Amanda Faherty ’15, Amber Eagan ’15, Olivia Hanno ’16 and Kristin Ressel ’16 joined Assistant Professor of Psychology Brien Ashdown in presenting at the 2015 meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research in Albuquerque, N.M.
The annual SCCR conference draws professionals and students from across social science fields, including — in addition to psychology — anthropology, sociology, education, family studies, social work, human development, communications, ethnic studies, business and more. This fundamentally interdisciplinary conference offers the opportunity to network with scholars from a wide variety of approaches to cross-cultural and comparative research.
Building on research Ashdown conducted in Guatemala, Faherty and Eagan presented on Interpersonal Acceptance-Rejection Theory (IPARTheory), specifically an assessment of the psychometric properties of three of IPARTheory’s measures among a Guatemalan sample, which has never been done before.
“The most exciting part of this project has not only been the ability to present our own research to other well-known psychologists, but the opportunity to listen to other presenters and their research findings that influence and shape the field of cross-cultural psychology,” says Eagan, double major in psychology and LGBT studies. “I think that creating an environment that welcomes and shares unique perspectives and diverse topics of interest encourages researchers to explore the things that they remain the most curious about which adds to our understanding of cross-cultural psychology.”
Faherty, a psychology major and double minor in child advocacy and environmental studies, notes that “a lot of undergraduates at other schools don’t get the opportunity to complete research with professors and HWS is unique in this aspect. It really gives you early exposure to different fields within psychology, research methods, and data entry. I came into college knowing I wanted to major in psychology but without a real direction or passion. Through this research, I had the opportunity to explore cross-cultural research and really narrow down my interests. I realized how my interests in education and development were related to cultural aspects and this has further influenced which interests I would like to pursue in graduate school.”
In a session during the conference that focused on “Adolescents Across Borders,” Hanno and Ressel delivered a presentation titled “Sex and gender role attitudes among rural highland Guatemalan adolescents,” which explored the demographic and cultural variables that influence adolescents’ attitudes about gender roles, sexual rights, and reproductive knowledge — particularly age, gender, primary language, and community/village in Guatemala.
Hanno’s honors project will extend her work from this particular study, “so getting a head start on the research I will be doing for that has been an ideal situation,” she says.
A double major in psychology and Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies, Hanno studied “Introduction to Cross Cultural Psychology” with Ashdown while abroad in Ecuador and Peru, which, she says, “absolutely enhanced the experience and sparked my interest in Latin America and cross cultural psychology in general. I’m very interested in the work that Professor Ashdown has done in Guatemala, so it has been great to get a hands-on experience with the research myself.”
Ressel, a double major in psychology and Writing & Rhetoric, joined Hanno and Ashdown in developing the project “to learn about an area of the world that I’ve never had the chance to visit. Having gone abroad to Wales last year, I am very interested how attitudes and opinions vary cross-culturally,” she says. “It’s been incredible to get involved on campus in a much more in-depth manner and have the opportunity to take that new-found knowledge and research to Albuquerque. Working with Olivia and Professor Ashdown has been instrumental in my growth not only as a psychology major, but also as a student in general.”
While Ashdown collected the initial data, Faherty, Eagan, Hanno, and Ressel analyzed and managed the findings, created the presentations and sought feedback to help polish the final product.
“They’ve worked hard to create 15-minute presentations, and are putting themselves in a situation to have a conversation about their work with graduate students and Ph.D. level researchers,” says Ashdown. “This is a huge opportunity for undergraduate students, and I’m very proud of them.”