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Psychology faculty and students presented research at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference

Release date: March 04, 2013

Five Psychology faculty members (Katherine Choe, Dara Friedman-Wheeler, Thomas Ghirardelli, Jennifer McCabe, and Ann McKim) and 15 current Goucher students (Ally Abrams, Emily Caballero, Emily Collins, Annie Cosgrove-Davies, Leah Goldgar, Erica Hendrickson, Abby Litovsky, Rebecca Mark , Blair Shevlin, Jeffrey Shayne, Samantha Siwulec, Chelsea Spitzer-Morton, Allison Susser, Katrina Wheeler, and Marley Witham), along with several alums, traveled to New York City to present research findings at the Eastern Psychological Association conference, March 1-4, 2013.

Professor Katherine Choe and the students from the Child Development Lab, Emily Wyckoff ('14), Holly Connor ('14), Jacob Davis ('13), Rebecca Mark ('14), and Ally Abrams ('16), presented a poster, entitled, "Children's Understanding of Conflicting State of Mind in Morality: The Effects of External and Self-Control."  In this study, children's and adults' understanding of having a conflicting state of mind in moral reasoning was examined. The participants were introduced to vignettes in which the character was to make a moral decision in two types of conditions: Under self- and external control. The data indicated significant developmental and conditional differences. Implications of the findings were further discussed.

Under Professor Friedman-Wheeler's supervision, Samantha Siwulec ('12) presented the poster, "Effects of a Brief Mastery or Pleasure Reminiscence Intervention on Hopelessness" along with Addie Jabin ('13) and Sunil S. Bhar.  Hopelessness is a risk factor for suicide. Activities that induce feelings of mastery and pleasure are believed to help reduce suicidal feelings. This study examined whether prompting reminiscence about pleasurable or mastery experiences would lead to improvements in hopelessness in young adults. Participants completed hopelessness pre- and post-tests, and performed an oral or written, pleasure, mastery, or control reminiscence task. The oral mastery and pleasure reminiscence conditions reduced hopelessness, suggesting implications for interventions targeting suicidality.

Professor Thomas Ghirardelli and student co-authors Gabriella Coakley ('13), Katherine Lawson ('12), Taylor Marcus ('12), Chelsea Spitzer-Morton ('14), Annie Cosgrove-Davies ('13), Karli Postel ('13), and Katrina Wheeler ('14) presented a poster entitled, "What is the effect of emotional pictures on letter processing in RSVP?" Previous research using RSVP has demonstrated an attentional "capture" effect for emotional stimuli, (e.g., taboo words and explicit pictures) when participants attended to words or pictures. The researchers sought to determine if emotional pictures would have a similar effect when participants attended to letters. Participants performed a standard RSVP task and we presented pictures with varying emotional content immediately following the first target (T1). They found evidence that positively valenced emotional pictures impaired processing of T1.

Professor Jennifer McCabe and students Emily Collins ('15), Brandon Meyers-Orr ('14), and Marley Witham ('13) presented a poster entitled, "Getting the GIST of Memory: Teaching Effective Learning Strategies in Introductory Psychology."  Introductory Psychology students learned the acronym "GIST" for four desirably difficult learning strategies: Generation, Imagery, Spacing, Testing. Students reported low use of these strategies prior to learning "GIST." There was high performance on an unannounced post-lecture "GIST" quiz, and strategies tended to be listed in "GIST" order with or without a hint to do so. Self-reports of planned use for Introductory Psychology suggested endorsement for all strategies, but higher ratings for Generation over Imagery.

Professor Ann McKim, along with students Abby Litovsky ('13), Marley Witham ('13), Leah Goldgar ('13), Erica Hendrickson ('12), Emily Caballero ('13), Jeffrey Shayne ('13), and Allison Susser ('14), presented the poster, "Make Yourself at home: The Effects of Feng Shui on Mood in a Gathering Space." Positive psychology and feng shui emphasize factors that promote effective functioning and well-being. The goal of the present study was to investigate the impact of applying key feng shui principles in transforming a disorganized gathering space. They investigated whether mood, relaxation, productivity, and appeal can be enhanced through feng shui. Mood, appeal, and productivity increased, and anxiety decreased after feng shui. Applying feng shui generates a more positive, productive, and comfortable atmosphere.

Furthermore, two students--Abby Litosvsky from Dr. Friedman-Wheeler's lab and Blair Shevlin from Dr. McCabe's lab--presented their additional works in the undergraduate research session. 

Abby Litovsky presented a poster entitled "Measuring Expectancies for Specific Coping Strategies: The Coping Expectancies Scale (CES)" with faculty supervisor Dara Friedman-Wheeler, Goucher professor Jo Ellyn Pederson, Hilda Rizzo-Busack ('09) and David A. F. Haaga.  This study examined the reliability and validity of the Coping Expectancies Scale (CES), which assesses beliefs concerning the effectiveness of specific coping strategies. Participants completed the CES and other related measures, and then the CES again or an "actual coping" version of the CES (3 weeks later). The CES showed good retest reliability and predictive and concurrent validity, and no relationship to social desirability.

Blair Shevlin ('13), presented a poster entitled, "Cognitive Reflection in Undergraduates: Relationships with Educational Experiences and Metacognition." Frederick's (2005) Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) evaluates individuals' capacities to inhibit automatic responses in favor of thoughtful analysis. This study used web-based survey methodology to assess relationships between CRT-performance, educational history, and metacognition. As predicted, CRT-performance was related to Need for Cognition score and gender. In contrast to prior research, there was no relationship between CRT-performance and philosophy coursework; results suggested high CRT-scorers had more economics, but fewer biology and education courses. 

Overall, it was a productive conference for all Goucher attendees, both in terms of presenting and learning about the contemporary research in psychology.