Pictured above from left to right: (Front Row) Kris Schuster, Karin Schubert, Courtney Tyler, Ashley Bane, Kai Kabatu, Ayca Coskunpinar, Bekah Wilson, Kristen Brookes, Ashley Devers
(Back Row) Cody Davis, Seyram Kekessie, Jacob Cooper, Kyler Kollstedt, Zach Liapis, Michael Sterling, Meredith Elliott, Erin Huntington
(Not Pictured: Jennifer Caudil, Lee Harp, Sarah Pasquale, Shanna Sutherland, Kristina Wesler)

2009 Senior Thesis Projects

Each year the Psychology seniors present their senior thesis work at Butler University’s undergraduate research conference.

Where available, abstracts are printed,
and links to the
PowerPoint Presentations and the
Full paper in PDF form are provided.


More pictures from the day can be found here.

Ashley Bane & Ashley Devers
Expectancy Effects and Behavioral Performance According with Experience Level.

Alcohol has been shown to impair decisions and behavior. However, social expectation can also impair decision making and behavior. This study examines the role of expectations of alcohol effects have on behavioral response and decision making. Participants in the experimental group were given a drink with a milliliter of alcohol around the rim of their glass Participants in the control group were told they were in the control group and given no alcohol but tested in the same manner that those in the experimental group were. Both groups were given three 6 oz. cups of lemonade and given five minutes to drink each one, after a ten minute break they were tested. To test motor coordination, a peg board was used and to test reaction time a drop test was done. A questionnaire was used to assess attitudes toward risks, to test changes in decision making, participants in both conditions filled out an attitudes towards risk questionnaire. A relationship is expected to be found between expecting alcohol and being more willing to engage in risky behaviors, and no relationship between this expectation and performance.

Kristen Brookes & Zach Liapis
The effects of facial similarity on displaced aggression.

This experiment explores the ideas behind genetic psychology, unconscious altruism and aggression. Previous research has examined similarity on the basis of beliefs. These studies have shown that participants were more likely to aggress against people that had dissimilar beliefs to their own. The current study examines whether or not facial similarity produces the same results in effect that participants are more likely to aggress against those with dissimilar faces to their own. This experiment studies the effects of facial similarity on the expression of displaced aggression. In this experiment the participant’s faces were morphed with stock photos to various levels (10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, and 50%). Participants were first given a frustration task, their frustration levels were measured on a selfreport Likert scale from 1-15. After completing the frustration task, the participants were then given two tasks one a forced choice tasks in which the participants had to aggress against the photos by administering varying amounts of vinegar to a glass of water that they are told will be given to the subject. The second task was a continuum in which the participants were asked to divide the vinegar amongst the photos giving as much or as little to each as they wish. We expect to find that participants are more likely to displace their aggression on the photos of the lowest morph therefore holding aggression from those who are more facially similar to themselves.

Chelsey Cabatu & Erin Huntington
The effects of sexualized content in children's media on pre-adolescent girls' self image.

The sexualization of girls permeates U.S. culture. One of the major cultural contributors to the sexualization of girls is the media. In this study, we examined the effects of sexualized content in children’s media on preadolescent girls’ self image. Participants were girls from a local elementary school. The girls were randomly assigned to two groups. The first group viewed a clip of non-sexualized content from a popular children’s television program. The second group viewed a clip with sexualized content from a popular children’s movie. Before and after watching the clips, the girls reported on their media habits, body image, and self-esteem. Girls in the two groups were also interviewed about their responses to the clips and about their perceptions of sexualized media more generally. We anticipate that girls who watched the sexualized video will report greater declines in body dissatisfaction and self-esteem than girls who watched the non-sexualized clip. Experimental results will be discussed in light of the interview data.
PowerPoint     PDF

Jennifer Caudill & Lee Harp
Moral Judgments in the Third Dimension.

This study examined the effects of priming the participant's emotions on their subsequent moral judgments. Participants were randomly assigned to a control, elevation, disgust, or purity condition. Each condition contained photographs selected to elicit the emotion reflected in the individual's assigned condition. The goal of this study is to determine whether participants who are primed with disgust-content photographs will be more judgmental (will judge a transgression as more wrong) on various moral judgments than participants primed with purity-content photographs. The present study will examine whether participants primed with purity-content photographs will be less judgmental than participants in the neutral condition. Purity-content seems to be the opposite of disgust-content. Whereas purity-content involves the removing or the absence of contamination properties, disgust-content involves the addition or presence of contamination properties. However, the emotions of disgust and elevation appear to have opposing functions. Moral disgust is the emotion experienced upon witnessing the agent giving into his or her lower, animal nature whereas elevation is experienced upon witnessing the agent appealing to his higher, uniquely human nature. The specific relationship between purity and elevation is unclear. Therefore, this study will also look at the relative effects of exposure to elevation-content photographs to purity-content photographs on moral judgments.

