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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

PSY 357 UNDERGRADUATE PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS FOR FALL 2014

Spring 2014 | Summer 2014 | Fall 2014 |

To view a course description and requirements click on the name of one of the studies listed below.

Descriptions will be added as they become available.


Clinical

Cognitive Systems

Developmental

IDEP

Social and Personality

Perception


Prosocial behavior – what leads people to help others

Faculty:
Marlone Henderson

Contact:
Annie Jung (hsjung@utexas.edu)

Description:
Can eating Hershey’s chocolate increase helping behavior? Do rich people donate less or more? The Henderson lab is looking for students to help with research studies related to various topics on prosocial behavior. Both 357 and volunteer positions available.

Qualifications:
We are looking for responsible, mature, friendly, outgoing, and competent research assistants to help with several studies related to prosocial behavior. The project involves both lab and field studies (e.g., on campus, in neighborhoods) soliciting donors and volunteers for local organizations. Schedule will be flexible, but will likely include some nights and weekends. No previous research experience required. Completion of PSY 418 preferred, but not mandatory.


Infant Sibling Study, Parent Training Study, & Emotion Recognition Study

Faculty:
Rebecca Neal-Beevers

Contact:
cdcl@utexas.edu

Description:
Wonderful opportunity to gain valuable research experience! We are looking for motivated research assistants to join our team!

-Infant Sibling Study: Examines synchrony and joint attention abilities in infants 24 months and under with an older sibling diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to infants without an older sibling with an ASD.

-Parent Training Study: Examines early social-communication parent intervention in the treatment of autism.

-Emotion Recognition Study: Examines the effects of temperamental and social factors on facial emotion recognition for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and typically developing individuals. 

Qualifications:

  • Interest in clinical or developmental psychology
  • Basic computer competency
  • Responsible and timely with the ability to work both independently and as a team
  • Child care experience
  • 2-semester commitment
  • Previous course work in PSY 301 and either PSY 304 or PSY333D (Preferred)

Note: Can either register for course credit (PSY357) or volunteer.

Duties:
Vary according to experience. Examples include, behavioral coding of mother-infant interactions, babysitting older siblings or infants, data entry, scoring assessments, setting up for appointments, video recording, etc. Additional opportunities for highly involved research assistants.

 

 

 


Personality Research and Clinical Psychology

Faculty

Ray Hawkins, Ph.D., ABPP

Contact:

Ray Hawkins, Ph.D., ABPP, rhawkins@utexas.edu

Description:

I am looking for about six to eight students to assist me with compiling survey data from several ongoing survey research projects approved by the UT Institutional Review Board (IRB):

  • Temperament and the Self-Monitoring of Eating Behaviors and Sleeping, IRB 2006-05-0042
  • Personality and Handwriting, IRB 2007-12-0090
  • Personality and Dreaming, IRB 2007-12-0091
  • Development and preliminary construct validation of the Holtzman Inkblot Technique Brief Forms, IRB 2010-06-0051

Qualifications:

I need responsible, reliable, and eager students who are interested in learning more about the interplay of personality and clinical psychology. Prerequisites include: Psychology 301 with a grade of C or better, completion of 30 hours of coursework. Some knowledge of SPSS statistical software would be helpful, but not necessary. Duties: This data compilation will not be glamorous (i.e., creating SPSS variable lists and calculating interrater reliability) and learning to score inkblot responses; however, you would likely be working directly with me rather than with a graduate student. This means that we will take some time to discuss the projects you will be working on, as well as your interests in personality and clinical psychology. I try to include undergraduate student research assistants as junior co-authors on posters and papers, and write letters of recommendation for graduate school.

 


The Twins and Development Study in Children and Adolescents

Faculty sponsor:      Elliot Tucker-Drob and Paige Harden

  

Contact name(s):      Daniel Briley

  

Contact Email:          daniel.briley@utexas.edu

  

Description:              
The Twin Project just started an exciting new study of hormones and development! We are examining the interplay between genes, hormones, and cognitive functioning in a sample of child and adolescent twins in grades 3 to 8.  We are seeking reliable and hardworking assistants who are motivated and have the ability to learn quickly. Research assistants should be comfortable interacting with participants and their parents (Spanish-speaking is a plus). You can join as a volunteer, or receive course credit by enrolling in PSY 357.

  

Qualifications:         
We are looking for RAs that are motivated, comfortable working closely with children, and able to keep the children on track during our in-lab protocol. As all of the participants are in school during the week, must be willing to work at least some weekend hours running participants.

