Last month, four alums and two students joined Assistant Professor of Psychology Portia Dyrenforth and Assistant Professor of Psychology Jonathan Iuzzini at the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Founded in 1974, the society currently includes more than 5,000 members from around the world who study a wide array of subfields. The students who attended were Michael Doane ’11 and Morgan Hopkins ’10. Alums included Colleen Carpinella ’09, a graduate student at UCLA; Sade Jones ‘08, a graduate student at the University of Texas, Austin; Amy Nadel ’09, a graduate student at Farleigh Dickinson; and Rachel Sumner ‘08, a research assistant at Columbia University.
“Attending the SPSP conference was my first introduction to psychology research and presentation outside of the HWS campus,” explains Doane. “It was valuable to have experienced a professional gathering of researchers from several different subfields within personality and social psychology. I plan to continue conducting collaborative research in hopes of attending the SPSP conference next year.”
The work that the HWS members presented ranged in topic from “Can priming thoughts of white privilege lead to behaviors that promote racial equality?” to “My President and I?: Effects of the inauguration of the first African American President on perceived stereotype threat among 6th graders.” Much of the work presented by HWS members began with summer research. For example, Doane presented work on the effects of positive emotions on social behaviors. The poster was titled “Are Happy People More Sociable?: Behavioral Evidence of the Social Benefits of Positive Emotion.” The behavioral coding and statistical analyses were conducted while Doane was participating in summer science research with Dyrenforth. The research results suggest that positive mood decreases socially undesirable behaviors and creates a more positive and enjoyable interaction between individuals.
Hopkins also presented work from her research in the Summer Science program on affirmative action that she conducted with Iuzzini. Her poster was titled “Thinking about race and class, but not affirmative action: Do our impressions shift when preferential selection is out of the picture?”
“I applied to graduate schools for doctoral programs in social psychology; many of the presenters were from schools I applied to, so it was a great networking opportunity,” says Hopkins. “My Honors is also in social psychology with Professor Iuzzini, so the conference was a chance to hear the latest research in similar fields to my Honors work.”
The conference was a beneficial way for professors, students and alums to present their research and also learn about the work being done by other scholars in personality and social psychology. For HWS students it was an opportunity to get real-world field experience as well as network with both alums and psychology experts. “I was able to gather help and ideas regarding applying for graduate school and how best to approach the often stressful and lengthy process,” Doane notes.