Posts under tag: research
Our annual State of the Department Report for 2019 summarizes our scholarship, undergraduate education, and graduate education activities for the past academic year. We’ve had a busy year! A brief summary is below, and you can read the full report here.
Psychology’s research and scholarly activity has been very vigorous during the last year. With regard to the most important aspect, namely peer-reviewed journal articles, our department presented 218 publications (i.e., about 6.4 per faculty member) and many of these were in the best, discipline- specific and cross-disciplinary journals. Other indicators, such as grant funding (combined 29 active grants with a total volume of $29 million) and national-level awards to our faculty are consistent with a highly productive department. Aside from a strong emphasis on basic-science research, faculty in our department also often engage in research with direct, societal impact.
In terms of teaching, Psychology continues to be one of the largest and by all metrics, most efficient providers of student credit hours on campus.
In terms of graduate education, Psychology continues to attract highly talented graduate students and we can afford to be highly selective in our admissions (14 admissions out of 438 applicants). At the same time, the department should work on growing our class size by 2-3 students per year, which may require extra recruitment efforts and/or adjustments in our initial interview offers. Our clinical graduate program serves a particularly important function in terms of training research-oriented clinical psychologists and its involvement in the associated Psychology Clinic, which provides both training opportunities and serves the community’s mental health needs.
Several of the amazing undergraduate students in our department participated in the 9th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium earlier this month. You can see pictures of them and their scientific posters in the gallery below.
Now in its ninth year, the Symposium has grown to 513 presenters and 290 faculty mentors spanning 75 majors, 21 minor programs, 33 minors, and eight colleges. It is so exciting to see the rapid growth of the Symposium since it began in 2011 with 69 presenters and 40 faculty mentors, and the fantastic student work that it showcases—over 2,000 students in its nine-year history.
We are pleased to share our inaugural State of the Department Report for the 2017-2018 Academic Year. This report was compiled in response to a call from the Provost to set goals and monitor progress, and is an intended to be a frank assessment of our accomplishments for the present year and aspirations for the next. We think we had a pretty good year!
Update: Our departmental winner, Sarah Donaldson, earned second place in the campus-wide 3MT finals during Grad Forum. Congrats, Sarah! Pics of our students, Sarah and Cameron Kay are below. Psychology was the only department with 2 finalists.
The Department hosted a successful Three-Minute Thesis (#3MT) Competition last week. Titles and abstracts of the presentations are below. The winner, Sarah Donaldson, will compete with students from other disciplines at Grad Forum, Friday May 11 in the EMU (prelim rounds at 10:00). Sarah, Cameron Kay, and Jeff Peterson – plus a whole bunch of other grads – will all be participating in the Forum!
Congrats, all, on this excellent work!
Testosterone, Cortisol, and Risk-Taking Behaviors in Adolescents
Sarah Donaldson (Winner!)
Current evidence suggests that testosterone’s (T) influence on risk-taking behaviors is moderated by levels of cortisol (C), a “stress hormone” released by the HPA axis. Specifically, T has a positive association with risk-taking when levels of C are low. While this interaction has been demonstrated in adults, no work to-date has investigated this model in adolescents. We obtained baseline saliva samples from 149 adolescents, ages 11-17 years, who then played a simulated driving game (the Yellow Light Game; YLG) as a behavioral measure of risk. In the YLG, participants make decisions about whether to “STOP” or “GO” at several consecutive intersections, and any “GO” decisions involves a risk of crashing with another car in the game. Results showed the opposite pattern, namely that testosterone predicted a decrease in risk-taking when levels of C were low. Future work will explore this interaction and how it relates to brain activity across adolescent development.
The trident of Westeros: Morality and the Dark Triad in fictional characters
Coined by Paulhus and Williams (2002), the Dark Triad comprises three related—yet distinct—personality traits: Machiavellianism, subclinical narcissism, and subclinical psychopathy. Machiavellianism refers to a tendency to exhibit cynicism, amorality, and manipulativeness, whereas narcissism refers to a tendency towards vanity, entitlement, and superiority. Psychopathy, in contrast, refers to a combination of impulsivity and a lack of empathy. These three traits have often been linked to immorality. However, it hasn’t been shown that those high in the Dark Triad traits are necessarily perceived to be less moral. In a sample of undergraduate students, we found that fictional characters rated as being high in the Dark Triad traits were considered to be less moral than those characters rated as being low in the Dark Triad traits. This effect was greatest for psychopathy, followed by Machiavellianism, and, lastly, narcissism. A similar pattern was found in a complementary study using non-fictional people.
Intergroup Empathic Accuracy: To Use or Not To Use Stereotypes
Empathic accuracy is the similarity between what a perceiver infers a target is thinking at a specific moment and the target’s actual thought. Intergroup contexts are important for investigating empathic accuracy, and factors influencing it, within since perceptual inaccuracies have been associated with worse intergroup outcomes (Holoien et al., 2015). The only intergroup context in which empathic accuracy has been studied used new mothers as targets and found that using stereotypes to infer the targets’ thoughts was associated with better empathic accuracy (Lewis et al., 2012). However, this relationship likely varies depending on the intergroup context since the accuracy of stereotypes varies among groups. The current study investigated white perceivers’ inferences for the thoughts of Middle Eastern men. Our results indicated that perceivers’ use of the words spoken by the men during their interviews to infer the men’s thoughts was associated with better empathic accuracy, while using stereotypes was not.
Congratulations to Professors Maureen Zalewski and Elliot Berkman, who recently won awards from the Association for Psychological Science!
Zalewski was named a Rising Star for 2017. Rising Stars are “outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research careers”.
Berkman received a Janet Taylor Spence Award for 2017. The APS Janet Taylor Spence Award recognizes transformative early career contributions to psychological science.
Congrats, Maureen and Elliot!
An essay by psychology faculty member Dr. Holly Arrow and clinical graduate student Bill Schumacher has been reprinted in Newsweek. Their piece, “Explaining the ‘moral injury’ that leads to military veterans’ suicides”, was posted on Memorial Day. You can read their powerful discussion of guilt, moral injury, and the effects on military veterans here on the Newsweek website.
The department’s annual Celebration of Undergraduate Achievement will be taking place this Friday, June 2nd, at 3:30PM in the 2nd floor atrium of the Lewis Integrative Sciences building.
In this event, graduating psychology honors undergraduate students present posters describing the research that they have conducted and share their results with attendees. This event is open to all!
See a list of the honors projects that will be presented here.