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Student Research


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.

Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 (PSY493 (One Semester) and PSY 495/496 (TWO SEMESTERS)

Armas, Andrea

Marriage Satisfaction: Methods of Positive Communication and Marital Therapy

This literature review explores the effects os positive communication patterns and marital therapy on marital satisfaction. The inclusion of positive communication is brought forth by the idea that positive communication patterns will increase the amount of positive interaction and decrease negative interactions in couples. In the context of positive communication, this paper explores this area examining three different communication skills: supportive communication, empathy in communication, and nonverbal communication. Furthermore, the second part of this paper explores the effects of martial therapeutic methods, with an emphasis on Gottman’s marital therapy methods. Overall, the findings suggest that positive communication patterns as well martial therapeutic methods significantly contribute to marital satisfaction. 

Bello-Rosas, Kimberly

“Differences in the expression of Psychopathic traits by Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity”

The goal of this literature review is to examine the differences in psychopathic traits among humans as a function of gender, socioeconomic status, and race. This literature review examines in depth these three different components in the context of psychopathy. Overall, this review of the empirical research suggests that psychopathy is more pronounced in men than women, but both genders also have similar nomological networks, i.e. are related to other constructs in similar ways. It was also found that the level of psychopathy and family wealth at a young age seems to predict whether psychopathic traits increase or decrease in young adulthood. In terms of race/ethnicity, this review finds that psychopathy is similar across all ethnic groups, however psychopathy and impulsivity were more strongly related for white inmates. These findings are important in understanding the diagnosis of psychopathy in different people and for choosing appropriate intervention/treatment options. 

Chambers, Tysen

The Relationship Between Perceived Coaching Behaviors And Athlete Anxiety And Depression

Coach to player relations are frequently publicized. Within sports, the relationship between players and their coaching staff, as well as the relationship between coaches and the other coaches in their organizations can have positive, or detrimental impacts on the success of the team. Even more importantly, the relationships between coaches and players can have a detrimental cognitive impact on the player. These detrimental effects include, but are not limited to, sleep loss, anxiety, depression, a lack of self-confidence, as well as physical impacts on the players’ athletic performance. In this literature review, I will examine how coach to player relationships, specifically through three specific coaching behaviors, impact the cognition of players of varying levels of experience and skill, as well as different genders, cultures, and other societal factors. I will also address how some coaching behaviors interact with other factors that increase the probability of improved or impaired performance. Through these analyses, this review intends to show the importance of the use of suitable coaching behaviors, and will also advocate for certain coaching behaviors that have proven to be more conducive to better mental health outcomes for student athletes.

Chen, Jiamu

Effective "Evil":The Dark Triad Personality Traits and its Connections with Gender Differences, Mating Behavior, Morality, and Vocation

The Dark Triad (D3) personality traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy are often called “evil” because of their malevolent, antisocial qualities. Individuals high in these traits are less compassionate, understanding, show tendencies to be ruthless and hostile, and tend to exploit others. This thesis reviews empirical research on the connections between D3 traits and gender, mating behavior, morality, and career choice. Although the research is sometimes limited with respect to sample size and cultural settings, and relies almost exclusively on a handful of diagnostic inventories, the research does show consistent connections between D3 traits and a range of outcomes. Although men and women manifest D3 traits somewhat differently, research indicates that D3 traits are associated with human mating behaviors, morality, patterns of exploitation of others, manipulativeness, and behaviors in the workplace.

Chinni, Anna

Art and Cognition: Developing Methodologies and Theories in Neuroaesthetics

This article serves as a literature review for the developing methodologies and theories in the rising field of neuroaesthetics as well as potential future research directions. Neuroaesthetics is a recently embraced field which applies neurophysiological techniques to the study of aesthetic experience and creative thought. The article investigates visual processing patterns, the role of expertise in processing, interactions between networks and brain areas during creative tasks, and emotional engagement in aesthetic tasks to compare research techniques and findings in studies pertaining to the visual arts. Findings suggest experts in art viewing and thinking are able to switch with greater ease and efficacy between different processing patterns and use of neural networks than their non-artist counterparts. These findings suggest practice in creative thinking and art related fields may improve the brain plasticity of individuals​,​ and future research in the field may prove beneficial for understanding complex relationships between different brain networks and processing patterns.

Clark, Katherine

What Your Actions Say About You: The Influence of Nonverbal Cues in a Job Interview

This paper examines the influence of nonverbal communication in a job interview. Nonverbal communication breaks down into subcategories including cues that are heard and cues that are seen. Cues that are heard include pitch variation, speech rate, pauses, and accents. Vocal cues are often uncontrollable, but nonetheless impact how an interviewer is perceived. An applicant’s vocal cues can make them appear more trustworthy and likable. Cues that are seen break down into smiling, eye contact, and physical attractiveness, and gender. Each of these have an impact on how an interviewee is perceived by the interviewer, and if it is more likely to lead to a job offer.

