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Psychology majors demonstrate breadth of knowledge by successfully completing a comprehensive exam, given in three parts that cover major areas of the field (e.g., cognitive, developmental, learning, personality, physiological, social). They also have the opportunity to pursue an area of psychology in greater depth by completing a senior thesis. One thesis option (PSY 495-496) allows a student(s) to perform an empirical investigation of a research problem (review background evidence, design and carry out a study, and write up the findings) over both semesters of the senior year. The other thesis option (PSY 493) is a one-semester in-depth, integrative review of the scientific literature on a topic in psychology. All students will publicly present their work. Both options allow students to apply the skills and knowledge they have acquired over their first three years, and pursue a topic in which they are most interested. 

2016 (P495-496, Two Semesters)

Fall 2015 & Spring 2016 (P493, One Semester) 




2016 (P495-496, Two Semesters)


Nicole DeFries

Functional Personality Disorders: Relating Executive Functioning and Maladaptive Personality traits

Multiple studies support associations between executive functioning and the Five Factor Model (FFM) of normative personality.  Additional research suggests that executive functioning may also be related to specific personality disorders.  However, changes in how these personality disorders are classified have been suggested in the DSM-5.  Currently, the accepted model for these disorders is a categorical one consisting of three clusters.  It has been recommended that this model be reformed into a trait model, one that mirrors the FFM.  This proposed alternative model of personality disorders consists of five unipolar maladaptive traits (Negative Affectivity, Detachment, Antagonism, Disinhibition, and Psychoticism) that can be assessed using the Personality Inventory for the DSM-5, or PID-5.  Through the use of this inventory and a measure of executive dysfunction (the Frontal Systems and Behavioral Scale [FrSBe]), meaningful relationships were found between this new model of personality disorder and executive functioning using multiple regression analysis of a large normative sample.  While some of the previously established relationships between the FFM and executive functioning were mirrored in the PID-5 model (e.g., a positive relationship between the Apathy subscale and Detachment and between the Disinhibition and Executive Dysfunction subscales with the Disinhibition domain), not all of these relationships were supported, indicating that further analysis is warranted to determine the exact relationships between these PID-5 domains and facets and executive dysfunction, as well as these maladaptive personality traits relationship to the FFM. 

Alyson P. Bright and Grace L. Bishop

guns, violence, and mental illness: reality and perceptions

The relationships between gun control, violent behavior, and persons with mental illnesses (PMI) have received a great amount of media and political attention in recent years. This literature review explores these relationships by examining research on violence in both PMI and the greater population. Despite negative public perceptions of PMI and illusory correlations about the number of violent acts they commit, actual statistics indicate that PMI are no more dangerous than persons without diagnoses. Despite the fact that this review suggests that PMI are not inherently violent, there is still evidence that certain types of mental disorders, such as psychopathy, are correlated with certain violent crimes. In the current empirical study, researchers examined public perception of the relationships between mental illness, violence, and gun control. It was predicted that personal experience with mental illness would be correlated with a decrease in perceived violence in PMI. This hypothesis was not supported by the survey data. However, the results of the study and the literature review suggest that other factors may be more influential in changing negative prejudice against PMI. Future research should examine the effect of educating about mental illness on perceptions of violence.      

Emily K. Hellmann, Risa Kanai and Ashley M. Sipe

Parent and student views of work-family conflict

The purpose of this research is to examine the impacts of work-family conflict on children’s perceptions of work-family conflict, parenting variables, children’s outcomes, marital outcomes, and how personality moderates these relationships. The study consisted of 39 students at DePauw University and one of their parents who have either part or full-time employment who completed an online survey. Results revealed that high level of work-family conflict results in higher parental stress, and parents who are either highly open or highly conscientious are especially vulnerable to higher level of stress. In addition, data also showed that children of parents who show high extraversion or low neuroticism are more likely to value work centrality in their own future lives. The research adds to the literature examining the consequences of work-family conflict for both parents and their children.  

Torine D. Lividini and Ashley E. Ullyot

adult attachment and perceptions of flirting

Attachment, an emotional bond, starts in infancy with a caregiver and persists into adulthood with romantic partners (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). The method an individual will use to form attachments in adulthood can be predicted by their attachment security. Attachment security can be described as the trust that a person has within themselves and others (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991). Flirting may be a behavior people use when forming a romantic attachment (Brumbaugh & Fraley, 2010). For the purpose of our study, we have observed whether there is a relationship between an individual’s self-reported security, their perceptions of flirtation and self-report of flirtation. We have recruited a sample from a Midwestern liberal arts college and they have completed a self-report measure on adult attachment and flirting along with a video perception task on flirtation cues. This study attempted to bridge the gap in the current literature between adult attachment and the recently studied psychological phenomenon, flirtation. 



Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 (P493, One Semester)

Emily Behrens

Defining the Self: A Review of Identity Stability and Change Across the Lifespan 

The current review explores existing literature on identity change throughout the life span. Specifically, Dan McAdams’ life narrative approach and Erik Erikson’s ego development approach to identity are investigated. The life narrative approach views memories as the building blocks of identity. Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development model life crises and the strengths gained from successful resolution. Both approaches have received attention by researchers, and these findings will be discussed in detail. Additionally, the autobiographical processes that contribute to the formation of identity will be covered. An area that has received little attention in the study of identity development is Erikson’s later added 9th stage, which focuses on the last years of life. The theoretical basis for this stage and related research are included in this review. Overall, the articles reviewed in this paper provide support for theories of development and reveal areas where research of identity can be improved. 

Ted Bemenderfer

An Integrative Review of Emotional Intelligence: Validity and Training

Emotional intelligence (EI) broadly refers to the ability to correctly identify both your own emotions and emotions of others.  Individual components of EI include emotion regulation, mood repair, and empathy.  While issues related to the conceptualization of EI are prevalent throughout the literature, many studies have shown that the components of EI can be improved through targeted training.  Because emotional instability is an indicator of many psychological disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, recent research on EI has centered on its potential applications amongst clinical populations.  Particularly promising studies in this field suggest that the training of EI can be effectively implemented into already existing treatment protocols and training can be beneficial for both mental health clinic support staff and their patients. 

Lauren Chen


This thesis reviews the literature on generational differences in attitudes and behavior.  Specifically, it examines the characteristics that define the Millennial generation in terms of their personalities, performance in the workplace, and their mental health. An analysis of the literature reveals that because Millennials have grown up in a more individualistic culture, they are thus more narcissistic and selfabsorbed than are members of previous generations. Additionally, research examining generational differences within the workplace indicate that Millennial workers have higher expectations from their employers, value extrinsic values more, and are more likely than past generations to switch jobs to satisfy their selfserving wants. Finally, compared to previous generations, Millennials are at a greater risk for an earlier onset of mental illnesses, a trend that might be correlated with their excessive Internet use. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Margaret Cochrane

Food for Thought: The Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Therapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders affect many people across the world. They are characterized by different kinds of maladaptive thoughts and eating behaviors and fall into three main types—anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Currently, cognitive behavioral therapy is the most commonly used treatment for individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder, but given some significant limitations, researchers have studied the success of another type of therapy that may prove to be more effective. Mindfulness-based therapy involves awareness and attentiveness to the present moment as well as responding non-judgmentally to experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Through practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindful eating, studies show that disordered eating symptoms improve significantly and that mindfulness-based therapy is an effective treatment. This review discusses empirical findings and literature that support mindfulness and why it may be a more beneficial approach to treating eating disorders than standard cognitive behavioral therapy.

Koudzo Galley

Nonverbal Communication in Athletic Competitions: Enhancement of Performance and Winning Amongst Teams

The subsequent literature focuses on nonverbal communication and its role in the realm of sports. Moreover, evidence gathered from studies related to different types of Body Morphologies (e.g., handgrip strength and facial attractiveness), Kinetics (i.e., posture and facial expressions), and Proxemics (i.e., special distance) along with Haptics (i.e., touch) are utilized to illustrate the importance and enhancing capabilities nonverbal communication has been observed to possess on athletic performance and team success. Although no one study has directly established nonverbal communication as the lone source of winning or losing in sport competitions, various researches provide evidence for nonverbal signs of increased testosterone, dominant and submissive behavior, cooperation and trust, which collectively act as one, assisting performance and overall team accomplishments.

Manmin A. Guo

Love the Workplace, the Job or Both: A Literature Review of
the Antecedents of Organizational Citizenship Behavior

This literature reviews examines the concept of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and its antecedents. OCB is a discretionary behavior that is not directly linked to rewards but promotes overall function of the organization. Its antecedents are organizational experiences that can either enhance or inhibit OCB. Studies had shown that high level of OCB can enhance gross sales and other organizational goals. The present study uses the theoretical framework of exchange theory model with an emphasis on the social and work exchange factors that contribute to OCB. The most plentiful category of OCB antecedent variables are social factors and include organizational commitment, perceived social norms, organizational support, cohesive workplace, workplace ethics, workplace ostracism and energy drainers The work factors examined include job satisfaction, job characteristics and role stressors Given that OCB enhances organizational outcomes, the paper includes recommendation for managers on how to facilitate this concept,and critique for current researches. 

