Category Archives: Classes

CONGRATULATIONS TO RACHEL HARMON AND DR. POWELL!

© Rachel Harmon

This past summer Rachel Harmon was selected as a recipient of the 2018-2019 Summer Mamie Phipps Clark Diversity Undergraduate Research Grant from Psi Chi, the international psychology honorary, where she spent several weeks in Mexico working on her project titled, “Cross-Cultural Comparison of Caregiver Concerns and Resources for Children with Disabilities.” 

Rachel Harmon was in the list of top 11 applications and so Dr. Powell was awarded a faculty stipend as well. 

A brief interview was done with Harmon to learn more about this project and process: 

Thank you for taking time to answer some questions, to start off, can you describe what the grant process was like and how you discovered it?  

I began the grant application process in December of last year but ended up not submitting the grant until the May due date. I heard about the grant through Dr. Powell, who recommended applying, and advised me throughout the process. The grant required me to provide a concise version of my Literature Review and a brief Methodology section, and all the scales that I would use. I found that the grant helped me to determine the specific methodology I would use for my project and helped me to determine the specific scales that I would use. 

Can you tell me more about your project?  

The title of my project is “Cross-Cultural Comparison of Caregiver Concerns and Resources for Children with Disabilities”. I have collected both observational and quantitative data in both Mexico and the United States to compare the resources that are available for children with disabilities in each country and how this impacts caregiver stress levels and the emotions they feel, regarding caring for their child with a disability. I originally got the idea for my project when I traveled to Nicaragua the summer before my freshman year. While I was walking through a market in Managua, I saw a woman who was working and had her daughter who had a disability in what we would consider a baby stroller. I have worked a lot with individuals, specifically with children with disabilities and developmental delays, and I was naturally compelled to investigate the topic further.  

What drew you to Mexico for this project?  

I was originally supposed to return to Nicaragua for my project, but due to the current political environment, it was not ideal for travel. Jesse Griffin, who serves on the committee of my project knew of several connections that our college has with research facilities and other institutions in the Yucatán. One of the facilities was conveniently across the street from a Centro de Atención Múltiple, which is a government funded special education school, which was a great resource for collecting observational data and distributing surveys.  

 What did a normal day look like for you in Mexico as you worked on this project?

© Rachel Harmon

For the first month I spent in Mexico I was in Oxkutzcab, which was a small, rural town. This was where the C.A.M. school was. Each weekday I would go to the school at 7:30, and I would rotate which classroom I was in each day. The school has seven classes serving student from ages 2-28. Depending on which classroom I was in, I would either observe the class, and participate in class activities, or work one on one with students who needed more individualized attention. The school days in Mexico only last from 7:30 to 12:30, so in the afternoons I would explore or relax, and work on other research tasks.  

I spent the second month in the capital of the Yucatán, Mérida. Here, I was working with an internationally run non-profit called SOLYLUNA. The organization provides special education opportunities and access to physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy for children who have a diagnosis of multiple disabilities and their caregivers. The dynamic of the organization was very different than the C.A.M. school, so it was an adjustment. The organization requires that a caregiver accompanies the child for the full day from 7:30-1:30. My job as a volunteer was to assist the parents when needed, and to observe the teachers and therapists. I also worked with the volunteer coordinator and director of the organization to create a document about potential resources to provide for caregivers, and I took pictures for them to use for promotion purposes. Since I was now in a larger city there was a lot more to explore in the afternoons, and I enjoyed travelling on the weekends.  

You mentioned that you had opportunities to explore while in Mexico, what was the coolest place you visited/most favorite?

© Rachel Harmon

I did have a lot of time to explore while I was in Mexico, especially on the weekends. I enjoyed exploring nearby towns and venturing further to other landmarks. I think my favorite place I traveled to while in Mexico was Isla las Mujeres. This was an island off the coast of Cancún, where we were able to hear lots of live music, enjoy the beach, and go snorkeling. I met a group of other students from Millsaps College, in Mississippi while I was there, and I enjoyed traveling with them and meeting them at different places on some weekends.   

If given the opportunity would you go back and work, there again?  

© Rachel Harmon
© Rachel Harmon

Absolutely! While I was there, I formed a lot of connections with the kids, caregivers, teachers and therapists that I was working with and I would love to see them again (I miss them a lot)! It was hard to leave such amazing people, and such an amazing place.   

 Is there anything else you would like us to know?  

Overall, my experiences in Mexico taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I especially learned a lot about collecting data in another culture, which is an experience I consider myself lucky to have had at this point in my academic career. Whether it is through research, or a different study abroad program, I highly recommend spending time in another country to everyone, because it allows you to learn so much about yourself and the world.  

Congratulations again to Rachel Harmon and Dr. Powell and thank you for taking time to answer some questions!

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JOIN DR. POWELL AT THE MAY TERM TRAVEL EXPO THIS THURSDAY!

Are you interested in taking a class in another part of the world? If so, come out to the Ballroom this Thursday, September 5 between 12 – 1 pm to hear about the awesome May Term Travel courses being offered this coming spring! Dr. Powell will be there sharing information on the course she is teaching, IL 377: Emerging Adults in Thailand – A Cross-Cultural Society, which counts as an elective for those in the Human Development concentration but is also a wonderful opportunity for all those interested in human development. Other faculty will be sharing about their courses that are also being offered as well!

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10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress: College Edition

Dr. Osterman’s social psychology class was tasked with creating “Buzzfeed-Style” research articles on a social psychological topic. Throughout the semester students worked in groups to build empirical evidence through peer reviewed sources to bust myths and increase knowledge of social psychology concepts on a colloquial level.

Please enjoy the first in a series of social psychology articles, written by Alice Chandler, Casey Jo Gough, Kayla Hogan, Tesa Ingram, and Mattie Joseph.

10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress: College Edition is a helpful read as we approach finals week, enjoy!

Written by Casey Jo Gough ’20 and contributed to by Brittney Rowe ’20

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College is stressful, like, REALLY stressful. Getting zero hours of sleep and chugging 5 mugs of black coffee aren’t going to help. You won’t have time to research how to minimize stress through effective coping especially since you still have to write that paper due at midnight, so we did it for you.

Pitch Perfect / Via GIPHY

Interested? Click below to learn more.

10 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress: College Edition

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Summer 2019 Course Offerings

Want to get ahead or catch-up? Just want to take an interesting course? You might be interested in taking a summer course.

The psychology department is offering five different summer classes in 2019. The prospective courses are: Abnormal Psychology, Drugs & Behavior, Positive Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Personality Psychology.

If you are interested, let your advisor know!

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Studying in Perugia, Italy: Hayley Mulford ’20

To start off, can you tell me a little about you?

I am a junior and psychology major. I am in Chi Omega and do research with Dr. Osterman. I volunteer with Best Buddies and the Salem Food Pantry.

Where did you study abroad? Why did you choose to study there and what was it like? Was it different from what you were expecting?

I went to Perugia, Italy. I chose this place to study Amanda Knox but it didn’t end up happening. It was a smaller city, so I was very immersed in the culture. The people were super friendly. The Umbra Institute gave a much heavier work load [than I was expecting], but it kept me prepared for returning to Roanoke.

What were some of your favorite moments while abroad?

Being able to travel all around Italy and see every part. When you travel to different parts of Italy it is almost like you entered a different country. I also loved visiting Amsterdam.

What were you most worried about in terms of studying abroad?

Being able to go all the places I wanted while still handling the work load.

Did anything happen that you weren’t expecting? Were there any moments that particularly struck you while abroad? Tell me about them.

The public transport could be a little iffy, so sometimes a bus or train would be missed. The difference in culture struck me because Italians are much more laid back and collectivist than America.

What did you learn while abroad? This is not limited to just coursework (though certainly talk about the types of courses you were able to take) but also about the culture or cultures you interacted with and, cheesy as it is, yourself as well.

I learned a lot about organizational behavior psychology, which I never thought I would. I learned I like laid back culture, but it is annoying when I am in a rush and no one else is.

The courses I took were: Criminal Behavior, Human Development in Culture, Organizational Behavior, Italian Immigration, and Italian.

What do you miss the most?

The food and the welcoming people I saw all the time. Just the atmosphere in general.

Tell me about your plans for the future. How will you apply what you learned while abroad to help you?

I think I can use the way that I adapt to any culture extremely well as a tool for applying to different jobs and higher education. I may even continue my higher education in another country.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in studying abroad?

You should do it and not make excuses for it.

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Emily Townley in Perugia, Italy

Emily Townley ’20 in Switzerland

Emily Townley is one of the three psychology students who studied in Perugia, Italy last semester. During her study abroad experience, she was able to travel to Switzerland and Venice, engage Italian school children in English language learning through fun games during her class’s field trip, go paragliding, eat some truly delicious food, meet some incredible people, and all around have a fantastic experience abroad (except for that one trip to the hospital in the beginning). Read on to learn more about her experience abroad. Enjoy!

To start off, can you tell me a little about you?

I am a Psychology major with an Art History minor. I’m in the Honors Program and part of Psi Chi. I’m originally from Richmond, Virginia.

Where did you study abroad? Why did you choose to study there and what was it like? Was it different from what you were expecting?

I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy. If the name sounds familiar to you, it might be because the Amanda Knox trial happened there. Luckily no drama like that occurred while I was there.

I never planned on studying abroad in Italy. In fact, I was looking more at Northern European countries like the Netherlands or Denmark since I had already been to Italy. However, when I saw that the Umbra Institute (the school I studied at) offered a multicultural psychology program, I began considering it more seriously. After looking up pictures of the gorgeous town, I decided that this was where I was meant to be.

Overall, Perugia met my expectations of being a charming, Italian hilltop town. If I had to pick a way that it was different from what I was expecting, it was much livelier than I expected it to be. When I had gone to Italy before, my favorite places were the smaller towns like Siena, rather than the hustle and bustle of cities like Rome. However, I did fear that Perugia would get to be too quiet and I would begin to get stir crazy. That never happened though! The hardest part of the small-town life was that if I ever wanted to fly somewhere, it was a three-hour train ride to the airport, but I got used to that.

What were some of your favorite moments while abroad?

One of my favorite moments while abroad was when my friends and I went to lunch in Cortona, Italy. Cortona was only an hour train ride away from Perugia, so it was a great opportunity to see some of Tuscany (also one of my friends loves the movie Under the Tuscan Sun which takes place there).

It was about 2:00 pm when we arrived which was a bit late for lunch in Italy and we were very hungry, so we just went to the first place that was still open. And what a place it was! When we first sat down, we were given fresh prosecco which immediately clued us in that this was no ordinary restaurant. After ordering, we were then brought fresh, warm bread rolls and then a small, artfully plated bowl of pea soup. Our entrees were then brought out and none of us could talk because we were just so amazed at how good the food was. Finally, we ordered dessert which was the grand finale of our fabulous meal. I ordered an apple pastry which was presented inside of a chocolate dome which then had melted chocolate poured on top of it to reveal the pasty in the shape of a rose. At this point, our friends and I were almost screaming in delight. The rest of our day we couldn’t stop talking about how surprising the meal was and how it was the best dining experience we had ever had.

Paragliding in Switzerland

Another one of my favorite moments happened during my solo trip to Switzerland. I had wanted to go see the Alps for a very long time but had tried to keep a realistic mindset that I might not make it out there while abroad. Flights were expensive and my schedule was already busy; I figured it was a lost cause. However, the planets aligned in the end, and though I had to go alone, I managed to find some train tickets that would take me to a town right in the heart of the Swiss Alps: Interlaken. While there were many magical moments that happened while I was there, like watching the sunset from the Harderkulm and paragliding, probably the most striking moment was when I was in the mountain top town, Mürren. It’s only accessible by cable car which made it feel like it was almost out of a fairy tale because of the lack of cars. It’s hard to describe exactly how it felt to be so high up in the mountains and to see the snow-capped summits of the Alps in person. In some ways, it was the most peaceful I’ve ever felt.

