NEWS & EVENTS
Psychology, 2010
  • Psychology, 2010

     

     

    Effect of Mindful Meditation on Student Stress
    Amanda Belcher, Erika Curtis, Anne Malone, Brittany Seymour, Tiara Smith
    Mentors: Andrea M. Karkowski, Sharon Stout-Shaffer

    The stress of managing new responsibilities can affect the lives of college students. Students rely on different techniques to cope with stress; one method for managing stress is mindful meditation. We used four subscales of the Derogatis Stress Profile to measure the effect of mindful meditation. Using a pretest-posttest design, we compared mindful meditation to a control condition that included education about other stress reduction techniques. The control group overall had higher scores for time pressure compared to the experimental group. Also the control group’s scores for anxiety increased from pretest to posttest while the treatment group’s scores decreased. The limited amount of time to practice mindful meditation for the experimental group potentially limited the strength of the experimental manipulation. Future research could examine methods to better prepare student mentors to teach meditation techniques.

     

     

    Time is of the Essence: Analysis of Sleep and Alertness Cycles in College Students
    Nikoia Bennett-Leathers
    Mentor: Sabato Sagaria

    Each individual has his or her own cycle of sleep and alertness patterns. This cycle usually follows a circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between increased alertness and high academic performance. The study focuses on the circadian cycle of college students. This pattern can be used in conjunction to course scheduling. This study began by analyzing past research articles in conjunction with analyzing past questionnaires given to college students that assessed their alertness in their courses. The findings are expected to project the times of day during which college student are most and least alert. This presentation focuses on the data collected from college students to identify appropriate course scheduling times that could potentially boost students’ academic performance.

     

     

    Competition Between Patches in Species
    Brian Billing, Jennifer Reimer, Arlene Baker
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    Foraging is the acquisition of food by hunting, fishing or gathering plant matter. Humans used to rely on foraging for survival while today they are often provided for in matters of nutrition. Many other organisms, however, must make decisions that directly affect survival. Optimal Foraging Theory describes how an organism’s behavior affects its ability to reproduce and contribute to the next generation. We examined whether particular food patches have specific advantages over other food patches. Using Maple® we calculated the likelihood of success when foraging for food and varied the time needed to consume it and the search time. Success was greatest when consumption and search time were minimized. Foraging at distant food sources is less efficient due to the energy used traveling to the source. Our results demonstrate the optimal foraging for the patch source. Finding the most efficient patch leads to the forager making most efficient contribution to the species, provided a competitor does not deplete the patch.

     

     

    Relationships Among Proximity of Life Transitions, Egocentrism, and Perspective Taking
    Kristen Brandewie, Danielle Stanforth
    Mentors: Jody S. Fournier, Andrea M. Karkowski

    Egocentrism tends to reemerge upon the transition into college. While the focus of egocentrism is on the self, the focus of perspective taking is on understanding another person’s point of view. We examine the inverse relationship between egocentrism and perspective taking and how that relationship changes as students approach or move away from life transitions. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship among egocentric thinking, perspective taking, and proximity to a life transition. In addition, need for cognition, tolerance for ambiguity and anxiety were examined as potential mediating variables. The hypothesis was tested using a correlational research design where each participant completed survey measures of egocentrism, perspective taking, need for cognition, tolerance for ambiguity, and anxiety. They also provided demographic information, the month and year when they started at Capital, and their expected graduation date. We expect to find a curvilinear change with strongest correlations existing at the freshman and senior level when the participants are closest to the time of change. The implications of this research are discussed.

     

     

    Examining the Causes of Weight Gain in Beginning Undergraduate Students
    Rose Bussey, Ali Dent, Casey Wieck
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    Previous research and anecdotal evidence suggest that overeating, weight gain, and obesity are issues presented for first year undergraduates. The purpose of the current study was to examine any differences as a function of gender, age and residential status regarding eating habits, physical activity and stress experienced in college and if these factors affect weight gain. An online survey was created and distributed to a sample of Capital University’s student body. We expect a correlation between stress, physical activity, and eating habits and these variables correlate with the amount of weight gained. We expect weight gain in first year undergraduate students due to decreased physical activity, buffet-style dining, and increased levels of stress. A better understanding of this correlation may encourage college campuses to be proactive in addressing issues related to weight gain.

