Undergraduate Research Day 2021

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The Ninth Annual Undergraduate Research Day was held at Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 16
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    The relationship between anxiety and responses to politically charged images
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2021-04-07) Marendes, John; Brau, Julia M.; Corbo, Vincent; Rocco, Vanessa
    Social media use has increased significantly in recent years, underscoring the need to consider reactions to politically charged images in this context. Further, research has shown that people with high anxiety tend to focus more on threats, are more critical of information, and worry more about political issues (Caporino et al., 2020; Marcus & Mackuen, 1993; Mogg et al., 1994), delineating the need to explore anxiety in interpretation of political imagery. The current study examines anxiety as an extension of a previous study that investigates the psychological and physiological reactions to political images. In a sample of thirty-one undergraduate students, we collected demographic and anxiety variables through self-report prior to completion of a political propaganda task. Task stimuli consisted of liberal and conservative images with and without text. K-means cluster classification analyses were conducted to determine groups of high (N=11) and low (N=20) trait anxiety individuals. Mixed design ANOVAs revealed a significant three-way interaction (text*political alignment*anxiety) on image rating, F(1,29)=4.443, p=0.044, where high anxiety individuals rate conservative images without text more positively than liberal images without text. Similarly, these individuals rate liberal images with text more positively than conservative images with text. Further, data revealed a trend for a threeway interaction (text*political alignment*anxiety) on reaction time, F(1,29)=3.659, p=0.066, where individuals with low anxiety have a longer reaction time to conservative images with text. These results suggest that anxiety plays an integral role in the reactions to political imagery along with the political alignment and inclusion of text within the images. (Author abstract)
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    Motivation, mind-wandering, and rhythmic response: An area under the curve extension analysis of metronome response task performance
    (2021-04-07) Brau, Julia M.; Corbo, Vincent
    Several models of sustained attention have been used to explain declines in performance related to motivation and mind-wandering. Specifically, the opportunity cost theory predicts that changes in motivation may insulate cognitive resources and minimize mindwandering tendencies (Esterman & Rothlein, 2019). A recent study (Brosowsky et al., 2020) expanded on this theory using a rhythmic response task, further providing evidence that, over time on task, motivation and mind-wandering are negatively associated. Since motivation levels and changes in motivation may differ, the current study extends these findings by classifying subsamples of participants based on motivational differences to examine changes in performance. Using area under the curve (AUC) calculations (Pruessner, et al., 2003), such as AUCg (the overall change over time) and AUCi (the magnitude of change over time), overall motivation and the magnitude of change in motivation was calculated. A k-means cluster classification analysis was then used to create artificial groups based on both AUC values. This allowed for the investigation of differences in task performance and mind-wandering based on these groupings. Mixed design ANOVA analyses yielded a significant Block x AUCg motivation interaction effect on omission rate (F(3,441) = 3.979, p = 0.01) and a trend for a main effect of group (F(1,147) = 3.395, p = 0.07) on task variability. These main findings provide evidence that individuals with higher overall motivation may not experience performance deficits to the same degree that those with low motivation appear to. Further, the magnitude of change in motivation may only exhibit differences regarding mind-wandering tendencies. (Author abstract)
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    Anticipated psychosocial stress informs sustained attention performance: A behavioral and physiological perspective
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2021-04-07) Brau, Julia M.; Fortenbaugh, Francesca C.; Esterman, Michael; Corbo, Vincent
    The ability to sustain attention is paramount to the completion of daily activities, such as driving or attending to a lecture. Previous studies have suggested that stress prior to cognitive testing leads to changes in attentional performance based on stressor context, but the impact of anticipated stress on attention remains unclear. To answer this question, the current study examined a sample of thirty-one undergraduate students (age 18-35, M=21.5, S.D.=3.1) who either anticipated a psychosocial stressor or completed guided meditation before completing a go/no-go sustained attention task (gradCPT). Subjective measures of anxiety, self-esteem, extraversion, and neuroticism were also gathered along with heart rate and electrodermal activity measures to objectively determine stress reactivity. Correlational analyses revealed negative associations between state anxiety and commission errors (r=-0.5, p=0.048), reaction time variability (r=-0.522, p=0.038), and a positive association between state anxiety and accuracy (d’) (r=0.521, p=0.038) in the stress condition exclusively. When controlling for state anxiety, mixed design ANOVAs revealed a significant main effect of condition on d’ (F(1,28)=5.54, p=0.026), where the stress group showed lower d’. Further, data showed a trend of an interaction on reaction time variability (F(1,28)=3.49, p=0.072) where increased variability across the task duration occurred as a function of condition assignment, and a trend of a main effect of condition (F(1,28)=3.93, p=0.057) suggesting more commission errors under stress. The results suggest that anticipation of a stressor does impact sustained attention, but that performance may exist on a spectrum based on subjective appraisal of the stressor. (Author abstract)
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    Simulating crossword lottery tickets
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2021-04-07) Cooper, Angela; Jamieson, William
    This project studies the process the New Hampshire State Lottery must go through when creating a particular type of crossword scratch ticket. For this scratch ticket, the player uncovers a letter bank, and scratches the letters which appear in the letter bank from the crossword. Prizes are awarded depending upon the number of words in the crossword which are completely scratched away. This project creates two functions using MATLAB. The first function has a crossword configuration and a prize amount as inputs, and generates a specific letter bank corresponding to a desired prize amount. A second function allows a user to input the crossword and a letter bank from a lottery ticket to check the amount of prize money that should be awarded. Further, an analysis is performed which calculates the probabilities of winning particular prize amounts with randomly chosen letter banks. This analysis concludes that the State Lottery is not assigning the letter banks randomly, and thus analyzing the crossword before the letter bank is revealed does not allow the player to gain an advantage. (Author abstract)
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    Meta-analysis: Child abuse and neglect
    (Southern New Hampshire University, 2021-04-07) Blaikie, Courtney; Libby, Rebecca
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