Carroll College, Helena Montana

Honors Thesis Abstracts

2015 Honors Thesis Abstracts: Psychology

The Dog and Pony Show: A Critique of Human Animal Interaction Research
Sarah Jo Willcockson- Psychology

The scientific evidence supporting certain foundational anthrozooligical assertions regarding the human-animal bond is inadequate to support the definitional human to nonhuman-animal bond phenomenon defined as—a unique, bilateral benefit derived from interspecies interaction that is not and cannot be garnered from interaction with conspecifics (Fine & Beck, 2010). Problems in human-animal interaction research are highlighted and analyzed, such as poor internal validity, lack of control groups, and various confounding variables. Further, the parameters of human-animal interaction research, such as the de facto limitation to animal-human models, is questioned and analyzed in order to offer avenues of human-animal interaction research that could reduce the number of confounding variables. The research alternative offered is the use of animal-animal models to test effects of conspecifics, specifically the effects of interspecies interaction versus intraspecies interaction. In order to view animal-animal models as a viable research alternative, it is first necessary to understand the degree to which humans and nonhuman animals are analogous. However, once understood, the possible introduction of animal-animal models could negate many of the confounds that detract from human-animal interaction research, such as non-randomized sampling and researcher expectations. Ultimately, this investigation raises questions about how and if research should continue to expostulate that animals can be used as proxy emotional models for both human-animal interaction research and as objects of anthropomorphism in therapeutic practice.  


The Effects of Objectifying Statements on Women’s Self Esteem, Mood, and Body Image
Carly Schwickert- Psychology

Research has shown that women have lowered self-confidence ratings after being harassed by a stranger (e.g. Fairfield & Rudman, 2008) and perform worse on a mathematical task after receiving an objectifying gaze (e.g. Gervais, Vescio, & Allen, 2011). This study investigates the effects of objectifying statements from attractive and unattractive strangers on women’s self esteem, body image and happiness. Individuals assumed they were participating in an Accuracy of First Impressions study and completed an online personal questionnaire, from which they believed peers would create a first impression statement. Participants then met in person with the researcher where they received a statement about their personality, attractiveness or objectifying them, paired with a photo of either an attractive or unattractive male. They then completed a first impression questionnaire and inventories including the Body Image Scale, Current Thoughts Scale, and Subjective Happiness Scale. In reality, individual’s information was not shown to anyone and they were randomly assigned to view statements, which were written by the researcher. Results showed that participants who received objectifying statements had more negative feelings toward the male and a lower body image than those who received statements about their personality or attractiveness. Contrary to predictions, women receiving objectifying statements reported more positive emotions and opposing the hypothesis, self-esteem was not altered by statement type. The attractiveness of the male did not have an effect on happiness, self-esteem or body image. This study brings attention to the positive and negative effects of word choice in everyday encounters.  

2011 Honors Thesis Abstracts: Psychology

Understanding the Addictive Process as a Biological Brain Disease, and How this Leads to Compassion and Social Reform
Katie Garrison - Psychology, Honors Scholar Program

Drug and alcohol addiction is a very controversial issue in America today because some people view it as a biological brain disease while others see it as a moral defect or lack of willpower. Addiction is surrounded by shame and stigma, and it is destructive in multiple ways. Although there are a variety of perspectives on addiction, more and more research is pointing to the biological aspects that make addiction a chronic, progressive brain disease. There is now evidence of physiological changes in the brain due to drug use, and actual differences at the molecular level that mark a shift from controlled drug use to drug use that has become compulsive and out of the individual's control. Because of the mounting evidence of these brain changes, addiction can no longer be seen as a matter of individual choice. The individuals are powerless over their disease. By exploring the addictive process as a brain disease, it will be better understood how this complex and destructive force invades a person's life and takes over control. This perspective will promote understanding and compassion for those individuals suffering from addiction and also to their families who struggle with understanding the complexities of this disease. Addiction is cunning and pervasive. By its very nature addiction affects the individual's behavior, which so intimately reflects their qualities as a person. The only way to decrease the shame and torment that surrounds addiction is to deeply understand it. Addiction is not a choice, it is not a moral defect; it is it is a chronic and progressive brain disease that is worthy of attention and treatment.

An Analysis of Perceptual Awareness
Kari Halvorson - Psychology

Perceptual awareness describes the conscious processing of external and internal stimuli. External stimuli are processed through the five senses. Internal stimuli include psychology and physiology. Although people receive masses of stimuli they are not always aware of the processing of those stimuli. Both fields of psychology and philosophy explore the phenomenon of perceptual awareness. Psychology studies perceptual awareness through qualitative and quantitative research, as it relates to neuroscience, motion blindness, blind sight patients, change blindness, stress reduction and relaxation, immune functioning, relationships, mental health, therapy, relationships, and other areas. In philosophy, perceptual awareness is often referred to as mindfulness and is viewed as having implications with people's calling to enlightenment. Some philosophical theories, in particular eastern thoughts, encourage the mastery of perceptual awareness or mindfulness through practicing meditation. Although traditionally psychology and philosophy examine perceptual awareness in their distinct fields, both psychology and philosophy similarly contribute to the topic of perceptual awareness because they both define perceptual awareness, analyze gaps or problems with a lack of perceptual awareness, evaluate positive outcomes of perceptual awareness, consider moral, ethical, and religious/spiritual issues with perceptual awareness, and call to action personal and social observations. "An Analysis of Perceptual Awareness" holistically investigates the multifaceted elements of perceptual awareness by investigating similarities and roles in psychology and philosophy.

Academic Procrastination as a Predictor of Explanatory Style in College Students
Christina Hoppe - Psychology

The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether having a higher level of academic procrastination had a significant influence on the type of explanatory style found in college students. The study focused on negative explanatory styles, ones that attribute events to internal, stable, and global causes, and positive explanatory styles, attributions to external, unstable and specific causes, as correlates of procrastination. Male and female college students (N=86) in the introductory psychology course at Carroll College were given the Academic Attributional Style Questionnaire (AAS Q) to measure their explanatory style and the Procrastination Assessment Scale-Students (PAS) to measure procrastination level. Results indicated that while there was not a significant overall correlation between the scores on the AAS Q and the PASS , a significant positive relationship was found between students who had a higher level of procrastination and a negative explanatory style. Statistical analyses produced support for the hypothesis that students who procrastinate on academic assignments will have a greater tendency to use a negative explanatory style. The implication is that students with a negative explanatory style will put assignments off longer and perform poorer on tasks, creating additional work and unnecessary stress. Ideas and suggestions for further investigation are also discussed.