Students of Associate Professor of Psychology Brien Ashdown presented their work at the annual meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research (SCCR) in late February in Seattle.
Cross-cultural psychologists, says Ashdown, explore how psychological constructs, behaviors and emotions are similar and different across various cultures. “What is most important is why there are those differences and similarities, and how they influence the lives of individuals,” he says.
Alexandra Deku ’21, Gillian Owens ’20 and Yuanfei Zhang ’20 worked on a project titled “Guatemalan Teenagers’ Aspiration for 15 years in the Future: A Qualitative Study of Desired Futures.” The team gathered lists of characteristics and drawings by teenagers from Jocotenango that detailed how they saw themselves in 15 years, says Owens. “The lessons gleaned from this data will help leaders of schools and other institutions understand students’ future goals and dreams. We believe this will allow them to provide the tools and resources necessary to properly equip the students to chase their aspirations.”
Khanh Le ’20, Xiaojin Lin ’20 and Momthaj Uddin ’20 researched interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory for Guatemalan adolescents. “We analyzed whether adolescents’ perception of being accepted/rejected by their parents and teachers affect aspects of their well-being, such as resilience, self-efficacy and happiness,” says Le. She also presented on her Honor’s thesis, which looks at parenting issues in Vietnam.
For Leland Barclay ’20, who was presenting at the SCCR meeting for the second time, the conference was an opportunity to network with psychologists and expand her understanding of the scientific process. Her project, working with Hadley Browning ’20 and Marlendy Elysee ’21, centered on “…whether participants who experienced maternal rejection in childhood were more or less likely to stalk or spy on their romantic partners in adulthood,” she says.
Isabel Urquiza’s project hits close to home for the Mexican native: she studied “Cyanobacteria’s Negative Effect on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala and its People: Steps to Take Forward to Fight Against Pollution.” “I relate as these are my people and I want to bring attention so that change can be made for Lake Atitlán and the Maya community,” says the sophomore who is a double major in educational studies and psychological science.
Presenting their research at a national conference is a great opportunity for students to stand out in their professional life, says Ashdown. “Quite a few of these students are graduating seniors who have plans to go on to graduate school, and having this kind of experience is really going to give them a leg up in that process,” he says.
Barclay hopes to enroll in a psychology doctoral program after her graduation this May. “Had I not worked in research with Brien Ashdown over the past two years, I would not be as competitive as I am in the application process,” she says. “One of the reasons I felt confident in applying to graduate school during my senior year at HWS was because of my research experience.”