Department of Psychology Recent Research Outcomes - Spring 2016

The Foundation of a Jesuit Education
Carolyn Blattler, Cydney Comfort, Peyton Geary, Miranda Miller and Kelsi Thompson

Jesuit Higher Education can be narrowed down into specific foundations, and ultimately, should be reflected throughout each of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. By developing a scale, our research was able to assess these foundations at Wheeling Jesuit University. 44 undergraduate students at the university, consisting of 33 females, 9 males, and 2 unidentified, took a survey on SurveyGizmo about the foundations of Jesuit Higher Education. The foundations our research focused on were Social Justice and Community Service, Academic Excellence, and Religion and Faith. The survey consisted of Likert Scale statements that had options of highly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and highly disagree, pertaining to specific statements about the foundations of a Jesuit Higher Education. Using factor analysis, we were able to determine five subgroups among the three foundations. These subgroups were labeled Ability to Excel, Relationship with God, Community Involvement, Individual Awareness, and Volunteer Opportunities. Using a one-way ANOVA to compare the five subscales to the demographics, results showed there was significance with gender and the Ability to Excel subgroup (p=.002). There was also significance with ethnicity and the Ability to Excel subgroup (p=.023) and with class level and the Ability to Excel (p=.016). Most statements also showed significant internal consistency, indicating that the statements correlated well together. The items in our developed scale measured the same general construct and produced similar scores when assessing the foundations of a Jesuit Higher Education.

The Effects of Peppermint Flavored Mouthguards on Rugby Players' Performance
Bryan Raudenbush, Juan Pablo Troconis Bello

The researchers investigated the effects of peppermint flavored Mouthguards on rugby players' subjective evaluation during in-season. A total of 18 participants, from a small private liberal arts university were given mouthguards with peppermint flavoring to use for 6 weeks. The researchers hypothesized that peppermint flavoring would increase their levels of athletic performance. The participants were then given a questionnaire, in which they compared the peppermint moutguards to previous mouthguards they have used on several aspects such as motivation to perform athletically, feeling of being "psyched up", energy arousal, overall performance, speed, confidence enhancing, motivation level, breathing, strength, level of fatigue, level of frustration during trials, valuable of athletic experience, aggressiveness, and sense of safety. A rating scale that went from -3, which is strongly negatively influenced, to 3, which is strongly positively influenced was used. Statistically significant results showed that rugby players felt more "psyched up" (p=.021), energized (p=.048), sense of safety (p=.002), and experienced overall better performance (p=.018). In addition, there were trends supporting that the mouthguards affected their strength (p=.096) and enhanced their confidence (p=.069). Future studies should address objective performance parameters with these athletes.

Themes Associated with a Jesuit Education: 
Leadership, Development of the Whole Person, and Educating the Whole Person

Madison Booth, Courtney Champ, Albert Schrimp, and Jonathan Settle

Our study focused on themes of Jesuit higher education which were derived from various articles explaining themes of Jesuit higher education. The themes also came from the mission statements of various Jesuit universities. Our survey tested how well participants thought that Wheeling Jesuit University fit these themes of Jesuit higher education. For our analysis we focused on the sections of the survey titled, "Personal Development", "Leadership", and "Educating the Whole Person". From our Factor Analysis of these sections, we yielded three factors that the questions in these sections loaded on, which were named "Education", "Leadership", and "Service". We found significant differences between the scores of people of different sexes, ethnicities, ages, and attendance of public vs. Catholic vs. Jesuit high schools on our analysis.

The Effects of Light and Scent Therapies on Seasonal Affective Disorder
Jessica Pontis, Cydney Comfort, and Bryan Raudenbush

Multiple research experiments have been done to study the effects of light and scent therapies on mood disorders. This study was conducted in order to gain additional insight on this area of interest. There were three different conditions in which the participants were randomly assigned. These conditions included exposure to peppermint scent, exposure to a bright light lamp, and exposure to both of these conditions simultaneously. One participant was assigned to each of these conditions in half an hour intervals, three times a week, for three weeks. Each participant was instructed to complete a Depression Inventory prior to exposure in order to gain a base line. After each trial the participants were instructed to again complete the Depression Inventory in addition to completing the Profile of Mood States Survey. After analyzing the results using SPSS, researchers determined that there were mean differences in the areas of depression between the three participants. Within the Profile of Mood States results, there were variations in means involving tension, vigor, and confusion. Future research intends to also have participants complete a Profile of Mood State as baseline in order to help determine their general mood state prior to exposure.

