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Psychology students to share findings at Capstone Presentations

April 20, 2015

The latest-generation online dating app, Tinder, is designed to replace more traditional dating sites that require users to fill out lengthy questionnaires. After all, can’t you tell a lot about a person just based on where the photo is taken?

Senior Lise Oxaal posed that question this semester as part of her senior capstone project. She asked unsuspecting college women to look at a set of male photos and determine if they would “swipe right”—taking the next step to meet the person—or rejecting him altogether by “swiping left.” Oxaal altered the background to put males in various settings.

So, do women care if a man’s profile photo shows him hanging out in a bar or would they rather date a man whose picture is set in a family-friendly park?

Find out at the Capstone Presentations, during which Oxaal and four other psychology seniors will present findings from the research they conducted this semester.

“They looked at entirely different things, and they’ve done a fantastic job of getting people involved both on campus and from the community,” said Assistant Professor Eric Marx. “They’ve gotten interesting results to add to scientific literature.”

Senior Kenzie Andrade researched the effects of Facebook on self-esteem. Despite some studies that have linked Facebook to feelings of depression, Andrea found different results when people use the application for short periods of time. She will present her findings tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Dudley 122.

The other seniors will share their research results at a senior capstone showcase starting at 7 p.m. Thursday in Dudley 105/106.

Emily Fellers will discuss correlations between Myers-Briggs personality test results and a student’s ability to succeed in a specific academic program. For instance, she wanted to see whether a certain combination of personality traits pre-determined whether a student would be better suited for biology or, say, theatre.

The research required a set of survey questions and special software to do the mathematical correlations. While she’s still working through the data, early results were surprising.

“I thought personality would dictate success, but it turns out, it’s not quite that clear cut,” she said.

Joelle Mason took another look at the “gorilla on the basketball court” study—a famous experiment that discovered when people are busy counting how many basketball shots are made, few notice a man in a gorilla costume walking across the court. Mason did the same at Stars Café, asking people to count cups while two young men—a rare sight at Stephens—walked by. She then primed her participants to think about romantic relationships to see how their reactions would change when the men strolled through a second time.

Ashley Landrum studied the relationship between self-esteem and identifying with certain groups, be it a ethnic group or an academic field of study.

Marx encourages faculty, staff and friends to come to the presentations.

“There are some really interesting results that will be shared that just might impact how you think about yourself,” he said.

Plus, this is the culmination of psychology seniors’ work.

“Psychology doesn’t get a lot of spotlight; it’s not very flashy,” Fellers said. “But all five of us have worked really hard, and the presentations will all be very interesting.”

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