What were you most worried about in terms of studying abroad?

Honestly, I was very scared about not making friends. I went to camp for three weeks every summer when I was younger and never really connected with anyone despite going for five years. I was very nervous the same thing would happen again, except this time I would be stranded in a different country for four months with no one to hang out with. Luckily, those fears were unfounded! I formed some great friendships while I was abroad with some wonderful people that I hope I get to travel with again in the future.

Did anything happen that you weren’t expecting? Were there any moments that particularly struck you while abroad? Tell me about them.

There was certainly one thing that happened that I was not expecting. That would have to be my five-day stint in the hospital my first week there. I arrived on Friday and by Wednesday I found myself in an Italian ER with a stabbing pain in my side. That pain turned out to be a kidney stone! Once I was in the hospital and on pain medicine it wasn’t as scary anymore but [everything] leading up to that point was quite stressful. My mom was ready to drop a few thousand dollars to fly over to be with me (and thank God she didn’t). The care I received in the hospital was phenomenal and I was lucky enough to have another girl in my study abroad program there with me for some of the time so I wasn’t alone (she had a seizure on the bus ride from the airport :O).

What did you learn while abroad? This is not limited to just coursework (though certainly talk about the types of courses you were able to take) but also about the culture or cultures you interacted with and, cheesy as it is, yourself as well.

Something that makes the Umbra Institute different from some other study abroad programs was their emphasis on the “study” portion of the phrase. For many people, they would find this annoying, and I definitely did at times too when I just wanted to travel, but I couldn’t because I had an Italian exam or another field trip to Assisi. However, I’d say it was definitely beneficial in the end. It has made the transition back into Roanoke a little smoother because it’s not like I took a whole semester off.  Also, all the classes I took were really interesting and taught me a lot! I took two art history courses to go towards my minor and two psychology courses to go towards my major. While the art history courses were interesting in their own right, I’ll just talk about the psych courses considering this is a psychology blog post.

Left-to-right: friend, Dr. Kessenich, and Emily Townley

The two courses were Human Development in Culture and Criminal Behavior. They were both taught by a wonderful professor, Doris Kessenich, who was a joy to learn from given her experience in the fields she was teaching. Our class sizes were very small (maybe eight people) so they would be extremely discussion based, which normally would worry me, but I just felt so comfortable in her classes that I participated a lot. We even took a surprisingly fun field trip to an Italian middle school as part of the Human Development class where we got to help the kids with their English skills by playing games like Heads Up.

On a more personal level, I learned to be a lot more independent. Before studying abroad, I had concluded there was no way I would ever travel by myself. My friend, Becca, had studied abroad the semester before in Spain and had sworn by traveling by herself, but the prospect scared me. I was worried I would get lost or miss a connecting train or flight or a multitude of other world ending catastrophes. But, when push came to shove, my desire to travel to Switzerland outweighed any of my previous fears. And when everything went smoothly in Switzerland, I found myself doing it again to go to Venice on my own. While there were definitely some aspects of traveling alone that annoyed me (mainly not having anyone to take pictures of me at sites so having to rely on strangers/selfie sticks/self-timers), there were also some huge upsides! I got to make my own schedule, got to decide exactly what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it, and I was able to make more spontaneous decisions that I could never make when traveling with other people.

What do you miss the most?

The ease of travel is definitely something I miss a lot. Things are a lot cheaper in Europe, more efficient, and closer together. For just $50 and about five hours of your time, you could find yourself in a completely different country and culture. Back home, you could drive for five hours and still be in Virginia.

I also miss the friends I made abroad. Luckily, my program was for American students, so all my friends live in the U.S., but we’re still pretty far out. Just in my friend group there was someone from California and another from Minnesota, so it will be hard to see them in person in the future. Thank God for technology though!

One last thing I definitely miss is this pasta I would get all the time in Perugia. It was called Pasta alla Norcina and I always got it at this one restaurant called Ferrari. While there were many other delicious foods I had while abroad, this will definitely be what I miss the most, especially because it was a specialty to the area.

Tell me about your plans for the future. How will you apply what you learned while abroad to help you?

In my Human Culture in Development class we learned about the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. My final paper for the class, I wrote about how I believed I developed along this model. By the end of my study abroad experience I believe I had reached the Adaption stage, which is when one is able to behave and think in ways that are in line with the new culture. In other words, I think I learned how to be more culturally sensitive and how to adapt better when in other cultures. In the future I hope to find my opportunities to travel and I hope that I can be able to adapt more easily to new cultures because of my time abroad.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in studying abroad?

Don’t be afraid to travel on your own. Making friends isn’t as scary as you think because everyone is nervous about making friends, just be yourself and you’ll find your crew. It might depend on the program, but remember it is called study abroad so be prepared to actually do some schoolwork. Savor every moment, it goes by faster than you think.

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A Longer Look: Alina Marino ’20 in Perugia, Italy

As a follow-up to the previous article “A Quick Look: Alina Marino in Perugia, Italy” , Marino ’20 expands on her experiences studying in Italy in the fall of 2018. In addition to describing some of her favorite experiences, she also provides advice for those looking to study abroad in the future. In particular, Marino discusses the importance of finding a country that most closely aligns with your personality, lifestyle, and habits; she also discusses her experiences with culture shock.  

To start off, can you tell me a little about you?

I am a junior with a double major in psychology and criminal justice. I am from Long Island, NY. I am a member of Psi Chi, Alpha Phi Sigma, and Xi Theta Chi. I am also a sister of Alpha Sigma Alpha.

Where did you study abroad? Why did you choose to study there and what was it like? Was it different from what you were expecting?

I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy. I chose the country of Italy for my studies because I had previously taken Italian for six years and wanted to be able to improve my speaking skills. I specifically chose Perugia because out of the places in Italy to study abroad that Roanoke works with, the Umbra Institute (in Perugia) had the best options for psychology classes.

Italy is a beautiful country. It is one of those places you can feel how old everything is. The culture and way of life there is extremely laid-back. It was a little different than I expected, since I did not realize how regional everything is. For example, in Umbria (the region I was in), you can basically only find traditional Umbrian food. Pride in your specific region is a huge part of Italian culture.

What were some of your favorite moments while abroad?

As someone with a deep appreciation for food and cooking, most of my favorite memories revolve around food. My favorite memory is when my best friend Hayley and I took a weekend trip to Bologna. Bologna is known in Italy as one of the best places to eat, so I was very excited. Compared to other cities in Italy, like Rome or Venice,

Bologna is less of a tourist destination. It was less crowded than some of the other places I visited so I felt like I was really able to get more of a “true” Italian experience. We spent the weekend eating regional food, drinking the local wine, and exploring the city.

What were you most worried about in terms of studying abroad?

I was mainly worried about how much I would miss my friends and family.

Did anything happen that you weren’t expecting? Were there any moments that particularly struck you while abroad? Tell me about them.

I did not expect to have culture shock as bad as I did. I had looked into Italian culture, but it still did not prepare me as much as I would have liked. Before going away, I didn’t really think culture shock was that big of a deal, but it is. I am a very type “A” person and that does not really work in a place where you live life day-to-day and carefree.

What did you learn while abroad? This is not limited to just coursework (though certainly talk about the types of courses you were able to take) but also about the culture or cultures you interacted with and, cheesy as it is, yourself as well.

While abroad, I took three psychology courses; organizational behavior, human development in culture, and criminal behavior. My OB class was taught by an American that had been living in Italy for over ten years. It was interesting to see his perception of OB from a multicultural lens. My other two courses were taught by a German that had been living in Italy for over twenty-five years. Her view of development in culture was intriguing because she had multiple cultural backgrounds that were blended into one.

The biggest thing I learned about myself is that I will not step out of my comfort zone if I do not need to. I already had somewhat of an idea that I was like this but being in a completely new country helped to reinforce this.

What do you miss the most?

The food! Hands down.

Tell me about your plans for the future. How will you apply what you learned while abroad to help you?

My plans for the future are to go to graduate school for forensic psychology. Studying abroad did not change or impact this decision. However, studying abroad did solidify that I will be living in America. Being in Italy made me realize how grateful I am to live in America.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in studying abroad?

My advice to students studying abroad is to know yourself – look into various countries and see what you think would work best with your personality. Don’t just study abroad in a place because everyone says it is beautiful (that’s where you go vacation!!). By picking a country that values the same things you do, I think it would help alleviate some of the culture shock you may experience. Do not feel guilty that you aren’t having the “most amazing time” like everyone claims to have. Everyone is different and your feelings about the experience – good, bad, somewhere in between – are still valid and acceptable.

Something I personally did when I was feeling down is remind myself of the amazing opportunity I had. Living in a different country is something not a lot of people can say they have done. Even if in the moment you are miserable, you will be able to look back fondly on your time and how much you have grown as an individual.

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A Quick Look: Alina Marino in Perugia, Italy

Student Alina Marino, a Psychology and Criminal Justice major, briefly discusses the highlights of her experiences studying abroad in Perugia, Italy below. 

Image result for perugia italy

Name: Alina Marino

Where I studied: Perugia, Italy

Courses: Human Development in Culture, Organizational Behavior, Criminal Behavior [to name a few].

Favorite memory: My best friend and I studied abroad together so there are a lot of memories to choose from! However, I would have to say the best time I had is when we took a girls trip to Bologna, Italy. We spent the weekend tasting the local delicacies and touring the beautiful city.Related image

Application: One of my professors abroad is a Forensic Psychologist, which is the field I would like to get into. She was able to tell me personally some of the daily tasks forensic psychologists do which was helpful to me.

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Thank you to Alina for giving us a brief look into your experience abroad! It sounds like you had an incredible time in Italy. 

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Are Our Beloved Smartphones Actually Making Us Miserable?

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This is the final blog post created by students in Dr. Carter’s Fall 2018 Social Psychology course. It was written by Jackie Hernandez, Shannon Snyder, Autumn Kempf, and Saul Pineda-Torres.

“Hey, wyd rn?”

“Omw to see the bf IRL!! I’ll keep you updated!”

Have you ever been in this situation? Out to dinner but still trying to keep up with all your friends? Have you ever stopped to think your phone is getting in the way of hanging out with people “irl” (that’s “in real life” for those who aren’t up to date with the texting lingo)?  Ryan J. Dwyer, Kostadin Kushlev, and Elizabeth W. Dunn set out to examine how the ubiquitous smartphone impacts social encounters [in their study]. Does phone usage reduce or add to the enjoyment of your interactions? 

There have been plenty of studies showing the negative impact of phone use in situations like driving and learning, but until now, no studies have actually manipulated smartphone usage in social interactions. Past studies have proven that smartphones cause people to be distracted which, theoretically, could mean the use of smartphones decreases enjoyability in social experiences. 

The experimenters invited groups of 3 to 5 friends or family members to a local restaurant to participate in a study about “dining out experiences.” The groups were then randomly assigned to be either “phone” or “phoneless” groups. They were implicitly manipulated by being asked, after placing their order, to either answer a text survey (phone group) or a paper survey (phoneless group). The participants in phoneless groups were asked to put their phones on silent in a container on the table. Both groups obviously had the option to use their phone since no one was told they couldn’t. The significant difference was that the participants in the phone groups were explicitly asked to use their phone early on to respond to the survey. 

