Psychology Students Present Research

2018_PsychUG_MiniconferenceStudents enrolled in PSY 3001 presented their research projects in the Meese 110 classroom on Thursday, April 26. While promoting the event, Dr. Hungwe expressed that “the mini-conference has a really great set of projects that the students conceived of, researched, designed, obtained IRB approval for, carried out, analyzed, and are finally presenting. Also, several members of the class are graduating, so this will be a great chance to see how far they’ve come.”

The mini-conference included eight projects, mentored by Professor Mueller and Professor Hungwe, that answered psychological questions in tech domains such as smart phones, health care, work place and STEM education.  Topics range from stress to work attitudes, working memory to ethical decisions, and personality to STEM education. Abstracts of the projects are listed below.
  1. Abigail Kuehne & Kira Warner : Examining Associations Between the Big Five Personality Traits, Math Attitudes and Numeracy
Previous studies have found associations between personality traits and attitudes related to anxiety and various cognitive abilities (Murdock, Oddi, Bridgett, 2013; Smith, 2017). The present study focused on college students and was comprised of two parts. Study 1 examined associations between the cognitive ability numeracy, and the Big Five Personality traits, focusing on the traits of openness to experience and neuroticism (opposite of emotional stability). The study employed a survey that contained a measure of personality using the 44-item Big Five Inventory, and a measure of numeracy using the Berlin Numeracy Test (Cokely et al., in press; John and Srivastava, 1999). The trait of numeracy was not found to be significantly correlated with any of the Big Five Personality traits. Study 2 examined associations between general math anxiety and self-perceived ability, and numeracy. A survey was conducted using the 15-item Modified Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scale and the 7-item Berlin Numeracy Test. Results suggested a negative relation between math anxiety and self-perceptions of math ability. Results also suggested a negative relation between math anxiety and the ability to interpret statistical information. These findings have important implications given the widely published research on the negative impacts of math anxiety on performance on mathematical task performance. Future research should investigate ways to help diminish math anxiety in specific populations (e.g. college students).
2. Ginger Sleeman & Ashley DeVoge: Impacts of Advertisement on Online Health Care Awareness and Utilization
 Employers have started adopting online health care programs in an effort to allow for flexibility amongst health care plans, and to reduce employer and employee medical costs. This study examines the effects of advertising on employee awareness and utilization of the Blue Cross Online Visits program. It is hypothesized that engaging employees through various advertising campaigns will increase program awareness and utilization. A pre-advertisement email survey was completed a random sample of University of 105 employees. Upon completion of the advertising campaign, a post-advertisement survey was  completed by 134 response employees. The advertising campaign had a significant impact on general awareness of online healthcare (X2(1)=16.02, p=<.001), as well as on awareness of the University offering the Blue Cross Online Visits program as a benefit (X2(1)=7.351, p=0.007). To determine if advertising had an effect on the likelihood of an employee using the program, an independent samples t-test was conducted and showed that advertising does not impact the likelihood of an individual partaking in the benefit (t(237.0)=0.175, p=0.861.)The results  also showed that age (X2(4)=4.705, p=0.319) and gender (X2(2)=2.407, p=0.300) did not impact how likely someone was to use the program.
3.     Greta Fisher, Rose Hildebrandt, & Sara Pietila: Effects of Keyword Mnemonics in Educational Settings
Past research has shown that keyword mnemonics have been effective in second-language learning, but there is limited research on its use in education (Putnam, 2015). If mnemonics are effective in helping students learn vocabulary for second languages, they may also be helpful in retaining information in other areas of education. In a preliminary survey taken by 48 participants, it was found that there was a positive correlation in the percentage of correct answers with the use of mnemonics to help answer the question, with Pearson’s R= 0.692 with p < 0.001. It was also found that although students used these methods, they rarely created their own mnemonics in order to study new materials.  The second study focused on the use of keyword mnemonics in comparison to other study methods used in educational settings, such as rote memorization.  In order to test if mnemonics were a more effective study method than rote memorization three surveys were sent out to students and asked them the same test questions. One survey had participants study with a mnemonic, another had participants study with a flashcard method and a third used no study method. If the hypothesis that mnemonics are a more effective study method is supported, we predict that participants who study with mnemonics will produce better results on a test than rote memorization. These results could help to prove that mnemonics can be utilized in subjects other than second-language learning.
