This blog and my books, those are what I do for fun. My day job, what I do for a living, is teaching statistics and research methods to ACU students.
But that's a whole lot of fun as well. Every year I mentor 10-12 undergraduate students helping them do original empirical research and then presenting that work at a peer-reviewed psychological conference. They mainly submit for poster sessions at the Southwestern Psychological Association conference.
Last weekend was the SWPA conference and I had another amazing group of undergraduate students. We had a blast and the students did awesome at the conference. So, so proud of them.
So, welcome to my day job! Here they are, my students and the abstracts of their research presentations:
Racial unrest and tension has roiled America since the events in Ferguson. Beyond the debates over the shootings themselves, there appears to be significant disagreement among Americans about the degree to which grand jury decisions are fair and unbiased, especially when they have failed to bring indictments against White police officers. Though the “rule of law” was followed grand jury decisions appear to be treated with suspicion, especially among minority populations. The present study sought to examine the effect of grand jury decisions upon perceptions of blame in a scenario describing a lethal use of police force.
Participants were 116 volunteers (40.5% Caucasian, 34.5% Hispanic, 15% African-American) who read a scenario describing a police officer (of unspecified ethnicity) using lethal force against a suspect (of unspecified ethnicity). In the Control condition participants read: "A police officer approaches an individual who is participating in an illegal activity. The officer asks the individual to comply with instructions, however the individual refuses. The officer then uses aggressive force to apprehend the individual. Subsequently, the actions of the police officer resulted in the death of the person.” In the Grand Jury condition this scenario was followed by the sentence: “Afterwards, a grand jury concluded that the actions of the police officer were justified.” After reading the scenario participants were asked to rate on a 1-7 scale the degree to which the actions of the police officer were appropriate vs. inappropriate.
A 2 (Control vs. Grand Jury) x 3 (Participant Ethnicity: Caucasian vs. African-American vs. Hispanic) ANOVA was used. Overall, there was no main effect for the grand jury prime, suggesting that the verdict of the grand jury had no impact upon judgments of the incident. There was, however, a significant main effect for participant ethnicity (F = 12.37, p < .01). Post hoc tests revealed that African-American and Hispanic participants rating the actions of the police officer as significantly less appropriate when compared to the Caucasian participants. No interaction effects were observed.
As expected, minority participants differed significantly in their perceptions of the scenario when compared to Caucasian participants. Interestingly, the grand jury prime did not affect officer ratings, for any of the ethnic groups represented by the participants. This suggests that, despite its “rule of law” imprimatur, grand jury decisions appear to be ineffective in “legitimizing” police actions in the court of public opinion.
Sexual assault continues to plague American campuses. This despite significant attempts to educate college students about the sacrosanct nature of consent in sexual encounters. No means no. Or does it? The purpose of the present study was to assess gender differences in perceptions of blame in a scenario of sexual assault. Specifically, the study examined the impact of situational information upon judgments of blame when consent was not given.
Participants were 180 volunteers, 65% female and 35% male, who were assigned to one of four experimental conditions. In each condition participants were asked to read a scenario describing a incidence of sexual assault: “On Saturday night, two college students Robert and Heather went to a party at a popular Fraternity at their school. While at the party the two found themselves alone in a bedroom where Robert began to kiss Heather. Heather told him no, but Robert continued and they had sexual intercourse. The following day, Heather reported the incident to the campus police.” In the control condition the scenario was not modified. In the three other conditions the scenario was followed by an additional statement. In the Success and Virtue conditions participants read additional details about Robert: “As a part of the police investigation, the police discovered that Robert is involved in a student organization that builds water wells in Africa where there is no access to clean water” or “As a part of the police investigation, the police discovered that Robert is 4.0 student and president of his class.” In the final condition participants read an additional statement regarding the relationship between Robert and Heather: “As a part of the police investigation, the police discovered that Heather and Robert have had an on-again, off-again sexual relationship over the past several years.” After reading the scenario participants across the conditions were asked to assign blame to Robert or Heather on a 1 (“Heather is solely responsible”) to 7 (“Robert is solely responsible”) rating scale.
A 2 x 4 ANOVA was conducted (Participant Gender x Condition). Overall, a main effect for gender was observed (F = 11.95, p < .01). Across the four conditions male participants blamed Heather more than Robert. There was also a main effect for Condition (F = 7.15, p < .01). Overall, the presence of additional information in the scenario (regarding Robert or Robert and Heather’s prior relationship) significantly reduced ratings of blame of Robert. Finally, a significant Participant Gender x Condition interaction was also observed (F = 5.39, p < .01). First, no difference was observed for the blame ratings in the control condition for male and female participants. Next, across all conditions the ratings of female participants did not vary from the control condition. By contrast, however, Robert was blamed significantly less by male participants in the Success (high GPA, class president) and Virtue (social justice work in Africa) conditions. And the lowest ratings of blame for Robert were observed when male participants read about a prior sexual relationship between Robert and Heather.
As we all know, when it comes to consent in sexual encounters “no means no.” Or does it? The results of the present study suggest that in the abstract males and female participants agree that “no means no.” However, in contrast females, male perceptions of blame appear to be significantly affected by situational details (relational and perpetrator information) distinct from the issue of consent.
A significant amount of research has been devoted to how media portrayals affect the self-perceptions of women in relation to their weight and body shape. However, little to no research has been conducted upon the relationship between makeup usage and self-perception, this despite cosmetics being a multi-billion dollar industry. The goal of the study was to introduce and assess the construct of makeup insecurity, the degree to which social confidence and insecurity are associated with makeup usage, and to examine its relationship to self-esteem, body image satisfaction and social anxiety.
