Psi Chi congratulates the 2004-05 Faculty Advisors Research Grant winners. Listed alphabetically, the winning faculty advisors are:
- Dr. Renae Franiuk, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Midwestern Region
"Effects of Exposure to Rape Myths in Headlines on Attitudes Toward Rape Victims"
- Dr. Meredith Kneavel, Chestnut Hill College (PA), Eastern Region
"Effects of Written Emotional Expression on Cortisol Levels and Health Outcomes: A Comparison of Handwriting Versus Typing"
- Dr. Matthew Weeks, Centenary College of Louisiana, Southwestern Region
"The Social Cognition of Religion"
- Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Eastern Region
"Studying Personality Development in Midlife Adults: Psychosocial Versus Trait-Based Approaches"
- Dr. Betty Witcher, Peace College (NC), Southeastern Region
"Injunctive and Descriptive Norms: Increasing Consumption of Healthy Foods"
Effects of Exposure to Rape Myths in Headlines on Attitudes Toward Rape Victims
Renae FraniukAurora University (IL)
Past researchers have shown that the news media employ rape myths (e.g., "she's lying") in articles covering sexual assault cases (e.g., Los & Chamard, 1997) and that this exposure can bias people in favor of the defendant (Franiuk, Seefelt, Cepress, & Vandello, 2006). The present research examined the causal effects of brief exposure to rape myths in media coverage of sexual assaults. Participants (N
=154) were exposed to headlines endorsing or not endorsing rape myths and then their endorsement of rape myths was assessed. Results generally were driven by the gender of the participants. Male participants exposed to myth-endorsing headlines were more likely to endorse rape myths than were female participants. This research shows that even brief exposure to rape myths reinforces men's prototypical representations of sexual assault, making them more likely to explain away claims of sexual assault that do not fit their narrow definitions.
Renae Franiuk is an assistant professor of psychology at Aurora University. She completed her BS in psychology and her MA and PhD in social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Upon completing her PhD, Dr. Franiuk was an assistant professor for three years at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP). She is now at Aurora University and teaches undergraduate courses in general psychology, personality psychology, social psychology, interdisciplinary studies, and violence against women.
Dr. Franiuk's primary research interests involve romantic relationships (e.g., implicit theories of relationships) and gender issues (e.g., sexual assault in the news media, discrimination in the workforce). At the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, Dr. Franiuk was a coadvisor of Psi Chi for two years and the primary advisor of Psi Chi for one year. Several UWSP Psi Chi students assisted Dr. Franiuk in her research and presented posters at local, regional, and national conferences. At Aurora University (Psi Chi chapter established in 2005), Dr. Franiuk currently has one Psi Chi student assisting with her research.
Effects of Written Emotional Expression on Cortisol Levels and Health Outcomes: A Comparison of Handwriting Versus Typing
Meredith Kneavel, PhDChestnut Hill College (PA)
Written emotional expression has been shown to improve health outcomes of college students and decrease clinical symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma patients (Smyth, Stone, Hurewitz, & Kaell, 1999). This research was designed to investigate whether there is a physiological stress link to the health benefits of written emotional expression. Additionally, this research tested the hypothesis that typing would yield the same results as handwriting. A 2 x 2 design investigated the effects of the 2 writing mediums and the 2 disclosure protocols (trauma vs. control) on health outcomes and salivary cortisol levels which were measured at baseline, at completion of the 3-day writing, and at a 3-month follow-up. Consistent with previous research, results indicated a significant change in at least one of the health outcomes, the number of days missed from school or work. Unexpectedly there was no significant change in the number of colds, health center visits, or cortisol levels at the 3-month follow-up. Results are discussed in terms of reasons unique to this sample and previous findings.