     

     

    False Memories for Pictorial and Verbal Stimuli
    Erika Curtis, Dustin Dunlavy, Hillary Brown, Allysen Sipes, Amy Chiampo
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    False memories are memories for events that have not actually occurred. False memories have been found for groups of semantically related words. Previous research has demonstrated that pictures are more easily remembered than words. The purpose of the current study is to determine if there is a difference in the likelihood of creating false memories for pictures vs. words. The hypothesis is that pictures have a higher recognition rate and lower false memory rate compared to words. Pictures and words were presented to each participant and their immediate recall was measured. Participants completed a designated activity and were tested on their ability to recognize the presented stimuli. One week later participants were tested on their recognition of the previously presented objects. Expected findings include a higher false memory for the verbal stimuli and better overall recall and recognition for pictures. The results of the current study enhance our understanding of the nature of memory in general and false memories in particular.

     

     

    The Influence on Activity Type on False Memories for Pictures and Words
    Kristyn Elliott, Kylee Cosko, Jillian Smith, Kwesi Seabrook, Demetrius Robinson
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    A false memory is defined as remembering an event that did not occur. Previous research has demonstrated that false memories can be created by presenting individuals with semantically related lists of words or pictures. The current study was designed to determine if the type of activity in which a participant is engaged influences the likelihood of creating a false memory. Participants were presented with words and pictures prior to engaging in relaxing techniques, aerobic exercise, or normal classroom activities. The number of items correctly and falsely recalled and the number of items correctly and falsely recognized were recorded. We hypothesized that the individuals exposed to relaxing techniques have the fewest of false memories, followed by the aerobic group, and lastly the control group. The study expands our understanding of the variables that influence the creation of false memories.

     

     

    Causes of Self-esteem in Children
    Mark Fuller, Katelyn Krischak, Mallory Molls
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    Many studies have attempted to find relationships between self-esteem in children and variables such as gender, socio-economic status, age, academic performance, and body weight. In regards to body weight and academic performance, the key to understanding self-esteem lies within the difference between children’s ideal self-image and their perception of their real self-image. A survey of the literature showed the results of some studies were ambiguous and conclusions of some contradicted the results of others. To sort through the studies and find common trends, a STELLA® model was created to monitor the relative sensitivity and importance of different variables. Specifically, the variable body weight was isolated in the model to try to gain greater understanding of its effect. The results demonstrate the relative importance of each variable. The outcome supports the idea that weight can play an important role in self-esteem. The results of the model should inform existing programs to help better meet individual children’s needs. The ideal consequence of the programs would be improved self-esteem, which could be best achieved when addressing each child’s unique circumstance.

     

     

    Facebook© According to Introverts
    Nicole Lehmann
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    Previous research has shown that introverts are more likely to use social networking sites (SNS) in order to enhance their personal relationships. This study attempts to answer the question of whether introverts are more likely to use Facebook© and to what extent. Undergraduate students (n = 113) completed a questionnaire that addressed Facebook© use and introversion. Expected findings for the study are that introverts have fewer friends on Facebook© and are less active, including daily time spent on the SNS, frequency of status updates, and frequency of posts on other user's walls. The development of SNS like Facebook© or MySpace© may negatively affect interpersonal relationships among college students as they distract from real face-to-face relationships.

     

     

    Alcohol and Drug Use and the Subsequent Effects on College Students
    Rebecca Neff, Danny Neth, Cherry Reyes
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    With so many undergraduate students participating in alcohol and drug use it has become commonplace. However, the negative consequences raise concern for faculty and parents. The purpose of this study is to find more information about the relationship between alcohol and drug use among college students and the subsequent impact on grade point average and stress. Data for this study were collected through a survey administered to a random selection of Capital University undergraduate students. The expected outcome was that drinking and drug use on college campuses have a negative impact on the different variables examined such as grade point average and stress. This study adds to our understanding of the impact of drug and alcohol use on college students’ academic performance and stress.

     

     

    The Effect of Length of Greek Membership on Academic Performance, Alcohol Use and Sleep Patterns
    Stephanie Pierce, Emily Sheets
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    Greek life plays an integral part in the college environment; however, many Greek societies are known for heavy alcohol use. Alcohol use has been shown to negatively impact academic performance, but little research has been conducted on what role the length of membership in a Greek organization plays on academic performance, alcohol use, and sleeping patterns. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect, if any, that length of membership in a sorority or fraternity has on academic performance, and if this effect could be related to increased alcohol use or altered sleeping patterns as a result of membership within the group. Information for analysis was gathered by means of an on-line survey administered to a sample of Capital University undergraduates. Based on previous research we expect that length of membership within a fraternity/sorority has a negative impact on academic performance. Also, alcohol consumption positively correlates with length of membership and negatively impacts sleeping patterns. This study gives us a better understanding of the relationships between length of membership in Greek organizations and the effect it has on academic performance, as well as alcohol use and sleeping patterns.