Ignatian Identity at Wheeling Jesuit University:
Personal Testimonies of Current Students' and Alumnus' Perceptions of Their Educational Experience

Sloane Glover, Megan Randolph, Megan Rush, & Michael A. Kirkpatrick

The purpose of this study was to analyze personal testimonies of alumnus' and current students' perceptions of Wheeling Jesuit University. This is the second part of a two part study. The first multiple choice survey was taken by 558 Wheeling Jesuit University past or current students, with self-report data of class or alumni status, graduation year, Catholic high school attendance, Jesuit high school attendance, and whether the participant was a psychology major/minor. The second part of the survey asked for a personal testimony reflecting on how Wheeling Jesuit's mission statement of life, leadership, and service has influenced their lives. A focus group was formed to create categories to analyze the qualitative data and then the data was coded separately by the three researchers as they put the responses into designated categories. The categories included topics such as mention of: service, leadership, higher quality of life, and encouraging life-long education. Frequency counts were totaled per category for each researcher and reported as well as the mean frequency. This portion of the project was written in reference to the course History and Systems of Psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University.

The Ignatian in the Psychology Department at Wheeling Jesuit University
Cydney Comfort, Cody Leonard, & Jessica Thobe

The study was performed to highlight how the Psychology Department reflects on the Wheeling Jesuit mission statement. This study was performed in hopes of finding that the Psychology Department values paralleled with the mission statement. In order to discover if this were true, a qualitative video interview questionnaire was administered to seniors and alumni in the Wheeling Jesuit Psychology Department. The seniors were directly video graphed in an interview setting with the researchers, while the alumni were to email a self video answering the interview questions that were electronically sent to them. There were three questions that were asked in order to gain data that would reveal similar themes between the department and the mission statement. The footage of the interviews was then compiled into a video that highlights the themes from each interview question. The results of this study show that the Psychology Department directly corresponds with the University's mission statement valuing service with and among others, men and women for others, and leadership. This correspondence shows the successful benefits of the memberships of the Psychology Department at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Examining Changes in WJU's Psychology Curriculum
Brittany Bennington, Courtney Champ & Aimee Spencer

The psychology department at Wheeling Jesuit University has undergone a variety of changes since psychology first became a major of study at the university in 1965. These changes can be seen as courses were added and dropped from the course catalogs through the years. For this project, we looked at how the courses in psychology changed over time at Wheeling Jesuit University and compared them to guidelines classified under five goals that the American Psychological Association determined necessary in the undergraduate level of study in psychology. In addition to comparing the courses to the goals, we also specified which courses would fall under each individual goal. The goals that the American Psychological Association outlined were: Goal 1, Knowledge Base; Goal 2, Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking, Goal 3, Ethical and Social Responsibility in a Diverse World; Goal 4, Communication; Goal 5, Professional Development. After learning more about what each individual goal means and how it relates to the courses at Wheeling Jesuit University, we concluded that the university offers a fulfilling and wholesome undergraduate program in psychology.

Videographic Testimonials From Wheeling Jesuit Students and Alumni
Alicia Avila, Hanna Gossett, Charlie Mitcham, & Amanda Nest

Since Ignatian education involves leadership and service with and among others, our study is based on finding out how much of an impact Ignatian education has on psychology majors. Wheeling Jesuit students and alumni were asked questions, via video testimonial, regarding their choice of WJU, and why they selected a psychology major. The participants included 10 students of different genders, ranging from freshman to senior, and one alumnus. The results were similar for most of the answers, but a few were qualitatively unique. Our results are not consistent with our experimental hypothesis that the student's answers mature as the grade level advances, but our results are consistent with the hypothesis that student's responses to their personal fulfillments of the WJU mission statement would be similar.