posted April 7, 2009

Psychology Students Earn National and Regional Awards

Hope College students are receiving three national and regional awards for excellence in research from Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.

Krista Mehari, a senior from Grand Rapids, has been chosen to receive one of only four undergraduate research awards being presented nationwide by Psi Chi during the national convention of the American Psychological Association being held in Toronto, Canada, on Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 6-9.  Seniors Nova Hinman of Portage and Ross Knoll of Grand Haven will each be receiving Regional Research Awards from the Midwestern chapter of Psi Chi during the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday-Saturday, April 30-May 2.

Several Hope students have received national Psi Chi recognition for research through the years, most recently in the summer of 2006 and the summer of 2003.  In addition, this year marks the 10th consecutive year that Hope students have been named winners of regional awards and the fourth year in a row that multiple Hope students have received regional recognition.  Hinman, Knoll and Mehari had all also received regional recognition in May 2008.

Mehari is receiving her national award in August for her paper "Parenting practices and externalizing behaviors among Latino(a) and White adolescents," based on research she conducted last summer with Dr. Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, professor of psychology, and Dr. Patricia Roehling, professor of psychology.  The study examined which parenting practices are beneficial and which are harmful, and whether or not the effects of the practices differ based on the ethnicity of the students.  Surveying more than 100 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students across three years, the study found that the relationship between parenting practices and adolescent behaviors differs for White and Latino families.  The study found that parental monitoring is related to a decrease in delinquent behaviors among White adolescents but does not appear to affect the delinquent behaviors of Latino(a) adolescents, and that the use of harsh discipline is related to an increase in the delinquent behaviors of White adolescents while related to a decrease in the delinquent behaviors of Latino(a) adolescents.

In May 2008, Mehari and two other students received a regional Psi Chi award for their research paper "The Relationship of Self-Esteem, Parenting Practices and Gender to Externalizing Behaviors Among Latino Adolescents," which was based on their work with Jarvis and Roehling.

Hinman and Knoll are each receiving regional honors for research concerning forgiveness and gratitude conducted with Dr. Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, associate professor of psychology.  They are sharing their awards, since each is also the secondary author of the other's project.  Last year, they also shared a regional Psi Chi award for a paper that they co-authored a paper based on their work with vanOyen Witvliet.

Hinman is being recognized this year for "Finding the Silver Lining and Loving the Enemy: Linguistic Analyses of Brief Benefit-Finding and Altruistic Forgiveness Interventions to Cope with an Interpersonal Offense."  The study compared written narratives participants provided after ruminating about or reappraising their interpersonal hurt.  Both altruism and benefit-finding prompted positive emotion and insight, while decreasing negative emotion language.  Altruism increased social, optimistic and religious language, with the most references to forgiveness.  Benefit-finding decreased social references, but stimulated gratitude.

Knoll is being honored for "Thinking and Thanking: The Effects of Forgiveness and Gratitude Reappraisal Imagery in Response to a Real-Life Offense."  The study measured the psychophysiological effects of altruistic forgiveness and benefit-finding compared to rumination about a past real-life offense.   Remembering the past offense heightened cardiovascular activity and negative facial displays, while the two reappraisal strategies decreased negative emotions and facial displays and increased positive emotion, forgiveness and gratitude.

Also during the April 30-May 2 regional meeting in Chicago, students who participated in the Advanced Research class taught last fall by Dr. Mary Inman, professor of psychology, will be making presentations concerning studies they conducted focused on discrimination:  "The Role of Emotions on the Perception of Ageism," and "The Effects of Pride, Guilt, and Sympathy on Perceptions of Racism."

The Psi Chi national honor society was founded in 1929 to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellence in scholarship, and advance the science of psychology. Psi Chi has chapters at more than 1,000 senior colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Since its founding, the honor society has registered more than 500,000 members.

Psi Chi chapters are grouped within six regions: Eastern, Midwestern, Rocky Mountain, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western. The Midwestern Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Hope's chapter of Psi Chi was chartered in 1965.