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Appalachian Student Research Forum

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Division I

Abstracts Submitted:Division I - Undergraduate students - Social & Behavioral Sciences


Kristina Hollowell, Amanda Banning, Drew Guider, East Tennessee State University, University Honors Scholars Program, Johnson City, TN 37614

Contrast between text and the page it is printed on is essential to readability. Different sources, however, disagree about the amount of background/text contrast which provides the best readability. Rivlin et al. (1990) says that the highest amount of contrast possible provides for the best readability, but Powell (1990) counters that too much contrast actually makes reading more difficult. The results of an experiment conducted by Hill (1997) showed that black text on a gray background enabled subjects to achieve faster times on a word recognition trial than those who performed the trial with black text on a white background. Our experiment is based on the findings of this study; we performed tests to see if we could verify the results of Hills experiment. Our test consisted of administering a word search puzzle, printed with black text on both white and gray paper, to a group of 108 subjects. Through randomization, 53 of the word searches administered were on white paper and 55 were on gray paper. The subjects were allowed five minutes to find as many words as possible, and then we tallied the results to see if there was a significant difference in the number of words found by subjects tested with gray paper or white paper. The mean rank of the results of the white paper was 60.92 and the mean rank of the gray paper was 48.32. We analyzed our data using the Mann-Whitney test and found that our results concurred with those of Rivlin et al. (1990). The mean ranks differed by 12.6 points which is significant at P = 0.035. To supplement our results we also performed an independent sample t-test which agreed with the Mann-Whitney test, giving us a significant difference of .030. Thus, we found that there is a significant difference in the results of the differing contrasts of the paper, with the higher contrast white paper being significantly better suited for reading.


Judy McMillan, Ronald McNair Research Program, East Tennessee State University, College of Education, Johnson City, TN 37614

The state of Tennessee ranks 20th in the nation for its overall suicide rate. The number of suicides in the state rose from a total of 709 in 2001 to 778 in 2002. This research was conducted to find out what is being done in the schools in Upper East Tennessee to facilitate suicide awareness and prevention. Interviews were conducted with high school counselors and resource officers asking about ideations, attempts, or completions of student suicides in their respective schools; how the school responded; how school personnel worked together to address the issue; and what educational programs were in place concerning suicide awareness. The contract counselors stated that all school personnel referred students to them on a regular basis. They also met on a regular basis to discuss the issues concerning the students. Personal interviews were also conducted with high school students regarding the extent of suicide awareness programs at their schools. Surveys were administered to 37 current college students as to the suicide awareness and prevention programs that were available at the high schools in which they had attended. Seventeen of those surveyed attended high schools in Upper East Tennessee and none of them participated in any suicide awareness and prevention programs. While attending Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) meetings, surveys were distributed to a number of people in the professional field to find out their opinion concerning suicide awareness and prevention curriculum. The surveys were to find out if they thought the curriculum was needed in area schools and if it would benefit the students. Seventeen surveys have been filled out by individuals working in the field of mental illness, teachers, and volunteers from the TSPN group. All of these individuals feel it is very important that students receive this curriculum in school. Research is currently being conducted on the different types of suicide awareness and prevention programs which are being utilized by different communities and hi...

Vocabulary Size and Spontaneous Labeling as Predictors of the Successful Generalization of Novel Objects.

Joshua A Woodson, ETSU.

Infants' ability to create novel labels for novel objects was investigated. This study focused on spontaneously labeling and vocabulary measures to predict performance on the novel name nameless (N3C) principle. A total of 25 infant, aged 21 months were examined. Parent report of the MCDI was used to measure estimated vocabulary size. There was a strong, positive correlation between the cognitive comprehension trial of the N3C task and morphology, both regular and regularization of irregulars of nouns and verbs. Also, there was a strong, negative correlation between the mechanical distracter trial of the N3C task and morphology of nouns. The implications of these findings are discussed.


Christopher L. Bruner, Cari Hall, Elizabeth L. Cooper, Zackary Cope, and Russell W. Brown. Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614.

