Experimental Methods and Design
Each semester, the psychology department offers several sections of Psychology 3300, Experimental Methods & Design. While many courses at UNO are interesting, Psychology 3300 provides students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with survey research and psychology experiments. It is in this course that students often learn whether their future path involves empirical research as well as meet a requirement for all psychology majors and minors. Many students who discover their passion for research in Experimental Methods & Design will go on to work directly with research professors in psychology laboratories or in the honors program. Each semester, it is apparent to the faculty that some gifted students have research in their blood, as evidenced by their creativity, dedication and enthusiasm for psychology 3300.
Winners of the Richard D. Olson Award in Experimental Design and Methodology in 2016:
- Hannah Doran, "Universal Standard of Beauty: Seeking Evolutionary Advantage in Perceived Facial Attractiveness."
Hannah's research project focused on sexual dimorphism as a main determinant of sexual selection and sexual attraction. She examined the universal nature of sexual dimorphism, along with symmetry and averageness, by having a sample of 71 participants' rate attractiveness, masculinity and femininity qualities of facial photographs taken from the Chicago Face Database. Facial photos were matched on gender, ethnicity, and facial features. The results indicated that high femininity and low masculinity were associated with attractive female faces, whereas the association with high masculinity and low femininity with attractive male faces was less pronounced. African-American males rated higher in masculinity than Caucasian males, Caucasian females rated higher in femininity than African-American females. African-American males were rated as more attractive than Caucasian males, and Caucasian females were rated as more attractive than African-American females.
- Kory Victoriano, "Personality Predicts Active and Passive Procrastination."
Kory's project examined the relationship between personality factors and procrastination behaviors. A sample of 59 participants completed a five-factor personality assessment and active and passive procrastination scales. The results indicated that extraversion and openness to experience were positively correlated with active procrastination, whereas conscientiousness was negatively correlated with passive procrastination, confirming the project's main hypotheses.
- Blake Manale, "Digital Playtime, Real Benefit: The Effect of Video Game Playing on Reaction Time."
Blake's project sought to determine if video game playing can improve reaction time. He recruited a sample of 64 participants, ranging from 17-35 years old and included the participant variables of gender, handedness, and gamer/non-gamer status. Participants answered a short questionnaire and completed a short reaction time game. The results indicated that gamers had shorter reaction times than non-gamers. Gender and handedness differences were also found.
- Halima Jaber & Kevin Terrance Jr., "Sensitivity and Our Emotions."
Halima and Kevin examined the relationship between Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) and Emotional Intelligence (EI). A total of 108 undergraduate psychology majors at the University of New Orleans were recruited. Participants completed a group-administered survey on Emotional Intelligence and Sensory Processing Sensitivity. The results revealed several significant correlations between factors of Emotional Intelligence (emotional management and social emotional awareness) and Sensory Processing Sensitivity scores. Males also scored lower than females on the SPS measure.
- Sara Woods, "What is your office is saying about you? Appraisal of the Psychotherapist's Office."
Sara is a non-traditional student who came back to finish up some classes that she was missing. She has a lot of experience and background in design and such. Her project was based on several empirical studies that looked at certain characteristics of therapist's offices and how they related to a client's impression of the therapist. Sara examined three significant physical characteristics of a therapeutic office that might affect the appraisal of its therapist: softness, personalization, and order. An office with softness is described as having many comfortable surfaces/textures; like carpet or an upholstered chair. An office that displays mementos and various credentials has a higher level of personalization. Finally, orderliness is how neat the office is. Students in PSYC 3300 were shown 30 digital photographs of psychotherapist's offices. The perspective of each photograph, taken independently by New York photographer Saul Robbins, focused on the therapist's chair from the viewpoint of the client. The participants were asked to respond to each office as if they were visiting the office for emotion problems and rate each photograph based on the quality of care they expected to receive from the therapist, how comfortable they might feel divulging personal information themselves in that environment, how neat and orderly the participants found the office, and how qualified they felt the therapist would be. The findings indicated that as levels of softness, personalization, and order within an office increased the confidence in the therapists' abilities and friendliness also improved.
Additional Recent Notable Examples:
- M. Bush Keller, “Perception of God and Life Satisfaction: Are Religious People Happier?”. Ninety-three adults between the ages of 19 and 71 were surveyed about perception of God, religious service attendance, and a Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). For both males and females, those who “do not believe in God” ranked higher on the SWLS than those who believe in an “abstract God”, and those who believe in a “living, personal God”. Moreover, females who “do not believe in God” were found to be significantly more satisfied with their lives than females who believe in a “living, personal God”.
- C. Libman, "The Way We See It: Abstract Art Appreciation and Personality". The purpose of the current study is to examine the role of personality in one's appreciation of abstract art, and to uncover which personality traits correlate with this preference. A sample of 25 people completed the Big Five Inventory about Personality and examined side-by-side slides of artwork, especially abstract art. Individuals who were more Open to Experience showed somewhat of a preference for abstract art. Other personality traits, such as neuroticism or conscientiousness, were not associated with art appreciation.
- L. Weinbrenner, "Customer psychology in the era of economic depression". A sales person in the experimental group engaged customers through compliments, conversation and smiles. The control group was greeted with no smile and was not engaged. Analyses revealed that there was not a significant increase in the amount spent depending on whether the sales person was engaging.
- K. Jefferson, "Image differences between men and women". The research question asked whether men or women had more image problems regarding their expected, actual and ideal weight. Females preferred to be significantly lighter than males while the opposite was true of males. When the direction if misjudgment was corrected, males and females demonstrated equal misjudgments in between their actual and preferred weight.
- J. Muller, "Watch out for lefties: Left-handedness and accident proness". A convenience sample of young adults indicated the degree of left-handedness as well as 17 items that indexed the degree to which they were accident-prone. Analyses indicated a surprising number of mixed-handed individuals and a statistical trend for mixed-handed and right-handed individuals to be the most accident prone.