The participants were deceived about the true nature of the experiment to ensure the most naturalistic results possible. When the meal was finished, participants were then questioned via iPad (for privacy) about social connectedness, interest, enjoyment, distraction, and boredom. The researchers also measured how much the participants actually used their phones. The whole meal was recorded, so the researchers could break down total phone usage into percentages. Participants in the phone groups used their phones for an average of 11% of the meal, while participants in the phoneless groups used their phones for an average of only 1% of the meal. So, while the phoneless group wasn’t completely phoneless, these participants used their phones significantly less than that in the phone group. Participants in the phone group reported being more distracted, having less interest and enjoyment, and being more bored than the participants in the phoneless group. This data allows the researchers to conclude that distraction caused by phone use does hinder enjoyment. In other words, using phones while eating out with friends could ruin our chances of fun.

The results indicated that participants under the phone condition were more distracted and in response reported lower interest and enjoyment levels, and higher levels of boredom. Since whether phone use led to distractions or distractions led to phone use cannot be proven through the first study, the researchers set up Study 2. Study 2 was an extensive survey asking people about situations other than just eating out with friends or family, which allowed more general conclusions to be drawn. People reported that using phones overall cause distractions which lead to less interest in their daily interactions. 

The irony of this research is that we think our phones keep us linked to the world, when actually phone usage undermines the social connectedness we feel when spending time with other people. The experiment was relatively small and further research should be done, but it does seem to indicate that this amazing piece of technology lessens the enjoyment we get out of spending time with friends and family. The researchers did fail to examine whether the personality or mood of the participants could have played a role in the results. In the future, researchers should ask the participants before the meal if they are looking forward to it. If they are not, they are likely to be more bored and could possibly resort to their phones to fill in the entertainment gap. 

To summarize the relevance of this experiment, enjoy your life! Put your phones away and soak up the face-to-face conversations with those you love. Because we are so used to communicating through technology, we have to distinguish when we are doing something “irl”. Social media can wait; work can wait. Put away the technology and engage in the world around you. You’ll enjoy it more—trust us, the research says so!

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A Blog Post by Samantha Luby, Grace Page, Vanessa Pearson, and Amy Smith

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The fourth post from Dr. Carter’s Fall 2018 Social Psychology course, this post was written by Samantha Luby, Grace Page, Vanessa Pearson, and Amy Smith. ___________________________________________________________________________

When talking about stereotypes and placing someone in a specific group, we do not tend to think about gender differences in children when it comes to performance in different school subjects. We do not necessarily think that gender may affect final scores, specifically in reading, but it does. In this experiment, the authors set out to find data that shows there is implicit reasoning for why girls outperform boys in reading. Overall, the authors are focused on the stereotype that girls perform better in reading than boys and how that affects the boys reading scores.

Within this experiment, students were chosen from four classes among a group of public schools. The kids took a reading test designed to measure their recognition and comprehension of written words in a normal classroom setting. Experimental conditions were implemented in the classrooms, and all of the students were assigned to either the stereotype threat (ST) condition or the reduced-threat condition. In the ST condition, the experimenter, posing as a reading teacher, told the students that their task was to take a reading test that was designed to evaluate their “ability in reading”. In the reduced-threat condition, the experimenter, posing as a game designer, told them that their task was to play a game in which they had to underline as many animal names they could from a list in three minutes. After the test, the kids had to answer questions about the test, as well as how important reading was to them.

The ultimate findings of this experiment showed that stereotype does, in fact, play a part in boys’ reading performance in school. When looking at the results from the stereotype threat condition, girls performed much higher than boys in reading due to the boys’ perceptions of the stereotype that they tend to do more poorly. Under the reduced-threat condition, however, there was no strong evidence that boys and girls performed differently in the reading assessments. This demonstrates that within a traditional setting, boys are strongly affected by the reading gender stereotype, particularly when in a stereotype threat condition, such as taking a reading assessment. The presence of this stereotype therefore does produce poorer reading results in boys.

Although some may argue that the boys’ underperformance on reading tasks are due to the lack of motivation, the findings of this study suggest otherwise. Highly motivated boys still underperformed in reading in the threat condition. This led the researchers to believe this reading difference between genders is because boys are fearful of confirming the stereotype regarding their gender group and reading. These perceptions the boys had because of the stereotype influenced their psychological processing, ultimately affecting how they performed on the reading task. In the threat condition, simply being aware of the stereotype resulted in poorer performance. On the other hand, in the non-threat condition, the boys were not thinking about the stereotype, allowing them to perform better on reading tasks.

The main issues present within this experiment are components the researchers failed to consider when making general statements about the effects of stereotype threat in children’s reading performances. For example, the researchers claim that from this experiment, it is evident that stereotype threat largely affects learning and performance in most, if not all, classrooms. This is problematic because they are basing this assumption off their study examining only four different classes, all of which were third grade classrooms from three different public schools in France. Before they make blanket statements such as this, the researchers need to consider who their experiment truly applies to and who it does not. The results of the experiment could vary based on: public versus private schooling, the language children are reading, the country/location the schools are in, the grade level that is being tested, and the number of classrooms that are tested.

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Citation: Pansu, P., Regner, I., Max, S., Cole, P., Nezlek, J. B., & Huguet, P. (2016). A burden for the boys: Evidence of stereotype threat in boys’ reading performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 65 (26).

The Gift That Gives Back: How Being Kind Makes You Happier

Image result for aesop meme no act of kindness

The third blog post from Dr. Carter’s Fall 2018 Social Psychology class is titled The Gift That Gives Back: How Being Kind Makes You Happier and was written by Kira Hunt, Yuri Chikada, Holly Garrett, and Jacob Plaster. Enjoy!

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Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Even the smallest acts of kindness (e.g. holding the door open for someone) don’t go unnoticed by the receiver of the action. It is also a reason that those who ask for help say that even the smallest bit helps. However, those it helps doesn’t just stop at the receiver of the act. One might even say that it makes people feel good to do good, specifically when performing acts that help either a family member, friend, or even a stranger.

Recent studies have examined the causal relationship between acts of kindness and well-being or happiness. In a systematic review and meta-analysis titled “Happy to help?” social psychology researchers Oliver Scott Curry, Lee A. Rowland, Caspar J. Van Lissa, Sally Zlotowitzd, John McAlaney, and Harvey Whitehouse analyzed twenty-seven experimental studies that tested the hypothesis that kindness causes wellbeing.

Common methods of the studies included asking participants to perform either a set number of acts of kindness or spend a given amount of money on others. For example, in one study, participants were asked in the following week to perform at least five acts of kindness per day and report not only the act but the responses of the recipient. They were then asked to self-report measures like happiness on scales. Some studies had control participants do nothing, others had the participants act kindly in a non-social activity, while some participants were asked to help themselves. For example, for prosocial purchases (i.e. spending money on others), the control was spending money on themselves.

The researchers found evidence proving their hypothesis of acts of kindness improving the wellbeing of the actor (i.e. the person performing the act of kindness). Humans are social beings, and it means that we have psychological mechanisms that motivate us to help others. These motivations include biological and sociological benefits.

Kindness towards genetic relatives is favored by natural selection as seen by parental care. Kindness towards members of the same group allows us to form and maintain groups which enhance belonging. Kindness is also seen to potentially improve individual status as it can impress others and potentially attract mates. We also see kindness towards people we may see again as being beneficial to cooperation and the rules of reciprocity.

We tend to see people who need help as some reflection of ourselves and it makes it difficult to ignore those people who need help. For example, if you dropped your papers in the middle of the road and those papers spread out, you need some help to collect them all. When we see others in similar situations, we visualize ourselves in that position and potentially the same feelings as those in the situation. After helping those people, we get satisfaction from doing so.

This satisfaction otherwise known as happiness is a psychological reward that proves that a problem was solved successfully. If someone acted in a kind way, they can get a good reaction from the person who needed help because the person who needed help had their problem solved. The person who helped made the situation better. It can improve their self-esteem. After that, they can understand how they should help in those situations.

There are some limitations of this research, however. Most of the studies had very small samples and many used non-clinical samples. Due to this, it’s not possible to say that those with specific mental problems are affected in the same way by performing acts of kindness. Several of the studies did not account for the motivation behind the acts, so motivation could possibly be another variable that leads to the results. It is possible that intention to help oneself rather than others could eliminate the effects of improved well-being. The studies also didn’t account for the variety of recipients (e.g. family members, strangers, friends, etc.) nor did they investigate any long-lasting effects. Most studies only investigated immediate effects. In align with the motivations previously mentioned, it is possible that certain people had improved wellbeing giving to the groups they belonged to, rather than groups they didn’t. Also, it is possible that this happiness is only a short-term effect and is not important in the long term.

Though there does seem to be an outcome of happiness from performing acts of kindness, the effect seems small in the grand scheme of things. Even still, kindness appears to be the best gift to give as it eventually gives back to you.

Citation: Curry, O. S., Rowland, L., Lissa, C. J., Zlotowitz, S., Mcalaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2016). Happy to Help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 320-329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.02.014

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Religious Shoppers Spend Less Money

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The second student blog post from Dr. Carter’s Social Psychology course from this past semester, the authors of this article are Elizabeth Harris, Molly Kasemeyer, Sam Buczek and Kelsey Lee. 

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The holiday season is finally here! Families gather to share a large meal and exchange colorfully wrapped gifts. Individuals most likely find themselves out-and-about at stores during this time of year, not only to buy gifts, but to buy groceries for that delicious meal. Every shopper has different preferences on brands, products, prices, and even different values when it comes to buying foods, but do people with similar values and lifestyles also share similar purchasing styles? The experiments conducted and discussed in the journal article, Religious shoppers spend less money, aimed to answer a similar question; do religious beliefs affect grocery shoppers spending and purchasing habits? The study that will be discussed here specifically measures the effect of religious priming on grocery shoppers’ willingness to pay for unexpected purchases.

The first part of the study simulated an unplanned shopping trip where the participants would be able to spend about $25.00. They chose one common grocery item from seven different food categories in which each categories food choices were priced the same to ensure a total of about $25.00. The second part of the study presents each participant with an item at checkout that is, hypothetically, of interest to them, in this case their favorite magazine. They are then asked how much they would be willing to pay for it. After completing the simulation, participants answered a set of demographic questions and questions regarding their religious beliefs and other social concepts.

Prior to completing the simulated shopping trip and post-experimental questions, the researchers utilized the technique of priming to create the experimental and control groups. Participants were randomly assigned to either watch a short video with a religious focus, the religious prime, or a short video on oil painting tips, the control prime. After viewing the assigned video, the experimenters administered a prime check where participants answered questions about their feelings toward God after watching the religious prime video. The independent variable in this experiment was the religious prime while the dependent variable was the participants willingness to pay for the magazine.

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The findings of the study were simple. The more religious a person is, the less likely one is to spend money on “novel purchases”. Many religions emphasize being prudent with money, meaning that many would not spend money, or at least a lot of money,  on unexpected items they may come across during a grocery shopping trip. This study proved that “participants in the religiosity condition” would spent an average of 9.6% less on groceries than customers in the control condition. The study also proved that a “religious prime” lowers money spent by grocery shoppers whether they were a believer in God or not. Lastly, the conclusion stated that “the effect of religion on grocery spending arises from people’s tendency to associate religion and religious cues with frugality rather than the documented effect is simply being a manifestation of religious people’s values”, which means that individuals justify the experiment’s results with the belief that religious shoppers are “frugal” in nature.

The main psychological process utilized in this experimental study was attention. The participant’s attention during priming in the experimental condition is focused on the religious aspect and leads people to make the common associate between religion and religion cues to frugality. This is evident because people who were not religious still exhibited the same response to the religious priming as those who already had a religious set of beliefs showing that the universal psychological process of attention is at work. Attention leads people to focus on a specific idea and act according to commonly associate behaviors. After watching the priming videos, participants were asked their feelings specifically relating to God. Participants that were in the religious prime condition reported that they felt closer to God or had stronger feelings towards God than those in the control group. Overall, the attention process enabled the participants to be more conservative with their spending compared to the control group.

