Seniors Abstracts for 2016
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 2016.
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.
Gretchen Maya Cates-Carney
Examining the Role of Birth Plans and Locus of Control in Childbirth Satisfaction
This study sought to determine how locus of control and adherence to birth plan impact women’s childbirth satisfaction. Satisfaction with childbirth has the potential to impact the mother’s health, relationship with her child, ability to breastfeed, and attitude toward future childbirth experiences (Goodman, Mackey & Tavakoli, 2003). Pregnant women were recruited to complete an extended prenatal and brief postpartum survey. Participants responded to a number of questionnaire measures and provided details about their desired birth scenario, and were then asked postpartum about their delivery outcomes.. It was predicted that women with an internal locus of control would have greater satisfaction with their birth than women with an external locus of control, and that women whose birth plans were not adhered to would be less satis fied than the women whose birth plans were adhered to, but this effect would be greater in women with an external locus of control. Significant differences were found in expectations for childbirth between women who did and did not plan to write birth plans and between women who planned to have natural or medicated deliveries. Postpartum analysis revealed a significant pattern between intended and actual birth mode. More data collection and analyses are necessary to further address the hypotheses of the study.
The Association Between Orthorexia Nervosa Scores and Athletic Participation in College Students
Almost twenty years ago, the term ‘orthorexia nervosa’ was first introduced by Steven Bratman to describe eating behaviors involving an obsession with healthy eating. Orthorexia nervosa (ON) is not yet listed in the DSM-V as an eating disorder; however, there are a growing number of studies on this phenomenon. The current study uses the Eating Habits Questionnaire to examine the relationship between orthorexic tendencies, eating pathology, obsessive tendencies, and athletic status in a college sample. Overall, women had higher orthorexic tendencies than men, and had more eating pathology based on EAT-26 scores. Furthermore, weight-dependent sports had higher orthorexia scores on the EHQ than non-weight dependent sports. There was also an interaction between gender and athletic status, with women in weight-dependent sports having the more orthorexic tendencies. When EHQ scores were dichotomized, those with high orthorexic tendencies in weight-dependent sports had more eat ing pathologies based on EAT-26 scores. The EHQ was found to be a highly reliable measure ( and factors underlying the EHQ construct showed a very similar pattern in subscales (Knowledge, Problems and Feelings) as those reported by Gleaves, Graham and Ambwani (2013). Some limitations included a homogeneous sample, response biases, possible type I error and ambiguity surrounding the definition of weight-dependent sports. Future research should focus further on psychometric testing for the EHQ, and using the measure with different SES groups, age groups and nationalities.
Empathy as a Mediator for Testosterone and Moral Reasoning Style
Montoya et al. (2013) recently found that levels of testosterone relate to patterns of moral judgments. People with higher levels of testosterone make more utilitarian decisions, but the reason for this pattern is unclear. Our study sought to understand the relationship between testosterone and moral-reasoning styles, hypothesizing that cognitive or affective empathy mediated the relationship between the two. Salivary testosterone was quantified in a sample of 38 undergraduate men and processed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. These concentrations were compared to verbal reasoning ability and scores of behavioral emotional recognition tasks, moral reasoning dilemmas, and a questionnaire of cognitive and affective empathy. Results displayed a significant negative correlation between reaction time to identify negative facial expressions (anger, fear, and disgust) and testosterone level. Post hoc analysis revealed that the mean testosterone concentrations for participants sampled by a female researcher were significantly higher than for those sampled by a male researcher. Correlational analysis indicated that the relationship between facial recognition reaction time and testosterone concentration was unaffected by the sex of the researcher. Our discussion considers the reasons behind our null findings in regards to moral reasoning. Additionally, we include an evolutionary explanation for the facial recognition data and discuss the significant, but understudied, effect of female presence on male testosterone level.
Four-Dot Object Substitution Masking and Depth of Processing of Masked Words
Four-dot object substitution masking is a type of visual masking where a target object is briefly displayed while surrounded by four small dots. When the dots remain on the screen, participants often see a blank space within the dots. The current study looks to see if unconsciously processed target words affect reaction times and how deeply these words are processed in the brain. Participants were asked to identify the color of the dots as quickly as possible, and to identify whether or not there was a word present. There were forty-seven participants in this study, all of whom were Bates College undergraduates. The results found that participants were slower on congruent than incongruent trials when they missed the target word, suggesting lexical processing in the brain and implications of the negative compatibility effect.
Holistic and Featural Processing in the Other-Race Effect
Two studies measured holistic and featural processing in the other-race effect. The author predicted that participants would process own-race faces holistically and other-race faces featurally. Previous research has shown that holistic processing enhances change detection while featural processing enhances change localization (Kahan & Mathis, 2014; Wilford and Wells, 2010). In study one, 48 Caucasian participants completed a change localization versus detection task with Caucasian and African American faces. The results showed that participants exhibited stronger holistic processing for own-race faces than other-race faces, but no differences in featural processing. Study two tested 38 Caucasian participants with the same paradigm but with a slightly different methodology in order to replicate a previous study that had found differences in featural processing (Rhodes, H ayward, & Winkler, 2006). After changing the methodology, no differences were found in holistic or featural processing between same and other-race faces. Altogether, two studies provide ambiguous results as to the reasons behind the other-race effect. However, these results do suggest significant improvements for future research on the other-race effect that would potentially mend the inconsistencies found in previous research.
