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Westminster Students Present Research at Psychology Conference

Monday, May 2, 2005

Eleven Westminster College students recently presented their research at the Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Psychology Conference held at Chatham College.

Beaver Falls, PA
 Gregory Steines
is a son of Gerald and Kathy Steines.  Steines, a senior biology and neuroscience major, is a graduate of Blackhawk High School.  The title of his research is "The Consequences of Prenatal and Postnatal Choline Supplements on Spatial Memory Task Performance After Fornix Lesions in the Long-Evans Hooded Rat" and his advisor is Dr. Alan Gittis, professor of psychology at Westminster College.
The effects of choline supplementation on Morris water maze and Y-maze spatial memory task performance in the Long-Evans hooded rat were studied.  Half of the pups received pre and postnatal dietary choline supplementation.   The other half received no supplemental choline.  Half of the choline and non-choline pups underwent fornix lesioning, while half received a sham surgery.  Time to escape, swim speed, and path length were measured on the water maze, while number of alternations was measured on the Y-maze.  It was predicted that the choline supplemented rats would have lower escape times in the water maze and more consecutive correct arm choices in the Y-maze pre-surgically and post-surgically than the control rats.  Supplemented rats showed an increased learning rate in the Y-maze pre-surgically over all trials as well as on critical days in the water maze before population numbers dropped.  Spatial task performance did not improve post-surgically on either task due to supplementation. 

Moon Township, PA
 David Eberle
is a son of David and Georgia Eberle.  Eberle, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Moon High School.  The title of his research is "A Comparison of Ocular Activity Between OCD-Symptomatic and Non-Symptomatic Subjects in Response to Disgusting Visual Stimuli" and his advisor is Dr. Kirk Lunnen, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster College..
One line of research in the neurological pathogenesis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has focused on how OCD patients differ from non-symptomatic controls in responses to disgusting stimuli.  The present investigation used electrooculography (EOG) to examine differences in ocular activity in response to disgusting stimuli between OCD-symptomatic and non-symptomatic individuals.  The researchers predicted that OCD-symptomatic undergraduates would exhibit differences in the form of more or less vertical/horizontal eye movement than non-symptomatics while viewing disgusting photographs, while no differences would be noted for non-disgusting photographs.  A second hypothesis predicted that participants would exhibit eye blink avoidance responses consistent with those reported in previous research (Shapira, Liu, He, Bradley, Lessig, James, Stein, Lang, & Goodman, 2003).  Significant differences in eye movement were found for several disgusting photographs and across non-disgusting photographs.  No significant differences were found for eye blinking behavior.
 
McMurray, PA
 Jason Makrinos
is a son of Stephan and Beverly Makrinos.  Makrinos, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Peters Township High School.  The title of his research is "The Relationship Among Transformational Leadership, Trust, and Team Sports Performance in NCAA Football and Soccer Teams" and his advisor is Dr. Mandy Medvin, associate professor of psychology and Gibson-Drinko Distinguished Chair of Psychology at Westminster College.
This study looked at the relationship among transformational leadership, trust, and team sports performance.  In addition, we examined how certain dimensions of transformational leadership influence trust and team sports performance differently.  Sixteen head coaches and 158 players from NCAA Division IAA, II, and III football and men's soccer teams were surveyed for this study.  It was predicted that transformational leadership would have a positive relationship with team sports performance via trust in the coach.  It was also hypothesized that intellectual stimulation would have a negative relationship with trust in the coach and team sports performance, while the other dimensions of transformational leadership would have a positive relationship.  Findings partially supported the hypotheses.  This study can be used to understand why some teams perform better than other teams of equal talent.
 
