Pictured above from left to right: (Front row) Jen Crum, Jim Erikson, Heather Buford, Travis Morris;  (Middle Row) Katie Spaeth, Thea Vance, Tracy Krebs, Sarah Opichka, John Temple. (Back row) Erin Brock, Meghan Tweed, Ruth Hudgens, Sarah Kemp, Navadeep Khanal.



2002 Senior Thesis Projects

Where available, abstracts for each project are printed below.

Each year the Psychology seniors present their senior thesis work at Butler University’s

research conference. Where available, links to the Powerpoint Presentations are provided.




Anxiety and Depression in Chemical Dependency Recovery Groups


People participating in chemical dependency recovery groups may have different levels of general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression depending on whether or not they smoke on a normal basis and how long they have been attending the group. Participants were people currently attending an outpatient group. The present study tested the hypothesis that general anxiety, social anxiety, and depression will be higher in the beginning stages of joining a recovery group and are expected to decline the longer a person is in the group but never completely stop. Administering the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, Social Avoidance and Distress Scale, Trauma Symptom Checklist, the Cope Scale, and a subscale of the State and Trait Anxiety Scale tested this hypothesis. The data supported the idea that a longer a person attends a recovery group the higher their level of anxiety will be. Also, the data supported that general anxiety and depression will lower the longer a person is in a recovery group. Although social anxiety will rise which was not hypthesized. This research may be important to an understanding of recovery patients and how to best treat them if they are suffering from anxiety and depression.   For a copy of Erin’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here.



Altruism as a Characteristic of Individuals Who Intend to Adopt


Research on adoptive parents indicates that they may possess different personality characteristics than the general population.  For example, some studies suggest that adoptive parents may be more altruistic than the general population.  The present study investigates the general personality characteristics of adoptive parents, as well as their levels of altruism.  It is hypothesized that individuals with an intention to adopt will be more altruistic, more emotionally stable, more extraverted, more open to experience, more agreeable, and more conscientious than the general population.  Participants included people attending an adoption fair, as well as students, faculty, and staff from a small Midwestern liberal arts college.  The Self-Report Altruism Scale and the Big Five Inventory were administered to all participants.   Other factors, such as reason for adopting, existence of biological children, and marital status, were also assessed.  A regression analysis was performed in order to determine which personality characteristics, as well as other variables, predict a person’s intention to adopt.  The regression analysis showed that altruism significantly predicted intention to adopt.  The importance of the findings for the psychology of adoption, as well as suggestions for future research, will be discussed. For a copy of Heather’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here.




The Comparison of the Friendships of Adult Children of Divorce and Adult Children of Intact Families

For a copy of Jen & Meghan’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here.



The Effects of Motivation on Memory Processes


An experiment was conducted which investigated the effects of motivation on memory processes.  Participants either were or were not motivated by money to remember target words in a neutral stimulus word list.  Motivation was presented at three different times based upon experimental condition:  a) at encoding, during consolidation, and at recall condition.  I hypothesize that participants in motivation conditions would remember significantly more target words than would the control condition in which no overt motivation was present.  Further more, I predict that the most target words would be recalled by the encoding condition, the second most would be recalled by the consolidation condition, and the least of the three would be recalled by the recall condition participants.  With significant results, new light may be shed on the processes of memory and the effects that motivation may consciously have on memory.  Thus, I am hypothesizing that motivation cannot influence memory during the consolidation process.  For a copy of Jim’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here.



The Effects of Co-education on Levels of Benevolent Sexism in College-Age Males


The majority of past research on sexism has had a narrow focus only on hostile sexism.  However, benevolent sexism, which is likely to be more prevalent in today’s society, is rarely addressed.  Benevolent sexism encompasses positive attitudes (for the sexist) toward women who told traditional sex roles.  Research has shown that increased interaction with females is related to lower levels of sexism in males.  This is consistent with the contact hypothesis and conditions related to attitude changes.  To test the possibility that interaction with females is related to lower levels of benevolent sexism in males, college age males (n= 91) completed questionnaires assessing levels of benevolent sexism and sex role attitudes (egalitarian vs. traditional).  Men who attended co-educational high schools are expected to have lower levels of benevolent sexism than men who attended single sex high schools.  In addition, men hold traditional gender role beliefs are expected to show higher levels of benevolent sexism than men who hold egalitarian gender role beliefs.  Results are discussed in terms of conditions of interaction and contact situations in both high school and college that may moderate benevolently sexist attitudes.   For a copy of Ruth & Sarah’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here .