     

     

    Student Retention of Information in a College Classroom
    Rachel Rankin, Hunter Sully, Danielle Stanforth, Erica Myers, Laura Mittermaier, Andrew Belt, David Bowen, Michael Brown, Brittany Carter, Ralph Cochran, Casey Mason, Lisa Olsen, Emily Dae Porter, Schylar Ranke, Jennifer Reimer, Brittany Wells
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    To create practical solutions for educational problems, researchers identified student learning styles. Does accommodating student learning styles in the classroom really improve student performance, as suggested by the Attribute-Treatment Interaction (ATI) hypothesis? Our research question was: Is there a relationship between college student quiz performance and their learning styles? Fifteen college students completed the Inventory of Learning Styles, and their progress in a psychology course was measured via quiz grades. Verbal, active, sequential, and intuitive learners were expected to score higher than visual, global, and sensing learners, consistent with the ATI hypothesis. Findings failed to support the ATI hypothesis. Global and reflective learners scored higher than other styles. No relationship existed between quiz scores and sensing-intuitive or visual-verbal subscales. Although researchers suggested the existence of successful learning styles, more researchers need to examine whether learning styles are useful.

     

     

    Marijuana: National Epidemic or National Treasure?
    Michael J. Schilling
    Mentor: Michael Torello

    Marijuana use is becoming a national epidemic, with many people first experimenting with marijuana during adolescence (SAMHSA, 2003). Among the more than two million Americans who used marijuana for the first time in 1999, two-thirds of them were between the ages of 12 and 17 years (Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). There is a national debate about whether or not marijuana should be legalized. Some of the arguments for legalizing marijuana are its anti-inflammatory effects, anesthetic action, antiemetic effects, and anti-glaucoma effects, as well as its potential for appetite stimulation. Some of the reasons why marijuana should not be legalized are its addiction potential, the effects it has on executive functioning in the brain, and memory loss. Research findings show that marijuana does have limited medical use for cancer patients and for patients with AID’s wasting syndrome. The purpose of this presentation is to review and discuss the literature on marijuana, its benefits and risks, and whether or not it should be legalized.

     

     

    Schedule’s Effect on Academic Performance, Drinking Behavior, and Class Absences
    Amber Seymour, Andrew Shallenberger, Jacob Lundi
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    In recent years, schedules have become more and more demanding for college students. An increasing number of expectations and increased involvement in school and work life result in diminished amount of free time. The current study investigates the potential correlation between free time, drinking behavior and academic performance. The researchers in this study believe that free time has a potential negative correlation with academic performance and a positive correlation with drinking behavior. The data for this study were collected via a web-based questionnaire using SurveyMonkey© distributed to a sample of Capital University undergraduate students. Lack of free time may actually increase productivity within college students due to lack of time for procrastination. This study addresses the possible significance of the relationship between the load of a student’s schedule and social and academic life. These findings contribute to information for incoming freshmen and parents of college students by enlightening them on how variables such as free time can have an impact on their success.

     

     

    The Effect of Presentation and Activity Type on False Memory
    Brea Smith, Sarah Cassady, Megan Neubauer, Mikia Tarver, Alex Willmarth
    Mentor: Stephanie Gray Wilson

    False memory is the inaccurate recall of non- presented information. It has arisen as a problem in the fields of criminal justice and psychotherapy and has been mimicked in research conditions. This study is designed to determine how various stimuli and activities impact the creation of false memories. The research seeks to establish if activity type affects false memories produced from words and pictures. Capital University students engaging in relaxation, aerobic, or classroom activities were presented with a series of semantically related items in the form of either pictures or words. Participants were asked to freely recall as many items as possible immediately after the presentation of the items. A recognition task was given after participation in the different activities. The same recognition task was given again one week later. It was predicted that individuals have few false memories for pictures regardless of activity type. False memories for words were expected to be greatest in the control condition, followed by the aerobic condition, followed by the relaxation condition. This research should replicate previous findings while offering new insights into the conditions under which false memories occur.

     

     

    Capital University Commuter Student Satisfaction
    Abigail Taylor, Kaitlyn Kondas
    Mentors: Andrea M. Karkowski, Kimberly Ferguson

    At Capital University, support for commuter students is a growing concern. It has recently been brought to the attention of the University that commuter students require special considerations when it comes to academics and on-campus facilities. Fifty commuter students participated in the study. A survey created by the researchers was used to evaluate the participants’ satisfaction with the university; the questions were a mix of multiple choice, open-ended, and Likert-type scale ratings. Commuter students ranked their overall satisfaction with the university as adequate but not outstanding. Students do notice changes over time and if Capital University were to use this research to improve facilities and student services, commuter student satisfaction will likely increase.