Butler, PA
 Autumn Tack
is a daughter of Janet and Martin Tack. Tack, a senior psychology/human resources major, is a graduate of Butler Area High School.  The title of her research is "The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Perceived Social Integration" and her advisor is Dr. Jamie McMinn, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster College.
This study investigated the relationships among emotional intelligence (EI), self-monitoring (SM), and perceived social integration (PSI), to address whether EI predicts PSI over and above SM.  Since the causal relationships were also of interest, a cross-lagged design was used.  Seventy-seven undergraduates rated their own EI, SM, and PSI initially regarding their first-year orientation groups, and again later in the semester when these groups had a class together.  I predicted that EI and SM would significantly and uniquely predict PSI, with higher levels of EI leading to higher levels of PSI.  The findings were in the right direction, however only one factor of EI was positively correlated with PSI.  College orientation programs (as well as other groups) could use this study's results to help students (or employees) feel more integrated with their peers.
 
New Castle, PA
 Billie Nicholson
is a daughter of Billy and Charlene Nicholson.  Nicholson is a senior psychology/human resources major.  The title of her research is "The Effects of Group Goals, Collective Efficacy, and Composition on Social Integration and Group Performance" and her advisor is Dr. Jamie McMinn, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster College..
This study investigated the effects of group goals, collective efficacy, and gender composition on perceived social integration and creative performance.  One hundred twenty students (82 women and 38 men) participated in three-person groups that completed two brainstorming tasks.  Groups were either of heterogeneous or homogeneous gender composition.  Each group was randomly assigned to a high or low efficacy condition and to a specific or vague goal condition.  Following the tasks, each member of the group evaluated its social integration.  Results showed a significant correlation between a group's originality on the brainstorming tasks and its social integration.  Also, specific, difficult goals and high collective efficacy influenced originality in creative performance.  Lastly, specific, difficult goals were shown to increase ratings of perceived social integration.  Hypotheses for group goals were supported, indicating a significant effect of group goals on social integration and creativity.

North East, PA
 Morgan Campbell
is a daughter of Ralph and Michele Campbell.  Campbell, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of North East High School.  The title of her research is "The Use of Reappraisal or Suppression and Levels of Psychological Well-Being" and her advisor is Dr. Mandy Medvin, associate professor of psychology and Gibson-Drinko Distinguished Chair of Psychology at Westminster College.
The use of emotion regulation plays a role in determining levels of psychological well-being.  Emotion regulation is thought to develop through the observation of adult role models. Two main forms of emotion regulation are used, suppression and reappraisal.  It was hypothesized that participants who reported using reappraisal as a form of emotional regulation will have a higher level of well-being.  It was also hypothesized that children's perceptions of how their parents would emotionally react, and how children emotionally react, will show similar patterns in use of emotion regulation.  This research studied 80 Westminster College students about their parents use of emotional regulation and their personal use of emotional regulation.  In addition to questioning their use of emotion regulation, they were scored on their level of psychological well-being.  Findings indicated that parental and adolescent use of regulation strategies were highly correlated.  In addition, participants who said that their parents would use reappraisal, as well as the participants who said that they had used reappraisal frequently had higher psychological well-being scores.  Therefore emotion regulation is developed through observation of adult role models and those who develop reappraisal have better psychological well-being.
 
Erie, PA
 Brooke Arens
is a daughter of Brent and Beverly Maguire.  Arens, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Meadville Area High School.  The title of her research is "A Multiperspective Examination of Desirability, Importance, and Frequency of Therapist Self-Disclosure" and her advisor is Dr. Kirk Lunnen, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster College.
Psychotherapy researchers have become increasingly interested in the effects of therapist self-disclosure in treatment.  The current study surveyed 187 licensed psychotherapists in Pennsylvania, 18 psychotherapy clients, and 63 individuals with no history of psychotherapy, regarding their attitudes towards therapist self-disclosure using a modified version of the Counselor Disclosure Scale (Hendrick, 1988).  Results revealed significant differences in attitudes within the therapist sample according to discipline, theoretical orientation, and experience level.  Therapists underestimated the amount of disclosure desired by clients and viewed disclosure as less important.  Finally, the category of "professional issues" was viewed as most desirable by clients, most important, and most likely to be revealed by therapists.  Implications are discussed for current and future research in therapist self-disclosure.