4. Emmitt Forbush & Glory Creed: Effects of Priming on Ethical Reasoning
In order to create an ethically responsible society, we must understand peoples natural will to reason for themselves. The study was to explore the extent to which people put independent thought into ethical choices compared to the propensity to follow the crowd opinions or fall into framing/priming effects. In the first phase of our study, we discovered that people tend to place a high level of importance on decisions that they deem ethically challenging. We also gathered information on the types of ethical situations that people encounter in day to day life. In the second phase of our study, we used the scenarios provided by participants in study 1 to develop realistic ethical dilemmas. These ethical dilemmas were then answered by the participants of the second phase, some of whom were primed with different types of ethical reasoning logic before encountering the scenarios. We found a significant difference between groups primed with different ethical schools of thought, meaning that it appears we were able to manipulate the ethical decision making process for individuals who were primed.
5. Elizabeth Kelliher & Mariah Sherman: Occupation and self-efficacy: Predictor of success in the workplace
What makes a person successful in business? Previous research found that education is a predictor of salary, promotion, and career satisfaction (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005). We interviewed people who considered themselves successful in business.  The results from the interviews were used to develop a survey. The survey question focuses on personal and academic background, work experience, personal beliefs about factors that influence success, management styles, personality, their education and other factors. A total of 134 people participated. Overall, we found MTU graduates felt better prepared by their education and reported that they were better equipped with the skills it takes to be successful in their jobs. Current students from all universities also had significantly different ratings of qualities for success, desired management styles, and best ways to learn on the job compared to working individuals.
6. Trista Burton: Does College cause anxiety
Anxiety is an issue that affects people in different ways and many will deal with it in their lifetime. Past experiments have focused on test anxiety of college students but have not focused on whether or not college students demonstrate higher levels of anxiety than the general population (Galassi, Frierson, & Sharer, 1981).  It was hypothesized that  those currently enrolled in college will demonstrate higher levels of anxiety. Study 1 used a 25-item which was consisting of three parts: 10 Trait Anxiety questions, 10 State Anxiety questions, and 5 demographic questions. Results showed that college students demonstrated higher levels of State-Trait Anxiety than those not enrolled in college. The focus of study 2 was on short coping mechanisms and how they impacted  the State Anxiety of college students. A 25-question survey with a randomly assigned coping mechanism was used to test the hypothesis that there are differences between coping mechanisms used  and the effect on State Anxiety levels of college students. There were no significant differences found.
7. Elise Brehob, Via Ouellette-Ballas, Kevin Grathoff:  Effects of meditation on working memory
Previous research has shown that meditation can be used to reduce stress and treat stress-related mental disorders, such as PTSD and social anxiety (Kiyonaga, Wong, & Gelfand, 2010) and educational settings (Quach, Jastrowski Mano, & Alexander, 2015). Since stress is connected to memory, studies have suggested the possibility of using meditation to improve working memory. The study investigated this in two different settings. Participants in study 1 consisted of a meditating and no-meditating group. They were asked to respond to an online survey. The survey contained demographic questions concerning meditation, mindful attention (MAA) questions, and a word recall test. It was hypothesized that the meditating group would perform better than the non-meditating group on  memory and mindfulness tests. The differences were not significant. Study 2 was a lab experiment with an experimental and control group. The experimental group completed the N-back memory task, with an intervening 15-minute period of meditation, which was followed by  the completion of the Corsi memory task. The control group completed the memory tasks with a 5-minute break between the tests, with no meditation. The results are inconclusive. Follow up studies with larger samples are recommended.
8. Madeline Shortt: The compulsion to use smartphones in college students
There has been an increasing interest in understanding problematic smartphone use and its characteristic (Wang, Lee & Li, 2016). This two part study  investigated the compulsion to use the smartphone among a college population. Study 1 was designed as an online survey with 34 participants.  It was hypothesized that the compulsion to use smartphones would be associated with the number of apps used. A Chi-square test was conducted with compulsion (DV) and social media apps on their devices (IV). The social media apps were categorized as  either high compulsion or low compulsion, and the social media use was categorized the same. There was  no significant difference found (X2(1) =0.075, p=0.78). Study 2 investigated if the compulsion to use a smartphone would disrupt an attention task. Fourteen college students participated in a lab setting where they were given a task. Halfway through the experiment, two messages were sent to their phones. The participants’ level of concentration was observed before and after the messages were sent using a rating scale. A note was also made on whether they attended to the message or not.  A paired-sample t-test was conducted to compare the before and after their phone went off concentration scores. There was a significant difference in the paired-sample t-test (M=2.0, SD=0.34); t(13)=6.360, p<.001). Results showed that almost every individual’s concentration score went down once their device went off and over half of the individuals checked their devices.  The result show that students had developed a compulsion to use smartphones even when their attention was needed to complete a task.