Campus News

Psychology Students Earn Regional Research Awards

Two research studies by Hope College students are receiving regional awards for excellence from the Midwestern chapter of Psi Chi - The International Honor Society in Psychology.

Hope students have the strongest track record in the region, winning the highly competitive awards in 15 of the past 18 years, with multiple teams winning awards during nine of the years.  There are typically hundreds of submissions each year.  In 2016, for example, there were nearly 600 submissions, of which only 24 were offered awards.

This year’s awards will be presented during the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, April 20-22.  The students will also be presenting the results of their research during the meeting.

Senior Robert Henry of La Salle, Illinois, who is majoring in both biology and psychology, is being honored for “Does Grit Crack Under Pressure? Trait Grit, Primed Self-Awareness and the Influence on Physiology.” The study, designed by Henry, examined whether or not grit, a positive trait comprised of perseverance and passion, has an effect on individuals physically. Participants first completed a questionnaire assessing grit and then completed a task in the lab while researchers monitored their heart rate, blood pressure, and sweat. Henry conducted his research mentored by Dr. Lindsey Root Luna, assistant professor of psychology.

The team of senior psychology majors Rachel Hibbard of Traverse City, Megan Edwards of Los Angeles, California, and Kirstin Diepholz of Ada is being honored for “The Effects of Priming Heroes on Helping Intentions and Meaning in Life.”  The study included two experiments, one that found that implicit, abstract heroic images, such as Spiderman or Superman, increased helping intentions and meaning, and another found that explicitly asking participants to reflect on personal heroes decreased helping intentions and meaning.  They are continuing to conduct research to determine why the distinction exists, but their hypothesis is that symbolic or abstract heroes may motivate us to act prosocially, but being reminded of actual heroes may be somewhat personally threatening because such people have outperformed us.  The students conducted their research mentored by Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, assistant professor of psychology.

Psi Chi – the International Honor Society was founded in 1929 to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellence in scholarship, and advance the science of psychology. Psi Chi has chapters at about 1,100 senior colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland and New Zealand. Since its founding, the honor society has registered more than 700,000 lifetime members.

The honor society’s chapters are grouped within six regions: Eastern, Midwestern, Rocky Mountain, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western. The Midwestern Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

Hope’s chapter was chartered in 1965.