DeShone, Rachel

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Cues as Predictors of Negotiation Outcomes

Negotiations are essential to business whether it is trying to sell a product, reduce the cost of a good, or receive a higher salary. The ability to negotiate effectively is critical to an individual’s and a company’s success. Parties in a negotiation want to maximize their benefits and outcomes regardless of their counterparts, as a result this can lead to deceitful behavior. During negotiations, there often is discrepancy between spoken communication and true thoughts and feelings (Lincoln, 2000). Nonverbal behavior, however, can reveal the true intentions of an individual.  Non-verbal cues convey 55% of a message’s information while the content of message only accounts for about 7% (Park et al., 2013). This literature examines non-verbal cues, specifically appearance, emotion, and mimicry, influences on negotiation outcomes. Appearance, including attraction and face-to-width ratio, can subconsciously create preconceived expectations and biases which in return influences how an individual treats another. Expressing emotions and mimicking counterparts during negotiations can convey trust between negotiating parties and influence the value and outcomes of a negotiation (Feese et al., 2012; Filipowicz et al., 2011). By better understanding non-verbal cues in negotiations, negotiators can manipulate their non-verbal cues to influence their counterpart’s perception of them. Negotiators can also be more aware of the subconscious effects of their counterparts’ non-verbal cues which can aid in reducing the influence non-verbal cues have on their decisions.

Ellis, Elexa

Emphasizing Spirituality in End of Therapy for Palliative Care Patients: Alleviating Total Pain at the End of Life

Palliative care is a field that looks to alleviate and mitigate the total pain of people at the end of their lives. In order to get rid of unnecessary suffering, it is important to account for the specific spiritual needs of people as they pass on. Despite the field of end-of-life care recognizing the importance of spiritual relativity and understanding in a patient-provider relationship, there is still some debate on what spirituality is and the implications of that. As modernization occurs and the field naturally innovates there is a need to (1) clearly define spirituality and create uniform measures of this variable and (2) create a culturally relative approach to accommodating spiritual needs. By doing so, palliative care providers can see an increase in quality of life, life satisfaction, and wish-fulfillment in their patients. Overall, as the field naturally progresses, taking time to correct these discrepancies will allow palliative care providers to fulfill the specific, unique needs of their patients whilst unanimously understanding the spiritual dimension of total pain.

Engel, Jeremiah

The Effects Of Trauma Related Aces On Child And Adult Health

The goal of this literature review is to examine how trauma-related adverse childhood events impact health outcomes later in life. Trauma is separated into three categories: acute, chronic,and complex. For the purposes of this review, chronic or prolonged trauma and exposure to different adverse events will be the central focus, although this is not to detract from the inherent complexity of trauma in general. This literature review will discuss four main components from childhood to adulthood that encapsulates the health outcomes of adverse childhood events: childhood significance and individual differences, comorbidity of disorders and negative adult health impacts, severe cases of physical trauma, and treatment. This literature review will also examine the potential of trauma informed care and future directions.

Guo, Jingting

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go Next?

The goal of this literature review is to examine 1) how gender–related stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination play a role in the workplace, and 2) what are the available intervention strategies to eliminate, or diminish the influence of gender–identity related bias and prevent the biased thoughts and actions from appearing in the workplace, and 3) to restate the importance of understanding and investigating the gender–associated diversity issues in workplace so a fair environment can be created for everyone to compete for limited resources (e.g., employment opportunities). To do so, the literature review puts forward different theories with evidence of gender–related bias beliefs and practices, reasons supporting the statement gender diversity related issues are crucial, and mediating strategies. Gender stereotypes, prejudice and discriminations were found not simply in one group, but were pervasive across different demographic groups. Intergroup contact theory, imagined intergroup contact and video interventions for diversity in STEM are considered in the context of the pervasiveness of group bias as arbitration and mitigation strategies.

LaMore, Lauren

Evolved Intuitions and Modern Social and Political Views: The Roles of Moral Foundations and the Behavioral Immune System

This literature review thesis examines how evolved psychological mechanisms are related to modern human political and social attitudes and behaviors. More specifically, the thesis examines a range of studies focusing on evolved moral predispositions, conceptualized in Moral Foundations theory, and a set of evolved implicit disease-avoidance mechanisms known as the behavioral immune system, are correlated with a broad range of political and social views, including voting, views on immigration, attitudes toward sexual orientation, and others. The evidence reviewed provides strong support for the idea that evolved implicit moral intuitions and disease-avoidance mechanisms play an important role in a surprisingly large range of modern social judgments.

