Theses: 2001-2002

Honors Thesis:The influence of self-presentation and reputation enhancement on the stability of peer rejectionAn Honors Thesis by William H. Rhodes
Faculty Advisor and Committee Chair: C. B. McAninch, Ph.D.

The current study investigated whether self presentation combined with a desire for reputation enhancement contributes to the stability of peer rejection in childhood. Sixty-two undergraduate students from freshman introductory psychology courses at Wofford College participated in this study. The participants were asked to rate a videotaped target, who was labeled by the experimenter as unpopular, on 10 variables on 9-point Likert-type scales. Examples of these variables included how interesting, likeable, popular, competent, friendly, and socially skilled the target was. The participants all were led to believe that they had a partner from their class. Some were led to believe that they would be sharing their ratings with their partner. Others were led to believe that their answers would remain confidential. The participants also completed the Self-Monitoring Scale. Analyses of variance were conducted, and did not show any significant effects for self monitoring or for response type. Possible explanations for the lack of significant results were discussed, as well as the importance of continuing research in this field.

Senior Theses:
Gustatory Detection of Linoleic Acid Demonstrated through a Conditioned Taste Aversion in Rats.
John Hamilton and Tiffany Landrum
Faculty advisor: Dave Pittman, Ph.D.

The detection of fat is an important capability believed to exist across mammalian species. Throughout the course of evolution, animals that could detect fat were at a biological advantage since fat has so many nutritious elements that can aid survival. Determining the threshold of linoleic acid in rats is important because linoleic acid is a key component found in common fats. Linoleic acid is a free fatty acid and the major component of corn oil, a prototypical fat. It has nutritional value but it is also textureless and odorless. The linoleic acid concentrations administered were small, 44, 66, and 88 mM. If the rats could detect these linoleic acid concentrations, it could be assumed that special taste pathways exist in the rats to detect the taste of fat. To condition a taste aversion to the concentrations of linoleic acid, an intraperitoneal injection of lithium chloride was used. It is believed that if the rats could detect the linoleic acid in their drinking solution a taste aversion would be established and the rats will avoid that concentration of linoleic acid in the future. A conditioned taste aversion was tested for 44, 66, and 88 micromolar linoleic acid. The group of rats subjected to the lithium chloride injection after exposure to the linoleic acid solution showed a significant reduction in linoleic acid performance compared to the group of saline exposed control rats. Evidence from this study support that the threshold for linoleic acid lies somewhere between 66 and 88 micromolar concentrations.

In Search of Behavioral Momentum within Simple Response Sequences
Kara L. Vogelpohl
Faculty advisor: Alliston K. Reid, Ph.D.

The goal of this experiment was to search for evidence that behavioral momentum theory, a molar theory of response strength, could account for differences in response strength occurring with simple response sequences. Pigeons were trained to complete a fixed sequence of three pecks on red (R), green (G), and white (W) keys either in a R-G-W order or a W-G-R order. They were then exposed to a 2-component multiple schedule. The Sequence component required subjects to complete the same learned sequence and served to maintain differences in strength of responding to the colors. The Preference component reinforced responses to simultaneously presented red and white keys on identical VI 60-s schedules. After response rates had stabilized, responding was disrupted to measure persistence to change in the Preference component. Preference was not systematically related to the order of the key color required in the Sequence component. Latency did not change systematically as a function of the delay of reinforcement within the sequences when responding was disrupted. We observed no reliable evidence that behavioral momentum theory, as a molar model, could account for response strength within simple response sequences.

Impression formation: Effects of popularity and outcome dependencyNatascha Bartsch, Moe Dayton, Maurice Maxie, and Heather Malone
Faculty advisor: C. B. McAninch, Ph.D.

Actively rejected children face future problems of social adjustment, deviant behavior, and other serious adjustment problems. This label can result in negative impressions that affect social adjustment of children. For the study, 20 undergraduate students in an introductory psychology class at Wofford College participated. This study investigated the effects that popularity and dependency have on impression formation. Results indicated significant findings of on ratings and recall.

Catastrophizing and Pain: The Effects of a Video Manipulation on Changes in the State and Trait-like Characteristics of Catastrophizing, Expected Pain, and Reported Willingness to Endure PainCase Brittain, Marcelle Brown, Blake Kendrick, and Jamie MartinFaculty Advisor: J. C. Lefebvre, Ph.D. 

Catastrophizing has been defined as an exaggerated negative “mental set” that is displayed during an actual or anticipated pain experience (Sullivan et al., 2001).  Theoretical approaches have led researchers to view catastrophizing as either a trait-like or state-like coping strategy, but researchers have yet to establish which perspective is most accurate. The goal of the current study was to assess the malleability of catastrophizing by assessing the effects of a video manipulation on the state and trait-like characteristics of catastrophizing, expected pain, and reported willingness to endure pain.  The study involved 40 participants who completed measures of catastrophizing, expected pain and willingness to endure pain for money before and after watching the video.  Results of the study demonstrated that catastrophizing levels changed after viewing the video presentation for all participants regardless of the type of video that was viewed.  It was concluded that the participants’ increase in state-like catastrophizing was due to their tendency to attend to the threat of the anticipated painful experience that the research design presented instead of the specific coping-style information that was represented in each of the two video types.  The study concludes with possible implications of the results and suggestions for future research.

Visually Perceived Egocentric Localization and Thresholds for Perception of Pitched ImagesJohn A. Davis, Jr.Faculty Advisor: Don Scott, Ph.D. 

The research on visual perception of direction and orientation depends on several conditions.  The properties of the visual display, its relation to the observer and/or his/her egocentric localization, the gravity vector, and the retinal information of image position at eye level.  These relate to such behaviors involving locomotion in space or in other actions, such as those inherent in the flying of aircraft.  This thesis utilizes pitched perceptual illusions of an actual real-world object (house) that alter the decision making of visual perceptive egocentric localization by combining retinal and extra retinal information.  The results indicate that a forward pitch influences a person’s egocentric localization or sense of felt body position so that the observer’s sense of location and VPEL judgments seem higher or lower for a backward pitch.