Tusculum College Participates In Southeastern Psychological Association Conference

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Tusculum College students and faculty participating in the annual Southeastern Psychological Association Conference included from left, Theo Oing, Jade Bussell, Melinda Franklin, Thomas Bitner, Taira Peters, Dr. Stephen Nettelhorst, Dr. Brian Pope, Robert Arrowood and Dr. Bill Garris.
Tusculum College students and faculty participating in the annual Southeastern Psychological Association Conference included from left, Theo Oing, Jade Bussell, Melinda Franklin, Thomas Bitner, Taira Peters, Dr. Stephen Nettelhorst, Dr. Brian Pope, Robert Arrowood and Dr. Bill Garris.

Theo Oing, a senior student from Chattanooga, participated with other students and faculty members of the Tusculum College psychology department in the Southeastern Psychological Association’s 60th annual Conference in Nashville.

Other participating students were Thomas Bitner; a junior from Chuckey; Taira Peters, a junior from Rogersville; Melinda Franklin, a senior from Concord, N.C.; Jade Bussell, a senior from Harrogate, and Robert Arrowood, a senior from Erwin. Faculty included Dr. Brian Pope, professor of psychology; Dr. Bill Garris, associate professor of psychology, and Dr. Stephen Nettelhorst, associate professor of psychology.

Tusculum students and faculty presented five posters based upon original research conducted during the 2013-2014 year. The topics they researched and shared included Mr. Bitner, Dr. Pope, Peters and Dr. Tom Harlow’s work on the relationship between stereotype threat, positive emotions and athletic performance.  Dr. Harlow is associate professor of psychology at Tusculum College.

According to their research, the expectation was the stereotype threat “your group does poorly on this task” would impair athletic performance.   

A second project by Mr. Oing, Dr. Pope, Ms. Franklin and Lawson considered the effect of ego depletion on videogame performance. 

The research reported that the expectation was that as people experienced a frustrating situation, their performance on a videogame task would decrease.   

Dr. Nettelhorst presented two studies pertaining to consumer psychology. The first examined how individuals use customer reviews and ratings to evaluate products on online marketplaces such as Amazon.com. The second investigated whether individuals' decisions to skip an advertisement on online streaming sites (e.g. Hulu.com, YouTube.com, etc.) were influenced by factors such as the actor’s attractiveness and the viewer’s choice to view or not view the ad. 

Mr. Arrowood and Dr. Garris explored how thinking about one’s own death might influence his or her sexual interest.

The theory and prior research predicted that contemplating death would increase an interest in sex, similar to the intense romantic feelings one might feel before being called off to war. However, there was a mild dampening of sexual interest, which could be attributed to the religious values the subjects may have that were elevated when the subjects thought about “meeting their maker.” 

“This conference is always an important experience for our students because of the opportunities for professional growth and networking within the discipline,” said Dr. Pope. 

While Mr. Arrowood, Ms. Franklin, Ms. Bussell and Dr. Garris did not find results that supported their theory, a number of other researchers at the conference said they had also experienced a failure to replicate in the same research area, which led to engaging conversations and networking about common interests.  

Dr. Pope said that the psychology department strongly encourages its students to pursue research. He added, that by conducting research, students develop skills in data collection and data analysis that will help them not only in graduate school but also in their chosen professions. 

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