Human Development Undergraduate Honors Theses

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    Romantic Attachment and Consumer Behavior: You Never Really Shop Alone
    Yu, Wing-Lam Fiona (2011-01-15)
    Associations between romantic attachment and consumer behavior were tested in a study of undergraduate students using an online survey and laboratory virtual shopping experiment. The present study (N = 78) investigated whether activating the mental representation of a romantic attachment partner (compared to activating the representation of an acquaintance) influences consumer behavior. Romantic attachment strength, romantic relationship satisfaction and romantic relationship length were all strong predictors of shopping behavior but only in the acquaintance condition. Participants whose partner representations were activated, relationship length was associated with increased impulsive and decreased exploratory shopping behavior. In contrast, for participants who were asked to think about an acquaintance, romantic relationship length predicted more exploratory and less impulsive shopping behavior. Overall, the simple effects analyses suggest that conjuring up a mental representation of the romantic partner qualitatively altered the experiment. Limitations and future directions for this line of research are discussed.
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    Effects of Economic Status on Self-Regulation in Infants
    Johnson, Alyssa (2010-06-13T21:48:15Z)
    It has been well documented that, on average, children from low-income families have lower academic achievement than their more well-off peers (Buckner et al. 2009 Duncan, Brooks-Gunn, Yeung, & Smith, 1998; Burney, & Beilke, 2008; Evans 2004; Webster-Stratton et al. 2008). Research into the income achievement gap has primarily focused on the adverse effects of poverty on cognitive processes, however, it seems plausible that deficits in self-regulation abilities may also play an important role in achievement differences between high and low-income children. The present study examines both distractibility and emotional regulation in 12 and 24 month olds. It is hypothesized that children from lower-income households will be less able to regulate their emotions and be more easily distracted. The results are expected to contribute new findings to the early development of achievement differences in children from different economic backgrounds.
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    Development of the Asian American Racial Uplifts Scale
    Cerrada, Christian (2010-06-02T03:37:02Z)
    The development of the Asian American Racial Uplifts Scale is discussed. The range of positive race-related experiences was explored through an analysis of semi-structured interview data from 20 self-identifying Asian and Asian American students. Using constant comparative analysis, six racial uplift themes were delineated: (a) ethnic bonding, (b) overcoming obstacles, (c) globalism, (d) biculturalism, (e) mainstream regard, and (f) cultural bridging. Implications for racial and ethnic minority psychological well-being are discussed.
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    Differential Behavior Regulation in Infant Social Referencing and Implications for the Development of Sympathy
    Love, Hailey (2010-05-26T23:31:31Z)
    From an early age, infants pay attention to how people emotionally respond to ambiguous stimuli and use this as information to guide their behavior. Recent research has also shown that infants are able to use indirect emotional information (i.e. emotional cues directed at a third party) to regulate their behavior towards strangers and objects. However, all of this research has looked at how anger affects infant’s behavior. In my study, I looked at how 18 month old infants changed their behavior towards an object after seeing an adult researcher react with anger, sadness, or neutral affect. Infants were given a toy to explore and then an adult showed them one particular way to play with the toy. In response to this, another researcher (the emoter) reacted with one of the aforementioned emotions directed towards the accomplice experimenter, and demonstrated another way to play with the toy. Infants were then given back the toy and their imitative behavior was observed. After doing this three times with three different toys, the emoter pretended to hurt herself on the way out of the room in order to test the infant’s empathetic response. This study hopes to address how infants change their behavior in response to an other-related emotion (sadness) as opposed to a self-related emotion (anger), which could have direct negative consequences for the infant. This could speak to how infant’s develop and act on sympathy as well as the possible mechanisms behind social referencing.
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    High School Students’ Perceptions of Agriculture and Agricultural Careers as Delineated by Presence of an Agriculture Program and Rural/Urban Categorization
    Smith, Erin (2010-05-25T03:17:06Z)
    Abstract Eleventh grade students (n = 1,953) in 17 public schools across New York State were surveyed regarding their agricultural perceptions and stereotypes. Four types of schools were targeted for this study: rural and urban schools with agriculture programs, and rural and urban schools without agriculture programs. The purpose of this study was to determine perceptions among high school students about agriculture and careers in agriculture. Results indicated a lack of understanding regarding the importance of a college education for agricultural careers. The agricultural perception scores of students attending a school with an agriculture program but not enrolled in an agriculture course were similar to the scores of students attending schools without agriculture programs; only the students enrolled in agricultural education courses had significantly higher perception scores. The demographics from the rural schools without agriculture programs indicated an opportunity may exist to expand agriculture programs within these areas. The majority of the population believed no specific individual, media, and/or environment influenced their perception; however those who indicated an influence held more positive perceptions of the field of agriculture.
