Faculty Advisor Research Grant 1998-1999 Winners
Psi Chi congratulates the faculty advisors named below for winning the 1998-1999 competition for the Faculty Advisor Research Grants. Each of the six winners (one from each region) has received up to $1,500 to conduct research during this year. The purpose of this program is to recognize and reward faculty advisors who have committed their time and talents to their Psi Chi chapters by helping defray the direct costs of a research project. This program is consistent with the goals of Psi Chi: (1) to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual members in all fields, especially in psychology, and (2) to advance the professional development of Psi Chi faculty members. Listed alphabetically with their respective regions in brackets, the winning faculty advisors are as follows:
Robert Bartsch, PhD, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Southwestern Region
"Why Do We Have Attitudes? Further Development of the Functionality Theory of Attitudes"
Brad Bushman, PhD, Iowa State University, Midwestern Region
"Do People Aggress to Improve Their Mood"
John P. Davis, PhD, Seattle University, Western Region
"The Effects of Instructing Jurors About Their Rights to Ignore the Law to Do Justice"
Nancy Franklin, PhD, SUNY at Stony Brook, Eastern Region
"The Use of Accurate Versus Discriminable Information in Reality Monitoring"
Rona J. McCall, PhD, Regis University, Rocky Mountain Region
"The New Collaborator in the Classroom: A Longitudinal Investigation of the Effects of Computer-and-Human-Guided Instruction on Math Achievement"
Alan E. Stewart, PhD, University of Florida, Southeastern Region
"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Following Car Crashes"
Why Do We Have Attitudes? Further Development of the Functionality Theory of Attitudes
Robert A. Bartsch, PhD
University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Attitude functionality theory states that attitudes serve individual needs or functions. Some examples of these functions include an instrumental function, which weighs pros and cons, a social-adjustive function, which concerns how to get along with important others, and a defensive function, which allows a person to protect themselves from perceived threats. One study undertaken this year, with undergraduate Epsi Montoya, examined the untested assumption that people use functions consistently from one attitude object to another. Preliminary results indicate that this assumption is correct. This lends power to functionality theory because knowing how a person thinks of one object can help predict how a person thinks about a different object. Another study, conducted with graduate student Alistair MacDonald, examined the relationship between organizational commitment and a person's functions toward working in an organization. Findings indicate that the more a person's attitudes about their job serve a self-esteem maintenance function, the lower their affective and normative commitment and the higher their continuance commitment. Previous studies have indicated that this pattern of commitment leads to worse organizational behaviors such as increased absenteeism, greater turnover, and less helpful organizational behaviors. A third study examined the functions behind attitudes toward the theory of evolution. Findings indicate that controlling for how much people considered themselves a scientist and how religious they considered themselves to be, the more their attitudes served a value-expressive function, the less they agreed with the theory of evolution and the more they agreed with scientific creationism. A fourth study, with undergraduate JoAnn Sarabia, explored the relationship between a person's attitude functions toward the mentally ill and attitudes toward receiving help from mental health professionals. Findings indicate that the more defensive people's attitudes toward mentally ill individuals, the less likely the people want to receive help. Finally, a longitudinal study has begun examining the relationship between functions of attitudes toward attending college and retention.
Robert A. Bartsch, PhD, completed his BA at Rice University in 1991 with a degree in psychology, chemistry, and statistics. He completed his PhD in social psychology in 1996 at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, and the program head for the master's program in applied research psychology. His core teaching courses include Social Psychology, Research Methods, and Advanced Statistics. Dr. Bartsch is coadvisor of the Psychology Club and Psi Chi. In 1998 he received the Chancellor's Outstanding Teaching Award. In 1999 he received the Golden Windmill Award, which is a university award given to promising young researchers. In 1999 and in 2000 he received an appreciation award from the Student Senate for his service to students. He is currently a reviewer for the journals Teaching of Psychology and the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. His primary research interests include attitude functionality theory, psychology and the media, teaching of psychology, and aggression reduction. He is also a writer for Mental Engineering, a television show that examines the psychological and cultural effects that commercials have on people.
