Meeting allows Simpson students to display research

The Midwestern Psychological Association’s 80th Annual Meeting will be held in Chicago, Illinois. This year’s conference is May 1st to 3rd and will be held at the Palmer Hilton House.

Students from across the country come to show the research and work that they’ve done in their classes over a wide variety of topics. Simpson students’ research was done in their advanced research, honors research and experimental methodology classes.

During the first semester, research was completed. During the second semester, research was compiled and results explained. Six Simpson students attended the meeting last year with many having gained a meaningful experience.

“The MPA is not just a conference for undergraduate students but for faculty and graduate students as well,” Sal Meyers, associate professor of psychology said. “The conference provides students with a chance to have real faculty and researchers talk to them about their research.”

Junior Kelsey Ubben, a psychology and sociology major, made a poster for last year’s conference. Ubben chose to do her research on drinking habits in which she did an online survey. Ubben sent out questions to Simpson students asking them how much they drank, how much they felt their friends drank, and how much they thought the typical college student drinks.

“I found that many people perceive college students to drink more then they actually do,” Ubben said. “There are perceived norms of what others do and this can change others’ views. When people believe others drink more then they actually do, this could affect actual behavior.”

Ubben came up with a report and put that onto her poster with an introduction to her topic with previous research that had been done, how she conducted her study and the results of her project.People could come around and look at her results, ask questions about her research and take handouts for more information.

“This was a really good experience to look at other research that is out there,” Ubben said. “It’s a great experience for people to recognize you and to be able to further your knowledge if you want to get into graduate school.”

Senior Patrick Carlson, psychology and computer science major, is one of the students attending and participating in this year’s conference.

“I’ve applied to many graduate schools so this will be a good experience for me,” Carlson said. “I’ve been to other meetings for computer science so I feel by attending this meeting that it will give me an opportunity to get a good feel for what a psychology meeting is all about.”

Many Simpson students have chosen to do posters for their research projects. Carlson is doing a poster that shows his results from the research he did on the usability and appeal of the Linux operating system.

The Linux system is like another other operating system like Windows XP and Vista. Carlson started by taking a 2-D and a 3-D version of the system to see if people could complete tasks faster on one or the other and to see if there was a visual difference between the two.

Carlson’s results showed that there was no difference but that people liked the 3-D version better than the 2-D version if they had experienced the 2-D version first.

“My experiment was about cognitive load, when you are in a situation and lots of information is coming at you all at once.” Carlson said. “People weren’t able to experience the visual if they had experienced the 3-D version first.”

Senior Melissa Simmermaker is also presenting her research at the conference. Simmermaker chose to do her research on individuals’ own perceptions of the “ideal” body type and compared that to what is seen in the media.

Through her research, Simmermaker found that students who viewed advertisements containing models of the “ideal” weight and hip-to-waist ratio chose an ideal silhouette that was thinner than those the students who had not viewed the images.

Simmermaker concluded that from her results that perceptions of the “ideal” weight are influenced by the images that are seen in the media.

This is the first year that Simmermaker will be attending the conference.

“I am very excited to present in Chicago because I think it will be a great opportunity to meet other students who are interested in psychological research,” Simmermaker said. “It will also help me feel more comfortable talking about psychological research and presenting my own research, both of which will benefit me in graduate school.”