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It is evident that the experimenters thought about various factor of the experiment that could elicit bias or lead to skewed data based on their description in the “Measure” section of the article. Even though their method was sound, they did not choose a representative sample. Instead, they chose individuals who worked for a specific company. This could lead to bias because of possible shared qualities among this group of workers that could influence behaviors in the posed situation. Also, the topic of the control video, oil painting, may not be considered completely neutral. Participants could be either bored by this video or rather intrigued which could lead to more positive or negative feelings in the moment. These feelings could possibly affect their willingness to pay for an unexpected item.

Bibliography 

Kurt, et al. “Religious shoppers spend less money.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 78, 2018, pp. 116–124.

Allie. “8 Basic Psychological Processes.” Exploring Your Mind, Exploring Your Mind, 25 June 2018, exploringyourmind.com/8-basic-psychological-processes/.

The False Paradox of Selflessness

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As part of Dr. Carter’s Fall 2018 Social Psychology class, students worked in groups to analyze a study related to their coursework. They then wrote a blog post demonstrating their ability to summarize and analyze the study, describing any possible improvements that could be made along with ideas for future studies.

Five of these posts were randomly selected to be posted to the Psychology Department’s official blog. This blog post, titled The False Paradox of Selflessness was written by Lynsey Wyatt (’21), Emily Deeds (’20), and Ciprianna Azar (’19) and is the first of the five to be posted.

We hope you enjoy reading it!                        ___________________________________________________________________________

If acting altruistically makes us happier, isn’t it a selfish act?

Day to day, we observe acts that we may consider altruistic. Whether it be a small gesture of kindness or a heroic act of self-sacrifice, simply observing these behaviors influences our opinion of the actor. This leads us to question: how do we begin to judge someone’s true moral character? Prosociality refers to any behavior that intentionally benefits another, while altruism refers to more “selfless” actions. In contrast, egoistic forms of prosocial behavior tend to be motivated by attaining some benefit such as social or capital gain. A group of researchers sought to understand what truly makes us believe an act is altruistic. Carlson and Zaki (2018) conducted two studies examining the benefits of prosocial acts and the differences in perceptions of altruism by motive or consequence of benefit.

In both studies, participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions and tasked with reading through eight different scenarios and answering an online survey. In the control condition, the scenario only described a prosocial action such as “Jane gave blood at a local clinic”. In the other two experimental conditions, they were given more information about how Jane felt after giving blood, how much money she was given for donating, how many followers she gained on Instagram from her blood drive selfie or how she helped someone in need of blood. These scenarios highlighted four potential benefits including material, social, emotional, or other-oriented benefits. Participants were randomly assigned to read the actions as motivating or consequence. After reading the scenarios, the participants’ judgements were examined using multiple items: how altruistic they thought the prosocial agent was, how altruistic they thought the agent’s action was, and how altruistic they thought the agent’s motive for their action was.

They first found that for participants who were shown that others performed the behavior and received benefits as a consequence or result, they believed that behaviors that resulted in material benefits or social benefits were of a less altruistic nature. We then infer that the person was motivated in the first place to engage in the act because they wanted a benefit such as monetary (material) or wanted praise (social). These same participants saw emotional benefits, such as feeling good about oneself, and other-oriented or directed towards others, as altruistic. This means that a sense of doing a good deed does not take away from the selfless act that was done.

Participants who were led to believe the person had a motive or reason to engage in an altruistic behavior for benefits, material or social, were seen as significantly less altruistic. These participants saw motives for behavior that was other-oriented as more altruistic, and surprisingly, even saw emotional benefit as less altruistic. This suggests that people who are motivated to engage for selfish reasons are seen as less altruistic than those who do not have this motive but are unexpectedly rewarded.

In the control group to which the participants had no information on the motive or consequential benefit to the actor, they rated the actor as altruistic no matter the benefit. This can be explained by the lack of information, as we tend to want to believe that people help others for selfless reasons.

Through the psychological process of disambiguation, Carlson and Zaki were able to manipulate the participant’s judgements of the actors. This allowed them to examine whether or not perceptions of altruistic acts change when paired with different types of benefits, and if motive versus consequence conditions differentially affect this perception. Carlson and Zaki demonstrate a nuanced mechanism behind perceptions of “true altruism” that allow for an act to benefit both oneself and others, so long as one’s motive is other-oriented. More specifically, their findings suggest that when an observer is judging an actor that benefits themselves emotionally (as opposed to materially or socially) from a prosocial interaction, it differentially affects judgement of the actor’s motives. This suggests, according to the researchers, it is a better predictor of future generosity than extrinsic motivators.

In ambiguous situations, what factors influence baseline assumptions? Zaki and Carlson’s study of lay theories of altruism and selfishness effectively highlights some of the nuances of social behavior and judgements. However, the studies lack the interpersonal dynamic facilitated by in-person interactions. Social interactions are based upon emotional exchanges. As social beings, we rely upon our ability to interpret others’ emotional states to understand their intentions and our relationship to others. In future work, it would be interesting to utilize confederates to simulate situations closer to real-world circumstances. Overall, Carlson and Zaki’s findings are consistent with what we may expect from the effects of altruism, despite a seemingly contradictory paradigm where a “selfless” act benefits the actor’s sense of self.

Citation: Carlson, R. W., & Zaki, J. (2018). Good deeds gone bad: Lay theories of altruism and selfishness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 75, 36-40.

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A Brief Interview with Vanessa Pearson ’21, A Gilman Scholarship Recipient!

A student assistant recently interviewed Vanessa Pearson ’21, a Gilman Scholarship recipient, on her plans for studying abroad this upcoming Spring semester and what the application process for the Gilman was like. 

To start off, can you tell me a little about yourself? 

I am a sophomore here at Roanoke. I am majoring in Psychology and Education with a concentration in Human Development. I am originally from Franklin County, VA, about forty minutes away from Salem. On campus, I am a part of Colleges Against Cancer and Habitat for Humanity. Off campus, I work a part time job as a waitress/cook/manager at a restaurant in my hometown. I also play rec volleyball in my free time.

Congratulations on receiving the Gilman Scholarship! Can you tell me a little about program, what the application process was like, and where you are going to be studying?

I am going through an international student exchange program to Australia. I will be studying at James Cook University in Queensland. The application process for James Cook University was surprisingly easy. I did not have to write any admission papers on anything like that. I think the hardest part about that application was trying to figure out what classes I wanted to take since they had to go on the application so that they could get approved. 

The application for the Gilman Scholarship was a little more complex. There were a bunch of different parts to it. The biggest part of the Gilman was the essay section. You needed to have two essays explaining why you are a good candidate for it and what will you do to promote the Gilman and study abroad if you receive it.

What drew you to studying abroad in Australia?

I am not one hundred percent sure what drew me to studying in Australia. I was at a study abroad meeting and Dr. Boggs-Parker was going over all of the different places you could study [and] when she said Australia it clicked. [I felt like] that was it, that was where I needed to go.

Also, the warmer weather doesn’t hurt.

Another part of me going to Australia is that I want to work in the education system. I thought it would be really interesting to see how education works on a different side of the globe. I also needed to go somewhere that I would be able to understand what others are saying since I would not be studying a language while abroad.

What are you the most excited about in terms of studying abroad (both in general and specific to Australia)?

I am excited to experience something new. I am a commuter at Roanoke, so I [want] to [know] what it feels like to live on campus. I am also excited to travel around the world.

In terms of sightseeing, I really want to go to the Great Barrier Reef and also hike around several places. I am excited to make new friendships and I really want to pet a kangaroo and hold a koala bear.

What courses are you most interested in taking while there?

I am really excited about taking Modern Australian History. I think that it is cool that I will be learning about history through the eyes of a different country. I am also excited to take my education class because I want to see and learn from different education systems.

What advice would you have for those interested in applying to competitive scholarships/grants like Gilman?

I would say do not wait until the last minute. Start the application process as soon as possible; have someone read over your draft and, for lack of better words, tear it apart. I wrote four drafts before making small corrections to the final one. I would also go through the application and make sure you are not going to have any last-minute questions [to complete] before the deadline, that way you can ensure they are answered.

Is there anything else you would like add?

The only thing that I would add is that there is always hope for getting a scholarship you want. Write your application with purpose and meaning. Also, get Dr. Rosti to read over your application, that woman is a saint.

Thank you, Vanessa, for taking time to answer our questions! We know you will have a fantastic time studying abroad and hope you will share some of your favorite memories upon returning to campus next school year (including petting kangaroos and holding koalas)!

For those interested in learning more about the Gilman Scholarship, click on the logo below to go to their official website.

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An Interview with Thompson ’19

What is your name, class year, and your majors/minors/concentrations?

My name is Becca Thompson and I am a senior. I will be graduating with a major in Psychology and concentration in Human Development. I also have minors in Spanish and Sociology.

Where did you study abroad?

I studied abroad in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

What was your favorite moment while abroad?

My favorite moments while abroad (because they are tied!!) would be going to an All Blacks Rugby game, skydiving from 17,000 feet over the gorgeous Lake Taupo, and exploring the only active marine volcano in New Zealand on an island named White Island or Whakaari.

What were you most worried about in terms of studying abroad?

I was worried about being literally on the other side of the world from my family (Maryland to NZ, couldn’t have gone any further away!) I was also worried about missing my pets, let’s be honest.

What did you learn while abroad? (Not just in terms of coursework, but about the culture and, cheesy as it is, yourself?)

I learned about different mental healthcare practices through my abnormal psychology class, which I found very interesting. I also learned about the indigenous people to New Zealand, the Māori. About myself, I learned how strong I am and I furthered my passion of traveling!

Palmerston North

Did anything happen that you weren’t expecting? Similarly, were there any moments that particularly struck you while abroad?

I definitely did not expect to meet some of my best friends while abroad. Although we are located all over the place, we still talk often and cannot wait to plan a reunion. There were many twists and turns during my time abroad, but each adventure had its own purpose and lessons.

What are your plans for the future and how will you use what you learned while studying abroad to help you?

Studying abroad helped me to realize my interest in social work through the introduction class I took with one of the best professors I’ve ever had. This class helped me to realize that I would like to pursue child advocacy/family law in order to create change here in America. I would love to go to school in NZ to gain a better and more in-depth understanding of their social work practices, which strive to include all cultures and all people in a respectful manner.

Any advice for other students interested in studying abroad?

Just GO! Studying abroad changed my life and opened up so many doors for me. My time in New Zealand helped me to realize what I would like to pursue after college. I met so many incredible people and I now have an incredible core group of friends spread throughout the United States, as well as an extended family in Palmerston North.

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Medical Research Opportunity at the VA Medical Center

Interested in doing research?

The Salem VA Medical Center offers the chance for Roanoke College undergraduates to gain experience working in research with a seasoned Principal Investigator (PI) on current medical research. Available research projects have included topics such as “Predictors of Treatment Response Among Veterans with PTSD”, “Mental Health in Rural Veterans with and without Traumatic Brain Injury”, and “Effect of Exercise Training on Inflammation and Function in HIV Infected Veterans”.

If you are interested in completing research with the Salem VA Medical Center, please meet with the Director of Undergraduate Research (Dr. Chris Lassiter, Associate Professor of Biology) in the fall semester or early in spring semester to discuss the program.