 

Duties:                       
Our protocol includes in-person cognitive testing and hormonal hair sample collection. Other responsibilities will include scheduling and contacting participants. A major advantage of this experience is learning how to administer and score many tests of cognition and decision making including the Wechsler Scales of Intelligence, the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, and a number of executive functioning measures.  This is great experience for anyone who is interested in graduate school in clinical psychology, developmental psychology, medicine, and social work, and anyone else who would like experience working with children and adolescents.


Children’s understanding of reality and fantasy

Faculty: 
Woolley

Contact: 
woolley@austin.utexas.edu

Description: 
Our research addresses how children decide what’s real and what’s not real. Most of our work is with preschool and young elementary school aged children. Ongoing studies include: 1) how children use evidence to decide if a novel entity exists, 2) children’s understanding of the reality of characters and events in storybooks, 3) children’s learning from TV, and 4) the development of children’s religious cognition. We are also studying how children explain unusual events, and children’s ideas about fossils and museum objects.

Qualifications: 
A strong interest in psychology, experience interacting with children, good social skills, reliability, and initiative. Must be able to work 9-10 hours per week in the lab (according to your schedule) for a two-semester commitment (e.g., two summer sessions or summer-fall or fall-spring). Often students will also have the opportunity to work with children in local preschools and elementary schools. If you work at schools, you must have large blocks of free time (2-3 hours) in your schedule on at least 3 days during the week.

Duties: 
Run one-on-one experiments with preschool- and elementary school-age children, interact with parents, schedule appointments, collect, code and enter data, help design studies, attend a lab meeting each week, and (at the end of the second semester) write a short paper on the research with which you were involved.


Somatic Marker Hypothesis, Psychopathy and Anxiety Sensitivity 

Faculty:
Dr. Robert Alan Josephs

Contact:
Ellie Shuo Jin and Leslie Rice

Contact Email:
ellieshuojin@utexas.edu and lrice@utexas.edu

Description
The UT Social Endocrinology Lab is running studies this Summer and Fall looking at the effects of drug administrations on participants’ behaviors in a variety of laboratory tasks.  The drugs administered in the study may speed up or slow down biological systems related to the body’s natural stress response (e.g., cortisol production, sympathetic nervous system functioning) thus affecting a person’s behaviors in his or her environment.  Further understanding of these physiological systems will have implications for clinical research and the treatment of disorders such as depression, anxiety, psychopathy, etc.

Qualifications:
We are looking for responsible, motivated students who are interested in examining the onset and maintenance of various clinical disorders from the perspective of hormones and behavior. PSY 301 completion required.  PSY 418 completion or other laboratory research is recommended.  Availability for a two semester (spring and summer) commitment is given priority.  Being comfortable interacting with experiment participants throughout the session is required.  Ability to actively participate in lab research meetings (once a week) is preferred.  Qualified non-PSY 357 students are encouraged to apply as volunteers.

Duties:
Duties include participant scheduling, interaction in research sessions with participants, running experiment sessions in the experimenter role, data coding, hormonal assays, literature searches and other contributions to the experiment’s theoretical model and hypotheses. Students will work closely with graduate students and other members (including RA peers) of the lab.  RA training for duties will be provided.


Genes and New Experiences Study (GENES)   

 

Faculty sponsor: Drs. Kim Fromme and Kathryn Paige Harden

 

Contact name(s): Emily Wilhite    

 

Contact Email: ewilhite@utexas.edu

 

Description:

This study examines the impact of specific genes on patterns of heavy drinking in young adults, ages 18-28. In addition, this study seeks to identify distinct behavioral mechanisms (alcohol response and generalized deviance) through which genes influence heavy drinking.   

 

Qualifications:

Must be very detail oriented and organized, must be able to commit to at least 10 hours per week. A two semester commitment is preferred though not required.           

 

Duties:

This study is a longitudinal follow-up of data initially collected by Dr. Kim Fromme. Lab duties will include conducting evening bar lab sessions, which involve administering alcoholic beverages to participants and helping participants to complete study-related tasks and questionnaires.  Research assistants will also help with follow-up and recruitment of participants from the UTE study to complete a survey and submit DNA samples. This is an excellent opportunity to learn valuable skills that will be useful in preparation for graduate school!


Evolutionary Psychology – Disgust and Human Mating

Faculty: David M. Buss, Ph.D.