Jacob Cooper & Karin Schubert
Explicit and Implicit Gender in the Context of Gender Schema Theory.

Gender researchers have long engaged in heated controversy over psychological differences between women and men; thus, the methods by which researchers measure gender are constantly being scrutinized and adjusted. Recent gender studies have sought to determine whether implicit, automatic reactions can be used to measure participants' gender selfconcept. This study used the Implicit Associations Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee & Schwartz, 1998) to examine the effectiveness of assessing gender self-concept using a two-dimensional model (in which it is possible to score high on both masculinity and femininity) versus a one-dimensional model (in which masculinity and femininity are opposite ends of a bipolar scale). A two-dimensional measurement of gender self-concept is more consistent with gender schema theory, and also more consistent with the explicit measurements which are currently being used to study gender (specifically the Bem Sex Role Inventory). For the two-dimensional model, two separate IATs assessed participants' automatic associations between 1) self and feminine and not feminine traits and 2) self and masculine and not masculine traits. The one-dimensional model was adapted from a study by Greenwald and Farnham (1998). It consisted of a single IAT which assessed participants' automatic associations between self and feminine and masculine traits. A people-things occupational preference questionnaire was also administered, adapted from Prediger (1982) and Lippa (1991, 1998). The researchers expect that the two-dimensional model will predict scores on the people-things occupational preference questionnaire better than the one-dimensional model.
PowerPoint     PDF

Ayca Coskunpinar & Cody Davis
The Stress and Coping Strategies for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

There is clear evidence that parents of children with disabilities face challenges that can lead to negative outcomes, including heightened stress and depression. Less well understood is how stress levels, coping strategies, and psychological well-being may differ among parents dealing with different types of disabilities. The current study addressed this issue by comparing the outcomes of parents of children diagnosed with three different nervous system disabilities: Down Syndrome, Fragile-X Syndrome, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Parents of typically-developing children were also assessed. Participants were notified of this study via online support groups and completed surveys on-line. We anticipate that coping strategies will be similar across the three groups of parents of children diagnosed with a nervous system disorder and will include family support, self-education about the disability, and support groups. Consistent with evidence from one recent study (Stoneman, 2007), we also anticipate that parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will report the highest levels of stress and depression. These results will be interpreted in light of parents’ responses to open-ended questions about their stress levels, coping strategies, and psychological well-being.
PowerPoint     PDF

Meredith Elliott & Seyram Kekessie
Race, Interrogation, and the Perception of Guilt.

In this study, researchers investigated the effects of racial stereotypes regarding anger and how those perceptions would influence a juror and the perception of the interrogator who appears to be aggressive. There were two interrogation conditions (mild and harsh) and two race conditions (Black and White). Participants completed a survey that measured their perceptions of suspect guilt and the appropriateness of interrogator behavior, in addition to a questionnaire based on the Modern Racism Scale (McConahay, 1986). Participants completed the survey online and randomly viewed one of eight conditions involving Black and White interrogators and suspects with either mild or harsh interrogation styles. In the Black interrogator - harsh interrogation condition, we expect jurors to see the interrogator as inappropriately aggressive and the suspect as less guilty as compared to when the harsh interrogator was White.
PowerPoint     PDF

Kyle Kollstedt & Michael Sterling
The Effect of Graphical Quality on Aggression in Violent Video Games.

Violent video games have been shown to increase the e level of aggression at least in some players. One of the factors that has not been studied much is the game’s appearance. This experiment tested the effects of the quality of the graphics of a videogame had on the aggression of a participant. The game chosen for this study was Call of Duty 4, which is a violent and realistic video game where the graphics can be easily manipulated. Participants played with either a high or low level of graphics. The low graphical settings were played on a laptop with most of the graphical settings set to a minimum level. The high graphical settings were played on an Xbox 360. Pre-existing levels of aggression were measured with an aggression questionnaire administered before game play. Next the participants played a tutorial level to familiarize the participants with the game, then the participants played a level with real fighting. The aggression of the participants was measured by the competitive reaction time task developed by Bushman and Saults (2007). The researchers hypothesize that the higher graphical setting will produce higher levels of aggression in the participants than in the lower graphical setting. The impact of this study could be viewed as a predictor what effects video games could have on the user.
PowerPoint     PDF

Sarah Pasquale & Courtney Tyler
The Effect of Child-Parent Relationships on Romantic Partner Selection.