Application and Requirements:

  • An overall GPA of 3.4 or higher is preferred (though an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher will be considered).
  • Materials to submit include:
    • cover letter (with research interests),
    • CV,
    • unofficial transcript and
    • two letters of recommendation

Please submit the above materials to the Director of Undergraduate Research by February 15 for research in the summer or the next academic year (fall and spring semester).

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Undergraduate Research Published

Alumni Lauren Ratcliffe, Sabrina McAllister, Jacob Johnson, and Paige Dzindolet published their research seminar in neuroscience project from fall of 2016 in IMPULSE, an undergraduate neuroscience journal.

Their project, titled ‘During Ascending and Descending Limbs of the Blood Alcohol Concentration Curve’ uses a computerized trail making test in place of driving performance tests in order to better ascertain neurocognitive impairments associated with varying blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels.  Follow this link to go to the original article.

Students in Dr. Nichols’ research seminar in neuroscience have published their projects at a rate of one student publication per year.

Congratulations to our alumni on their recent publication!

Alumni Updates:

Lauren Ratcliffe

Graduating Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Psychology from Roanoke College in 2017, Ratcliffe obtained a B.S. in Psychology and a concentration in Neuroscience.  Ratcliffe is currently pursuing a Psy.D. at Mercer University in Clinical Medical Psychology with an emphasis on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ratcliffe also works as a research assistant at Mercer.

A Phi Beta Kappa member, McAllister obtained a B.S. in Psychology, a minor in Biology, and a concentration in Neuroscience from Roanoke College. McAllister graduated with ten semesters of psychology research experience in 2018. She is currently working as a psychometrist at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA, with a goal of pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Graduated in 2017 from Roanoke College with Honors in Psychology, a minor in Biology, and a concentration Neuroscience. He studied in Germany in the summer of 2016  and was recruited to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. Johnson intends on pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to teach college-level courses and perform therapy.

Dzindolet graduated in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor Biology. In 2016, Dzindolet interned at Virginia Museum of Natural History where she worked with dinosaur bones and fossils, among other things. She is currently interested in obtaining a position involving Forensic Psychology and Criminology.

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A Quick Look: Thompson in New Zealand

Rebecca Thompson ’19

During the spring of 2018, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Palmerston North, New Zealand. While abroad I had the chance to take ‘Abnormal and Therapeutic Psychology,’ which gave an interesting overview to how different countries treat different psychological conditions. My favorite part of the class came through the literature review project we had at the end of the semester. I chose to complete my literature review on eating disorders. My future career plans are veering more towards social work and a law degree, but my background in psychology will help me to understand some of the situations my future clients may be going through. My favorite memory while abroad is skydiving from 17,000 feet over Lake Taupo!

Thanks to Rebecca Thompson for providing this cool description of her study abroad experience in Palmerston North, New Zealand! It sounds like an incredible and worthwhile adventure, though we are glad to have you back on campus.

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How Much to Pay?

The fifth and final article written for Dr. Carter’s Social Psychology course, Bailey Ratfliff and Erin Kosmowski discuss an article dealing with how much are people willing to pay depending on the situation.

When you go to buy something, like a t-shirt of your favorite band, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pay what you want? Then, you could go through the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A and be told the car in front of you paid for your meal! These methods are called, respectively, pay what you want and pay it forward, two forms of consumer elective pricing. How much would you pay for that t-shirt if you got to choose the price?  What if you decided to pay for the next car’s lunch, how much would you be willing to pay?  These studies by Nelson, A. Gneezy, and U. Gneezy, seek to find the relationship between pay what you want and pay it forward amounts.  In which method are people willing to pay more?

In study one, which was conducted at Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, participants were told either they could pay their entrance fee forward for another museum goer instead of paying for their own admission, in one condition, or pay what you want in another condition.  It was found, in accordance to the experimenters’ prediction, that the pay it forward condition paid more money than the pay what you want condition.  In study two, the conditions were the same at the same museum, but the wording of what the people in the pay it forward condition were told was changed.  People paid more in both conditions for this study, but still paid more for the pay it forward condition than the pay what you want condition.  In study three, study two was replicated but participants were given a colored sticker, blindly labeling them as pay it forward or pay what you want group.  The cashier in the gift store then recorded their purchases and their colored stickers to see if either condition spent more in the gift shop.  The conditions were found to have spent around the same amount of money.  For the final study, conditions were set as in study two but at a coffee shop instead of a museum.  Again, those in the pay it forward condition paid more than those in the pay what you want condition.

The researchers believed that descriptive norms were playing a role in the participants’ actions. In the first two studies, people fell subject to the norm of reciprocity. Since another person paid for them, the participants’ felt that they had to do the same for a future attendee. Subjects experienced kindness and generosity and felt as if they must pass it on to reciprocate.  There was also some pluralistic ignorance occurring, leading the participants to believe the norm was to pay more and followed suit.  People may have privately believed they should pay less but decided to pay more because they believed that’s what others did.

The study does a good job supporting its hypothesis and eliminating any confounding variables that may have also explained the results, though it does not go into further details. They do not discuss if witnessing an act of generosity will impact the participant’s amount paid. Another thing that would have added to the study was to see how the amount paid could be manipulated through a third party’s actions, such as having the earlier guest pay more for the participants’ ticket or witnessing someone pay more for the pay what you want than average. They also focus on for profit organizations so adding a nonprofit organization to the study could show very different results.

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How Many “Likes” Did I Get?

Image result for likes meme

The fourth article written for Dr. Carter’s Social Psychology course, this post discusses the power of the “like” system. Written by Julian Edwards, Emily Jones, and Brice Hinkle, the original source can be found here.

Have you ever felt inadequate after seeing only one like on your selfie? If you are an avid Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other social media user, the culmination of likes on a picture or video is crucial. The incorporation of the “like” system in social media has changed the way in which people view themselves. You expect people such as your family or close friends to like your posts, but what if that is only 10 to 20 people? What does this say about you
as a person? It is common to believe that the more likes one receives the better they believe others see them, thus determining how they see themselves. The presence of active and/or immediate feedback on a picture you are proud of can make or break how you view yourself. Because of this, social media has become a large factor in the level of self-esteem a user may have. The more likes someone receives the greater self-esteem they will have. Also in contrast, if a person were to receive little to no likes on a selfie or family picture they may begin to suffer through low self-esteem. To help support this claim a study was conducted by researchers Anthony L. Burrow and Nicolette Rainone titled “How many likes did I get?:
Purpose moderates links between positive social media feedback and self-esteem” (Burrow & Rainone, 2016).

Image result for likes meme

In this study, participants first had to complete several forms and surveys – demographics form, a survey measuring their purpose in life, and a personality inventory (which was not used in the experiment). After this was completed, the experimenters told the
participants they were there to test a new social media site a lot like Facebook and to get started, they had to set up a profile and take a picture of themselves for the experimenter to upload (Burrow & Rainone, 2016). The experimenter told the participants that their picture would be shown on the test site for five minutes and that other users could see and like it. Five minutes later, the experimenter came in the room and told them how many likes their picture got. The amount of likes the experimenter told the participants that they got were a randomized average number of likes, more than average number of likes, or below average number of likes. Afterwards, participants completed another survey, which measured their self-esteem. The results found that the groups that showed a low purpose and low self-esteem were affected more by their number of likes more than the groups with high purpose and high self-esteem, who were not as affected by the likes (Burrow & Rainone, 2016).

Image result for likes meme

The researchers established two groups: high purpose and low purpose. In each group, the self-esteem manipulator was introduced to affect self-esteem positively, negatively, or not at all (high, low, and average likes). The participants in each group then reported their post-experiential self-esteem (Burrow & Rainone, 2016). Because the experiment showed no correlation between high purpose and a high number of likes, it can be assumed that the
participants with high purpose also have self-esteem high enough that it is unaffected by an otherwise effective self-esteem booster: a high number of likes that they receive. Those with low purpose can be said to have a lower baseline self-esteem and so are more affected by a high number of likes (Burrow & Rainone, 2016).

One critique would be that the researchers should have included an “average purpose” group apart from the “high purpose” group to be manipulated to see more precise results.

Additionally, it would have been nice to have reported any findings on a decrease in self-esteem for a fuller picture of the effects.
The lesson that can learned from this article is that self-esteem is that although there are a countless number of things that go into a person’s self-esteem and sense of purpose in life, social media affects them much more than someone thinks.

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What Makes A Great Leader

Image result for leader

In another post written by students of Dr. Carter’s Social Psychology course, Corey Woodford, Hannah Lester, Michaela Hicks discuss an article on leadership titled “Two ways to the top: Evidence that dominance and prestige are distinct yet viable avenues to social rank and influence.” The original article can be found here. 

How do people reach leadership positions? Is it because they are generally likable and compassionate about the group? Or is it because they are ruthless and their followers are too scared to do anything but listen to them? Maybe it is a combination of both. Researchers Cheng, Tracy, Foulsham, Kingstone and Henrich formed an experiment that tests these theories. They wanted to know if dominance and prestige work together to get people to the top. In the case of this study, dominance is a force and intimidation and prestige is being able to share your experiences and knowing how to gain respect. Cheng et al. performed two studies that tested the roles in which dominance and prestige play in the selection of a leader. They used students from the University of British Columbia, who had no prior knowledge of each other before the study, as participants for both of the studies.

The first study’s goal was to distinguish whether or not dominance and prestige are acceptable ways of predicting social influence. It was set up as a round robin setting where groups of 4 to 6 of the same gender, not already acquainted with each other, completed an assignment, then interacted with each other, and then were asked to fill out a questionnaire at the end. Each side of the table was recorded by a video camera looking exclusively at one side of the table. The questionnaire provided peer ratings on who seemed to have more influence, who had more “dominance and prestige” in their group, and the likeability of the group members. The results of the study concluded that, in fact, both dominance and prestige predict greater social influence, but that they are different paths to attaining social rank, with prestige seen as more likeable than dominance.

Going off the first study, the second study’s goal was to “determine whether gaze allocation patterns corresponded to perceived Dominance and Prestige”. In other words, do dominant or more prestigious individuals receive more visual attention? The participants watched a series of video clips used from the first study, and were asked to think of who they would want to work with on the same task if they were in the room doing the same thing. The participants were wearing eye trackers so the researchers were able to see who they looked at the most while watching these video clips. The results showed that people do tend to notice who the dominant or more prestigious person in the room is, and they subconsciously do visually fixate on them, meaning they receive more visual attention.

Study 1: with 191 participants, this study compensated them with a chance of extra compensation during the study. The participants first completed an individual activity and then a group activity. The group activity was recorded for 20 minutes.

Study 2: 59 participants were involved and were instructed to watch 6 twenty-second videos. This study was used to determine a relationship between gaze allocation patterns and perceived Dominance and Prestige.

While the study was something always relevant and very interesting, it did have some aspects that it did not take into consideration. First, the study did not use co-ed groups. Especially in today’s time, gender norms are a hot topic and are of interest to many people. A future study could use co-ed groups to help distinguish between gender norms that influence leadership positions. Second, the participants of the study were of all different ages. Age is indicative of knowledge and when you are older you can be seen as more superior of those who are younger than you.  Keeping age brackets for each group would have been a beneficial addition to the parameters of the study. With these critiques in mind, a future study would be beneficial to really dive into the psychology of leadership positions from a non-age or non-gender biased study.

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Strategies to Combat Threatened Masculinity

An analysis of the study “Manning Up: Threatened men compensate by disavowing feminine preferences and embracing masculine attributes” for Dr. Carter’s Social Psychology course. This article was written by Sophie Bacon, Cristoni Couvrette, and Carter Smith.