Contact: Laith Al-Shawaf, laith.alshawaf@gmail.com

 

Description: We’re currently investigating the emotion of disgust. We’re focusing on questions of how and why people differ in their sensitivity to disgust, as well as the relationship between disgust and human mating. Earlier research has led to some fascinating discoveries in this area, including the finding that immunocompromised individuals experience greater disgust as a compensatory defense against infection during a time of heightened physiological vulnerability. We are now actively investigating the link between disgust and mating strategies in a series of experiments for my dissertation. We have some exciting new findings in this area. Consider joining our research team if this sounds interesting to you!

 

Qualifications: We are looking for dedicated and conscientious students who are interested in psychology and research. Having taken the undergraduate course in evolutionary psychology is not necessary, but is considered a plus. The most important qualities we look for in a research assistant are diligence and conscientiousness.

 

Duties: Primary duties consist of running participant sessions, occasional meetings with the graduate student researcher and other RAs, and finding images online that we can use for our experiments. Possible secondary duties are some literature search work and some data coding (we’ll show you how first!). Hours are flexible.


Personality in Working Dogs

Faculty sponsor:     

Sam Gosling, PhD

Contact name(s):     

Jamie Fratkin

Contact Email:         

fratkijl@utexas.edu

Description:  Are you interested in learning about how personality principles can be applied to dogs? Are you interested in the relationship between working dogs and the people that care for them? In the Gosling lab, we are working on several projects examining dog personality, the relationships dogs have with people, and how humans influence dogs. 

Qualifications:        

Responsible, self-motivated, and dedicated students, who have some interest in personality and research involving dogs. Basic computer and organizational skills.

Duties:                      

Help with coding dog behavior through videos of puppy and adult tests, data entry, literature searchers, participation in lab meetings, and contribution of research ideas. 


Coexistence Project

Faculty: Dr. Cristine Legare

Contact: Justin Busch, Justin.ta.busch@gmail.com

Description:

In the Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab, our research focuses on how people explain the events they observe in the world around them, mainly events from existentially arousing domains like illness, death and human origins. There are different ways to explain these types of events, which can appeal to supernatural or natural causation. Our ongoing research aims to understand these cognitive explanatory frameworks, which allow human beings to make sense of their world. As a research assistant in the CCD Lab, you will have the opportunity to work closely with graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and professors. You will also gain valuable experience in collecting psychological data, coding data and learn about data analysis. We require a 10-hour / week commitment from our research assistants. Please contact us if you are interested in getting involved in this exciting line of research!

Duties:

As a research assistant in the CCD Lab, you will have the opportunity to work closely with graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and professors. You will also gain valuable experience in collecting psychological data, coding data and learn about data analysis. We require a 10-hour / week commitment from our research assistants.

 


 

The Development of Imitation and Social Group Cognition

Faculty: Dr. Cristine Legare

Contact: Nicole Wen, nicole.wen@utexas.edu

Description:

I study cognitive development from an interdisciplinary perspective by using a variety of methods to examine how children learn across cultures.  I conduct research that examines the imitative foundations of cultural learning, specifically how children use imitation for ritual and instrumental learning. My current projects seek to examine the effects of social conventions on children’s social group cognition in order to understand how rituals facilitate group cohesion and identity formation.  I also will be conducting projects that seek to understand how children use ritual artifacts for tool use in problem-solving tasks. I also work in collaboration with Jennifer Clegg on research that examines parent-child dyads’ use of imitation when learning new skills. These studies include samples from the U.S. and our lab’s field site in Vanuatu.

I strive to provide research assistants with the opportunity to experience research at multiple stages (recruiting participants at the Austin Children’s Museum, local preschools and afterschool programs, as well as in the Children’s Research Lab, conducting behavioral studies and administering interviews with children, transcribing and coding behavioral data, reviewing relevant literature, and the opportunity to contribute to study design).

Qualifications:

I am seeking hard-working, reliable, motivated students who are enthusiastic about psychological developmental research. Students are required to commit 10 hours/week during the week and regular weekends, 2 semesters (preferably consecutive, but not required). If you are applying for the summer, you are required to commit to the entire summer. I am flexible in working with your schedule. It is required to have experience with young children and preferred that applicants have taken PSY301 and PSY304/PSY333D (or a course focusing on child development).

Duties:

Research assistants will conduct research with children in one-on-one experiments as well as with groups of children at local preschools and afterschool programs, the Children’s Research Lab, and the Austin Children’s Museum. Responsibilities will include interacting with parents to recruit child participants, transcribing and coding behavioral data, and reviewing research literature. Advanced research assistants may be involved in contributing to study design. Research assistants have the opportunity to attend weekly lab meetings and Cognitive Science area meetings (during the long semesters).  

