Roanoke Students & Faculty at the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists 2023 Annual Conference

The image above depicts Eddie Rygalski (left) and Dr. Buchholz (right) presenting their research during the poster session. All featured Roanoke authors included: Eddie Rygalski, Reagan Middelthon, Dr. Findley-Van-Nostrand, Dr. Carter, and Dr. Buchholz.

Over this past weekend, the Roanoke College psychology department was represented well at the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists (SSSP) 2023 Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC. Two students and three faculty members were named authors on research presented during the conference. Congratulations to all of our presenters, the psychology department commends you for your excellent research and dedication to the field. Please find their research titles and abstracts below.

PERSONALIZED ACCOUNTS OF HARM LEAD TO INCREASED EMPATHY FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE SUFFERED BECAUSE OF THE OVERTURNING OF ROE V. WADE (Raegan Middelthon, Eddie Rygalski, and Dr. Chris Buchholz) Many women have been harmed by the limitations placed on abortion after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Research in empathy has pointed to a spotlight effect, where we feel more empathy in response to personalized accounts of suffering than more generalized accounts. In this study, we randomly assigned participants to read a personalized account of a woman who suffered medical complications because of the restrictive nature of abortion access in her state, a more generalized account, or a control group. As expected, liberals expressed significantly higher levels of empathy for women who have suffered as a result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We also found a significant effect for condition, where the highest empathy was reported for the personalized story followed by the generalized story and finally the control group. This pattern held up for conservatives; they reported significantly more empathy when they read the personalized story. Women expressed significantly more empathy than men. Interestingly, women expressed high levels of empathy regardless of which story they read, while men reported the highest empathy for the personal story.

POSITIVE INTEGRATION AND ADVERSE EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH RECREATIONAL PSILOCYBIN USE: A CORRELATIONAL STUDY (Edward Rygalski and Dr. Christopher Buchholz) This exploratory study sought to determine the relationship between positive integration of the psilocybin experience, occurrence of adverse effects, dosage, and factors including age, gender, as well as a variety of other measurements. Clinical literature suggests that psilocybin, when paired with psychotherapy, is a relatively safe and effective treatment for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. As many people use psychedelics outside the clinic, we sought to determine whether predictors of adverse events and positive integration were consistent between clinical and recreational use. Using two studies, first a content analysis of online reports, and second an international survey of those with experience with psilocybin, we determined that doses greater than 5g expose individuals to increased and unnecessary risk and that a lack of trust in co-present individuals may exacerbate adverse effects. Finally, we found that those who scored higher on measures of empathy tended to also report positive integration, and those who scored lower on measures of purpose in life reported more adverse effects. However, directional causality remains unresolved.

FACT OR FICTION: DO FACIAL AUGMENTATION FILTERS ON TIK TOK IMPACT SELF ESTEEM AND PERCEPTIONS OF ATTRACTIVENESS? (Raegan Middelthon, and Dr. Christopher Buchholz) The popular social sharing app “Tik Tok” has become a cultural staple. Alongside its increasing popularity, public concern has risen over its unique hyper-realistic facial augmentation filters. Many users have claimed that these filters are facilitating the creation of unattainable beauty standards, and damaging self esteem. While work has been done exploring social media’s role in these areas, to our knowledge, the current study is the first to explore the impact of Tik Tok’s filters on self esteem and the perception of both individual and others’ attractiveness. In a series of 3 studies, we presented subjects on Prolific with women in filtered and unfiltered videos. Though many are worried that users cannot detect a filter on a video, we found that users were generally able to tell when one was being used. The presence of a filter did not impact ratings of self attractiveness. However, we discovered that men’s state self esteem was negatively affected when confronted with filtered videos; this effect was not found in women, contrary to our hypothesis. Filtered videos were also rated as more attractive, mainly due to male ratings.

SHORT-TERM LONGITUDINAL ASSOCIATIONS AMONG YOUNG ADULTS’ SOCIAL GOALS, RELATIONAL AGGRESSION, FORMS OF PROSOCIAL BEHAVIORS, AND SELF-PERCEIVED STATUS (Dr. Danielle Findley-Van Nostrand) Adolescent relational aggression (RA) is consistently related to popularity and status striving, and adolescent use of prosociality for self-gain is related to higher striving for status and peer-reported popularity, whereas prosociality aimed at benefitting others is related to higher communal motives and being liked by peers. Emerging adults also experience RA by peers, and show distinctive use of forms of prosociality. However, these peer dynamics are not well-understood in emerging adults. The present study tested whether social goals for popularity and social preference predict changes in self-reported RA and forms of prosocial behaviors (altruistic and public forms) across two time points, 8 months apart (data collected via Prolific; N=215; using existing and reliable assessments). Path modeling found popularity goals predict increases in RA and public prosociality and decreases in altruistic prosociality, whereas preference goals show the inverse of each of these associations over time. RA partially mediated effects of both popularity and preference goals at T1 on dominance at T2. Results suggest that use of RA for enhancing peer social status is not limited to adolescence.

REFLECTING ON EXPERIENTIAL PURCHASES HAS DOWNSTREAM CONSEQUENCES ON COGNITION (Dr. Travis Carter) Prior research has found that experiences tend to be more satisfying than material possessions in part because they are more closely associated with the self-concept. The present studies aim to examine whether spending some time reflecting on material or experiential purchase would impact downstream cognitive processing. In Study 1, participants who first reflected on an experience, rather than a possession, exhibited more global (vs. local) processing of stimuli on the Navon (1977) letter task. In Study 2, after a purchase reflection, participants performed an approach/avoidance task, using a joystick to categorize trait words as positive or negative. There was an interaction such that participants in the experiential condition were generally faster to categorize self-relevant traits across trial types. However, material participants were only faster to categorize self-relevant traits on the congruent trials, but not incongruent trials. Thus, the act of reflecting on a recent experiential (vs. a material) purchase had downstream consequences on cognitive tasks: participants adopted a more global mindset (Study 1) and processed self-relevant stimuli more quickly (Study 2).

Because of involvement like this, the psychology department at Roanoke College remains well-renowned. Congratulations, again, to all of our presenters!

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