2007-2008 APS Summer Research Grant Abstracts
What is the Role of Executive Function in Visual Search?
University of Central Arkansas
Faculty Sponsor: Shawn R. Charlton, PhD
There are occupations that require high levels of cognitive processing which are associated with executive function, such as air traffic controllers and baggage screeners. Executive function includes a variety of higher-level cognitive processes that require both working memory and top-down attention. There are currently instruments that measure each of these functions separately, but traditionally they have not been related. This study attempts to bridge the gap between these two higher-level cognitive functions using the operational span (OSPAN) scores as a measure of working memory capacity (WMC) and the response times based on a visual search task as a measure of top-down attention.
“Use It or Lose It” and Transfer Effects in Older Adults
Ashley P. Gunn
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Faculty Sponsor: Lori James, PhD
Popular belief indicates that using one’s cognitive abilities can prevent their decline. This study determined how levels of cognitive processing affect word retrieval, and if deeper processing causes improvement in a word retrieval task to transfer to another recall task. Participants were given a puzzle to complete and were asked to answer 60 definitional questions, with answers to 20 questions among the words used in the puzzles. It was hypothesized that participants would answer more questions correctly when the answer was a previously primed word. Those in the crossword condition were expected to do better on the questions for which they had not been primed, due to transfer-appropriate processing theories. Preliminary results show robust priming effects. Complete analysis is underway.
Optimistic and Pessimistic Bias in European Americans and Asian Americans: Distinguishing Between Predictions for Physical and Psychological Health Outcomes
Jean M. Kim
University of Michigan
Faculty Sponsor: Edward C. Chang, PhD
The present study examined optimistic and pessimistic bias in the prediction of positive and negative physical and psychological health outcomes in European American (n = 171) and Asian American (n = 168) college students. Between-groups analyses indicated that European Americans were more likely to expect positive and negative physical health outcomes to occur to the self than to others. Importantly, within-groups analyses indicated an optimistic bias in European and Asian Americans in predicting negative physical health outcomes, and positive and negative psychological health outcomes. Asian Americans also indicated a pessimistic bias in predicting positive physical health outcomes. This indicates a need to consider cultural variations in cognitive bias as a function of outcome valence and type of outcome predicted.
Toddler’s Learning From Repetition of an Interactive-Style Video
Allison C. Milam
Vanderbilt University (TN)
Faculty Sponsor: Georgene L. Troseth, PhD
This study examined the effect of repetition on toddlers’ learning from an interactive television show. Researchers visited 2-year-olds’ homes twice, showing an episode of Greta’s Games, an interactive television program, on each visit. For the 3 days between visits, participants were randomly assigned to watch either Greta’s Games or a noninteractive program. Researchers measured children’s learning of novel words presented on Greta’s Games and their imitation of novel actions seen on another program. Repetition of the interactive television program did not increase learning of new words, but it did assist in the retention of words previously learned from the program and increase children’s imitation of actions seen on another program.
It Depends on Weather: Seasonal Effects on Environmental Attitudes
Matthew Harold Robinson
Indiana University South Bend
Faculty Sponsor: Michelle Verges, PhD
Two studies seek to address weather as an exogenous factor that may influence environmental attitudes. The first examines weather’s effect on individuals’ concern over the threat of global warming. It was hypothesized that individuals will feel that the threat of global warming is more severe when the weather is unusually warm for the season. The results indicate a moderate opposite effect. This may be due to sampling during a cooler season than expected. The second study examines how weather influences the extent to which people feel “connected” to nature. It is hypothesized that individuals will feel less connected to nature when the weather is poor than when the weather is pleasant. Due to a large sample size, data analysis is ongoing.
The Impact of Imagination on Changes in Memory Reports
Fairfield University (CT)
Faculty Sponsor: Linda Henkel, PhD
The present study examined the impact of imagery on changes in memory reports over time. After watching a videotaped crime under full or divided attention and then remembering details from the scene, participants imagined the scene as depicted in a description of the event by another witness. Some details were not described at all, some were described correctly, and some were described incorrectly. Later participants remembered details from the video again. Preliminary analyses suggest that participants often changed their correct responses on the first test to align on the second test with incorrectly imagined details, and this effect was somewhat more marked when the video was viewed under divided attention. Imagery can cause people to change their memory reports.