Do People Aggress to Improve Their Mood?
Brad J. Bushman, PhD
Iowa State University
Do people aggress to make themselves feel better? We adapted a procedure used by Manucia, Baumann, and Cialdini (1984), in which some participants are given a bogus mood-freezing pill that will make affect regulation efforts ineffective. In Study 1, people who had been induced to believe in the value of catharsis and venting anger responded more aggressively than controls to insulting criticism, but this aggression was eliminated by the mood-freezing pill. Study 2 showed similar results among people with high anger-out (i.e., expressing and venting anger) tendencies. Studies 3 and 4 provided questionnaire data consistent with these interpretations, and Study 5 replicated the findings of Studies 1 and 2 using measures more directly concerned with affect regulation. Taken together, these results suggest that many people may engage in aggression in order to regulate (improve) their own affective states.
Brad Bushman, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University. As an undergraduate student, he was president of the Weber State College Psi Chi Chapter. In 1984, he received the Psi Chi/J. P. Guilford Undergraduate Research Award, and in 1988, he received the Psi Chi/APA Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award. He has been the Psi Chi faculty advisor at Iowa State for seven years. In 1997-98, he received the Psi Chi Midwestern Regional Advisor Award, and in 1998, he received a Psi Chi Faculty Advisor Research Grant for the Midwestern Region.
Dr. Bushman coauthored a paper with a former Psi Chi student, Stacey Sentyrz. The article, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Thinnest One of All? Effects of Self-Awareness on Consumption of Fatty, Reduced-Fat, and Fat-Free Products," was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and was featured in a Health magazine article titled "Reflections of a Healthy Eater" (October 1998, p. 15).
Dr. Bushman does research on the causes and consequences of human aggression. His theory-based research touches on real-world problems and has received important media attention. His research has been featured on ABC News 20/20; CBS This Morning, The Discovery Channel, the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. To learn more about his research, visit Dr. Bushman's webpage: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bbushman/.
The Effects of Instructing Jurors About Their Rights to Ignore the Law and to Do Justice
John Davis, PhD
Jurors can ignore the law to acquit a guilty defendant in a process known as jury nullification. Most jurors, however, believe that they must follow the instructions the judge gives to them, even when they think the punishment is too steep, or the situation is exceptional. Jurors who are informed of their powers to nullify the law do so more often in cases like euthanasia, where sympathy for the defendant is evoked. Little is known, however, about other factors that may interact with knowledge to influence jurors' tendencies to nullify. In this study, mock jurors (college students) who heard a drunk driving/vehicular homicide case nullified the law more often when they were instructed that they could. A manipulation of similarity of the defendant to the jurors (i.e., the defendant was a college student or older adult) had no effect on ratings of guilt, but jurors who reported that they had themselves driven while drunk rated the defendant as less guilty and reported more sympathy for him. This research suggests that nullification is a complex interplay between jurors' characteristics and case-related variables.
As the youngest of seven kids, John Davis, PhD, received informal training in social psychology and personality by necessity from an early age. He parlayed this early experience into a degree from the University of Washington, and is now an assistant professor at Seattle University. At Seattle University, Dr. Davis teaches classes that terrify students (statistics and research methods) and some they look forward to (social psychology). His research interests are in decision making in applied settings. He has also studied jury decision making and eyewitness testimony, and conducted research with Microsoft to better understand how computer users make decisions in a variety of domains.
