Summer Taylor '23 and Sydney McGurk '23, alumni Kayla Luhn '22 and India Oates ’21 and assistant professor of psychology Kristina Howansky presented research at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference in mid-February 2023.
Taylor, Luhn, McGurk and Howanksy gave a presention (led by Taylor) entitled "Perceptual Conformity: Peer Influence on Perceptions of Attractiveness." In this work, researchers investigated whether perceptual conformity could occur through shared opinions of peers. The study consisted of a “false” dating profile in which participants viewed peers' opinions on the attractiveness of the target in the dating profile. They found that visual perception can be influenced by peer social information and attention is a major component to examine perceptual conformity. This research was part of Luhn's St. Mary's Project, which McGurk and Taylor assisted with. Luhn is currently in a position doing direct mail marketing for AARP.
Oates and Howansky collaborated with Taylor DePolo, an undergraduate at Penn State University where Oates is a human research technologist in the Empathy and Moral Psychology Laboratory. Oates presented an in-person poster for their project entitled "Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals’ Dehumanizing Beliefs and Experiences" which was originally conceived and developed though directed research with Howansky in the spring 2021 semester and awarded a Psi Chi grant in August of that year. This work seeks to understand meta-dehumanization and meta-stereotyping beliefs and experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Researchers assessed several identity, mental health, and social support variables as potential protective buffers against the negative effects of dehumanization. A qualitative report of dehumanization themes, sources and consequences was also provided.
Additionaly, assistant professor of psychology Gili Freedman helped organize a professional development session for the SPSC conference. Freedman is currently on parental leave and could thus not attend in person but she prepared the work ahead of time. Her collaborator Franki Kung (Purdue) presented "Building Professional and Scholarly Communities" which aimed to address how early career psychologists could build their scholarly and professional communities, particularly during challenging times. In the session, four speakers, nominated by peers as individuals who excel at building communities, participated in a panel discussion and Q&A to share advice on finding and managing research collaborations, mentorship communities, research labs and peer support networks.