 Margaret Head

 The Effects of Brand Personality on Consumer Behavior

Successful marketing strategies involving the promotion of a product often revolve around the creation of a distinct brand personality for that product. Brand personality refers to a set of human like traits that may be used to describe a brand. The current research explores how branding affects consumer behavior. In particular it examines how brand personality interacts with consumers’ personality in influencing their level of attraction and loyalty to that brand. The literature demonstrates that the congruence between a consumer’s personality and a brand’s personality strengthens the connection between the consumer and the brand. Similarly, a consumer perceives a brand personality as a way to express characteristics about themselves and increase self identity. The marketing implications of these studies include the idea that creating a unique and strong brand personality forges a robust connection with targeted consumers, and thus inspires the potential for a longlasting sense of loyalty toward that brand.

 Sashell Hunnighan  Alternative Outcomes to Experienced Trauma: The Moderators between PTSD and PTG

The purpose of this paper was to identify the causes between PTSD and PTG. The goal of this paper was to research the key factors that moderate prior events leading to posttraumatic symptoms and distinguish when the events become PTSD as opposed to PTG. I looked at various case scenarios in which the common factor that played a role in whether or not an individual develop PTSD of PTG was ruminations. More people who undergo traumatic experiences can later develop into PTG by using preferred coping methods (i.e, religion).   

 Laurel Johnson

 Beyond the Cure: Pediatric Oncology Camp Programs

Upon admission to the hospital, pediatric oncology patients enter a new and scary world of medicine beyond their years.  Leaving friends, school, and daily fun of being a kid behind, the hospitalized child becomes unable to engage in normalized developmental activities and suffers from the negative consequences behaviorally, emotionally, and psychologically.  Technological advances are improving the healthcare industry daily and alongside it, survival rates of childhood cancer are increasing and providing futures for more diagnosed children with each passing day.  With less focus on psychosocial functioning of the patient during their cancer treatment process, despite negative outcomes found, children’s needs must be met in another setting.  Therapeutic recreation programs such as camp and adventure therapy programs, provide the environmental setting that allow chronically ill youth to engage in developmentally normal activities and organic social interactions with similar others.  In this space, which many grow to call their second home, children are able to find solidarity with peers and escape from the daily stress that cancer generates in their life through the provided activities, allowing the youth with cancer to “be a kid again.”

 Blake R. Lehmann

Sleep, Dreams, and Drugs

Sleep is an essential element of life for human beings.  With sleep comes dreams, and with dreams comes world disregarding our natural laws of physics.  This paper not only examines the process of sleep, including rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, non-rapid-eye movement (NREM) sleep, and the sleep cycle but also examines dreams.  The phenomena of dreams has been attempted to be explained or understood by a number of theories presented by scientists and psychologists alike.  Several of those theories include that of  Freud's Jung's, and the Activation Synthesis Model.  Each has its own unique perspective on the process of dreams.  This paper further investigates dreams in naps, children, and across cultures.  Another important element of this paper focuses on a variety of drugs, including alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, sleeping pills, psychotropic drugs, heroin, and LSD, and their effects on one's sleep and dreams.  The research indicates that each of these drugs influence the natural pattern of sleep and can lead to abnormal sleep and dreams. 

 Cassidy Melendez  The Sexually Dysfunctional Woman: Female Sexual Myths and Limitations of the DSM-V

Sex differences in prevalence rates of sexual dysfunctions are arguably due to societal factors, versus biological. This paper illustrates the differences between male’s and female’s sexual dysfunctional behavior. First, the history of sexuality in America will first be discussed. Next, the diagnostic criteria for a sexual dysfunction and its relation to the sexual response cycle will be examined. Then, three of the four subdivisions of sexual dysfunctions that are significant in the sexual response cycle (i.e., sexual desire disorders, sexual arousal disorders and orgasm disorders) will be explained. Each subsection will start by providing an example of a major sexual disorder experienced by only men and another by only women, as classified by either the DSM-IV-TR or DSM-V, and then contradictory findings about the medicalization of a female sexual disorder will be examined. Finally, limitations presented in the DSM-V will be more indepthly explored and will be followed by cultural differences in the prevalence and representations of a sexual dysfunction.