Meredith Kneavel's scholarly interests include physiological effects of stress on the structure and function of the brain including neurotransmitter release, dendritic changes, and alterations in hormone release. Doctoral and postdoctoral work focused on investigation of these variables through transgenic and knockout gene technology with an emphasis on sex differences. Currently, the research focuses on the long-term effects of stress on behaviors such as learning and memory and health-related outcomes as well as variables related to and contributing to stress particularly in college-age students. A side area of interest and recent publications includes analysis of pop culture's treatment of psychology and psychopharmacology. In addition, Dr. Kneavel is the faculty advisor for Psi Chi and Delta Epsilon Sigma, the National Honors Society for Catholic colleges and universities. The Social Cognition of Religion
Matthew Weeks, PhDCentenary College of Louisiana
Personal religion is a fundamental aspect of many people's lives. Consequently, a body of research has developed examining the impact of religious schemas and religious attributions as they relate to social behavior. The current study examined the use of proximal and distal religious attributions as they related to (a) the activation of one's religious schema and (b) traditional measures of religiosity. Initial analyses reveal a positive correlation between intrinsic religiosity and attributions to God, though neither extrinsic religious or Quest orientations were related to attributions to God. Also, consistent with previous research, respondents used more distal than proximal attributions to God, but this was particularly true for high intrinsically religious respondents.
Matthew Weeks is an assistant professor of psychology and the Hutchinson Family Endowed Research Professor at Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, LA. He has a BA in psychology from Kentucky Wesleyan College and an MS and a PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Memphis (TN). Dr. Weeks is a social psychologist with research interests in stereotyping and prejudice and the psychology of religion.
Studying Personality Development in Midlife Adults: Psychosocial Versus Trait-Based Approaches
Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhDUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
This study compared the Inventory of Psychosocial Development (IPD) based on Erikson's (1963) psychosocial model of "change," and the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) based on Costa and McCrae's (1992) Five Factor Model of "stability." The questionnaires were administered to undergraduates (n
= 38) and midlife adults (n
= 15). It was hypothesized that the questionnaires tapped the same personality attributes on the Industry versus Inferiority stage of the IPD and the facets dealing with Conscientiousness on the NEO-PI-R. It was also hypothesized that Intimacy vs. Isolation on the IPD and the Warmth and Gregariousness facets on the NEO-PI-R would be correlated. The findings, based on bivariate correlations, indicated that the measures were similar along the hypothesized attributes, as well as on other scales, but differed on most of the remaining personality dimensions. The findings provide valuable data on personality change and stability measures that can be examined in more depth in future studies.
Susan Krauss Whitbourne (PhD, Columbia) is a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Whitbourne has published 17 books and over 125 journal articles and chapters, mostly in the field of adult development and aging. Currently, she is completing a 34-year longitudinal study. A recipient of the University Distinguished Teaching Award (2001) and Outstanding Advising Award (2006), Dr. Whitbourne has received the Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging) Master Mentor Award and the Gerontological Society Mentor Award. She is the author of Abnormal Psychology with Richard Halgin, and Adult Development and Aging: Biopsychosocial Perspectives. A past president of Division 20, she served two terms as council representative and is now chair-elect of the Policy and Planning Board. Currently, she serves as president of the Society for the Study of Human Development. Psi Chi advisor and director of the Scholarship Advisement Office, she is now the Psi Chi Eastern Regional Vice-President.
Injunctive and Descriptive Norms: Increasing Consumption of Healthy Foods
Betty S. Witcher, PhDPeace College (NC)
Descriptive and injunctive norms have been found to guide behavior (Cialdini, 2003). When these norms indicate opposing actions, descriptive norms often appear stronger. However, the alignment of these norms can greatly improve the ability to alter behavior (e.g., encouraging recycling). This study examines the impact of descriptive and injunctive norms on food choice. It is hypothesized that the injunctive norm to eat healthy will only impact behavior if others are also eating healthy foods. Sixty-three participants were recruited. The injunctive norm to eat healthy was manipulated through the use of posters. The descriptive norm was manipulated by leaving remnants of previous participants' food choices in a waiting room. Participants also completed a food preference survey. Two-way analyses of variance were performed to examine the impact of injunctive and descriptive norms on food choice. The manipulation injunctive and descriptive norms did not affect food choice. Limitations and future research are discussed.
Betty S. Witcher is an associate professor of psychology at Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina where she has taught courses in social psychology, attitudes, research methods, and general psychology since 1999. She received her BA in psychology at Texas A & M University in 1993 and her PhD in social psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has served as Psi Chi Advisor since 2000 and has supervised over 20 student research projects since that time. Her research interests include close relationships and social influence, specifically conflict within dating relationships and how norms affect consumer behavior in the laboratory. Her work has been published in journals including the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology and she has made numerous presentations at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Southeastern Psychological Association.