Meditation and the Human Mind/Body


The purpose of this study was to establish a relation between meditation and benefit in physical health, self-esteem, life-satisfaction and life-orientation.  The participants were trained in a mindful awareness meditation technique for a period of 6 weeks.  After practicing the technique for a period of 6 weeks, a before and after comparison of their physical health, sense of self-esteem, life-satisfaction and life-orientation was done using a questionnaire filled out before and after the meditation period.  A control group also filled out the questionnaire at the same time as the meditation group. The change in physical health, self-esteem, and life-satisfaction and life-orientation was compared. For a copy of Navadeep’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here .



Pranks on a college campus:  Why pranks are perceived differently from crimes


In general, it appears that people view most crimes as morally and socially unacceptable; however, in cases where the crime can be justified as a joke or harmless act of fun, people tend to alter their perceptions.  What was once perceived to be a criminal or illegal action punishable by law becomes accepted as a “prank.”  In order to measure perceptions of crime, we administered a survey that described various crime scenarios which occurred both on and off a college campus.  The participants, who were all college students, were asked to rate how they would feel if they were the victims of the crime in each situation.  We predicted that a crime committed on-campus would be viewed as a “prank,” and thus participants would respond with less of an emotional reaction and view the action to be more acceptable than if the same crime was committed off-campus.  Our results demonstrated that the type of crime, whether the effect of the crime was temporary or permanent, and whether a friend or stranger committed the act affected the participant’s emotional and cognitive reactions.  However, location of the action did not greatly influence the participant’s responses. For a copy of Tracy & Sarah’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here.



An Exploratory Study of Therapeutic Services Offered to Children with a Terminal Illness and Their Families


Within the past few decades, great advances in the field of medicine have provided hope for children with certain terminal childhood illnesses whose diagnosis would have once meant death.  With this advancement, the psychological effects of surviving a terminal illness on the child and family have become more pertinent.  This has led to the development of “child life programs” which employ professionals trained to deal with hospitalized children and their families.  The current study explores the actual practice of psycho-oncology within these child life programs.   A questionnaire will be sent to approximately twenty professionals in the child life field at several hospitals to assess the types of therapeutic techniques and services offered to the pediatric patient and their families (including siblings).  Basic demographic data will be gathered, as well as information on department limitations and the role of theoretical approaches.  Common approaches to treatment will be highlighted, as well as unique approaches.  Comparisons and contrasts between the existing research literature and applied techniques will be discussed.  The implications of findings for child life practice and future research possibilities will be considered.  For a copy of Katie’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here.



Perceived Relatedness as a Predictor of Academic Motivation and Performance after the Transition into Junior High School


Self-determination theory (SDT) posits that humans are more likely to be intrinsically motivated when three needs are met: high sense of competency, autonomy, and relatedness.  Past research has shown the transition between elementary and junior high school might inhibit students’ motivation and academic performance.  In the current study, the relatedness aspect of self-determination theory, along with academic motivation and performance, was assessed regarding students’ relationships with teachers, parents, and peers after the transition to junior high school.  7th grade students (n=121) from 2 rural public schools and 1 parochial school completed surveys assessing academic motivation (intrinsic, extrinsic, amotivation), perceived relatedness (PR) to teachers, parents, and peers, and parental and peer academic involvement.  High levels of PR to teachers, parents, and peers were expected to predict high levels of intrinsic motivation, followed by extrinsic motivation and amotivation respectively.  Furthermore, higher PR and higher intrinsic motivation were expected to predict higher GPA’s.  Similar results were expected between parent and peer academic involvement and intrinsic motivation and GPA.  The current study also attempted to determine the best predictors of academic motivation and GPA relative to SDT.  Results supported the main hypotheses with the exception of teacher and peer PR as predictors of junior high students’ GPA.  The results of a simultaneous regression showed teacher and parent PR and peer academic involvement as the best predictors of students’ academic motivation.  Similarly, parent PR and amotivation were the best predictors of students’ GPA.  Results are discussed in terms of the application of SDT during this context and the importance of relationships after the transition to junior high school.  For a copy of Jon’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here .



The Effect that Binge Drinking has on Social Support in College Students


This research looks at the relationship between binge drinking and social acceptance in college students. The need to belong is inherent in every human.  A variety of factors contribute to binge drinking during the college years. College students are highly influenced by their peers, and facts about their friends alcohol consumption may be distorted, thus skewing their perception of alcohol consumption.  Other factors influencing alcohol consumption are how included they feel while consuming alcohol, and peer pressure to consume alcohol.  Students attending college are the most likely age group to consume in heavy binge drinking.  Binge drinking is defined as a man who consumes six or more alcoholic beverages in three hours, and a woman who consumed five beverages in the same time period.  In order to more closely observe binge drinking in students three groups were formed to fit the binge drinkers, low, moderate and high binge drinking groups. It was hypothesized that young adults with less intimate and supportive friendships showed grater risks for drinking than their peers with more intimate friendships and close relations.  No significant results came from the primary hypothesis, but exploratory analyses did have significant results. For a copy of Thea’s Powerpoint Presentation, click here .