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Westminster College Alumnus Published in Journal of Student Research

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Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Devon Struthers, a psychology major who graduated from Westminster College in May, published his senior thesis project in the Journal of Student Research.

"The Effects of Thunder, Stereotyping, and Cognitive Load on Impression Formation" examined the effect of stereotypes and the stolen thunder tool on impressions of a person who committed a crime. The stolen thunder tool, often used by defense attorneys, can be summarized as a tool that reveals negative information about one's self or one's client before the opposing party does - stealing their thunder.

Struthers collected data from 120 Westminster students to assess their impression of a hypothetical African American man who had been convicted of assault. He separated the students into groups. Students were either given information about the man that was stereotypical or counter-stereotypical, and the conviction was revealed to the students by the man himself or the information was revealed by someone else. Struthers found that impressions of the man were more positive when he revealed the negative information himself and he was also counter-stereotypical of his group.

He also presented his research at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago in May, and the Westminster College Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration in April. He was advised by Dr. Jamie McMinn, associate professor of psychology.

Struthers is a son of Lisa Schreck of Carlisle and Donald Struthers of Newville and a graduate of Big Spring High School.

View the article here.

Contact McMinn at (724) 946-7121 or email for more information.