 Emily Ojika  On the Crazy Stigma: Societal Perceptions of Mental Illness

The stigma on mental illness associates sufferers with violence and incapability. The negative stereotypes of mental illness lead to a stigma. The stereotypes serve as heuristics used for efficiency, which become harmful when inaccurately negative. Perceptions of mental illness in Africa share features similar to those in the West but also relate to the supernatural—reflecting the more spiritual nature of the cultures. Stigma is perpetuated by media representations of the mentally ill as dangerous, although actually, they are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators. Stigmatizing attitudes can be both implicit and explicit and can be independently influence behavior. Implicit biases towards can affect behavior towards the mentally ill. Internalized self-stigma in the mentally ill can affect their quality of life, exacerbate symptoms, and prevent treatment-seeking. Methods to reduce stigma that have shown benefits evoke empathy, increase education, and allow for contact with those with a mental illness.

 Clare Polega  Disorganized Attachment in Childhood: Risk Factors, Outcomes, and Interventions

The type of attachment style is significant to the development of the child.  A secure emotional attachment is most influential and beneficial to the healthy development of the child.  The majority of previous literature has focused on the behavioral and psychopathological predictions in adulthood after being classified as being one of the two types of insecure attachment in childhood—anxious and avoidant.  Less research has been conducted on the most detrimental and complex style of insecure attachment in childhood, as well as in adulthood—disorganized attachment.  In the present paper, the holistic view of disorganized attachment is presented.  This paper focuses on the behavioral outcomes portrayed during childhood in children that are assessed as being disorganized, as well as the risk factors of developing disorganized attachment, and intervention programs operative in lessening the negative effects of disorganized attachment on the development of the child.  The ending of the paper will conclude with future directions on the study of disorganized attachment in childhood.

 Faith Rolwes  The Patient-Provider Relationship and Adherence: The Effects of Technology, Provider Communication, and Usual Provider Status 

This literature review examines the impact technology and direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising has had on the patient-provider relationship and how providers can use specific communication strategies to become “usual providers,” which has been found to enhance adherence. Analysis of the literature reveals that with advancements in technology, patients have become more dependent on the Internet and DTC advertising for their health information—negatively impacting the patient-provider relationship and adherence. My review points out specifically how the patient-provider relationship has been challenged and gives two strategies, enhanced verbal and nonverbal communication, that providers can use during their health interactions to increase their likelihood of becoming usual providers to patients. By providers enhancing their communication behaviors, patients will be more satisfied and motivated to return to them in the future—increasing overall patient adherence. Suggestions for future research include investigating how technology can be used together with these strategies to increase patient adherence even further. 

Lianna Sanders

The Development of Body Image Throughout the Female Lifespan: Exposure to the “Ideal Female Body” in Western Society

In Western society, a culture in which women are pressured to fit into a narrow and restrictive mold that is the “ideal female body”, the struggle to maintain a positive body image has become a major issue in women of all ages. The rise of technology has created an environment in which women are constantly bombarded with advertisements, social media, and magazine covers displaying images of the “ideal female body”. These images can in turn become internalized, influencing women’s perceptions of their own bodies. The overexposure to these images can warp women’s perceptions of what is real. Rather than seeing the “ideal female body” as an unrealistic and unattainable depiction of beauty, women may begin to view it as common, average, and something to compare themselves to. Women’s body image can suffer as a result of this comparison between their bodies and these artificial and photo shopped images. This review of the literature attempts to reveal findings about the influence of the “ideal female body” on body image throughout the female lifespan. The three age groups under investigation include: childhood to adolescence, collegeaged, and oldaged.  The paper will then conclude with future directions and limitations.

Christa Schroedel

Emotions in Marketing: A Strategic Influence on Consumers

Consumers are constantly evaluating persuasive messages for a range of products and services. It is therefore very important for the marketers who create and deliver these messages to do so in a strategic manner in order to ultimately meet the goals of successfully influencing the behavior and/or attitudes of consumers. This paper gives an in-depth explanation of one strategy many marketers utilize: emotion elicitation. As human emotions have been found to play a central role in driving consumer behavior, an increase in research on the success of this strategy has surfaced, exploring how emotions may assist in predicting and influencing consumer behavior, attitudes, and preferences. Benefits and methods by which companies use both positive and negative emotions in their marketing strategies will be explained, followed by a thorough examination of existing research on these methods. Finally, research that supports evaluations of the effectiveness of these strategies will be explained, in addition to various factors that may emerge within consumers or the environment to influence the success of the strategy. Factors explored include affective intensity level, gender, age, social context, brand-type, and product function.  

