Pictured above from left to right: (Front Row) Alyse Craig, Rachael Moreland, Natasha Guffey
(Middle Row) John Krantz Lyndsay Marsh, Jami Boyle, Racquel Buchanan, Ivy Ivers, Whitney Helton, Kit Riddle , Melissa Poole
(Back Row) Evan Frick, Torin Franz, Ellen Altermatt, Alexis Green, Bill Altermatt, Eric Sharp, Phil Walker
(Not Pictured) Nick Bliznoff, Katie Hanslits, and Stephanie Collins

2011 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.

Nick Bliznoff & Melissa Poole
The Effect of Nicotine Withdrawal on Cooperation.

Nick and Melissa PresentingThis study is designed to explore the hypothesis that the stress felt from nicotine withdrawal will decrease cooperation levels in humans, and if the effects of stress from nicotine withdrawal differ from those of every day life. Previous studies have found that nicotine withdrawal causes increased stress, and that stress can lower cooperation, though research examining a direct link between nicotine withdrawal and decreased cooperation is minimal. In this study, withdrawal is defined as abstaining from nicotine use for 8 hours. This experiment uses a 2x3 design; participants (smokers-withdrawal, smokers-no withdrawal, non-smokers) are counterbalanced to a ―stress or ―no stress condition. To induce stress, participants are told that they will be performing a public speaking task at the end of the experiment. Stress is measured using Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Next, the participants are asked to complete a computer simulated version of the prisoner's dilemma game. The game measures the amount of times a participant responds with either ―cooperate or ―compete. We hope to find that abstaining smokers and stressed non-smokers will both click ―compete‖ more often than participants who are not subjected to increased stress. This will support our hypothesis that the stress felt from nicotine withdrawal correlates with a lack of cooperation. We believe that these findings could help to improve smoking cessation programs by giving a more complete understanding of the changes in temperament during nicotine withdrawal.

Jami Boyle
The Effects of Perceived Differences on Relationship Satisfaction. 

This study focuses on the effects of partner similarity on relationship satisfaction, specifically similarity in levels of virtues. As part of the positive psychology movement, the study of virtues has grown rapidly in the past decade but has not been applied to relationship satisfaction. A virtue is defined as a character strength or quality valued as being always good in and of itself. A list of character strengths was chosen from Peterson and Seligman (2004) which identifies six classes of virtues (i.e. "core virtues"), made up of twenty-four measurable character strengths. Creativity, for example, is one of the character strengths and is defined as the ability to do and think differently from the norm. Participants rated themselves and their partners on the level in which they possessed these twenty-four character strengths. Before rating character strengths, participants took a relationship satisfaction questionnaire. Much research has been done on the topic similarity and how it affects romantic relationships and is found to be a consistently strong predictor of relationship satisfaction. However, research on similarity's effects on satisfaction generally focuses on personality traits (such as extroversion or conscientiousness) or on demographic characteristics (such as religion or socioeconomic status) and not on character virtues. This study has expanded the previous research concerning virtues and applied it to relationship satisfaction while aiding the growing positive psychology movement by highlighting the importance of character strengths in regards to romantic relationships.
PowerPoint     PDF

Racquel Buchanan
Siblings of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: Understanding Perceived Roles.

Past research has used naturalistic observations to determine role portrayal in sibling relationships where one sibling is affected with a life-long disability. Role portrayal in sibling relationships is analyzed through Sibling Interaction Scales and found regardless of birth Raquel Presentingorder or age spacing, non-disabled siblings took on more directive roles during interaction. With the evidence from previous observations and advice from researchers, open ended interviews are conducted to explore role portrayal and the subjective experience of having a sibling with a developmental disability. Ten participants who have a sibling with a developmental disability were recruited through a popular networking site along with ten other participants who were apart of the control group. Interviews from both interview sets were recorded transcribed and analyzed. Using the Interpretative Phenomenological Approach, perceived roles, involvement of over the life span, responsibilities and attitudes will be clustered to find common themes in the interviews. With support from previous research and the subjective data collected in the study, comparisons with non disabled sibling relationships to gain a holistic understanding of the experiences of individuals who have a sibling with a disability.
PowerPoint     PDF

Stephanie Collins and Katie Hanslits
The Effects of Alcohol Consumption Habits on Parenting Styles.

This study was designed to look at the relationship between alcoholic drinking behavior and parenting styles. We are curious to see if Katie and Stephanie Presentingconsumption habits have an impact on parenting styles. Previous research focuses on the impact of parental drinking as a direct influence on the well-being of their children, but we hypothesize that having heavy drinking habits has a direct relationship on parenting styles which then influences the well-being of their children. The participants will be gathered through multiple websites that either target heavy drinkers, parents, or both. The participants will take a survey about their parenting styles and personal lifestyle, including their alcohol consumption habits. In order to assess each individual's parenting style, an edited version of Diana Baumrind's (1971) Parental Authority Questionnaire will be used to categorize parents according to rearing style. Once categorized, a chi-square will be used to determine if heavy drinking habits tend to fall into one particular category of parenting style in comparison to the other parenting styles. Through the data gathered from the survey, we expect to find that parents with heavy drinking habits will fall into one of the three parenting categories.

Alyse Craig
Symbolism in Commercials: The Importance of Audience Interpretation.

