Participant Research Presentations

We invited all 2011 participants to submit a research presentation abstract. Acceptance decisions have been made; and six have been selected who gave a PowerPoint presentation at QTUG this year.  the top 3 presentations qualified for monetary research awards. Thank you to all applicants. 

Here are the six accepted abstracts in alphabetical order by author:

Jalen Alexander, Lily Fesler, Adam Purdy, Michael Yee, Lisa Dierker, & Maggie Feldman-Piltch

A combination of two projects of research and analysis that were conducted during my first year at Wesleyan University is discussed. My initial research involved delving into standardized test scores within the school district of Middletown, CT. I investigated the relationship between Socioeconomic Status (through a Free/Reduced Meals Variable) and Test Scores, and what role gender played in the outcome. I was able to display results for all four sections of the exam: Math, Reading, Writing, and Science. Throughout the process, I also tested for various additional variables such as race, special education status, and English language learner status. During my second semester, I sought to extend my research by answering a more direct question presented by the school district itself.  I worked with a team to answer the question of how stability--years of staying on expected school track-- within a district correlated with standardized test scores over time. Using an HLM model, my team was able to simulate scores for students who were once in the district, but moved away at some point. In both projects the Middletown school district served as the testing population. Results from both projects will be presented.

First Prize Winner!
Amanda ElBassiouny, Debbie Van Camp & Lloyd R. Sloan

Religious identity is understudied in the psychological domain and Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) hasn’t been utilized to explain religious identity.  Can religious identity be experienced as an individual or group identity or both?  The intent is to assess key dimensions of religious identity.  The instrument included 91 items assessing social and individual aspects of religiosity.  It was administered to 118 Howard University undergraduates.  A factor analysis was conducted on the items in the individual / social religious identity scale and the factors were constrained to be orthogonal.  From the analysis, a four factor solution (accounting for 54% of the variance) included individual faith identity, religious group identity, social benefits of religion, and personal benefits of religion.  These factors represent two dimensions of identity (individual / social) and two external uses of religion (individual / social).  The individual and social religious identity scales were significantly correlated with each other, religious centrality, and religious commitment.  Whether religious identity is experienced as an individual or group identity, both are internalized and are central identities.  The two external uses of religion correlated weakly with religious centrality, intrinsic orientation, and commitment, suggesting that people also engage in religion for extrinsic benefits.  

Second Prize Winner!
Sarah Gaither & Samuel R. Sommers, PhD

This study investigated the impact of institutional efforts to promote diversity through following same-race (White/White) and interracial (White/non-White) roommate pairings living in campus dormitories. Data for this longitudinal study were collected from 144 first-year college students who were tracked across three phases during a one-year time span, the third phase being an in-lab video-taped interracial interaction with a Black confederate. Specifically, this study evaluated the long-term cognitive and behavioral effects of regular interactions with either a same-race or other-race roommate. Results suggest that there are a number of positive effects stemming from interactions with an other-race roommate such as having a more diverse set of friends, thinking diversity is more important, and learning more about oneself. These positive effects were also seen through participant’s nonverbal behavior during the in-lab interaction where participants with other-race roommates were rated by blind-to-condition video coders as being happier, smiling more, more likeable, being more physically engaged, and being more positive overall within the interaction. Thus, the results show that despite past research highlighting negative outcomes of having interracial interactions, other-race roommate relationships can help lessen interracial anxiety and increase positivity toward racial outgroups in future interracial settings. 

Third Prize Winner!
Simon Howard & Sam Sommers, Ph.D.

The criminal justice system is a system that continues to exhibit dramatic racial disparities in arrest and incarceration rates. Indeed, even false convictions disproportionately involve racial minorities, as demonstrated by the fact that out of 279 people who have been freed in the past few decades through DNA exoneration, 60% are African Americans. Seventy-five percent of post-conviction DNA exoneration cases in the United States involved mistaken eyewitness identifications. Of these 75%, a significant amount involve cross racial identification (at least 40%). Cross-race misidentifications can be explained in part by a phenomenon called the Cross Race Effect (CRE), which is the tendency for individuals to find it more difficult to recognize and distinguish faces of individuals from other races. The present study explores the CRE using a lineup identification paradigm (currently less than 9% of the published scholarship has used this paradigm) and the effect that duration of exposure to an individual’s face has on eyewitness memory. The traditional CRE was found; however, there was no evidence supporting the hypothesis that the longer the exposure to an individual’s face the better one’s memory will be for that face later. Limitations and future directions are discussed. 

Tanya Nichols
A predominantly-White institution (PWI) can be stressful for Black students given the challenging campus experiences that are likely during the first year of college. Studies report that perceptions of a supportive campus environment are related to higher levels of emotional resilience; however, intolerance toward minority students can explain their maladjustment with the institution. Similarly, research reveals that Black college students experience higher levels of minority stress and negative perceptions of campus climate than other minorities at PWI’s. Given their experiences at a PWI, Black students have employed various coping strategies to manage their perceived stress; a lack of student-institution “fit” can predict negative adjustment outcomes in Black students attending such institutions. This study investigated whether coping mediates the association between campus climate (i.e. cultural congruity, university-environment) and well-being (i.e. depressive, anxiety, and somatic symptoms). A sample of 121 first-year Black students at a PWI completed an online survey during the 2010-2011 school year. Step-wise regressions revealed that perceptions of cultural congruity predicted fewer depressive symptoms and was fully mediated by coping. Campus climate and coping were both significant predictors of anxiety. Findings suggest the importance of understanding Black students’ coping processes and psychosocial factors that independently relate to psychological well-being.

Kalynda C. Smith & Deborah Roberts

The purpose of the current study is to aid students in developing a stable self-concept through implementing a newly designed Social Emotional Learning (SEL) course. It is hypothesized that, according to the SEL framework, the teaching of this course will lead to the improvement of various aspects of the students’ lives, such as overall well-being, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control, while decreasing anxiety and depressive systems.  Participants will be middle school students who will take an eight week course in which they will read chapters from the text under evaluation, Discover YourSelf, Book One of the YourSelf Series, which includes chapters on the brain, emotions, the psyche, morals, the body, and the mind/body connection.  They will then discuss the chapters in class with a peer leader, while the teacher will serve to clarify and guide the conversations.  Intermittently, the students will take quizzes to ensure they understand the course material and will be asked to evaluate the text.  The study will be a within subjects design in which students will take pre- and post-test measures of the above mentioned variables, and the data will be analyzed using a one sample t-test.