Past studies from this laboratory have shown that neonatal treatment with the dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist quinpirole produces long-term increases of sensitivity of the D2 receptor that lasts throughout the animals lifetime, a phenomenon known as priming of the D2 receptor. Schizophrenics also demonstrate an increase of sensitivity of the dopamine D2 receptor, and we have proposed that this D2 priming model may serve as an effective rodent model of schizophrenia. This study was designed to analyze the associative effects of nicotine in this model utilizing the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm. Male and female Sprague-dawley rats were neonatally treated with quinpirole or saline from postnatal days (P1-21, the first three weeks of life) and raised to adolescence. All rats were behaviorally tested in a CPP apparatus, which was a modified shuttle box. One half of this box was painted flat black on the walls and the floor was painted with a black paint that provided a rough tactile surface. On the other one half of this box, it was painted flat white on the walls and the floor was covered with a transparent plastic studded flooring. This difference in tactile surface was necessary to help the animals distinguish the black/white environments. Additionally, the black and white compartment were separated by a removable black/white divider. On P29, animals were given a pretest in the CPP apparatus with the divider removed to analyze the animals initial black/white preference. As expected, all animals demonstrated a strong preference for the black compartment, as rats tend to demonstrate a preference for a darker environment. Beginning on P30, the removable divider was placed back into the box. A total of 14 animals were conditioned ....


Isaiah Hamler and Ilie Puiu Vasilescu, Social & Behavioral Department, The University of Virginias College at Wise, Wise, VA 24293

There has been interest in the individuals satisfaction with personal possessions. Some researchers have claimed object satisfaction as an aspect of self-worth. Other researchers have specified that the level of object satisfaction can reflect the level of self-worth. Still other researchers have found that individuals can give certain objects a personal significance by making the object a positive anchor for their identities. Such objects can signify personal memories and goals. In addition, individuals tend to take good care of special personal possessions. This research assumes that a personal vehicle is a significant possession that an individual takes care of. The research proposes a personal vehicle caretaking scale to differentiate between the levels of care individuals give their vehicles. The scale is a 60 question survey which intends to sample behaviors related to vehicle caretaking. This study takes into account the relationship between score, gender, age, grade point average, and length of ownership.


David. M. Jay1, James E. Horton 1,2, Helen J. Crawford 2, Gregory Harrington 3,4,J. Hunter Downs 3 , 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Virginias College at Wise, Wise, Virginia 24293 USA, 2Department of Psychology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060 USA, 3Department of Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904 USA, 4Department of Radiology, The University of California at Davis, Sacramento, California 95817, USA

This study investigated morphological differences in anterior cingulated cortex that may be related to hypnotic susceptibility. There are neurophysiological differences in the corpus callosum (CC) that may be related to information processing speed and more efficient executive function in highly hypnotizable individuals (Horton, Crawford, Harrington & Downs, 2004). The anterior cingulate is in close proximity to the CC. It is located superior to the CC and borders the CC on the medial surface and is set off by the callosal sulcus. Not only is it in close proximity to the CC, research indicates that the anterior cingulate also appears to be closely related to executive functions. There was no main effect of hypnotic trait but there was a trend toward significance of hemisphere by hypnotic trait interaction. There was a significant interaction of sex by hypnotic trait F(1,15)=9.023, p<.009 with highly hypnotizable men having a larger ACC than highly hypnotizable women and low hypnotizable men having a smaller ACC than low hypnotizable women. There was also a hemisphere by hypnotic trait by sex interaction (F(1,15) = 6.629, p < .021) with highly hypnotizable women showing asymmetry of LH smaller than RH and low hypnotizable women showing asymmetry of LH larger than RH.

Short-term memory performance in football players and control subjects

Charles J. Wills, DeAnne Quintana, Dr. Kristina Feeser, and Dr. James E. Horton, Department of Psychology, The University of Virginia's College at Wise

This study evaluated the cognitive functioning of college football players with varying levels of suspected head trauma and individuals who do not play football. A total of 148 participants, all students at The University of Virginias College at Wise, participated in the study. The participants were divided into groups according to their answers on the questionnaire that consisted of an athletic and medical screening. Participants were tested in three areas of cognitive functioning including 3-D Mental Rotation, Gestalt Closure, and Short-Term Memory. The groups scores were analyzed statistically with a Factorial ANOVA in SPSS. There was a significant difference in performance on the Short-Term memory test F(1,144)= 13.849, p<.000 but there was no significant difference in performance on the 3-D Mental Rotation test or Gestalt Closure test. The results indicate that a contact sport such as college football may impact the cognitive functioning of short-term memory but not abilities of Gestalt closure or 3D mental rotation. Additional longitudinal or sequential cross sectional research is needed to determine if short-term memory was not significantly different prior to playing football and if there was a decrease in abilities of Gestalt closure or 3D mental rotation in college football players due to football experience prior to college.

Attitudes Towards Victimization and the Self as Mediated by Media Violence

Penelope Martino Jay, Ashely Harris, David M. Jay, James E. Horton, Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, The University of Virginia's College at Wise.

