Ashdown Examines Cross-Cultural Impact – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Ashdown Examines Cross-Cultural Impact

Assistant Professor of Psychology Brien K. Ashdown is traveling to Japan this summer to present research at two international conferences.

“My attendance at these two conferences is particularly important because of their international focus,” explains Ashdown, a cross-cultural psychologist who specializes in the impact that cultural influence has on adolescent social development. “Both organizations are large, with members from across the globe.”

Ashdown will present two posters at the 31st International Congress of Psychology in Yokohama, Japan. With much of his research co-authored by HWS psychology students, Ashdown explains that “these two posters include five William Smith students and represent portions of work that have been ongoing for 3-4 years.”

“Gender and Ethnicity: Who Wears the Pants in the Relationship?” is co-authored by Ashdown, Rachel Hadley ’13 and Samantha Sasse ’16 and reveals that participants’ levels of sexism, ageism and commitment to their beliefs can help to explain how they perceive the fulfillment of gender roles when evaluating people.

The second poster, titled “Stories and Drawings about Ethnicity from Guatemalan Adolescents,” is co-authored by Ashdown, Olivia Hanno ’16, Kristin Ressel ’16 and Cassidy Smith ’16. The study uses drawings of a stereotypical Ladino or indigenous male or female previously created by Guatemalan adolescents in order to prompt current participants to write a story about the person pictured. Stories were then evaluated for the presence of stereotypes and themes about men and women of the two ethnicities. The findings supported previous results indicating that beliefs about ethnic groups have remained similar across time and location in Guatemala.

At the 23rd International Congress for the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) in Nagoya, Japan, Ashdown will present a paper as part of a symposium that he organized on behalf of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. The purpose of the symposium, titled “The Society for Cross Cultural Research Presents at IACCP: Culture, Interventions, and Change,” is to encourage collaboration and interaction between both organizations cross-culturally.

The paper presentation is co-authored by Ashdown and Ressel on research that was conducted for Ressel’s Honors project, for which Ashdown served as her adviser. “Modeling Education: The Effectiveness of a ‘Model’ Classroom for Early Childhood Education in Guatemala” highlights some of the key findings from Ressel’s thesis, which evaluated the socioemotional preparedness of Guatemalan kindergarteners enrolled in an early childhood education program. The research indicated that participants who were enrolled in the model classroom showed higher levels of happiness, kindness and learning and had decreased levels of fighting.

Attending these international conferences “allows me to interact with scholars who have an interest in Latin America, like I do,” explains Ashdown. “It allows me to learn about similar work that is being conducted in different parts of the world that I might not otherwise be aware.”

Ashdown joined the HWS faculty in 2011, after holding previous positions at St. Louis University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He earned a B.A. in psychology and Spanish from Weber State University, and an M.S. in research and Ph.D. in psychology from St. Louis University, where he began his research in Guatemala.

In the photo above, Assistant Professor of Psychology Brien K. Ashdown stands with HWS student researchers at the Society for Cross Cultural Research Conference in Portland, Ore. in 2016.