Transported Back in Time: Exploring the Relationship between Nostalgia and Narrative Transportation
Why does a wistful and intense yearning for our past ultimately feel so good? Previous research demonstrates that nostalgic reverie improves psychological health through immersion in positive and irretrievable memories. Within narrative psychology, emotional immersion in stories (known as transportability) has the potential to change readers’ attitudes and beliefs. This current study assesses whether transportability is a predictor of nostalgia for positive and irretrievable events from one’s past. Participants were recruited from Bates College’s faculty and staff listservs, the ‘I was born in Lewiston, ME., and remember when” Facebook group, and undergraduate psychology courses to complete an online survey. Participants described positive events from their past, rated them for irretrievability and nostalgia, and measured their dispositional transportability. Contrary to predictions, transportability did not predict self-reported nostalgia for irretrievable events, however, the data revealed a pattern in the expected direction. Replicating this study with a larger sample to assess the effect may ultimately provide support for using nostalgic reverie as a therapeutic device to alleviate stress during challenging life experiences.
The Effects of Self-Esteem Improvement Games on Students With Emotional Behavioral Disorders Academic Initiative
Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD) is a term, that broadly categorizes, individuals that characteristically have internalizing problems, are withdrawn, anxious, or depressed, and/or have attention problems. Children with EBD are a vulnerable group, in society, because they present more learning and academic problems than their peers (D’Oosterlinck et. al., 2006). Strong correlations have been found between self-esteem and academic achievement (Sheykhian et. al., 2014). The objective of this study was to implement a self-esteem improvement curriculum, in a classroom, with students with EBD; and assess its effects on academic initiative. The study found that there was a general increase of academic initiative among students, where students asked their teacher less questions and were more eager to answer que stions in front of the class. They were also more willing to help their fellow students with academic tasks. While overall feelings towards academic work did not change, behaviors towards academic work became more positive.
Comparing Men’s and Women’s Self-Esteem Levels at Bates College
The purpose of this study was to examine self-esteem levels of students enrolled in Bates College and to explain any trends in the data using information on student’s personal habits and self-concepts. Experimenters hypothesized that women’s self-esteem would be lower than men’s self-esteem, women’s self-esteem would decrease as they advance through college while men’s would remain constant, and that the difference between men and women’s self-esteem levels could be explained by the following factors: social connectedness, attitudes toward self-attributes, body-image, depression, anxiety, stress, and personal habits. An electronic survey was distributed and 261 students enrolled in Bates College participated in the study. Results were incongruent with hypotheses; women and men’s self-esteem levels did not significantly differ, there was no signi ficant difference in women’s self-esteem levels across the four years, and there was a significant difference between men’s self-esteem levels between junior and senior year. Results indicate that the student body at Bates College does not mirror nation-wide trends, and can perhaps be explained by factors specific to the Bates community. This study was a cross-sectional study and, therefore, cannot make causal conclusions concerning the growth of the student body across the four years at Bates College.
Eduarda Souto Maior Osthoff
Understanding Advertisement: How Does Mere Exposure and Perceptual Load Affect Preference for Ads?
Everyday millions of ads are displayed on the internet, targeting different audiences, but with one purpose: to convince people to consume a range of products. The ways in which we process all the information is of great interest to advertisers, who invest so much time and financial resources in advertising campaigns. The current research will aim at better understanding how the human mind processes advertisements by investigating how the mere exposure effect and load theory of attention affect our preferences and recognition of ads. Participants were presented with articles to read, and surrounding the articles they saw ads, as well as other irrelevant information (i.e., distractors). The amount of distractors surrounding the articles differed (low load vs. high load conditions) and participants were only expose d to half of the ads (studied vs. not studied conditions). Following this task, participants completed two questionnaires. They were asked to rate the ads on different likingness dimensions and to indicate the ads they had previously seen. Findings indicated that participants significantly preferred the ads in the low load condition more than in the high load or not studied conditions, which weren’t significantly different from each other. Moreover, participants in both low load and not studied conditions significantly remembered whether or not they had studied the ads better than chance; however, this was not the case for the high load condition. These findings have important implications in the field of advertising. If advertisers are more concerned with how their audience processes an advertisement for meaning and whether they will remember this advertisement, then they might consider displaying it in a low load environment.
The relationship between empathy and vulnerable attachment
Abstract The goal of this study was to examine the correlation between vulnerable attachment and empathy. Quantitative data were collected through questionnaires. The participants were 149 college-aged students who all took the same two questionnaires. The questionnaire was comprised of a vulnerable attachment questionnaire and an empathy questionnaire. There were several significant results that produced two concrete conclusions. First, as affective empathy increased so did vulnerable attachment. Being affectively empathetic makes a person more susceptible to being vulnerably attached. Second, as cognitive empathy increased vulnerable attachment decreased. Cognitively empathetic people are protected from being vulnerably attached. Securely attached people probably have a balance of both cognitive and affective empathy.