     

     

    Optimal Foraging: Maximizing the Net Intake of Food
    Samantha Tracht, Kayla Johnson, Deanna Toops
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    In this paper we examine optimal foraging theory by looking at maximizing the net intake of food. There are several factors that go into a predator’s decision in searching and obtaining food such as: patch choice, encounter rate, quality of food, distance and predators. The purpose of this research is to model the time (or distance) between patches, the amount of food in each patch, and the decay rate of food in the patch, to examine the optimal time that should be spent in a patch in order to maximize the net intake of food. We formed an equation to represent the amount of food eaten in a patch over one foraging bout, giving the net food intake rate. We then use a Maple© program to optimize (or maximize) the equation to find the optimal length of time to spend in a patch. The optimal length of time to spend in a patch relies mainly on the distance or time it takes to travel to another patch; another key factor is how quickly the patch is depleted. As the distance to another patch increases the longer the optimal time spent in a patch becomes.

     

     

    Undergraduate Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ and Non Minority Students’ Attitude towards Mental Health
    Brittany A. Wells
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    Census projections for the United States for 2050 suggest that ethnic minorities will become the majority, totaling 52.3% of the United States population (Borrayo & Suinn, 2008) which means that research on minorities and the field of mental health is highly important. The purpose of this study was to examine racial and ethnic minority versus non-minority students’ attitudes towards mental health. This was studied by administering questionnaires about mental illness and mental health services to college students. It was expected that racial and ethnic minority students hold equally favorable attitudes towards mental health as non-minority students, but they use services less often. Understanding racial and ethnic minorities helps to better serve an understudied population, and college student represent an important generation as they are the next group of adults.

     

     

    Energy Drinks and Their Effects on Short-Term Memory in College Students
    Sophia Whitehouse
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    Caffeine has been demonstrated to improve reaction time, cognitive performance, physical endurance, and short- and long-term memory. Although the effect of caffeine on these factors has been studied extensively, research on the combination of ingredients contained in functional energy drinks is lacking. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a popular functional energy drink significantly increases short-term memory retention in college students. Students consumed either one serving of an energy drink, one serving of a caffeinated soft drink, or one serving of a caffeine-free soft drink. Thirty minutes after consuming the beverage, students were given a memory test.

     

     

    The Developmental Effects of Lead, Manganese, and Rearing Conditions on Behavior of Rats
    Faith Williams, Douglas Dembinski, Abbey Vandersall, John Weston, Devon Graham, Charles Vorhees, Michael Williams
    Mentor: Andrea M. Karkowski

    Many studies in both animals and in humans have shown that lead (Pb) and manganese (Mn) exposure during development is detrimental, particularly in terms of learning, memory, and other behavioral outcomes. Stress, in combination with Pb and Mn exposure, may exert additional deleterious effects on neurodevelopment through a common mechanism of action or by causing cumulative negative outcomes (Cory-Slechta et al., 2008). The purpose of this study was to determine if developmental exposure to a stressor (impoverished environment), Pb, and Mn would result in behavioral and learning deficits in adulthood. Rat pups were gavaged with either 10 mg/kg lead (Pb) only, 100 mg/kg manganese (Mn) only, combination of Pb and Mn (Pb/Mn), vehicle for the Pb/Mn combination (VEH), distilled water (H2O) and a handled control every other day. Then the rats were behaviorally tested with the Cincinnati Water Maze (CWM) task (path integration) and the Light/Dark Exploration (anxiety/fearfulness). The developmental exposure to an impoverished environment, as well as Mn and Pb/Mn, resulted in increased anxiety in the light/dark task and increased learning deficits in the CWM. The data suggest that primarily chronic stress, and to some extent Mn exposure, cause significant impairment to cognitive development and learning.

     

     

    Cheers: Exploring the British Culture
    Kaitlin Winter-Eulberg
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Kenneth Roshong

    Cheers is a word that is used in Britain as a catch-all statement for thank you, welcome, and goodbye. This word is the beginning of the cultural differences that I encountered while studying abroad in London for a semester. Study abroad experiences are important in learning about other cultures and understanding oneself. I value my study abroad experience because I was able to immerse myself into a diverse community, understand the politics and routines of the British, and explore Europe from a student’s perspective. I studied at Goldsmiths in the Southeast side of London. My experiences varied from attending lectures and talking to students about their lives in Britain to riding transport to visit museums or hang out in a pub. I was fortunate to travel to Scotland, Wales, France, Spain and Germany during my three and a half month stay in Europe. The richness of culture and value of understanding other cultures is something that I found quite prevalent in Europe. The richness of Europe’s history gives European’s a different sense of knowledge and wealth that Americans could learn and appreciate. The opportunity to study abroad is something that all students should consider because of the benefits and insight that a person can get from living in a different culture.