Pictured from left to right are faculty mentor and researcher Dr. Olufemi Oluyedun, assistant professor of kinesiology; psychology student researcher Erin Moran; kinesiology and psychology student researcher Brendyn Mroz; and faculty mentor and researcher Dr. Mary Inman, professor and chair of psychology.

A collaborative faculty-student research project studying the relationship between undergraduate student-athletes’ and student-musicians’ self-presentation and their mental health has won Hope College’s annual Social Sciences Early Career Investigators Award.

The award is presented each spring to a member of the faculty in the college’s social sciences division who is of assistant-professor rank and has worked with students on a significant research project.  This year’s recipient is Dr. Olufemi Oluyedun, assistant professor of kinesiology, who conducted the project “Impression Motivation and Mental Health in Performers: Identifying Health Strivings” with graduating senior psychology major Erin Moran; rising senior Brendyn Mroz, who is majoring in kinesiology and psychology; and Dr. Mary Inman, professor of psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology.

Brought together through an interest in sport and traditional psychology research, the team examined the self-presentation (managing how others think of oneself) and mental health of undergraduate athletes and musicians. In fall of 2022 and spring of 2023, undergraduate athletes and musicians completed established measures assessing self-presentation and mental-health indices. Results indicated that athletes reported more adaptive mental health scores compared to musicians. In addition, the study also found that athletes who strived to be seen as virtuous felt less driven to perfectionism.  The team’s work has implications for young adults’ mental health.

Oluyedun joined the Hope faculty in 2019. His background is in sport and exercise psychology, which is his primary concentration, and motor development, and as a researcher he specializes in youth sport development and motivation. He has supervised 60 undergraduate researchers during his time at Hope, including 15 who have worked with him as research assistants in his laboratory.

He has received a several grants from Hope and external agencies in support of his research.  He has presented his work at multiple professional conferences, and had articles and entries in publications including the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and the Dictionary of Sport Psychology.

In addition to the recognition that it has received from Hope, “Impression Motivation and Mental Health in Performers: Identifying Health Strivings” has been accepted as poster presentation during the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association being held in August in Seattle, Washington, and was also selected as a student poster presentation during the Midwestern Psychological Association conference held in April in Chicago, Illinois.

Prior to coming to Hope, Oluyedun completed his master’s and doctoral degrees at Michigan State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wabash College in 2012.

The Social Sciences Early Career Investigators Award is designed to recognize and encourage pre-tenured faculty to partner with students in research collaborations that further the scholarship goals of the faculty member while developing the skills of critical inquiry and analysis in students.  The competition is open to pre-tenured social science faculty who worked with students on a significant research project. The selection is made from among the eligible social science projects highlighted during the college’s annual A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, which was held on Friday, April 12, this year.