In society, men are expected to conform to gender-stereotypic attributes in order to prove their masculinity. Some of these attributes include; being tall, athletic, having an active sex life,
and being assertive or dominant. Studies have shown if a
man is in a sense “less masculine” they will compensate
for this by presenting themselves in a more stereotypical
masculine manner. In the study, Manning Up, researchers, Sapna Cheryan, Jessica Schwartz Cameron, Zach Katagiri, and Benoît Monin conducted two experiments, in which they examined three techniques that men may use when they perceive a threat to their
masculinity: avoid feminine preferences, embrace masculine preferences, and claim masculine attributes. The question the researchers were asking is whether or not men are more likely to distance themselves from feminine preferences when their masculinity is threatened versus the responses of those men who are not threatened.

In the first study some of the male participants were randomly assigned to receive false feedback that they had failed a test of masculinity (a score of 26 out of 100) while the other
participants received a non-threatening score (73 out of 100). The participants were then asked to rate how much they would like to receive three very masculine products and three very feminine products. Results from study one suggest that men who have their masculinity threatened are more likely to distance themselves from stereotypically feminine preferences, but do not embrace stereotypically masculine preferences more than non-threatened men.

In the second study, researchers tried to instill a different type of threat to masculinity (telling participants they were
physically weaker than other males) to see if threatening
one specific aspect of masculinity causes men to embrace
another aspect in order to compensate. Participants were
asked to take a test of handgrip strength. Having a strong
hand grip is associated with being more masculine.

Some of the participants received false feedback that their score fell along the female distribution while the other participants were told their score fell into the male distribution. Afterwards they were asked to complete a questionnaire which included masculine and feminine attributes such as: height, handiness with tools, number of previous relationships (all masculine attributes), and personality traits (both masculine and feminine attributes). Participants then
repeated the grip test which reinforced their false feedback and were asked to rate their interest in receiving five masculine, three feminine, and seven neutral products. Results from this study
found that men who did not have their masculinity threatened showed no difference in their preference for masculine and feminine products while men who were threatened showed less interest in feminine products. Researchers also found that men who had their masculinity threatened were more likely to exaggerate their other masculine attributes; they claimed to be taller, have more past relationship partners, and higher levels of athleticism and aggressiveness than men in the non-threatened condition

Researchers examined the strategies used when there is a perceived threat to masculinity. They threatened masculinity as a whole as well as physical masculinity and then examined the ways the participants compensated for the blow. Researchers also said that men who are threatened are more likely to embrace masculine attributes over preferences. An example being, if a man feels his masculinity is being attacked it weighs more for him to defend his physical traits (strength, height and build), compared to him trying to declare his masculinity through his masculine preferences (liking trucks and hunting). Researchers discovered that rejecting
feminine preferences was more reassuring to their self image rather than restating their masculine preferences.

In this study, researchers provided insight into the strategies men employ when they feel their masculinity has been
threatened. However, there are three limitations that can be
observed in this study. The first limitation of this study is the
fact that they only focused on how masculine attributes were
affected when men were under masculinity threat. If they
wanted to get a more well-rounded perspective, they should
have also examined how feminine attributes were affected by
masculine threats. In addition, in two of the studies, they used a
subset of product preferences making it difficult to decipher the
results of masculine versus feminine preferences. Finally, when
concluding this study, it wasn’t clear from the results whether or not distancing oneself from a stigmatized outgroup versus a
related identity would be sufficient in responding to masculinity
threats.

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Ice-Cream, Decisions, and Culture

The time has come.

A decision must be made.

Your family members have designated you as the ‘chooser’ of the group. The responsibility weighs on your shoulders. You try to remain calm.

‘Focus,’ you tell yourself. ‘Should I purchase the double chocolate ice-cream from x-brand, or the devil’s chocolate ice-cream from y-brand?’

Even Boromir agrees

The choices are the same in terms of the contents and price, but they have different names and are from different brands. You cannot decide between the two as you feel equally about both of them, so you ask for the advice of your family; they reply negatively towards the y-brand and you feel relieved, finding yourself agreeing with them, and choose the ice-cream from the x-brand instead.

While a silly example, this dilemma helps illustrate an interesting observation about humans, at least of European descent (or influenced by Western culture): when we are highly ambivalent towards two choices, we are more easily influenced in our decision. According to psychology researchers, Mr. Andy Ng, Dr. Michaela Hyne and Dr. Tara MacDonald, those of European descent are more likely to be influenced either positively or negatively when unsure of what to think about two objects or subjects. Yet, they also point out that East Asians exhibit greater levels of tolerance towards conflicting views or when possessing high levels of ambivalence towards objects/subjects. In other words, those of East Asian descent or region are more likely to hold two conflicting ideas in their minds without the need to pick one as superior to the other.

In their study published in 2011, titled “Culture Moderates the Pliability of Ambivalent Attitudes,” Ng, Hyne, and MacDonald were interested in researching the degree to which culture influences the willingness to shift attitudes in those of Western and Eastern cultures after a persuasive attempt.

Continue reading Ice-Cream, Decisions, and Culture

Welcome Dr. Dane Hilton!

The Psychology Department would like to welcome Dr. Dane Hilton as our newest tenure-track professor starting this upcoming fall semester. Dr. Hilton obtained his Masters in Clinical Health Psychology from Appalachian State University and his PhD in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Alabama.

At Roanoke, Dr. Hilton will be teaching courses such as Abnormal, Personality, and Clinical Psychology. His research interests focus specifically on social encoding, executive functioning, and mindfulness. Dr. Hilton has conducted research on social skills in youth and emerging adults, especially those with ADHD, and on psycho-social interventions for those with executive functioning deficits.

Dr. Hilton is currently looking for student research assistants to start next semester. If you’re interested, follow this link to learn more.

Welcome again to Dr. Hilton! We are excited for him to be joining the department!

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Alumni Career Fair!

Are you looking for internships? Job opportunities? Then consider attending to Alumni Career Fair! The event will be held on Thursday, April 12th, from 5-7 pm on the main level of Colket.

Why should you attend? According to Director McLawhorn of Career Services, alumni from around 30 companies/organizations/career fields of various industries and geographic locations will be there to share about their career fields, as well as provide information about internships and/or job opportunities that may be available at their respective places of employment.

Some company recruiters will be there as well.

Things you should know before you go: 

  • Neat, but casual clothing is fine.
  • It’s highly suggested that students bring resumes, but they are not required. (Students can contact Career Services for assistance with resumes prior to April 12.)
  • There will be door prizes.

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Psychology Summer Courses 2018

Do you want to get ahead, catch up, or just want to take an interesting course over the summer?

Then consider signing up for psychology summer courses!

Three 300-level courses will be offered, including History of Psychology, which is a requirement for psychology majors, Abnormal Psychology, IO Psychology, and Drugs & Behavior. In addition to the 300-level courses, the psychology department will also be offering a 260 INQ course taught by Dr. Whitson that will also count towards a major in psychology.

If interested, please talk to your advisor(s) and sign-up through Webadvisor while spots remain!

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Student Publication & Updates

Last semester, students from Dr. Nichols lab published a paper titled “Exploration of Methodological and Participant-Related Influences on the Number of Artifacts in ERP Data.”

Under the direction of Dr. Nichols, Ms. Stephanie M. Shields and Ms. Caitlin E. Morse conducted a study in order to see how the number of trials needed to collect enough data for Event-related Potential (ERP) could be minimized through the reduction of artifacts.

Typically, this type of research requires a number of trials in order to collect enough data. Oftentimes, several of these trials have to be discarded as a result of artifacts, or errors.

Shields, Morse, and Nichols focused specifically on the connections between “the number of trials that have to be eliminated due to artifacts and a set of methodological variables, physical considerations, and individual differences.”

To read more about what they found as a result of their research, follow this link to the original article.

Related: Ms. Shields was awarded a Fulbright grant to return to Germany to study bat vocalizations and vocal learning in Munich, Germany from September 2017-July 2018. Prior to this, she spent a summer in Hamburg, Germany through the German Academic Exchange Service Research Internship in Science and Engineering. While there, she completed a research project with Ph.D. student Signe Luisa Schneider on electroencephalography (EEG), learning, and memory. (To find out more about this latter project, follow this link.) Shields also completed over three years of research in the psychology department and had other articles published as well. She graduated with a major in psychology, a concentration in neuroscience, and a minor in German. She plans on earning a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

Related: Ms. Morse currently works as a Licensed Nursing Assistant at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire. Graduating from Roanoke College with a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science in 2017, she followed this by attending the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences where she completed a Bachelor of Science degree in order to become a registered nurse. While at Roanoke College, she worked as a research assistant in the psychology department for around three and a half years, starting in 2013. She has also participated in two other published articles through Dr. Nichols lab, alongside Ms. Shields and other students. Her Linked In account can be found here.

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A Paid Summer Internship Opportunity at UNC, Chapel Hill

The Old Well at UNC, Chapel Hill

Interested in conducting research on increasing political tolerance?

Thanks to a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, the lab of Dr. Kurt Gray is looking for a few motivated undergraduates for a full-time paid 8-week summer internship (June 18th to August 10th). Interns will receive hands-on experience with study development, data collection, and data presentation, in addition to receiving $2,800 each.

To apply, please submit a CV and a letter addressing the following questions: 1) What does political tolerance mean to you? 2) Why do you want to join this summer program? 3) What unique perspectives can you provide this internship program? 4) What are your long-term career goals?

Please e-mail Emily Kubin (ekubin@ad.unc.edu) with the subject title Summer Internship 2018 by February 15th, 2018.

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Summer Internship Opportunity at Florida International University

Interested in working with children in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, or Elementary age groups? Want to be a Counselor, Classroom Aide, or Researcher? Looking for a chance to earn an internship credit?

Then consider applying to the Children’s Summer Treatment Program for children with ADHD or other related impairments at the Florida International University.

The Summer Treatment Program (STP) is a comprehensive program for children with ADHD and related behavioral, emotional and learning challenges. The STP has successfully helped more than 3,000 children and families and is composed of evidence-based intensive treatments incorporated into an eight-week therapeutic summer camp setting. Group and tailored individual treatment plans are focused on improving problem-solving, academic functioning and social skills—while also incorporating recreational, age-appropriate games and group activities.

The STP has been named a  Model Program in Child and Family Mental Health by the American Psychological Association, and has been named the program of the year by CHADD, the national parent advocacy group for children with ADHD. Students who have worked with FIU and the STP have said that it is an incredibly rewarding. hands-on experience, with huge contributions to their professional development. The program is also helpful in continuing onto graduate school and careers, such as clinical psychopathology, pharmacology, and psychotherapy.

More information about the Summer Treatment Program and the Center for Children and Families can be found here. Information about applications can be found here.

Applications for all positions are competitive so students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

If you are considering applying to this program, please contact Dr. Camac about earning an internship credit.

 

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Ohio University’s Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates

If you are looking for ways of gaining clinical research experience working with youth over the summer, considering applying to the  National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at Ohio University.

Through this 8-week program, students will gain experience by attending seminars, working with mentors on research projects, and building a set of skills and a portfolio that will stand out to graduate schools including an independent project focused on some aspect of treatment related to youth with SEB.

Accepted students will be given a stipend of $4000, along with housing, meals, conference travel, and research incentives.

Eligible students must have at least a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate classes and must be a US Citizen or permanent resident. Applicants who have taken research methods will be more competitive, but this is not required. Finally, students from diverse or minority backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

All applications must be submitted by February 23, 3018 at 5 pm.

To learn more about the program and how to apply, click here or on the above image to go to the official website.

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In Summer… Here are Some Research Opportunities

In the midst of winter as the cold seeps into our homes, we often tend to think of what we will be doing in the summer…

For students interested in summer research opportunities (including paid experiences), winter is also a good time to start thinking about applying to these opportunities, as many summer research opportunities have a deadline in January or February.