Erie, PA
Jennifer Williams
is a daughter of Mark and Suzanne Williams.  Williams, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Mars Area High School.  The title of her research is "An Evaluation of Therapist Anxiety by Discipline, Theoretical Orientation, Experience Level and Degree" and her advisor is Dr. Kirk Lunnen, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster College.
The present study evaluated therapist anxiety in regards to the therapeutic process and in relation to various therapist demographic factors (i.e. theoretical orientation, training level, client population, etc) that were assessed in response to nine clinical vignettes.  Therapists identified by the Pennsylvania State Licensure database were surveyed.  Predictor variables included the demographic/grouping variables identified by the participants, while dependent variables included their reported attitudes toward anxiety, coping strategies, and clinical vignettes.  It was found that therapists varied by degree when reporting the frequency with which they experience anxiety.  Also, there were numerous differences based on therapist variables when comparing the coping strategies utilized during and after an anxiety-provoking situation.  Lastly, catatonic schizophrenia with homicidal implications was ranked as most anxiety-producing situation from the clinical vignettes.

South Euclid, OH
 Lisa Santoriella
is a daughter of Michael and Bette Santoriella.  Santoriella, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Beaumont School For Girls.  The title of her research is "The Dynamic Relationship Between Perceived Social Integration and Social Identification in In-Groups and Out-Groups" and her advisor is Dr. Jamie McMinn, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster College.
This study examined how social integration and social identification relate to each other and to in-group and out-group perceptions over time.  Two hundred and thirty-one sorority women completed three questionnaires measuring in-group and out-group integration and in-group social identification.  Questionnaires were completed at two times, a month apart.  Social integration and identification were positively correlated over time.  They also were simultaneously correlated to one another at both Times 1 and 2.  Cross-lagged analyses revealed that social identification was responsible for changes in social integration over time in the in-group.  The dynamic quality of perceptions has many implications for groups including inter-group and intra-group relations.

Columbiana, OH
 Lauren Lalama
is a daughter of Frank and Paulette Lalama.   Lalama, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Columbiana High School.  The title of her research is "The Relationship Among Cohesion, Mood, and Sports Performance Among Female Collegiate Athletes" and her advisor is Dr. Mandy Medvin, associate professor of psychology and Gibson-Drinko Distinguished Chair of Psychology at Westminster College.
The relationship between cohesion, mood, and sports performance was examined among 63 volleyball players from a Division III conference.  Each participant completed the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ), the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist-Revised (MAACL-R), and the Team Perceptions Questionnaire.  Also, each team's win/loss record was calculated to evaluate objective performance.  Results revealed that GEQ scores Attraction to the Group-Task and Attraction to the Group-Social related to subjective sports performance and objective sports performance.  Also, Group Integration-Task was associated with increased levels of positive mood, and decreased levels of negative mood.  Positive mood in addition to cohesion did not enhance the overall model; thus not lending support to the main hypothesis.   
 
Youngstown, OH
 Brian Ekis
is a son of Pam Fuzar and Floyd Ekis.  Ekis, a senior psychology major, is a graduate of Boardman High School.  The title of his research is "Effect of Reappraisal Training on Intra-Team Aggression" and his advisor is Dr. Mandy Medvin, associate professor of psychology and Gibson-Drinko Distinguished Chair of Psychology at Westminster College.
The purpose of this study was to attempt to teach a team of male athletes reappraisal strategies in order to reduce the amount of within team aggression.  The participants were taken from two Westminster College varsity teams.  Each team was split into two groups.  After controlling for level of aggression, participants were randomly assigned to either the experimental group which received the training or the control group which did not.  The independent variable was the reappraisal training, the dependent variable was the change in the level of aggressiveness.  A 2x2 mixed factorial analysis of variance was conducted to evaluate the effect of the training on aggression.  This evaluation showed that there was no significant difference in both group's aggression scores from pre-test to post-test.  Possible reasons for the findings are discussed.
 
Contact Medvin at (724) 946-7360 or e-mail medvinm@westminster.edu for more information.

Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College is ranked among national leaders in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Guide to America's Best Colleges, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 357 Colleges" and "Best 115 in the Mid-Atlantic" by The Princeton Review, and was recognized by the Templeton Guide as a "Character Building College."

Nearly 1,600 students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty, while choosing from 40 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa. campus.