Lang, Grace

Emotional Intelligence In Romantic Relationships

This literature review examines the role of emotional intelligence in romantic relationships. Particularly this review explores the roles of individual emotional intelligence elements/facets as defined by the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue) (Petrides & Furnham, 2001) and their correlates to various romantic relationship quality and satisfaction factors. Through examining various methodologies and individual emotional intelligence elements in the literature, this review supports the relationship between these elements and subsequent relationship quality differences. The literature indicates a beneficial role of positive emotional intelligence qualities in the adaptive functioning and quality of romantic relationships. This review highlights the trends of both actor and partner emotional intelligence being influential in subjective romantic relationship quality, as well as communication and problem-solving playing a key role in the expression of traits and their subsequent correlations with positive and negative relationship effects. Based on the findings presented in the study, future research may benefit from examining the effects of changes in individual emotional intelligence elements, as well as how communication between partners can regulate potential deficits in emotional intelligence.

Ma, Boyan (Naomi)

Basic Emotion Recognition From the Eye Region

Interpreting basic emotions (such as happiness, sadness, fear, and anger) from people's eyes may be a useful skill in everyday life, especially when people are obliged to wear masks due to the COVID-19 epidemic. To investigate how accurately people can interpret others' basic emotions from the eyes and what are some factors contribute to false interpretations, this paper aims to summarize related empirical studies. In this paper, general abilities to recognize emotions from the eyes among most people are discussed at the beginning as the main section, followed with three subsections, (1) the impacts of several mental dysfunctions, (2) the influence of age, and (3) the role that different cultural backgrounds play on the accuracy of basic emotion recognition from the eyes. Some major findings of this paper include that (1) most people can recognize basic emotion expressions just from others' eyes; (2) several mental dysfunctions and (3) oldness correlate to the impairments of basic emotion recognition from the eyes; (4) people in different cultures focus on different regions of faces when interpreting basic emotions from others. The conclusion of this paper re-emphasizes the main findings from the empirical studies which are included in this paper and some limitations and future research directions in this field of study.

Maenaka, Yuka

The Evolution, Universality, Functions, and Mechanisms of Romantic Love

This literature review thesis explores the nature of romantic love by examining its evolutionary origins, universality, functions, and neural/hormonal mechanisms. The thesis examines cross-cultural studies, non-human animal studies, neuroimaging studies, and genetic and hormonal studies. The research reviewed in this thesis provides clear evidence that experience of love is a human universal. Evidence also indicates that adult attachment or pair-bonding evolved as a commitment device for reproductive success, particularly in species requiring biparental care. Neuroimaging studies demonstrate that romantic love is strongly associated with brain reward systems. Studies also indicate the effects of a single gene or specific hormone on capacity and a degree of experience of romantic love, explaining individual differences.

Miller, Isabel

The Effects of Maternal Postpartum Depression on Children

This literature review investigates the effects of maternal postpartum depression on children. The review focuses on the social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development in children, as well as ways to decrease the effects of postpartum depression on children. The participants used throughout this review include mothers, teachers, and children ranging from three months to 11 years old. The children discussed in the studies were negatively affected in their social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development when exposed to maternal postpartum depression. The influential factors in these outcomes included socioeconomic status, genetics, gender, age, and environmental factors. This review displays significant but limited research on the impacts of treatment on postpartum depression. Behavioral outcomes of PPD on children could be argued to have the most empirical research, while emotional outcomes of PPD on children could be argued to have the least empirical research. Future research should focus on emotional outcomes of PPD and ways to decrease the effects of postpartum depression on children.

Minor, Adison

Competitive Sports Performance Anxiety in Elite Athletes

A large amount of research has been dedicated to competitive sports performance in athletic performance. Results from this research show that there are many external and internal factors that have an effect on competitive sports performance. Athletes who experience mental blocks during sports performance suffer from a movement disorder commonly known as the ‘yips’. The ‘yips’ have been classified into either Type I ‘yips’ or Type II ‘choking’. Athletes who experience severe performance anxiety during competition are more likely to experience ‘choking’ during performance. Research has shown that cognitive and somatic anxiety and state and trait anxiety have a large impact on competitive sports performance anxiety. Cognitive anxiety and trait anxiety are characteristics of the Type I ‘yips’, while somatic anxiety and state anxiety are categorized in the Type II ‘choking’ category. These different types of anxiety have a high potential to affect sports performance negatively, but an athlete’s self confidence and positive mindset can outweigh these negative effects. Anxiety can either facilitate or debilitate athletic performance based on an athlete’s mindset.

Rueda-Marshall, Natalia

The Associations Between Digital Media Use and Well-Being in Adolescents

This literature review thesis examines evidence for the association between digital screen use, social media use, and psychological, physical, and social well-being in adolescents. In general the literature reviewed indicates an association between excessive screen time and decreased well-being, ADHD symptoms, sleep-related issues, decreased physical activity, behavioral issues, and poorer academic performance. Many of the studies examined were correlational, but considered together make a strong case for the negative effects of overuse of digital media in adolescents and young adults. The evidence suggests that stricter regulations and limitations of digital media use may prove beneficial to adolescents and other age groups, so future research should study these implementations and their effectiveness.

