Student Research Selected for Exhibition at Psychology Conference

psychology students

Lucas Francis, left, and Noah Wolf

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 24, 2014Three psychology students at Southeast Missouri State University have been selected to present research projects May 1-3 at the 2014 Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago.

Lucas Francis of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Noah Wolf and Destiny Brooks, both of Perryville, Mo., each spent the last few months working with faculty in the Department of Psychology researching their topics and developing a poster to present at the conference.

Francis’ project is titled “Sexual Prejudice after Exposure to Married Couples of Differing Orientations.” It focuses on the attitudes of participants who read about heterosexual, lesbian or gay married couples and stigmatization, if any, involved with each couple.

Wolf’s project is titled “Initial Construction of a Testing Device Designed to Identify Limerence in Individuals.” His research studied limerence, or the mindset in which individuals become obsessed with having their romantic feelings reciprocated from their partner, and the components that construct it.

“I have been interested in limerence theory ever since reading Dorothy Tennov’s book ‘Love and Limerence’ as a freshman in college. After reading the book, I was astonished to find that hardly any research has been done on the subject since the 1970s. So, basically I wanted to continue the research on limerence,” said Wolf.

Brooks selected “Personal Choice in Classroom Seating, Perceptions of Classroom Environment and Expected Academic Outcomes” as her area of research. In her study, she analyzed personal preference for seating in the classroom and how this choice relates to perceptions of the classroom environment and expected academic outcomes.

“In our initial analysis of the data we collected, we found pretty surprising results, one being that people who want to sit in the back of the room reported really high levels of involvement and other factors that were not expected,” she said.

Students will showcase their findings in a poster session to take place in the exhibition hall of the conference hotel.

Fifty to 80 posters will be presented at each hourly session of the conference, said Dr. Shawn Guiling, Southeast instructor of psychology.  The students will answer questions or give short presentations to groups of students or faculty who peruse their posters.

Also, the students will explain major or minor points of the information on the poster, add information to the discussion not on the poster, take insights from the observers, and provide handouts of requested information as necessary, Guiling said.

While students are not required to participate in developing research of this magnitude as part of their course curriculum, these students decided to take on the project in addition to their full-time course work.

“In psychology, any research experience is only going to be beneficial,” says Brooks. “Graduate school is definitely in my future; this project and future projects will enhance my applications. While I am currently planning on becoming a neuropsychologist, whatever specific field I choose will certainly involve research. This first experience collecting data and writing about our study will always be something solid I can refer back to.”

Wolf added, “As I have always planned on pursuing graduate studies, I thought it was really important to get some good experience with performing research as an undergraduate. As I expected, it has really been an enjoyable experience.”

While each student was responsible for choosing their topics, faculty in the department helped guide them through the process.

“Dr. Guiling guided me through the process,” says Brooks. “This was a new experience for me; he helped me find direction in looking at previous research and meticulously analyzed each of the many drafts of the literature review I wrote.”

Wolf added, “Dr. Guiling helped guide me through the entire process, and Dr. (Nicolas) Wilkins wrote the program that we used to distribute the test and collect data. He also greatly helped when it came to analyzing and interpreting the data, as we used statistical measures that I was unfamiliar with.”

The research the students developed is very detailed. Wolf said he began his research in the summer of 2013 with a literature review and slowly developed his study and gathered materials. Brooks had a similar experience, beginning her research during the fall 2012 semester with a literature review and data analysis afterward.

Guiling says the Department of Psychology was impressed and pleased to learn all three students who submitted a proposal to present at the conference were selected.