One notable exception to this is Roanoke College’s Summer Scholars program which has a deadline of March 15th.

Below are some of the opportunities available to students from every major, with the link to the full list of research opportunities here.

Examples from the Social Sciences and Humanities:

  • Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative (many humanities and social science majors)
  • Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research
  • American Economics Association Summer Training Program
  • American Political Science Association
  • Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers

Examples from the Sciences:

  • Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs) – Includes the Sciences, Public Health, Psychology, and Anthropology
  • Pathways to Science
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program
  • Student Conservation Association
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • National Institute of Health (NIH) Summer Internship Program
  • AMGEN Scholars

Have Men Evolved to Detect and Respond to Cues of Ovulation?

In the final blog post written by students from Dr. Osterman’s PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology to be featured on the site, students discuss how males have possibly evolved to detect and respond to cues of ovulation.

The authors, including Sarah Raines, Ryan Casey, Tori Blair, and Chasity Ramsey, focus on defining ovulation from an evolutionary standpoint and then describe the subtle cues of an ovulating woman, including how she dresses.

Providing interesting information on something few of us think of, this is the last of the three blog posts to be featured. If you’re interested in learning more about this blog either click on the screenshot above or the link below that. The other two blogs can also be found on the site.

Good job to everyone who worked hard on these blog posts! They turned out well!

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Jealousy: Successful Tactic or Harmful Emotion?

The second of three articles written by students in PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology to be featured on the blog, this article was written by North Angle, Cristoni Couvrette, and Anne Mette Rasmussen and is titled “Jealousy: Successful Tactic or Harmful Emotion?”

In the post, the authors discuss why we get jealous and the differences of jealousy exhibited between male and females, all from an evolutionary standpoint.

Please click here to read the article, or click on the screenshot above.

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It’s Evo-Lit-ionary: Why Humans Like Drinking Alcohol

As part of Dr. Osterman’s PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology class, students submit a term blog instead of a tradition term paper. Focusing on a specific topic, students form groups and explain the topic from an evolutionary perspective with accompanying memes and other relevant videos in true Roanoke College Psychology Department fashion.

Over the next few weeks, there will be three blog posts featuring her students work, beginning with the current post.

This week’s topic is focused on why humans like drinking alcohol according to evolutionary psychology and was written by Luke Harbison, Maddie McCall, Nicole Moughrabi, and Adora Nguyen.

In the article, the authors address the history of alcohol usage and continue on to describe the many reasons why we consume alcohol, including attempting to explain why our taste for alcohol is so widespread.

Sound interesting? Please follow the link to learn more.

It’s Evo-Lit-ionary: Why Humans Like Drinking Alcohol


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Dr. Powell’s May Term Trip to Thailand Part II

In Part I, we talked about the more academic side of the trip and some differences noticed between cultures. In Part II of the Thailand May Term, we will discuss the more inherently fun and less academic parts of the trip, because, even though this was a class, it was still an experience of a lifetime.

For Dr. Darcey Powell, in addition to the conversations the group had with locals, her two favorite experiences were the Muay Thai boxing class and their day as mahouts:

[…] In the Muay Thai boxing class, we learned about that style of boxing and practiced the techniques. As mahouts, we learned how to take care of elephants with respect to feeding and bathing, as well as how to ride elephants, and then put what we learned into practice with our own elephant for the day.

Dr. Darcey Powell

Students’ experiences as mahouts at the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai was definitely one of the most favorite and memorable experiences of the trip, as Peyton Holahan ’19 recounts:

We spent the entire day playing with and learning about elephants. It really does not get much better than that in my opinion. We were greeted in the morning by the director of Patara who explained their mission as an elephant sanctuary focused on educating individuals about the health and well-being of these beautiful animals. Each person got assigned an elephant (or two) to spend the day with and it was pure magic. I was one of the lucky ones to get assigned both a mom elephant and her two-year-old baby. They told us that they assigned the elephants based on our personalities but I am certainly not planning on having kids anytime soon. I learned how to groom, feed, and bathe my elephants. Bathing them was by far the most fun because this involved getting on their backs and scrubbing them with a brush in the river. This was also really refreshing because Thailand’s climate is HOT.

A group picture interrupted by cuteness at Patara Elephant Sanctuary, picture courtesy of Dr. Powell

Along with our elephants we were partnered with mahouts who are the elephants’ caretakers and trainers. Our mahouts assisted us throughout the day in helping us ride the elephants and showing us how to take care of them. Patara is such a unique elephant sanctuary in Thailand in that they do not cage the elephants but rather let them roam freely because their mission is focused on recovery, reproduction, and reintroduction of elephants into the wild. Patara is one of the most humane elephant farms in Thailand for that reason and I am so glad that Dr. Powell chose this once in lifetime opportunity for us all to experience.

Holahan ’19

Sarah Hughes agrees with Holahan, giving her own description of her experience at the elephant farm.

I had been looking forward to going to the elephant farm since I had signed up for the trip, so I was tremendously thrilled when I found out that we each would have our own elephant for the day. We had the opportunity to feed our elephant sugar cane and bananas, inspect them for good health, bathe them, and ride them for their daily walk. I quickly learned that elephants like to eat a lot and eat quickly. This was because every time I would feed my elephant she would get mad at me and start to yell because I was not feeding her enough at a time and not quick[ly] enough. We then had the chance to speak to them in Thai and make sure they had slept properly the night before and were happy and healthy.

The next part was my favorite part of the trip. […] We had the opportunity to scrub them and play in the water with each of our elephants. It was interesting to see that some of the elephants really liked the water and others did not. Afterwards we rode our elephants to lunch. This ride was not what I was expecting, as we rode for thirty minutes straight up a mountain and only had a rope to hold on to.

Dr. Powell and a baby elephant, courtesy of Dr. Powell

Molly Zydel ’19 seconded the opinions of her fellow students, adding that:

The trip as a whole was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience out of the country. As for favorite parts of the trip, I absolutely adored our time in Chaing Mai. The city was gorgeous, and not near[ly] as overwhelming as Bangkok was. It reminded me a lot of home, which is why I think I loved it so much. While we were in that city, we also had an excursion where we got to be elephant care takers for a day. We each had our own elephant and we got to feed them, bathe them, and ride them. That day was phenomenal. It feels so surreal, even though I have pictures to prove it happened.

Zydel ’19

Hughes also mentioned a number of other fun activities that students were able to experience.

Some other things we did during the trip were visiting many temples all over Thailand, including the Grand Palace. We went to an adventure park at our hotel in Phetchabun, which is in the mountains, visited a factory, and went to Koh Samui, which is a gorgeous island in Thailand. We also were able to take a Muay Thai Boxing class, go to a rooftop restaurant, explore local night markets, and speak with monks.

Molly Zydel described her experience in Thailand as

[…] phenomenal. […] I could say so many things, but they all lead back to the statement of if you get the chance to travel abroad like this, do it. You won’t regret it. Even if it scares you half to death, do it. You find out somewhere in the middle of all of it that the experience is more exhilarating and eye-opening than it is scary. You change so much as a result of spending 3 weeks in another country that has such a different culture. Thailand was amazing. I just want to go back.

Ultimately, as Kiah Coflin ’19 concludes,

There are only so many aspects of a culture you can learn through a classroom […] [as seeing things] first hand teaches lessons better than any textbook ever can.

 

To see more pictures, go here to the official Facebook for the Thailand May Term. If you haven’t read the first part of the Thailand blog post, click here.

Thank you to everyone who helped with this post and were willing to write and submit pictures.

 

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Dr. Powell’s May Term to Thailand Part I

Twelve students from multiple disciplines, including psychology, went to Thailand this past summer with psychology professor, Dr. Darcey Powell to study emerging adulthood as part of a May Term program at Roanoke College.

Over the course of three weeks, students were able to compare the empirical articles they had read before departure with their own experiences as they traveled across Thailand to cities including Bangkok, Phetchabun, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. While there, they discussed cultural similarities and differences with local emerging adults in Thailand. By traveling from city to city, students were able to see how socioeconomic settings and geography affect the lives of different emerging Thai adults.

As Peyton Holahan ’19 recalls,

The readings for our May Term were really interesting and relevant to the cultures and places we encountered. The topics in our readings varied from the collectivist[…] ideals in Thai society, to the importance of education, to the role of the transgender community in Thailand. Almost every day, we would have group discussions about our assigned readings and consider how the readings related to what we experienced or could possibly experience in our daily ventures.

Holahan ’19

When asked to talk about one of the most interesting parts of their trip, multiple students talked about their visit to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok where they were able to interact with Thai students. Through talking one-on-one with each other and asking questions about their social and academic lives, they came to realize that perhaps they were not so different after all.

Holahan describes how her group quickly learned that social media plays a huge role in Thai student’s everyday lives, just as media does in the United States. In fact, because of the interactions with the Chulalongkorn students, Ms. Holahan came to realize that:

[…]the Thai students in Bangkok had very similar lives to our own in that most of them were working towards getting a degree and were still financially dependent on their parents. Spending the day at Chula and getting to know Thai students on a personal level completely contradicted my initial belief that our cultures were so far apart.

Sarah Hughes ’19 also mentioned her experiences talking with the psychology graduate students at Chulalongkorn University.

[…] It was funny[;] the first question they asked was about our current president and our political systems. They did not understand that our political system creates conflicts because in Thailand everyone worships the Royal Family. […] One conversation that stood out to me was when a student asked if our traffic jams in the U.S. only lasted approximately thirty minutes. I thought this was a strange question, but I shortly learned that it is easier to walk somewhere than drive because traffic jams can last for three hours.

Sarah Hughes ’19

Molly Zydel ’19 noted that for all the similarities, Thai and USA cultures are fundamentally different.

Thai culture is very different from US culture, in so many ways. First off, it is a collectivist[…] culture, meaning they emphasize the collective whole rather than the individual. This was observed in many ways, but especially in the way they treated each other. I never once saw a Thai person yelling. Thai people are also much more conservative. They don’t really like talking about themselves. 

Molly Zydel ’19

This was most noticeable during the talk with graduate students from Chulalongkorn University, as Zydel continued on to say.

[…] As Americans, we were much more open to answering questions about ourselves, but when we asked them questions, the Thai students often struggled in speaking up to answer them, especially when we asked questions that were uncomfortable in the first place (e.g. we asked about sex outside of marriage and if it happened, and that question clearly made them uncomfortable).

Through their traveling, students were further exposed to various ways of thinking about life and their own culture. For Sarah Hughes ’19, the first few moments in Thailand were a startling contrast with her home in Maryland.

As soon as we landed in Bangkok I noticed many differences. For starters[,] the airport was half-inside and half-outside. We had been traveling for 23 hours in nice cold air conditioning and the second you stepped into the airport it felt like 100 degrees or more because of the humidity. Before our trip, everyone had told us to prepare for the heat but none of us expected it to be as hot and as humid as it was. I am from Maryland near Washington D.C. and I thought I knew what humidity was, but oh[,] I was wrong. The humidity in Thailand was something I have never experienced before.

Sarah Hughes ’19

Later, Ms. Hughes began to notice something else about the differences between the United States of America and Thailand.

In the United States we tend to separate poor areas from the rich areas, but in Thailand you will have a gorgeous temple that the Rama (king) built next to shacks that people live in. It stood out to me because you would have thousands of tourist[s] admiring these stunning buildings and next door are [the homeless] or people that live in a small shack without running water.

These observations fall in line with the readings, as Peyton Holahan noted…

I remember leading a group discussion on two readings about the importance of social class in society. These readings directly related to our experiences because it was clear that social class in Thai society affected the paths of Thai emerging adults as to whether they got an education or started working at a young age to support themselves. Social class was a key factor in many of the places we visited because we witnessed higher social classes in urban areas like Bangkok.