This research evaluated the effect of television and videogame violence on attitudes towards victimization and effects on the self. A survey was administered to 18 male and 25 female college students aged 18 to 25. The survey included 43 questions that were grouped into five categories by defining characteristics of videogame usage, family attitudes towards television and videogame content, feelings of victimization, influence of television and videogame content on the individual, and church attendance of the participants. The data was analyzed with SPSS and yielded significant differences related to church activity and feelings of victimization (F(1,42) = 16 57.497, p<.000). There were also positive correlations of videogame usage and victimization at p<.01. The significant differences of attitudes and correlations of individual questions will also be addressed.


Jennifer C. Cudebec, Frances L. Chumney, and Chris Dula. Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614.

Ambivalent sexism, the simultaneous existence of conflicting positive and negative feelings toward women, is considered the result of both hostile sexism (opposition toward women who assume the power of men) and benevolent sexism (favorable feelings toward women who accept traditional gender roles). The 22-Item Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996) was developed to measure such contradictory images of women. Glick and Fiske (2001) found that benevolent sexism is more widely accepted in nations where hostile sexism justifies a patriarchic society and the fulfillment of traditional gender roles. This study tested the hypothesis that ambivalent sexism towards breastfeeding mothers is representative of sexist attitudes toward women in general. Specifically, the relationships between benevolent sexism, hostile sexism, positive and negative stereotypes of women who breastfeed, and the extent to which a breastfeeding woman is considered to be a sexual individual, were investigated. Undergraduate students (60 men and 87 women) at a southeastern university participated in exchange for modest course credit by completing a set of questionnaires either in-class or via the Internet. In addition to the measure of ambivalent sexism, participants completed measures designed to identify stereotypes associated with women who breastfeed, attitudes toward and knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding, and a demographics questionnaire. Hostile and benevolent sexism were significantly correlated (p = .000), as were the three subscales formed by the benevolent sexism items. Hostile sexism correlated significantly (p = .000) with both negative stereotypes (e.g., poor, uncreative, vengeful, materialistic) and the perception of a breastfeeding mother as a highly sexual individual (e.g., promiscuous, likely to initiate sex). Benevolent sexism correlated significantly (p = .021) with positive stereotypes (e.g., careful, soft-hearted, reliable). These results support the hypothesis that mothers who breastfeed are subject.....


Tatyana A. Burkhour, Frances L. Chumney, and Chris Dula. Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614.

This study explored the contents of stereotypes of women who choose to breastfeed, and how these stereotype attributes differ between men and women. Undergraduate students participated in exchange for modest course credit by completing a series of questionnaires either in-class or via the Internet. All participants completed several questionnaires, including a social behavior inventory, a measure of attitudes toward and embarrassment related to breastfeeding, and a questionnaire designed to assess knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding. Analysis on 147 participants (60 men and 87 women) utilized Mann-Whitney U tests to compare responses of men and women. Men associated fewer positive and significantly more negative personality traits with women who breastfeed compared to women who do not breastfeed. Women tended to attribute characteristics related to morality (e.g., church-going, conscientious) to women who breastfeed, while men attributed significantly more characteristics related to attractiveness and sexuality (e.g., good physical shape, promiscuous) to women who breastfeed.


Heather R. Hyder, Frances L. Chumney, and Chris Dula. Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614.

The purpose of this study was to compare the stereotypes associated with three mothering styles to the stereotypes of women perceived as good mothers. Undergraduate students (60 men and 87 women) enrolled in at least one social science course at a southeastern university participated in exchange for modest course credit. Participants completed several questionnaires, including a social behavior inventory, a measure of attitudes toward and embarrassment related to breastfeeding, and a questionnaire designed to assess knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding. Some men and women participated in-class while others participated outside of class via the Internet; no significant differences were found between participants who completed the questionnaires in-class and those who completed the measures outside of class. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare attributes assigned to good mothers who breastfeed to breastfeeding women not described as good mothers. Good mothers were associated with significantly more moral (e.g., church-going, strong family values, forgiving) and pro-social (e.g., open-minded, trusting, talkative, sociable) characteristics.


Mary O'Quinn, Puiu Vasilescu, Ashley Branham, Victoria Greene, and Emily Lawson, University of Viriginia's College at Wise, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Wise, Va 24293

This study examines whether there is a meaningful relationship between our sense of self, our learned tendency to inhibit responses that might be in opposition to significant others, and our tendency to attribute the cause of our behavior to environmental factors? The purpose of this study is to determine the extent to which the three constructs, silencing the self, the Imposter phenomenon, and self-esteem relate. That is, are there three psychological concepts unique, or is there considerable overlap such that we are really describing on phenomenon? Additionally, researchers want to explore whether a gender difference exists among the three concepts. This work will enable feminists researchers to further develop the self-silencing concept.

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