Commercials are designed to persuade viewers to purchase a product or to support a cause; however, could these same commercials have the potential to impact viewers' lives and serve as models for thought, behavior, interpersonal relationships, and values? For instance, could the ―Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like and ―Axe: Snake Peel commercials serve as models for masculine idealism and behavior? Participants watched these two commercials and were asked to construct a narrative describing the commercial and to reflect on the commercial's meaning. Research explores the symbolic functions of these commercials as revealed through the ways in which viewers relate to the commercials and interpret the commercials' meaning. As viewers are constantly bombarded with commercials over the course of their lives, the lasting impact of a commercial may be more a function of its symbolic rather than its persuasive qualities.
PowerPoint     PDF

Torin Franz & Evan Frick
Effects of the Holiday Season on Positive and Negative Emotions.

The current study examines changes in positive and negative emotions around the holiday season. Participants completed an online survey at three different times (before, during, and after the holidays). At each time point, individuals rated the degree to which they were experiencing positive and negative emotions. Individuals also answered a series of questions about themselves (e.g., gender) and their holiday experiences (e.g., the number of family members they were expecting to host). We expect to find that participants will experience the most positive emotions before the holidays, the least positive emotions after the holidays, and moderate amounts of positive emotions during the holidays. A variety of moderators of these trends will be examined to better understand the factors that might lead to decreases in positive emotions around the holiday season.
PowerPoint     PDF

Natasha Guffey & Kelsey Riddle
Relationship Development and Relationship Repair of Female Characters in Film, 2000-2009.

Natasha and KitThis content analysis of film focuses on the platonic and romantic relationships experienced by female characters. Top-grossing films of 2000-2009 were compared with other films from 2000-2009 that passed the pop-culture Bechdel test of feminist films. The Bechdel test states that a film must (a) have at least two female characters with names (b) who speak to each other (c) about something other than a man. The two lists of films were used as a proxy for their audience- top-grossing films were aimed mainly toward men while the Bechdel films were aimed mainly toward women. The content analysis focused on only the main female character(s) in each film. Each significant relationship experienced by the female character was examined. It was hypothesized that the behaviors and relationships of the characters would be significantly different in each list of films. In female-male romantic relationships, in the event of a rift, it was hypothesized that the Bechdel films would follow the ―workout theory, and thus show the method of reconciliation, while the top-grossing films would follow the ―soulmate theory and would not show the reconciliation, as discussed in Franiuk and Pomerantz (2002). This content analysis was conducted to demonstrate the differences between how relationships are displayed to men versus how they are demonstrated to women in popular film media in the United States.
PowerPoint     PDF

Whitney Helton & Ivy Ivers
Effect of Hands-on Learning on Short-Term and Long-Term Retention in Third-Grade Students. 

This study was designed to examine the effects of hands-on learning on third grade students' performance and satisfaction. Participants (n=72) were assigned to either a traditional or hands-on group and were taught three different Language Arts lessons (i.e., idioms, Ivy and Whitney Presentingadjectives, and adverbs) over the course of three weeks. The traditional group was taught using traditional, lecture-style methods, while the hands-on group was taught using hands-on activities related to each lesson. Participants were given two types of assessments (standardized and authentic) to measure their retention of the lesson material. The standardized assessment consisted of multiple-choice questions and was designed to reflect a typical standardized test. The authentic assessment consisted of open-ended writing prompts and was designed to assess skills more applicable to the real world. These two types of assessments were given one week following each lesson to measure short-term retention. Five weeks after the final lesson, participants were given two comprehensive assessments (one standardized and one authentic) to measure long-term retention. We expect to find that participants in the hands-on group will perform better than participants in the traditional group on both the standardized and authentic assessments, both in the short-term and the long-term. Participants will also be given a satisfaction questionnaire after each lesson to rate how enjoyable the lesson was. We expect that the participants in the hands-on group will rate the lessons as more enjoyable than participants in the traditional group.
PowerPoint     PDF

Lindsay Marsh & Eric Sharp
The Influence of Experimenter Status on Suggestibility.

Lyndsay and Eric PresentingThis study was designed to examine the effect of experimenter status on participants' suggestibility. Suggestibility was measured by the presence of false memories about a video clip. Participants watched a video clip and were questioned about the details of the clip using a script of leading questions or neutral questions. The leading questions were designed to elicit false memories in the participants by suggesting information about what occurred in the video clip. The neutral questions did not contain suggested information. These questions were either presented by an experimenter of high status or low status. In the study, the high status condition was an experimenter who is a college professor. The low status condition was an experimenter who is a senior undergraduate psychology major. After being questioned about the video clip, the participants sat through an intervening task of watching a cartoon. The participants were then questioned about the video clip again using neutral questions. The second set of questions was used to see if any false memories had been elicited from the suggested information in the leading questions. We expected that participants that were questioned with leading questions by the high status experimenter would be more suggestible than participants questioned with leading questions by the low status experimenter.
PowerPoint     PDF

Phillip Walker
Effects of Sexualization in Advertisements.

Advertisements are constructed persuasively so that will they produce the most rewarding outcome for a company. These persuasive messages are used to convince the consumer to choose their product. One of the persuasive techniques used in many of the Phil Walkeradvertisements is sexualization. The types of sexualization used in advertisement, are scantily clad models, and alluring behavior. This study was designed to measure the effects of sexualization in printed and video media on memory retention and purchasing intent. Participants (N) were exposed to either sexualized or neutral advrtisements consisting of both a printed and video advertisement. Following the advertisements, they then viewed a 21 minute video clip of Nickelodeon's Doug. Participants, then, complted a survey in which there were questions about the product and brand being advertised as well as their overall attitude about the model in the advertisements and the advertisement itself. The questionnaire also included their confidence in their ability to recall the advertisements shown. We expect to find that: video advertisements will yield a greater memory retention and purchasing power than printed advertisements; and that the non sexualized advertisements will yield greater memory retention and purchasing power than sexualized advertisements.
PowerPoint     PDF

Butler Crazy