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Psi Chi Journal Winter 2017


Volume 22.4 | Winter 2017
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A Social Justice Approach to Undergraduate Psychology Education: Building Cultural Diversity, Inclusion, and Sensitivity Into Teaching, Research, and Service

Susanna Gallor, University of Massachusetts Boston

ABSTRACT: As a discipline that addresses a broad range of human experiences across the lifespan, the field of psychology has a responsibility to ensure that human diversity is reflected in education, training, research, and valuable service that is often targeted to diverse communities across society. Multicultural and diversity psychology has pushed the field to examine an array of individual and cultural differences, and to make multicultural competence a defining feature of psychological education, training, and research. Adopting a social justice approach to psychology, particularly undergraduate psychology education and research, can help to ensure that the field meets this social responsibility and more intentionally addresses implications of individual and systemic oppression. This editorial seeks to articulate what a social justice approach means for undergraduate psychology education and begins to explore social justice principles and strategies that can be applied in teaching, practice, and research.

Negative Emotion-Focused Coping Mediates the Relationships Between Neuroticism and Psychological Outcomes in College Students

Kathryn Fokas, University of New Mexico, Champika K. Soysa, Worcester State University

ABSTRACT: There is a mental health crisis among undergraduates (Beiter et al., 2015), with nearly half reporting psychological disorders (Blanco et al., 2008). To inform this crisis, this study examined neuroticism and negative emotion-focused coping (NEFC) as transdiagnostic mechanisms that might account for a range of psychopathology among college students. Specifically, NEFC was examined as a mediator in the relationships between neuroticism and 4 psychological outcomes: depression, anxiety, stress, and well-being. In the present study, NEFC was comprised of self-blame (negative thinking) and venting (expression of negative emotion). Participants were 189 undergraduates from a 4-year public university (n = 142 women and n = 47 men). In conditional process analyses (Hayes, 2013), NEFC mediated the relationships between neuroticism and all psychological outcomes (i.e., depression, anxiety, stress, and well-being). In addition, confirming their transdiagnostic roles, both neuroticism and NEFC significantly and positively predicted depression, anxiety, and stress. Results suggested that addressing both neuroticism and NEFC in college students may decrease a range of psychopathologies, thereby improving the mental health status of this population.

You Can and You Did: Encouragement and Feedback in Mathematical Problem Solving

Jessica C. Pittman and Scott R. Hinze, Virginia Wesleyan University

ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential effects of randomly assigned positive feedback and encouragement on mathematical problem solving. Undergraduates (N = 80) first completed the Mathematic Self-Efficacy Scale to measure their trait self-efficacy toward mathematics. Participants then completed a trial of Modular Arithmetic problems to serve as a baseline for performance. After this, participants were randomly assigned to receive positive feedback, being told that they scored in the 90th percentile, or not, prior to completing a second trial of Modular Arithmetic problems. During the second trial, participants were randomly assigned to receive verbal encouragement, or not. There was a small positive correlation between trait self-efficacy and performance (rs = .23, p = .03). More importantly, there was a positive effect of randomly assigned positive feedback on Trial 2 performance (β = .14, t = 2.10, p = .02). This effect was not dependent on self-efficacy levels or baseline performance (ps > .10). Positive encouragement did not have a significant effect on performance (β = .03, t = .48, p = .32). The findings from this study imply that positive feedback can enhance students’ performance. The data provided no evidence for an effect of encouragement.

The Impact of Applicants' Weight and Education About Obesity on Applicant Ratings

Rachel M. Scrivano and Jenna L. Scisco, Eastern Connecticut State University, Gary W. Giumetti, Quinnipiac University

ABSTRACT: Obese women may be discriminated against based on their appearance, especially during the hiring process (Agerström & Rooth, 2011). However, previous research has suggested that an education intervention can reduce obesity bias. The present study sought to reduce obesity bias by providing brief education about uncontrollable causes of obesity. Participants (N = 166) were randomly assigned into 1 of 6 conditions where they viewed a voice-over PowerPoint presentation by either an obese or non-obese candidate whose job talk focused on research about controllable causes of obesity, uncontrollable causes of obesity, or a control presentation on sleep and memory. Then, participants completed measures of implicit obesity bias, explicit beliefs about the controllability of obesity, hiring decisions, and impressions of the candidate. Results indicated that participants rated the obese candidate as more likely to accept the job offer than the non-obese candidate, p = .009. Additionally, professor roles (e.g., approachability) were evaluated significantly more favorably for the obese candidate than the non-obese candidate, p = .001. Further, education about the controllable causes of obesity (e.g., diet) led to significantly higher explicit beliefs about obesity controllability than the control, p = .006, and marginally higher than the uncontrollable causes presentation, p = .084. These findings suggest that obese female candidates may be perceived more favorably on select characteristics than non-obese female candidates, and that brief education focusing on controllable causes of obesity may increase explicit beliefs about the controllability of obesity.

