Summer Research Grant 2003-2004 Winners
Psi Chi's third year for offering the Summer Research Grant program included five grant winners. Each of the grants included a stipend of $2,500 to the winning Psi Chi student plus $1,000 to the sponsoring faculty member at the research institution. The 2003-04 Summer Research Grant winners were as follows (listed alphabetically):
Aging and the Selective Impairment of Recollection-Based Strategies in Reducing False Memory
Wesleyan University (CT)
We investigated aging effects on false memory: a phenomenon whereby people claim to remember events that did not occur. We were particularly interested in different strategies people use to avoid false recognition of familiar but nonstudied events. Prior work indicates people are less likely to falsely claim a new event was studied as a picture than as a word, due to a strategy known as the distinctiveness heuristic (people expect more distinctive recollections for pictures than words, and new items have no recollection). Younger and older subjects studied unrelated black words paired either with the same word in red letters or a corresponding picture. They then took three memory tests using white words on a black background: a recognition test (say "yes" to all studied items), a red word test (say "yes" only if you recollect a red word), and a picture test (say "yes" only if you recollect a picture). All groups showed lower false memory on picture tests than red word tests, demonstrating intact use of the distinctiveness heuristic in younger and older adults--false recognition went down when subjects expected to recollect pictures. Conditions also allowed a recall-to-reject strategy (when no items appeared as both a picture and a word, remembering an item in one format allowed the rejection of that item on the opposite test). Using this strategy, younger subjects demonstrated further reduced false recognition but older adults did not. These differences suggest that aging impairs some recollection-based strategies (a recall-to-reject strategy) but not others (the distinctiveness heuristic).
Sivan Cotel graduated from Stuyvesant High School, New York City, New York in 2000. He will be awarded a BA in May 2005, with a double major in psychology and music. Mr. Cotel is currently working on a senior honors thesis titled "Musical Memories From a Commercial Childhood" in the Music Department at Wesleyan University. He has also begun research examining conscious and nonconscious processes in false memory for a master's degree in the Psychology Department at Wesleyan University, to be completed in May 2006. Mr. Cotel's research interests include cognitive processes in memory, conscious and nonconscious processes in false memory, aging and the use of heuristic strategies.
Chronic Pain and Disability in HIV-Infected Individuals With Distal Symmetric Polyneuropathy: A Psychological Profile
New York University
Chronic pain and disability are multidimensional phenomena that include psychological, psychosocial, and environmental components. For HIV-infected individuals, HIV-associated distal symmetric polyneuropathy (HIV-DSP) is the most common source of chronic pain and disability.
In this study, we described the psychological factors (sensory, affective, cognitive and cognitive-behavioral) of the chronic pain experience in HIV-DSP, and determined their contribution to disability.
Thirty-nine subjects with HIV-DSP, as confirmed by a neurologist, completed self-report questionnaires that assessed psychological components of pain validated in other chronic pain states. Severity of HIV-DSP was determined based on the level of distribution of findings. Disability was determined using the physical function scale of the Medical Outcomes Survey-HIV questionnaire. Correlational, t test, one-way ANOVA, and regression analyses were used.
Disabled individuals with HIV-DSP were more likely to complain of more sensitive pain, ÷2(1, N = 39) = 6.03, p < .05., and more intense surface pain, ÷2(1, N = 39) = 4.93, p < .05. The presence of disability correlated with psychological factors, and not with the severity of HIV-DSP. These include anxiety (r = .42, p <.05), attitude of disability (r = .40, p <.001), coping strategies of praying/hoping (r = .40, p <.05), and catastrophizing (r = .39, p <.05). Disabled individuals were significantly more anxious than non-disabled individuals, t(36) = -2.33, p < .05, and were more likely to believe themselves to be disabled t(36) = -4.43, p < .001. With stepwise regression, the specific component of escape/avoidance anxiety, â = .34, t(1) = 2.54, p < .05, and the attitude of disability, â = .43, t(2) = 2.09, p < .05, significantly contributed to disability.
The presence of disability in individuals with HIV-DSP is associated with and determined by certain psychological factors, such as anxiety and attitude of disability, and not by the severity of DSP.
