Pictured above from left to right: (Front Row) Lindsay Marsh, Saffron Redwine, Michelle Uhlenbrock, Jac Brown, Meredith Cotton, Stephanie Gross, Katie Read
(Back Row) Griffin Liford, Scott Samale, Dani DeVincentis, Jennifer George, Paige Coulter-Kern, Eric Sharp, Heather Morgan, Aislinn Cooper

2010 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.

Jac Brown
The Effects of Depression and Self-Efficacy on Progress in Physical Therapy among the Elderly.

It has been shown that depression severely affects the lives of elderly individuals in a very harmful manner. One potential impact could be its effect on a patient's progress in physical therapy, which a significant number elderly people receive. One way to counter this problem could be done through increasing the level of self-efficacy the patient has. This study was designed to investigate the effects of depression and self-efficacy on progress among geriatric physical therapy patients. To examine this question A Geriatric Depression Scale, a Self-Efficacy for exercise scale modified for physical therapy was administered to geriatric patients. Progress reports were then taken from assessments and re-evaluations or physical therapy notes to determine the amount of progress made. It is expected that more depressed older adults will show less progress in physical therapy than older adults who are not depressed and that this relationship will be mediated by self-efficacy. 

Aislinn Cooper & Griffin Liford
Short Term Effects of Animal Assisted Therapy on Emotional Well Being. 

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a growing field in the treatment of various physical and mental ailments. There is evidence to suggest that long-term AAT is an effective method of decreasing patient's depression and anxiety, as well as improving their self-esteem. The purpose of this study is to assess whether short-term AAT is an effective alternative. Approximately 30 participants at a children's hospital will be administered questionnaires to measure their self-reported depression, anxiety, and self-esteem levels. After answering the first group of questionnaires, the participants will interact with an AAT companion animal for approximately 10 minutes. Following the AAT session, the participant will answer another set of inventories that measure depression, anxiety, and self-esteem levels. In addition to the quantitative data collected by the questionnaires, we will collect observational data such as the type of interaction with the animal (petting vs. playing), the extent of interaction with the animal handler, and the duration of the visit. We anticipate that participants will report lower levels of depression and anxiety and improved levels of self-esteem following interaction with the AAT companion animal. If this hypothesis is supported by our data collected, short-term AAT could be used in non-traditional settings where long term AAT is not possible (e.g., pre-op situations in hospitals or immediate interventions by first responders following traumatic events). 
PowerPoint     PDF

Meredith Cotton & Stephanie Goss
The Effect of Mortality Salience on Attitudes Toward Gender Roles.

Research on mortality salience shows that when people are faced with the awareness of their eventual death their thoughts and behaviors change. In one recent study, participants' self-esteem was damaged through negative feedback and their tendency to stereotype increased. The purpose of this study is to determine if the thought of death increases stereotypical thinking, more specifically attitudes toward gender roles. Participants completed one of two writing prompts about either their ideal date or their own death. The goal of the writing prompts was to have a negative and positive emotion elicited. The participants were scored on their responses to a gender roles questionnaire as either traditional or nontraditional. It is expected that those participants who wrote about their own death will display more traditional thinking about gender roles than those who wrote about their ideal date.
PowerPoint     PDF

Paige Coulter-Kern & Scott Samale
Effects of Arousal on Attraction: Physical Characteristics and Psychological Characteristics.

This study is designed to investigate the effect of physiological arousal on attraction when faces are accompanied by mitigating information. Approximately 40 participants will be asked to report their level of attraction to pictures of faces that are accompanied by positive or negative traits. We will manipulate the level of physiological arousal of those in the experimental group, while those in the control group will not be aroused. We expect participants who are aroused to report being more attracted to the attractive faces, regardless of the information accompanying them, than participants who are not aroused. We also expect participants who are aroused to report being less attracted to unattractive faces, regardless of the information accompanying them, than participants who are not aroused. The misattribution effect, in which subjects are more attracted to attractive faces when aroused than when not aroused, has been widely researched. While many studies support the theory of misattribution and related theories, we hope to contribute knowledge about the effect of psychological characteristics on arousal and attraction. Findings that support our hypotheses may help to explain why negative traits are often overlooked in the beginning stage of a relationship (the passionate stage), when high levels of arousal are present. Conversely, in the later stages of a relationship (the companionate stage), lower arousal is present, and positive traits become more important.
PowerPoint     PDF

Danielle DeVincentis
The Effects of a Drama-Based Intervention on Adolescent Relational Aggression.

