Researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University presented two projects during a conference held in Italy in early October.
According to Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, professor of psychology, he along with former students, Lucas LeMasters '13 and Kelley Asbury '13, presented the research at the Society for Psychophysiological Research Conference in Florence, Italy. The two WJU projects were among 650, which were presented at the conference.
Raudenbush, along with Allison Burke '14, Jessica Florian, LeMasters and Sierra Moore '13 conducted research on “The Effects of Sensory Deprivation on Creative Thinking in Relation to General Physiological Arousal.”
Undergraduates, Raudenbush said, rarely have their work accepted for presentation at this conference.
“This conference is as close to what these students will experience in graduate school as you can get. This experience gave them a great insight into the complexity and professionalism of our discipline. What our WJU students are realizing is that they are more prepared to participate in these professional opportunities than their peers at other universities.”
He noted the skills WJU students are acquiring and honing both in and out of the classroom is helping them to build an outstanding reputation in their field of study.
“Our idea was to place students in the sensory deprivation tank for 50 minutes at a time and administer the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking to see what effects sensory deprivation would have on a person's creativity,” Raudenbush explained. Fifty-seven students made two visits to the deprivation tank as part of the study.
Burke noted that she and her fellow researchers had hopes for this study . “What we found out - you shouldn't be deprived to be creative. Others at the conference were excited we chose to use the deprivation tank in this way.”
Raudenbush said even though the results weren't what they had expected, the project proved educational. “We found people need to be stimulated to be creative, not deprived.”
The second project the WJU group presented was “Personality Characteristics and Level of Frustration as Related to Physiological Measures.” Asbury, August Capiola '12, Florian, Megan Jarvis '12, Moore and Raudenbush conducted this research.
Raudenbush said the study looked at how 62 participants reacted when they were given an impossible task. The participants completed the Big Five Personality Inventory and had their blood pressure and pulse recorded prior to completing a frustrating task - “the Impossible Maze.”
“The results showed that participants with higher levels of frustration had lower levels of agreeableness and higher levels of neuroticism than participants categorized as exhibiting lower levels of frustration,” Raudenbush said. “Results also support past research that individuals with higher levels of neuroticism exhibit higher blood pressure when faced with stressors.”
Raudenbush said the hope is “if people understand his or her personality types they can identify what types of tasks frustrate them and then can take measures to reduce stress. It is also a health issue - people who are more likely to become frustrated are at risk of physical and health related diseases.”