech samples, daily logs, and field notes. Results indicated that the combined use of the naturalistic language techniques and the two interventions markedly increased his speech intelligibility. In addition, his peer engagements increased as a result of these combined techniques.
The Promotion of Social Play Through an Empathy-Based Skill Intervention
In this study, the effectiveness of an empathy-based intervention program in accordance with the skillstreaming model was tested. Using Parten’s social play categories, a total of 7 students from an integrated preschool were assessed to determine if this intervention resulted in a significant increase in the level of social play. There was found to be a marginally significant increase in social play following the first intervention of “reading others” and a significant increase in play following the second intervention of “deciding how someone feels.” These results are consistent with prior research that has suggested that empathy and emotion recognition are related to social competence and can be enhanced through skill-based intervention programs.