Sellers, Ethan

Psychological Factors that Influence the Criminal Justice System

This literature review thesis examines the relationships between various psychological influences and the criminal justice system, especially the relationship between the public and police and factors influential during and after courtroom proceedings. In general, there has been a negative shift in the public's perceptions of the police, resulting from publicized law enforcement processing errors while on the job. In the courtroom, legal characters and jurors are influenced by various extralegal factors such as gender, age, race, sexual orientation, attraction, socioeconomic status, etc. in relation to defendant outcomes. A greater understanding of psychological factors in the justice system can facilitate reforms and improvements.

Sherfick, Sage

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Factors that Support their Relationship in Childhood Development

In child psychopathology, researchers have begun to examine the relationship between two major subjects in the field, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ACEs are traumatic events that take place before the age of 18 and include abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction. ADHD is characterized by chronic inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity and often stressful life events can trigger symptoms. Therefore, children with ADHD are at risk for exposure to traumatic environmental events such as ACEs and vice versa. This literature review will provide a better understanding of ACEs and ADHD is and their relationship will be explored along with factors that are involved. There is research that supports the effects of demographics, location, school, and family dynamics on ACEs and ADHD. The review also focuses on later life outcomes as well as how specific ACEs are correlated with ADHD. The implications of this research will also be discussed as well as future directions of this topic.

Spencer, Delaney

The Impacts of Bilingualism Across the Lifespan

This literature review thesis examines the impacts and mechanisms of being bilingual. Despite monolingualism being so common in the United States, many people throughout the world, and across history, have spoken more than one language. As demographics change in the United States, more people are bilingual and multilingual. These trends highlight the importance of understanding the impacts and mechanisms of being bilingual across the human lifespan. The current thesis reviews laboratory and applied research on the impacts and benefits of bilingualism. The evidence reviewed suggests that there are many neurocognitive benefits of bilingualism and that programs and approaches exist to facilitate bilingualism.

White, Emma

Chronic Pain and Gender Disparity

Chronic pain, commonly defined as persistent pain lasting more than 6 months, is an issue that is becoming more prevalent in the modern world. Women face chronic pain at higher rates than men. Additionally, despite higher prevalence rates, women often face disparity in healthcare regarding diagnosis, treatment, and a lower estimation of their pain by physicians in comparison to male patients with chronic pain due to cultural and social differences as well as bias. This gender disparity is due to several factors such as social bias and gaps in knowledge about the way females perceive pain, due to a lack of research regarding female health. This literature review examines gender disparity in chronic pain as well as the way these disparities reflect on gender disparity in the field of medicine.

Wolf, Amber

An In-Depth Look at the Biological Treatments of Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a prevalent condition in both the United States and the world in general. As a result, many treatments and interventions for MDD have been developed to help reduce and relieve the symptoms that are associated with MDD. Biological treatments for MDD include electroconvulsive therapy, stimulants, transcranial magnetic stimulation, antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), and ketamine. Studies have demonstrated that all of these treatments are efficacious and pose certain advantages and disadvantages for the patient. There is not one specific treatment that works for all patients but rather various effective treatments that are ideal for certain populations of people or manifestations of the disorder. Many factors need to be considered when determining which treatment will be the best fit for a specific patient. Overall, MDD is a condition that is effectively treated using multiple methods, but many of these treatments can be improved to ensure that patients are receiving the best treatment possible.

Yang, Shiqi

Two Major Negative Effects of Video Games on Behavior

Although video games can improve cognitive abilities in many ways, including improving manual dexterity, problem-solving skills, social skills, etc., the current thesis mainly focuses on two significant negative effects of video games – aggression (mainly caused by violent video games) and addiction (internet gaming disorder). Studies in the past 40 years have shown that violent video games are positively associated with aggressive traits and behaviors. More specifically, this thesis discusses the different measures of violence in video games, variation in contexts of violence (including specific contexts that trigger aggressive traits), and individual differences (gender, age, and background) in perceiving violence in video games and the outcomes of their level of aggression. In the addiction part, this thesis explains the classification of internet gaming disorder and discusses a few potential treatments. While gaming may be a beneficial coping mechanism for most people, it can also be dangerous for certain sensitive individuals. Overall, there is a positive correlation between violent video games and aggressive traits, but it is not only the violence. There are many more factors, including individual differences, the context of violence, and, more importantly, how to determine the violence. In addition, internet gaming disorder also referred to as addiction, is a severe psychological disorder that could impair essential norms like relationships, careers, and grades. However, future research based on the treatment of this disorder is still largely needed.