William and Mary

Honor Student Research

2013/2014 Undergraduate Honors Research Topics

Student: G. Enrique Bello

Advisor: Matthew Hilimire

Title: Unraveling the Consumer Brain: The Role of Emotion in Purchase Behavior

Project Description: Enrique Bello and his thesis advisor Dr. Hilimire are interested in how emotion influences purchasing behavior. Evidence shows that contemplating a purchase largely depends on implicit psychological factors, such as emotion. Thus, it is possible that the manipulation of this factor may be effective in influencing a consumer's decision. For example, if the balance is tipped towards positive emotion, the consumer may be more likely to buy the product. To test this idea, an affective priming technique is used to elicit positive or negative emotions in the consumer before they make their purchase decision. During the decision process, the consumer's EEG is recorded. Using brain potentials derived from the EEG, it is possible to examine the neural underpinnings of purchase behavior and how emotion alters the neural temporal dynamics of decision making.

Student: Hannah Boes

Advisor: Janice Zeman

Title: Quality of Adolescents' Best Friendships: Does Mothers' Emotional Regulation Matter?

Project Description:  Hannah Boes is conducting her thesis under the guidance of her faculty advisor, Janice Zeman and is exploring the connections between mothers emotion socialization and adolescents' friendships.  Emotions are a central part of psychological functioning. The way in which children express negative emotions is influenced by their parents' attitudes towards the acceptability of emotional expression.  As children enter adolescence, friends begin to exert more influence on youth, including their emotions.  This current research will combine these two research areas by interviewing 100 best friend pairs who are in middle school and their mothers. Specifically, Hannah will be examining how mothers' own emotional regulation skills may then affect the quality of their children's friendships with their best friends.  We hypothesize that children may learn how to manage their emotions by observing their mother's emotion regulation and transfer these skills to their own best friendships.

Student: Kimberly Chaney

Advisor: Cheryl Dickter

Title: Surmounting Solo Status: Beliefs and Previous Experience Buffer Solo Women's Learning

Project Description:  Kibmerly's thesis examined the effects of solo status (i.e. being the only member of one's gender in an otherwise homogeneous group) on the learning and performance of female solos, as well as examined potential moderators. Results revealed that previous solo status experience and rejection of traditional gender roles allowed women presenting as solos to learn and perform as well as non-solo women, expanding the literature on how female solos can overcome the typically detrimental effects of solo status.

Student: Anna Hochgraf

Advisor: Megan Sinton

Title: Influence of Media Labels on Eating and Body Concerns in College Women

Project Description:  Anna Hochgraf, in collaboration with her advisor Dr. Meghan Sinton, is interested in reducing the influence of media images of the thin ideal (the unattainable standard for thinness and appearance prevalent in Western society) on body image, appearance, and eating concerns in college women.  It is well established that messages portraying the thin ideal heighten body image concerns in many women. In response to such a widespread societal influence on women's health, countries in Europe have started placing warnings on highly manipulated (e.g., photoshopped) images of women in magazines regarding the level of manipulation of images and that they may not be healthy images.   Emerging studies examine if these are effective strategies for reducing body image concerns and thin ideal internalization in women.  Ms. Hochgraf's study is a part of this body of research and focuses on comparing the body image and eating attitudes of college women exposed to magazine ads with and without these warnings. These studies have important implications for considering how we can enact large scale public health initiatives to address widespread societal influences on body image concerns in women.

Student: Blina Kruja

Advisor: Catherine Forestell

Title: How Do Statements About the Fat Content Affect Food Intake and Preference?

Project Description: Blina Kruja is running a study that investigates the role of nutrition information on food intake and preference. This project follows up on previous working in our laboratory that shows that branding and nutritional information (i.e., caloric content) on product packaging interact to affect participants’ flavor perception and consumption of a food. In this study we are manipulating the label on a beverage to determine if fat content differentially affects flavor perception and consumption as a function of dieting behavior.

Student: Catherine Mitchell

Advisor: Joanna Schug

Title: The Effect of Socio-Ecological Factors on Facial Mimicry

Project Description: This project is an investigation of differences in cultural differences in spontaneous facial mimicry between American and Japanese participants, and how these differences are influenced by socio-ecological and attentional factors. It is expected that Japanese participants will mimic facial expressions less frequently than American participants when not specifically asked to attend to emotion. However, this difference is expected to lose significance when participants are specifically cued to pay attention to emotion, in accordance with the facial feedback hypothesis of emotion recognition.

Student: Matthew Schafer

Advisor: Cheryl Dickter

Title: Racial Expectancy Violations in a Minimal Groups Setting: An ERP Investigation

Project Description:Matthew's project seeks to better understand the relationship between racial stereotypes and group affiliation using electroencephalography (EEG). Participants are placed into one of two groups, creating an artificial in-group and out-group. They are then shown faces of stereotypical or non-stereotypical Black and White males who are either affiliated with them or with the out-group. The goal of the study is to see whether group affiliation intervenes in facial categorization and stereotyping processes on the level of the brain. 


Student: Benjamin Thomas

Advisor: Joanna Schug

Title: Investigating the Effects of Spanish-English Bilingualism on Emotional

Project Description: This project is investigating how varying levels of Spanish-English bilingualism and levels of acculturation affect emotional expression in bilingual individuals as compared to monolingual individuals with regards to facial mimicry. It is expected that individuals, depending on age of language acquisition and levels of acculturation, will be more likely to mimic emotional expressions when primed in the first language associated with more emotional experiences. However, it is expected that in true Spanish-English bilinguals there should not be a significant difference in facial mimicry when primed with either language.

Student: Danielle Weber

Advisor: Cheryl Dickter

Title: The effects of participant and perpetrator gender on the perceptions of individuals who make and confront sexist remarks.

Project Description: This project examines the factors that influence perceptions of an individual who confronts or perpetrates a sexist remark when presented in the form of a vignette. In particular, we examine the effect of individual difference variables such as gender of the participant and participants' self-reported levels of sexism and endorsement of gender stereotypes on their perceptions of these individuals. In addition, the vignette was manipulated to measure the effect that situational variables such as gender of the perpetrator, the type of sexist remark made, and the type of confrontational response would have on perceptions.