Relational aggression is the manipulation of or damage to peer relationships or social standing as a means of bullying. Relational aggression research has primarily focused on its effects, finding it to be positively correlated with withdrawn behavior, victimization, and rejection (Tan, 2009). When examining relational aggression and other forms of bullying in students, one third of participants reported experiencing panic, nervousness, impaired concentration, and recurring memories of bullying incidences (Sharp, 1995). Others (e.g., Gastic, 2008) found negative effects on school performance and disciplinary issues. Interventions to reduce this behavior are less common in research, with successful interventions even rarer. In the present study, the researcher hoped to reduce relational aggression in a middle school population, utilizing a drama-based intervention designed to increase empathy for relational aggression victims. The researcher's hypothesis was that, following the performance, students would then engage in fewer relationally aggressive behaviors. Drama-based interventions focused on increasing empathy have been successful in previous research (Ostrov, et. al, 2009). One class from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades from a small mid-western town participated in the intervention; control groups from each grade were also assessed. The Young Adult Social Behavior Scale was used to measure relational aggression. Fewer relationally aggressive behaviors in students presented with the intervention would suggest healthier relationships among these students, better strategies for expressing displeasure within relationships, as well as preventing negative effects associated with relational aggression. This may suggest drama-based intervention with emphasis on increasing empathy as a future tool to reduce relational aggression.
PowerPoint     PDF

Jennifer George & Michelle Uhlenbrock
Effects of Advertisements on Perceptions of Womenřs Leadership.

This study was designed to determine whether magazine advertisements in high fashion and beauty magazines affect people's perception of women's abilities in leadership positions. Participants answered a set of questions from the Gender Authority Measure (GAM) Questionnaire, which was followed by a series of ten advertisements from one of the following categories: sexualized, heroin chic, doll-like/artificial, neutral, or athletic. Upon completion of viewing the ads, the participants answered a second set of questions from the GAM. The researchers expect to find that after viewing advertisements from the sexualized, heroin chic, and doll-like/artificial category, participants are likely to have a more negative view of women's abilities in leadership roles, while there will be little change for participants who viewed athletic or neutral advertisements.
PowerPoint     PDF

Heather Morgan & Saffron Redwine
The Effects of Short Term Exposure to Sexually Explicit Material on Emotion and Attitudes towards Relationships and Sex.

This study was designed to investigate short term exposure to sexually explicit material and the effects on emotional reactions and attitudes towards relationships and sex. It is predicted that pre-existing attitudes about sexuality and about romantic relationships in general will have an immediate impact on how people experience depictions of sexuality in visual media. Participants responded to a Sexual Attitudes Scale (SAS) (e.g., "Casual sex is acceptable") and a Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ) (i.e., "I often worry that romantic partners don't really love me"). Participants then viewed the same sexually explicit clip from a movie. After viewing the clip, participants filled out a brief questionnaire (PANAS) regarding their current emotional state (i.e., "distressed," "enthusiastic," "alert"). We expect to find that participants who have more negative emotional reactions will have more conservative attitudes toward relationships and sex. This research will shed light on the factors that lead to positive and negative emotional reactions to depictions of sexuality and may have implications for ratings and other communications with potential audiences about sexual content in the media.

Katherine Read
Parental Involvement as a Predictor of School Success: Examining the Mediating Role of Achievement Goals. 

It has been argued that when parents are involved in their children's academic lives, children tend to perform better academically than when their parents are not involved. However, it is possible that more than just parental involvement plays a role in a child's academics. Achievement goals, such as mastery and performance goals, also influence success in academics. This study was designed to examine whether the type of achievement goals mediate the relationship between types of parental involvement and childrenřs academic success. Fourth-grade students completed a survey on perceived parental involvement and a survey on achievement goals. Childrenřs report card grades were obtained from their teachers and averaged across all subjects. Expected results include: a positive relationship between parental support and school success, but a negative correlation between parental monitoring and school success; a positive relationship between supportive parental involvement and mastery goal orientation, as well as a positive relationship between parental monitoring and performance-avoidance goal orientation; a positive relationship between mastery goal orientation and higher success, as well as a negative relationship between performance-avoidance goal orientation and higher success; and a decline in the strength of relationships between parental support and monitoring and academic success when analyses control for goal orientation.
PowerPoint     PDF