Ellie Sheffield

Assessing the Relationship Between Poverty and Child Development

The purpose of this literature review is to provide an extensive analysis of the effects of poverty on child development. In an attempt to represent the scope of this issue, the effects of poverty are addressed via the ways in which they affect development, and organized as such. The first section addresses the cognitive and physiological effects of poverty through environmental pollutants, maternal psychopathology, breastfeeding, nutrition, and stressful life events as they affect the development of brain structures. The second section addresses socioemotional development and achievement, as it relates to school-quality, parent and teacher interactions, and potential coping and mediating factors that help with the alleviation of some of adverse effects. The paper concludes with examples of established intervention programs that provide assistance to low-income families and potential improvement of these programs. Poverty is a widespread issue characterized by detrimental effects on child development, however, with information provided in this literature review, small changes can be made in behavior and practices that can incrementally improve developmental effects. 

Prakruthi Suresh

Causes and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Literature Review

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects cognitive functions such as memory, thinking and reasoning. It is the most common cause of dementia and progresses from a mild to a severe stage at which the individual can no longer perform activities of daily living without assistance. Alzheimer’s disease not only affects the people living with it but can also take a toll on the caregivers and place a burden on the national economy. Although there is ongoing research, not very much is known about the cause; there seem to be several interacting causal factors. In this paper, I review some of the causal hypotheses such as the beta amyloid hypothesis, tau pathogenesis and the role of neuroinflammation. I also review some of the diagnostic tools currently being used.

John Uberto

The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Nature Exposure

In today's society most people spend the majority of the day indoors.  This lifestyle impacts human's psychological and physical health.  Humans adjusted to the movement indoors, however this lifestyle transition may come with negative side-effects, such as high stress levels.  These negative side effects are falsely seen as issues that should be treated with modern medicine, such as prescription pills.  This literature suggests a simple solution for combating these side effects and reducing the reliance on traditional medical treatments.  Specifically, this paper suggests nature exposure as a healthier alternative, that has shown significant results in decreasing negative psychological and physiological effects.  This review gives support to non-traditional treatments, such wilderness therapy programs, and examines why they are successful.

Natasha Wadhwa

Attitude Change in Public Health Campaigns

The following study investigated health related public service announcements and campaigns for preventative measures. The approaches for antismoking, and obesity, anti-drinking and destructive decisions were investigated with both print advertisements as well as television and audio commercials. It was found that the most effective approach to having an effect on viewers, was to induce emotion, specifically through fear of the repercussions of smoking. In an anti-obesity campaign, it was found that the most effective way of reaching a target group was to avoid the topic of obesity and not to mention it in any advertisements altogether and instead promote a healthy lifestyle. This positive approach has the most effective results with getting its message across. In anti-drinking ads again, inducing emotion and showing repercussion was the most effective approach. 

Mary Ellen Williams

Emotional Intelligence: An Investigation into the Effect of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

This literature review explores the effect emotional intelligence has in workplace success.  Success in the workplace is explored through the two concepts of job performance and leadership.  Job performance and leadership are explored in relation to a greater emotional intelligence. The review also examines ways in which emotional intelligence can be improved upon in the workplace through studies investigating leadership development, training, and meditation.  The review concludes that an individual’s future success lies in the ability to combine logical thought with emotional thought in order to understand colleagues on a deeper level that leads to an increase in leadership, high job performance, and workplace success.  Suggestions are provided for furthering research in order to develop emotional intelligence in organizations. 

Caroline Zadina

Corporate Success Lies in Positive Steps: The Role of Positive Psychology in Organizations

The purpose of this literature review is to highlight positive psychology as a lever for organizational improvement. Today’s workplace is rapidly evolving, challenging companies to stay competitive as advancements uproot traditional practices. Consequently, the relationship between employers and employees is increasingly important. Many corporations have lost sight their most valuable assets: their employees. As a result, our workforce today is more disengaged than ever. Positive psychology has surfaced as a different, yet successful way to promote the growth and well being of employees. Corporations committed to improving the workplace today can first implement positive organizational behavior (POB) as a way to instill the positive psychological states of hope, optimism, efficacy and resilience in their employees. Second, corporations can implement positive organizational scholarship (POS) as a way to revamp organizational practices to better engage employees at work. The research results suggest that the benefits of POB and POS are strong across industries and job types.