The Effects of Religion and Career Priming on Self-Control During Difficult Tasks in College Students

Abby S. Boytos and Terry F. Pettijohn II, Coastal Carolina University

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to investigate ways that religion and career could be used to increase self-control. Participants (N = 60) were primed by taking the religion or career implicit association test (IAT). These tests were given before participants attempted to solve 3 creative analytical problems. The amount of time spent trying to solve the problems was used to measure self-control under the assumption that participants had to resist the temptation to give up and view the solutions. The riddles given to participants were chosen because they each require extensive thinking and many trials and errors before reaching the solution. Participants were told a cover story that the experiment was about the effects of technology on problem-solving ability, so they were not aware of any connection between the IAT and the problems. After being primed with either religion or career, participants worked longer on the problems than participants who were not primed, F(2, 53) = 5.46, p = .007, ηp2 = .17. Locus of control was also measured but did not influence the time that participants spent on the problems. Results indicated that briefly priming participants with either religion or career can lead to greater persistence in the face of difficult tasks.

Perceived Parental Rejection in Middle Childhood as a Predictor of Lower Adulthood Resilience

Abigail A. Camden, Agnes Scott College, Carrie M. Brown, Independent Scholar, Oak Park, CA

ABSTRACT: Negative relationships with parents can affect psychological adjustment, coping, and stress levels. It is possible that these relationships can also impact resilience, although this is an area not greatly explored. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from, or thrive despite, potentially traumatic events. One theoretical framework from which to explore resilience’s association with perceived negative parental relationships is interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory, or IPARTheory, a theory of human development aiming to uncover the associated outcomes of perceived acceptance and rejection from significant others. Research investigating IPARTheory has revealed that perceived parental rejection is negatively associated with well-being, with some evidence for a negative association with resilience. Thus, we sought to investigate if perceived parental rejection would predict lower resiliency, for both women and men, and how the predictive strength of perceived maternal and paternal rejection might differ for men and women, separately. Participants (N = 308; Mage = 36.29) were recruited via snowball sampling and Amazon Mechanical Turk, and they completed measures of perceived parental acceptance-rejection and resilience. Using multiple linear regression, we found that perceived paternal rejection—but not perceived maternal rejection—predicted lower resilience for men and women combined (β = -.19, p = .007). However, analyzing genders separately, the only significant regression was perceived paternal rejection predicting lower resilience for men (β = -.29, p = .02). Additional results controlling for age are reported. The present findings suggest that perceived parental rejection is an imperative focus for future resilience research and intervention.

Perceptions of Criminal Defendants Scale: Development and Validation

Donna Crawley, Casey Ramos, Janelle Leyva, Ramapo College of New Jersey

ABSTRACT: A 10-item Perceptions of Criminal Defendants Scale (PCDS) was developed and validated in 3 studies. In Study 1, we compiled a list of 23 traits associated with criminal defendants and presented these items to 295 participants in the form of statements; participants rated the degree to which they agreed with each statement after reading 1 of 4 homicide cases. Principal components analyses of participants’ ratings yielded 10 items significantly loading on 1 primary factor measuring perceptions of the personal character of the defendant. This factor pattern was consistent across defendant gender, defendant race, and crime details. In Study 2, this 10-item scale was validated with a separate sample of 206 participants who responded to 1 of 3 biographies of publicly known defendants who had been previously pretested and ranked as being mildly, moderately, and severely negative people. The 10-item PCDS significantly distinguished between these 3 criminal defendants, F(2, 201) = 140.48, p < .001, η2 = .581, with strong internal reliability (Cronbach’s α = .94). Factor analysis yielded the same factor structure as in Study 1. In Study 3, we examined the structure of the 10-item scale when applied to older and teenaged male defendants. Again, 1 primary component accounted for the variance, with factor loadings across ages replicating patterns found earlier. Confirmatory factor analysis reaffirmed the unidimensional structure of the PCDS. Based on these 3 studies, we believe that the PCDS is a useful instrument for measuring perceptions of the character of criminal defendants.

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