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Psychology Seniors Present Research at Regional Convention

March 13, 2009

The students conducted the research last semester and compiled the results to present to their class. Students were given the option to submit their research for the regional psychology convention by course instructor Dr. Bret Roark, OBU Ralph and Marie Barby Endowed Professor of Psychology. The Southwestern Psychological Association convention will include presentations of undergraduate, graduate and faculty research. Submissions undergo a faculty review process and are either accepted or rejected for presentation at the convention.

Kevin Aitken, a senior psychology major from Tulsa, Okla., submitted his research titled, "How the presence and sight of a competitor affects maze performance." Aitken performed his research in October and November using student participants from OBU.

"I was trying to study how the presence of a competitor affects a person's ability to solve paper pencil mazes," said Aitken. "I had hypothesized that having a competitor present would actually increase a person's ability to solve mazes."

Participants in Aitken's research completed sets of mazes with a competitor present and without a competitor present.

"I found that having a competitor present and visible actually decreases a person's ability to solve mazes," said Aitken. "My basic idea behind my study was the question, 'Out of sight, out of mind?'"

Aitken's research received the Southwestern Regional Research Awardfrom Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.

"Without OBU, I wouldn't have developed the skills necessary to conduct such research, and without the guidance of Dr. Roark, I would have never known how to even begin researching my ideas and questions," Aitken said. "Being able to conduct research - from developing a research idea and carrying it out, to being able to present it - will help me in the field of psychology in so many ways."

Senior psychology major Alexander Genheimer, from Mustang, Okla., also will present research during the convention. Genheimer conducted research dealing with the effect of promotion salience on professor evaluations.

"For example, if you were told before getting a professor evaluation sheet that the scores on that evaluation will influence whether or not the professor is promoted, will that bias your response?" Genheimer explained.

"I feel that OBU has an exceptional psychology program, with several professors who not only communicate their message well, but also take time to make sure their students understand and work with them through projects like this," Genheimer said.

Vanessa Fortune, a senior psychology major from Indianola, Okla., will present the research she conducted on the effect of hair color on negative obese stereotypes.

"The professors at OBU have really pushed me and challenged me in my academics," said Fortune. "Because of them I was able to rise to the challenge of doing my experiment."