The New Collaborator in the Classroom: A Longitudinal Investigation of the Effects of Computer- and Human-Guided Instruction on Math Achievement
Rona J. McCall, PhD
Recent research suggests that computers can be used as an effective teaching tool in the classroom; however, it is unclear whether young children can master an academic computer program and understand the material without the guidance of an adult or "expert." Furthermore, studies indicate even young children benefit in the short term from subject-specific programs, but with the exception of a few studies, most have not investigated the long-term impact of hours at the computer or subject-specific programs. The proposed study is designed to look at the relationship between computer use in the classroom, scaffolding, instruction (teacher vs. computer), and math achievement over time. The initial step was to conduct a pilot study to (a) test the proposed methodology, (b) develop a coding scheme for the conversations between the child and adult during the computer sessions, and (c) train student research assistants on the mechanisms of the computer, on how to run the computer program, on how to give 2 standardized tests (DABERON Screening for School Readiness and Test of Early Mathematics Ability-2 [TEMA-2]), and on using the video equipment. Four-year-old participants were given the 2 standardized tests at the beginning and end of a 10-week session. Half of the participants worked on a computer math program once or twice for 30 min with the guidance of a research assistant. All sessions were videotaped. Results showed a slight increase in the TEMA-2 scores for the computer group, but no difference in DABERON scores between the computer group and noncomputer group. Currently, videotapes of the computer sessions are being analyzed to develop a coding scheme for the type of help the children asked for during the computer sessions and the type of assistance the adults gave. So far it is evident that children ask for 3 main types of help: mechanical (i.e., use of machine), program help (i.e., directions for using the program or making it more difficult), and cognitive help (i.e., understanding mathematical concepts). In conclusion, early results indicate that this methodology should be useful in answering the proposed questions about computer use in the classroom with and without adult guidance. Furthermore, there is some indication that computer math programs can potentially improve math performance with the guidance of an adult. Therefore, once a coding scheme has been established, testing will begin on a larger sample of children to determine how much math skills can improve by computer math programs with and without the guidance of an adult.
Rona J. McCall, PhD, received her BA in psychology from Skidmore College and her MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied developmental psychology. Dr. McCall is currently at Regis University in Denver, Colo., where she teaches courses in Developmental Psychology, Cognition, Psychology and the Law, and Psychology of Women. In addition, she does research on academic achievement and failure, using technology/computers to teach children math, and the continuity of care in childcare centers. In all her research she makes sure to include undergraduates from start to finish so that they may gain the skills needed to become good researchers.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Following Car Crashes
Alan E. Stewart, PhD
University of Florida
Previous research on the psychological effects of experiencing a serious car crash has identified several factors (e.g., amount of injury, presence of litigation, fear of death, prior trauma history) that may contribute to an increased likelihood of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a crash. The present research, funded by Psi Chi, seeks to build upon previous work by quantitatively examining a broader range of variables (e.g., fear of death, alexithymia, state and trait dissociative tendencies, resilience and hardiness, etc.) that may mediate or moderate the effects of PSTD after a crash. This research comprises a pilot study that seeks to understand generally the effects of being in a serious crash and also to predict the amount of trauma symptoms victims will experience. This pilot project is ongoing, but nearly complete. Thirty no-crash, no-trauma control participants and 23 participants who experienced a crash within the last year that required medical attention were recruited and administered a comprehensive battery of measures. Crash participants were interviewed for approximately 1 hr to elicit the story of the crashes. Preliminary results from the study revealed that many participants believed that they were going to die as the crash was occurring and afterwards have reported that they are more circumspect and increasingly value their lives. Compared to the no-crash, no-trauma participants, crash participants exhibited significantly greater numbers and severities of a number of trauma-related symptoms, increased driving and riding avoidance, and greater state and trait dissociative tendencies (which may have been a symptom rather than a cause of trauma). Crash victims also reported less social support and decreased emotional as well as overall physical health as long-term effects of their crashes. Efforts are being made to recruit non-university, community-based crash victims to participate in the pilot study.
Alan E. Stewart, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the counseling psychology program at the University of Florida. He also is the faculty advisor for the University of Florida Chapter of Psi Chi. Dr. Stewart earned his BA in psychology and his MA in community clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Georgia. Dr. Stewart has completed psychotherapy postdoctoral training at the Hub Counseling and Education Center in Tucker, Ga., and a research postdoctoral fellowship in psychology at the University of Memphis. He teaches theories of personality and personality research methods and also serves as the practicum coordinator and as a practicum supervisor in the doctoral program. Dr. Stewart's research interests include trauma, loss, and death notification. He also conducts research on family and sibling roles and relationships. His third area of research interest concerns internship, postdoctoral, and licensure issues within clinical and counseling psychology.