Internal working models are established during early childhood and maintained into adulthood as a guide to interpersonal behavior in novel situations. Since parental figures tend to be whom a child has the most contact with, these models are based off of the relationship he/she has with these figures. This internal working model is especially important in romantic relationships in regard to the type of relationships people form and the kind of partners that are chosen. In heterosexual romantic relationships, the opposite sex parent has been shown to be influential in the selection of a romantic partner. This study investigates whether people apply an internal working model to the personality trait of submissiveness/dominance; in particular, we hypothesize that if the quality of the parent-child relationship is positive then people will look for partners similar to their opposite sex parent. Participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire regarding the level of submissiveness/dominance of their maternal and paternal figures, their current/most recent romantic partner, and themselves using a Likert scale. They were also asked to indicate the quality of their relationship with each individual using a Likert scale. It is expected that a correlation will be found between the submissiveness/dominance level of the opposite sex parent and the romantic partner, particularly when the early childhood relationship with the opposite sex parent was strong. These findings will shed light on the importance of early childhood experiences in both the types of relationships people form and the personality types of partners they choose.

Kristine Schuster & Rebekah Wilson
The Effects of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy on Juveniles in a Residential Treatment Facility.

This study assesses the impact of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) on court-ordered adolescent males in a residential treatment facility with regards to self-esteem, verbal and non-verbal communication, and expectations for the future. EAP is a growing field that uses the relationship that can form between client and horse as a therapeutic tool. Through this relationship, the therapist focuses interaction in the relationship around developing certain skills. Within the facility being studied, all aspects of the adolescents needs are provided through this facility with the majority of them being held within it. EAP is the primary method of therapy and is completed in groups. To assess the criteria, pre- and post-surveys were distributed to the adolescents as well as the therapist and horse professional. Throughout the study, condensed weekly surveys were completed by the therapist and horse professional to give greater detail. The assessments completed by the adolescents were the Rosenberg Self- Esteem Scale, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and a communication assessment created by the researchers. Similar assessments were created for the therapist and horse professional to mirror the questions posed to the 73 adolescents. We expect to find significant increases in self-esteem and communication skills as well as more positive expectations for the future. This study could show how effective EAP is in a short period of time, which can have implications for its growing presence and acceptance within the healthcare industry.

Shanna Sutherland
The Influence of Sexually Explicit Material on Women's Sexual Behavior and Attitudes.

This study was designed to examine the influence of sexually explicit material (SEM) on women’s sexual behavior and attitudes. The study tested competing feminist views on SEM. Anti-pornography feminists believe that viewing SEM will be associated with more negative sexual behaviors and attitudes. In contrast, pro-sex feminists believe that viewing SEM will be associated with more positive sexual behaviors and attitudes. These views were tested by having women fill out an on-line survey. Participants were asked to report on experience with SEM in their life time and the previous year and their reasons for viewing SEM. Next, they were asked to report on the attributes that were most important to their concept of self and, also, what attributes they look for in a sexual partner. Finally, they were asked to report on what types of sexual behaviors they participated in during the previous year. Consistent with the anti-pornography stance, it is expected that women who frequently view or read SEM will be more likely to objectify themselves, more likely to objectify men and more likely to participate in high-risk sexual behavior. Also, it is expected that women who frequently view SEM
PowerPoint     PDF

Kristina Wesler
Hate Group Impressions of Barack Obama: Pre and Post the 2008 Election.

With Barack Obama’s win as US President, history has been made. This historical change raises the possibility that racial attitudes will also change. One group of particular interest is those people who hold explicitly racist views, particularly toward African-Americans. How will openly racist people understand this new power shift? How will they respond to a black nomination? It seems likely that this shift can be seen in the attitudes directed toward Obama himself. A content analysis of fifteen hate group websites was undertaken in order to determine racist perspectives pre- and post-election. Three different websites were used for each of five racial hate categories. From those websites, ten forums and twenty posts within each forum were analyzed. Posts from the month before and the month after official national elections were analyzed. Posts were coded for both the writers’ representations of Barack Obama (e.g., as an animal, as a communist, etc.) and their suggested behavioral responses to his Presidency (e.g., violence, racial segregation, etc.). Connections will be made between representations and behavioral responses and both categories will be compared before and after the election. The study highlights continued racial discrimination within the political sphere and has practical implications for home-grown terrorist efforts because of attitude-behavior connections.
PowerPoint     PDF