In cities like Bangkok, education was emphasized for emerging adults because they were in an urban setting with plenty of accessible resources that stressed academic goals for better jobs and opportunities. On the other hand, we also witnessed the extent of lower social classes in more rural areas like Phetchabun. In such areas, emerging adults usually resorted to working at young ages to support their families instead of pursuing higher education because it was rarely an option within their socioeconomic sphere.

In addition to these observations and experiences, students were also able to have some fun as well. Continue to part II to learn about some of the student’s and professor’s favorite parts of the trip, including getting to spend the day with elephants.

 

To see more pictures of the trip, click here to go to the official RC May Term Facebook Page.

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Questioning about Armenian Genocide

Throughout the semester Dr. Gornick and her Psychology of Genocide class pondered, discussed and evaluated some of the most horrific human rights violations the world has seen. Sifting through tough psychological concepts (conflicting moral values, tyrants, discrimination -dehumanization and scapegoating, individual helping and international aid, guilt- survivors paradox and reconciliation) a larger picture emerged linking personal experiences to national and international concerns.

Midway through the semester, students were anonymously told about a member of our campus community who’s family survived the Armenian Genocide. From this discussion, students wrote amazing, professional, compelling and companionate interview questions. Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Berenson the following video was made to answer those questions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJvZGvf5-lE

 

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So You’re Joining A Cult. Here Are 10 Things You Should Know.

Featured is the 10th and final Buzzfeed-style blog post from Dr. Osterman’s Social Psychology class! This article focuses on cult life.

Click this link to learn more!

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So You Got a Bid, Now What?: 10 Things Psychology Can Tell Us About Greek Life

Featured is the ninth post from Dr. Osterman’s Social Psychology class! This article focuses on Greek Life behaviors.

Click this link to learn more!

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10 Differences in Psychology between Eastern and Western Cultures You Won’t Believe!

For the next couple of weeks, we will be featuring Dr. Osterman’s social psychology class assignment where they were tasked with researching and writing a Buzzfeed-style article on a number of topics.

 The first article focuses on differences among Eastern and Western cultures. Click this link to learn more!

 

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Gilley, Claros and Gornick at the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists (SSSP) Conference

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Three members of the Rhetoric and Social Perception (RASP) Lab, Sean Gilley, Nataly Claros, and Dr. Gornick journeyed to Asheville, NC to present research on politics and integrative complexity. Originally proposed as a poster, their presentation Secretaries of State: A Brief Rhetorical Analysis was offered one of ten data blitz spots.  Sean Gilley did an amazing job presenting in this difficult format! Overall the conference was a great success and we hope to repeat the trip next November!

 

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Summer Counselor Positions

Florida International University Center for Children and Families 2017 Summer Treatment Program — Counselor Positions

by Eduardo Merille
by Eduardo Merille

The Center for Children and Families at Florida International University announces Summer Treatment Program Counselor positions for 2017. The Summer Treatment Program (STP) provides services to children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, learning problems, and related behavior problems. The program provides treatment tailored to children’s individual behavioral and learning difficulties. Counselors will work in the STP-PreK, for children in preschool or entering Kindergarten, or the STP-E, for children ages 6-12 in elementary school. The Center for Children and Families is directed by William E. Pelham, Jr., Ph.D., who is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Florida International University. Paulo Graziano, Ph.D., and Katie Hart, Ph.D., are the Program Directors for the STP-PreK, and Erika Coles, Ph.D., is the Program Director for the STP-E.

The dates of employment for the Counselor position are Monday, June 5, 2017 through Saturday, August 12, 2017. Counselor hours of employment are 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Friday, and on Saturday, August 12. In addition, Counselors continue to work with the children until 8:30 PM one evening each week while parents participate in weekly parent training groups.

Counselors are paid a salary of $4,000 for the summer. In addition, current students may be able to arrange for academic course credit through their university departments.

Read more below!

Continue reading Summer Counselor Positions

Psychological Adaptation

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Go ahead and please click this link to read Dr. Osterman’s PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology class’s fourth and final post on a psychological adaptation. This one is on evolved taste preferences and aversions.

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Why Pineapples Don’t Belong on Pizza

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(3rd of 4th blog post done by PSYC 376 students)

Dr. Osterman’s  PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology students examined the topic of the evolutionary function of morning sickness.

Please visit this link to read more about the topic of morning sickness!!

 

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Psych Students’ Blogs

Check out Dr. Osterman’s PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology’s blog! The students spent all semester working on their posts; this week’s topic is cognitive adaptations to detect cheaters in social exchanges.

cheating

 

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Psych Students’ Blogs

Check out Dr. Osterman’s PSYC 376: Evolutionary Psychology’s blog! The students spent all semester working on their posts; this week’s topic is the biological fear of small animals.

animal-meme

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Shannon Yard and her Semester in D.C.

Shannon Yard ’18, a junior Psychology major, is a health and basic needs intern during her time at the Lutheran College Washington Semester Program.
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“I am the Health and Basic Needs Intern at Horton’s Kids. HK is an organization devoted to serving the Wellington Park community in DC’s Ward 8. Most recently at work I called over fifty mental health providers to find one that would be a good partner for us to provide counseling and therapy to the children enrolled in our program. My supervisor has set up meetings with a few potential matches, but during the process I learned more about the many differences in counseling and therapy practices and had to evaluate which ones would be the best for our kids. On a day-to-day basis, I distribute diapers to parents in need, help families access the emergency food pantry, and (my personal favorite) work directly with the kids during homework help or tutoring.

Continue reading Shannon Yard and her Semester in D.C.

Mind Over Mid-terms: A Mindset Intervention

 

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Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

 

See the link below to learn more about how to adapt your mindset about your upcoming midterms!

Mind Over Midterms

 

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Welcome to Our New Faculty Members!

LETS GIVE A BIG WELCOME TO THE PSYCHOLOGY DEPARTMENT’S NEWEST MEMBERS!

Athena Buckthought

Dr. Athena Buckthought

Dr. Buckthought received her B.Sc. in Physics, M.Sc. in Psychology (Neuroscience) and a Ph.D. in Psychology (’04) from Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. Her current research interests are visual perception, cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, specifically looking at stereopsis and motion parallax, as well as using psychophysics and functional brain imaging.

She is currently teaching Cognitive Psychology and Psychology in the Media. Dr. Buckthought is looking to recruit students for her research lab. More information on her lab and the type of students she is looking for can be found at: http://www.roanoke.edu/inside/a-z_index/psychology/research_and_internships/undergraduate_research/dr_buckthoughts_research_lab

Dr. Mills-Smith

Dr. Laura Mills-Smith

Dr. Mills-Smith received B.A.s in Anthropology (’09), English (’09), and Psychology (’10) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in Psychology (’13) from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in developmental science (’16) from Virginia Tech. Dr. Mills-Smith’s research focuses on infant language learning and the social context in which it happens, specifically focusing on basic interests in audiovisual perception, face processing, joint attention, and the role and importance of contingency for language acquisition and social development.

She is currently teaching Intro to Psychology and Developmental Psychology. More information on Dr. Mills-Smith’s research lab can be found at: http://www.roanoke.edu/inside/a-z_index/psychology/research_and_internships/undergraduate_research/dr_mills-smiths_research_lab.

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Pathways Summer Internship Program

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This summer, as a part of the Pathways Summer Internship Program, Consumer Products Safety Commission is offering an internship to any current full-time or part-time student who resides within the D.C. Metro area.

Students should have at least a 3.0 GPA and are required to submit a resume and a college transcript, as well as answering interview questions. The deadline for this internship is MARCH 28.

Please see link for more information and application: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/433063900/

** If you do apply, make sure to select Social Sciences GS-0199.

If you have any questions about the internship, please contact Dr. Powell (dpowell@roanoke.edu), as she has previously participated in this internship opportunity.

 

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Zentangle!

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Zen_Group

On the Thursday before midterm exams began RC Psychology Association and Psi Chi, with support from Zentangle Inc., hosted a Zentangle: De-stress & Refocus event for students at the college. Psychology students could earn research credit and Honors program students could earn class I credit for attendance. More than 35 students came out to Zentangle! During the event, students heard about the technique known as Zentangle (https://www.zentangle.com/) and created their own Zentangle square. Additionally, the students left the session with a Zentangling pen and a couple squares so they could continue Zentangling on their own as they geared up for midterms. Everyone seemed to enjoy the session, so we hope to have Sacil back on campus in the future for another de-stressing and refocusing event! 

 

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DR. NICHOLS’S INQ 277: EXPERIENCING VISION

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These photos, taken by Stephanie Buturla, were a part of Dr. Nichols’s INQ 277 May term titled “Exploring Vision Through the Eye of the Lens”.

This class utilized the digital camera as both a metaphor for the human eye and as a tool to create photographic representations of principles of human vision.  Cameras and the human eye were compared and contrasted in order to better understand both. Mechanisms of human visual perception, such as color vision, depth perception, and motion perception, were discussed in lecture format and then assignments carried out wherein students take purposeful photographs to illuminate the discussion topics.  The idea is that application through photography of principles discussed in relation to human vision, i.e. how we sense and perceive the world, may give us a better understanding of how and why the human vision system works the way it does.  Photographic expeditions were done both around campus and as part of full day trips.

DR. NICHOLS’S INQ 277: EXPERIENCING VISION

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These photos, taken by Gaby Ghosn, were a part of Dr. Nichols’s INQ 277 May term titled “Exploring Vision Through the Eye of the Lens”.

This class utilized the digital camera as both a metaphor for the human eye and as a tool to create photographic representations of principles of human vision.  Cameras and the human eye were compared and contrasted in order to better understand both. Mechanisms of human visual perception, such as color vision, depth perception, and motion perception, were discussed in lecture format and then assignments carried out wherein students take purposeful photographs to illuminate the discussion topics.  The idea is that application through photography of principles discussed in relation to human vision, i.e. how we sense and perceive the world, may give us a better understanding of how and why the human vision system works the way it does.  Photographic expeditions were done both around campus and as part of full day trips.

Dr. Nichol’s INQ 277: Experiencing Vision

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These photos, taken by Kristen Macquire, were a part of Dr. Nichol’s INQ 277 May term titled “Exploring Vision Through the Eye of the Lens”.

This class utilized the digital camera as both a metaphor for the human eye and as a tool to create photographic representations of principles of human vision.  Cameras and the human eye were compared and contrasted in order to better understand both. Mechanisms of human visual perception, such as color vision, depth perception, and motion perception, were discussed in lecture format and then assignments carried out wherein students take purposeful photographs to illuminate the discussion topics.  The idea is that application through photography of principles discussed in relation to human vision, i.e. how we sense and perceive the world, may give us a better understanding of how and why the human vision system works the way it does.  Photographic expeditions were done both around campus and as part of full day trips.

Summer Psych Classes!

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It’s not too late to sign up for classes over the summer!

Summer Term 1 (June 1st to June 26th):
Psych 270 A – Drugs & Behavior with Dr. Allen
“An examination of the mechanisms of actions, uses, effects and abuse liability of a range of drugs. Both therapeutic drugs (such as antidepressants and antipsychotics) and recreational drugs (such as alcohol, stimulants and marijuana) will be addressed.”

Summer Term 2 (June 29th to July 24th):
Psych 325 A – Social Psychology with Dr. Osterman
“Study of the influence of people on each other’s behavior, including social influence and social interaction.

Psych 450 A – History of Psychology with Dr. Buchholz
“Examination of the major systems in psychology with an emphasis on its 19th-century origins to the present.”