 


 

Imitation and Cultural Learning

Faculty: Dr. Cristine Legare

Contact:Jennifer Clegg, M.A.,  jclegg@utexas.edu

Description:

My research examines how children’s social environments, including their culture, impact their cognitive development. Currently I am working on a line of research that examines children’s use of imitation when learning a new skill with different types of social partners – including their parents and peers. These studies include both samples from the United States and from my lab’s field site in Vanuatu. I am also interested in the kinds of information children use when determining when to imitate with high fidelity (i.e., copy very closely) or when to innovate (i.e., improve upon the behaviors they saw) and to see if this changes based on the nature of a task (e.g., building something vs. learning a new game). My goal is to provide my research assistants with a diversity of experiences from data collection with young children at area preschools and Austin’s children’s museum to coding data to learning more about study design. Over the course of their time in the CCD lab, RAs also have the opportunity to be involved in the design of new studies and to learn more about the fields of developmental and cognitive psychology.

 

Qualifications:

  • I am seeking hard-working, reliable students who are enthusiastic and curious about psychological research that can commit:
    • 10 hours/week to research, including some weekends throughout the semester.
    • Two semesters (consecutive semesters are preferred, but not requited).
  • If you would like to work in the summer, you must be able to commit to the entire summer. 
  • Preferred:
    • Previous experience with young children
    • PSY304, PSY333D or similar classes covering topics in child development

Duties:

Research assistants will primarily help in collecting data at local preschools and the Thinkery (Austin’s children’s museum), coding data, and general study management and organization. Over the course of their involvement in the CCD lab, research assistants have the opportunity to gain more responsibilities including assisting in the planning and design of new studies and project leadership roles. Over the course of the semester, students will also participate in a journal club featuring articles about cognitive development and culture and have the opportunity to attend Cognitive Science area meetings and other lectures of interest.

 

 


Twin Study of Healthy Development in Young Children

Faculty: Dr. Paige Harden & Dr. Elliot Tucker-Drob

Contact: Amanda Cheung akcheung@utexas.edu

Description:

Our lab is a combination of the Lifespan Developmental Lab and the Developmental Behavioral Genetics Lab. We are interested in individual differences, personality, genetics, cognitive functioning, and psychopathology in early childhood. Research assistants in our lab will work mainly on the Twin Project by aiding in recruiting participants and collecting data.

 

Qualifications:

We are seeking reliable and hardworking assistants who have attention to detail and organization. Research assistants must be comfortable interacting with participants and making phone calls. Spanish-speaking is a plus. Students can also elect to volunteer.

 

Duties:

Duties include recruiting and following up with participants, and entering data.


The Risky Business Study

Faculty:

Dr. Paige Harden, PhD

Contact:

Frank D. Mann (Graduate Student) – frankdmann@utexas.edu

Description:

The Developmental Behavior Genetics Lab is recruiting RAs for a study about how hormones influence the way adolescents make decisions about activities that could be problematic or dangerous – such as underage drinking, drug-use and risky sexual behavior.  RAs will interact one-on-one with teens and pre-teens to administer the WASI II IQ test--All training will be provided. RAs will also help recruit participants from local high schools, administer decision-making tasks and surveys, and collect hormonal measures. This project is a great opportunity for students interested with graduate school in clinical or developmental psychology, or who want to gain real-world lab experience while working with high school students.

Qualifications:

RAs who can commit 15 or more hours per week are preferred. Spanish-speaking is a plus.

Prior research experience is not required.  All RAs will be extensively trained on task administration before working with participants.

Duties:

Recruit, contact, schedule participants for lab

Collect saliva samples & hair samples

Administer WASI II IQ Test to participants

Administer decision-making tasks and surveys to participants

Upload data from tasks onto our server

Interested?

If you’re interesting in volunteering to become an RA, please email Frank (frankdmann@utexas.edu) to request an application form. 

 


Yeager Lab

Faculty:
Dr. David Yeager

Contact: 
Katie Cullum and Cintia Hinojosa, utyeagerlab@gmail.com 

Description:
We study adolescents’ social cognitive development, with a current focus on responses to peer victimization or exclusion, stress, health, motivation, and academic performance. In addition, we investigate how psychological interventions can improve students' academic performance and health outcomes with various cognitive behavioral tasks and hormonal changes. 

Duties:
In the lab, research assistants are given the chance to get involved in a variety of studies at multiple stages (e.g., data collection, processing, coding, and literature review). This would be an excellent opportunity for students interested in getting experience doing developmental and/or educational research. Research assistants are required to commit to a minimum of two semesters in the lab. 

Qualifications:
seek reliable and hard-working individuals who are detail-oriented and have some knowledge of Excel. 

 

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