Participants were 138 female volunteers (Mean age = 34.64, 78% Caucasian) who completed measures of self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965), social anxiety (Mattick & Clarke, 1998), body image (Callaghan, Sandoze, Darrow, & Feeney, 2014) and a measure developed for this study, the Makeup Insecurity Scale (MIS). The MIS is a seven-item scale with a 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree) likert scale. Example items for the MIS include “I feel self-conscious when not wearing makeup,” “I feel anxious when not wearing makeup in public,” and “I feel brave and confident when wearing makeup” (R).
Overall, makeup insecurity was negatively correlated with self-esteem indicating that participants with lower self-esteem reported the most insecurity about not wearing makeup (r = -.32, p < .05). Makeup insecurity was also positively associated with social anxiety (r = .33, p < .05). Finally, poor body image was positively associated with makeup insecurity (r = .62, p < .01).
Among the participants involved in this study, mainly Caucasian women, makeup insecurity was associated with low self-esteem, social anxiety and poor body image. These findings suggest a connection between makeup use and negative self-image. This association is consistent with the hypothesis that makeup usage is used as a compensatory strategy to bolster self-confidence in social settings.
Smartphones have given us the unprecedented ability to record every aspect of our lives in photographs and videos, even our intimate and sexual experiences. While this ability enables romantic partners to flirt with social media, it also raises the risk of explicit photos/videos being shared online without our permission, either by hackers or former romantic partners. How are the victims of these incidents perceived? In very public instances where celebrity photos have been leaked there has been a tendency to blame the victim. Is this evidence of a widespread trend to blame the victims when explicit material is leaked online?
Participants were 232 volunteers (Mean age = 30.85: 55.2% Female) who were assigned to one of four scenarios in a 2 x 2 design. In each condition participants read about an incident where an individual had explicit photos leaked onto the Internet. The first manipulation involved describing the victim of the leak as a celebrity (“a celebrity”) or not (“a person”). The second manipulation involved adding a description of a prior romantic relationship between the victim and the perpetrator of the leak (“a former romantic partner”) versus a control condition where this information was not included. After reading the scenario participants rated a 1-7 likert scale assigning blame to the two persons described in the scenario (e.g., 7 = the person who leaked the photos is solely to blame).
A 2 (participant gender) x 2 (Celebrity vs. Non-Celebrity) x 2 (Control vs. Prior Romantic Relationship) ANOVA was conducted. Overall, there was no main effect observed for the romantic relationship manipulation. A main effect was observed for participant gender (F = 6.72, p < .01). Specifically, across the conditions female participants tended to blame the victim more. A main effect was also observed for the celebrity manipulation (F = 11.41, p < .001). Overall, celebrities were blamed more for the leak across the conditions. No interaction effects were observed.
The results appear to support the conclusion victims are often blamed when it comes to leaked photos. For example, across all conditions women blamed the victim more than men. In addition, celebrity victims were blamed more than non-celebrity victims. The study was unable to determine the attributions behind blame assignment, but it is hypothesized that victims are blamed if they are judged as not having taken sufficient care and precautions to keep explicit photos of themselves under their complete control.
Social media is often used for the purposes of relationship enhancement and maintenance for those in romantic relationships. And yet, there are temptations here as well. Specifically, social media has created another space where feelings of romantic jealousy can occur as we observe and monitor, often in unhealthy ways, the online interactions of our romantic partners. To date, however, there has been little empirical work on the phenomenon of social media-related jealousy and its relationship to established measures of romantic trust, jealousy, and adulthood attachment styles.
Participants were 197 undergraduate and community volunteers. The sample was 79.9% female. The mean age was 30.1 (SD = 13.94). Participants completed the Multidimensional Jealousy Scale (Pfeiffer & Wong, 1989), which assesses behavioral (e.g., “I look through X’s drawers, handbag, or pockets.”) and emotional jealousy (e.g., “I get very upset when X hugs and kisses someone of the opposite sex.”), and the Trust Inventory Scale (Adams, Couch, & Jones 1996). Participants also completed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Short Form (Wei, Russell, Mallinckrodt, & Vogel, 2007) which assess avoidant (e.g., “I try to avoid getting to lose to my partner.”), and anxious attachment styles (e.g., “I do not often worry about being abandoned.”). Finally, the participants completed the Social Media Jealousy Scale (SMJS), an eight-item scale developed for this research. Example items of the SMJS included “I get upset when my partner is looking at or interacting on social media with somebody I think he/she might be attracted to” and “I frequently look at my partner’s social media accounts to see who he/she has been talking to”.
Overall, social media jealousy was positively correlated with jealousy ratings (r = .74, p < .001). Social media jealously was also negatively correlated with relational trust (r = -.62, p < .001). Lower self-esteem was associated with increased social media jealousy (r = -.35, p < .001). Regarding romantic attachment, social media jealously was positively correlated with avoidance of intimacy (r = .42, p < .001) and anxiety about abandonment (r = .54, p < .001). Overall, these correlations with both anxiety and avoidance suggest that social media jealousy is associated with what has been labeled a fearful or disorganized attachment style.
Overall, jealousy in relationships was positively associated with jealousy on social media. Lack of trust in a relationship was also associated with increased ratings of social media jealousy. Interestingly, self-esteem was negatively associated with social media jealousy, suggesting that jealousy may be associated with a negative self-concept. Finally, social media jealousy was associated with a “fearful” (high anxiety/high avoidance) romantic attachment style.