Kinjal Doshi is a senior at New York University graduating in December. Ms. Doshi's majors include psychology and neural science. Currently, she is applying to graduate schools to pursue her interests in clinical/health psychology. Through Ms. Doshi's experience, she has recognized a phenomenon colloquially termed as "mind over matter." Individuals suffering from chronic pain and/or illnesses determine their quality of life not only through medical assistance, but also with their frame of mind. Hence, Ms. Doshi is particularly interested in studying the psychological and psychosocial aspects of chronic illnesses. She is also intent on understanding the trauma experience in individuals when informed of a life-threatening and/or terminal illness (e.g., HIV/AIDS, cancer, coronary heart disease). In particular, Ms. Doshi wishes to explore the psychological ramifications and ergo conversely, the psychological contribution to the coping, survival, and recovery (if possible) of the individual. With research, she believes clinicians can obtain the knowledge to develop and administer treatment and therapy strategies that can provide individuals, who feel ill equipped to obtain their wish of a good quality of life, the ability to realize that wish.
Cross-Cultural Differences in the Attribution-Value Model
Pomona College (CA)
My study evaluated the attribution-value model of prejudice concerning homosexuals. Sixty-six undergraduate students at the University of Colorado completed a survey packet designed to measure attitudes toward gay men and lesbians, attributions of controllability, cultural value, and independent and interdependent thinking. It was predicted that the simultaneous presence of an attribution of controllability and negative cultural value would predict negative attitudes toward gay men and lesbians over and above the additive effect of value and control, that the joint operation of attribution of controllability and negative cultural value would account for a greater percentage of the variation in homophobia in an individualist sample than it did in a collectivist sample (Sakalli, 2002), and that the female participants would be less prejudiced toward gay men and lesbians than the male participants. The predictor variables, controllability and cultural value, accounted for 25.3% of the variance in homophobia. Contrary to my prediction, these variables accounted for a lesser percentage of the variation in homophobia in the American sample than in the Turkish sample (Sakalli, 2002). As expected, men were significantly more homophobic toward gay men than women, and men held more negative attitudes toward gay men than did women. The results of this study suggest that the attribution-value model is a valid explanation of the prejudice experienced by homosexual individuals.
Angela Nierman is a junior psychology major at Pomona College in Claremont, California. She is currently involved in the research labs of Drs. Joelle Greene and Suzanne Thompson at Pomona College and plans to continue her work with Dr. Angela Bryan at the University of Colorado through correspondence this fall. Ms. Nierman looks forward to serving as the Psychology Department Liaison and an Introduction to Psychology teaching assistant this semester at Pomona. Her honors at Pomona include academic distinction as a Pomona College Scholar and being named a Likely Future Candidate for Graduate Fellowships. In addition to her interest in psychology, she has been a dedicated musician for many years. One of the most enjoyable experiences has been her membership in the Pomona College Orchestra in which she plays the French Horn. After graduating from Pomona, Ms. Nierman plans to attend graduate school in social or developmental psychology and to pursue a career in psychological research.
Technology-Mediated Interactions: An Exploration of the Effects of Previous Technology Experience and Comfort on Self-disclosure in Virtual Environments
Jacquelyn A. Shelton
University of Michigan-Flint
We conducted two studies to examine the relationship between previous experience disclosing online and self-disclosure in face-to-face vs. virtual reality-based interactions. The goal of these studies was to shed light on processes of disclosure in the growing medium of technology-mediated communication, namely by exploring subject variables that predict disclosure in technology-mediated disclosure. In both studies, the participants interacted with a peer counselor and were asked to openly disclose in their VR or face-to-face interaction. In the first study, participants were told they were interacting with either a computer or human in the VR condition, or they interacted in person. We found the hypothesized relationship that previous experience using technology to interact online predicted the disclosure overall. In the second study, we used revised procedures and refined our measure of experience and comfort with online disclosure, but did not find its predicted relationship with disclosure. These null results may reflect a flaw in our theory, the design of our study, or with conclusions drawn in past research. Future research should address the differences between written and spoken modes of communication, as past research did not assess these variables.
Jacquelyn A. Shelton is a senior undergraduate enrolled in the Research Psychology Honors Scholar Program at the University of Michigan-Flint, maintaining a 3.98 cumulative GPA and 4.0 in psychology. She plans to corroborate her findings from this research project into an honors thesis, present her findings at a professional conference, graduate in May 2005, and enter a psychology doctoral program the following fall. Ms. Shelton has been an officer of her local Psi Chi chapter since 2003 and has managed the chapter website. She is a devout computer geek, and works as a troubleshooter in a computer lab on campus. On a personal note, before entering a university, she was a competitive figure skater for ten years and is still a member of the United States Figure Skating Association. Also, Ms. Shelton is a devoted animal lover and has eight former-stray cats and a frog. On the rare occasion that she finds spare time, she loves to play video games (such as Dance Dance Revolution), read at the beach or coffee shops, and of course, shop.