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    The Perils of Pessimism: Predictive effects of negative expectations for future health and education outcomes on adolescent risk behavior
    Goetz, Hilary (2010-05-24T21:30:00Z)
    Objective: With data from a longitudinal study conducted by Reyna, I test whether near-fatalistic/negative expectations for the future predict increased adolescent risk behavior over time. In the reverse direction, the effect of behavioral experiences on subsequent expectations was also assessed. Methods: Eight-hundred and seven adolescents (M=15.5 years, SD=1.0) completed a questionnaire that included questions about how far they expected to go in school, their perceived likelihood of getting (a girl) pregnant in the next 6 months, contracting HIV/AIDS, and contracting an STD by age 25. Participants also answered questions about their recent engagement in a range of risk behaviors involving substance use, delinquency and sexual activity. An identical questionnaire was administered at five time points over the course of one year. Longitudinal modeling was used to assess the influence of pre-test expectations on subsequent risk behaviors, and conversely, the effect of pre-test behavioral experiences on subsequent expectations for education and health outcomes. Sociodemographic variables and the criterion at baseline/previous time points were controlled for in all analyses. Results: Results showed variable support for the notion of negative/near-fatalistic expectations as predictors of later risky behavior. A high expectation of teen pregnancy in adolescents proved a marker for involvement in health-jeopardizing behaviors. Pre-test judgments of pregnancy risk significantly predicted increased involvement in later behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, and number of sexual intercourse partners. Reciprocally, these behavioral experiences at pre-test predicted subsequent perceived risk. Pregnancy expectations also significantly predicted increased truancy, unprotected sex, theft and vandalism; these behaviors were not predictive of pregnancy expectations. Predictive effects were not seen as strongly or consistently for expectation measures involving educational (non) attainment, STD contraction and HIV/AIDS infection. Notably, however, expectations for HIV/AIDS infection (both within 6 months and by age 25) predicted smoking and vandalism. There was a positive reciprocal relationship between expectations for STD contraction (by age 25) and number of partners at multiple time points. Risky behaviors tended to predict decreased educational expectations, but not vice versa. Importantly, expectations did not always reflect current involvement in risk behaviors: risky sexual behavior often did not predict increased subsequent expectations for pregnancy, STD and HIV/AIDS contraction. Conclusion: Near-fatalistic expectations for the future do predict increased involvement in subsequent risk behaviors. At-risk individuals may benefit from interventions that promote optimistic orientations for the future, risk-avoidant values, and self-efficacy.
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    The Influence of Association and Meaning on False Memory
    Zember, Eric (2010-05-22T16:05:56Z)
    The main purpose of the study was to separate word association from semantic meaning to determine if association makes a separate contribution to false memory in the Deese/Roediger/McDermott (DRM) memory paradigm. Participants were placed in a pleasantness condition (N = 46), where they were focused on processing the meaning of words and an orthographic condition (N = 46). Subjects participated in a DRM memory task that involved listening to lists of words and trying to recall them after study periods. Activation/monitoring theory has associative predictions of the DRM false memory illusion which emphasize that backwards associative strength values of the targets that subjects recall will be strongly related to whether subjects produce the unpresented critical distractor. Relations between inter-word associative strength (associative firing) and false recall were analyzed and the results illustrated that none of the associative theory's predictions are an outcome in the DRM illusion. Strong levels of false memory were found. The pleasantness condition had significantly larger amounts of true memory compared to the orthographic condition. There was a main effect for the memory factor such that targets were recalled more than critical distractors, and critical distractors were recalled more than other distractors. There was no evidence of a separate associative contribution to false recall.
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    When the Pieces Do Not Quite Fit: The Role of Anomalous Information in Evaluating Explanations
    Robustelli, Briana (2010-05-22T13:52:06Z)
    No explanation is perfect. There are usually data that are anomalous to an explanation. We investigated two variables, resolving an anomaly and supporting an explanation, that make strong vs. weak anomalies more or less problematic for an explanation. Participants were given an explanation and an anomaly and then were asked to generate or were given someone else’s resolution to an anomaly or support for an explanation. Results showed that in certain conditions hearing about rather than generating information made the anomalies seem less problematic for the explanation. Determining the subtle relationship between these variables is important in understanding what shapes everyday reasoning.
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    Early Memories: An Investigation of Early Childhood Memories and Socioeconomic Status
    Wiprovnick, Alicia (2010-05-21T22:24:12Z)
    Although much research has examined the link between earliest childhood memory and both culture and gender, there is currently no research on the relationship between earliest childhood memory and socioeconomic status. This study is an exploratory study that investigates potential differences in early childhood memories between people of different socioeconomic status as well as possible reasons for these differences. Participants were college undergraduates at Cornell University and Tompkins Cortland Community College. Participants reported their earliest childhood memory, as well as another early childhood memory of personal importance. They also answered questionnaires in order to determine self-construal, parent-child relationship qualities, parental monitoring and parenting style. These measures were implemented with the intention of explaining possible causes for SES differences in earliest childhood memories. The results of this study show that people of different SES differ in the age at which their memory occurred, memory theme, emotional valence of the memory and the presence of rules in the memory. The findings of the current study can be applied to factors involved in inequality.
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    Emotion Recognition and Understanding as it Relates to Empathetic Displays of Behavior in 12 and 24-Month Olds
    Lipton, Melanie (2010-05-21T21:15:03Z)
    Displays of empathy involve recognizing that someone else is experiencing distress and having a desire to alleviate that distress by responding in a variety of ways. Because emotions must be recognized and decoded before this behavior occurs, it seems logical to assume emotional understanding must develop before empathy. Although all major empathy theories state this, there have been few studies actually researching this link. The present study seeks to find a relationship and developmental pathways between these two constructs. Twelve and 24-month old children (N=14) were studied on two main tasks; emotional development, which involved both a recognition and understanding component, and an empathy task where an experimenter feigned being hurt and tried to illicit a response from the infant. Preliminary results showed that infants categorized as high empathy made a greater distinction among emotions, suggesting they may have had greater emotional recognition and understanding. Future research should continue to examine this link and the implications of the relationship between emotional understanding and empathy.