Psychology Students Heading to MPA Meeting with Research

Dr. Jeannette Stein, UM-Flint Associate Professor of Psychology and a Regional Representative for the Midwestern Psychological Association, will travel with ten UM-Flint Psychology students to the annual MPA meeting in Chicago, IL, from April 30-May 2. While there, the students will present research born out of their required capstone research projects. Says Dr. Stein, “These students however went beyond course requirements and will truly complete the research process by reporting their results to the larger scientific community.”

Following are some of the projects that will be presented: 


Mary Christensen will present research on video games, self-esteem, and gender.

MARY CHRISTENSEN: I am bringing my correlation study that was done of video games, self-esteem, and gender to the conference. This was to see if a certain type a video game genre had affects on self-esteem of the player. Also, to see if one gender had higher self-esteem rating on a certain genre than the other genres. The genres that I looked at were role-playing/multi-player online, first-person shooter, casual, strategy, and simulation.


Michal Kirkwood will be presenting research on politeness theory.

MICHAL KIRKWOOD: The project I am presenting at MPA is an attempt to study an area of linguistics (politeness theory) using social psychology and psychology of personality protocols through interruption.  The intention of the research was to determine if a dominant personality trait would influence/dictate whether a participant would interrupt someone who is reading or someone who is texting if interruption was necessary.  The findings demonstrated that people with high agreeableness scores are significantly more likely to interrupt reading.  In less scientific terms, putting one’s face in a phone is a far better avoidance strategy than putting one’s face in a book.
I’m really excited to present this work at MPA for a myriad of reasons, but chiefly I am thrilled to demonstrate the caliber of our education and research work here at the University of Michigan-Flint.  There is considerable prestige associated with our Ann Arbor counterparts, but our Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program coupled with the opportunity to design one’s own study with direct faculty oversight is a UM-Flint point of excellence.  These experiences have already afforded me an edge in obtaining employment with community psychology projects through the Ann Arbor School of Public Health and archival research with the Ann Arbor School of Law.  I hope to explore graduate school options at the conference, and I can’t wait to demonstrate my UM-Flint pedigree to an interested national audience of peers.


Derek Mohamedally studied the relationship between inter hemispheric interaction and sexual fluidity.

DEREK MOHAMEDALLY: Inter hemispheric interaction (IHI) is the amount in which the left and right hemispheres of the brain freely communicate with each other.  An individual’s IHI ratio may be observed through how much more they prefer to use their dominant hand, versus the other.  The more dominant one hemisphere is over the other, the more dominate the corresponding hand is utilized than the other hand, for regular daily tasks.  Prior research has shown evidence that people with more hemispheric dominance and less IHI are tend to be more rigid (Oldfield, 1971). Those with higher IHI levels tend to incorporate new information into their self-schemas than the more hemispheric dominant individuals.  The need for structure, or rigidity, is negatively correlated with sexual fluidity, meaning the amount of variance or flexibility in one’s sexual orientation (Preciado & Peplau, 2012).  Therefore, through an associative property of sorts, it is feasible to infer that people with more flexible handedness may express more flexible sexuality.  It is not suggested that there is inherently more sexual fluidity in more evenhanded people, so much that more evenhanded people may be more likely to acknowledge and incorporate more variations of their sexual experiences, fantasies, dreams and attractions into their self-concept of their own sexuality.

The relationship between inter hemispheric interaction (based on strength of handedness) and sexual fluidity (flexibility of sexual orientation) is to be examined by online self-report surveys.  Inter hemispheric iteration is determined by the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (Oldfield, 1971) and flexibility of sexual orientation is recorded using the Epstein Sexual Orientation Inventory (Epstein, 2012).  The EHI asks hand preference for various tasks, while the ESOI asks specific questions relating to the degree of attraction toward each gender.

The results showed evidence that IHI people do express more sexual fluidity as hypothesized.  Women are much more sexually fluid as prior research suggests.  An additional interesting interaction was that women over 35 showed the most flexibility while men over 35 showed the least.


Jordan Sleva will present research on motivation and self-efficacy on weight loss.

JORDAN SLEVA: The worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980, according to the World Health Organization (WHO; 2008). This comes as no surprise, seeing as there is an abundance of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar that are easily accessible and affordable by all, consumerism-driven advertisements that are psychologically programmed to make you want more, and a lower availability of fresh produce than chips, candy, and pop. Those who choose to adopt weight-loss regimens find it difficult to adhere to them, and who’s to blame? My study focuses on the impact of both motivation (either controlled or autonomous) and self-efficacy (either high or low) on adherence to a self-elected weight-loss regimen. In order to find this, I used a self-report survey which incorporated the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSRQ; Ryan & Connell, 1989) and the Weight Efficacy Life-Style Questionnaire (WEL) with Added Items (Schulz, 2005) originally developed by Clark et. al (1991). Upon completion of the survey, each participant is deemed either High or Low in Self-Efficacy and Controlled or Autonomous in Motivation. Statistical analyses were then run to determine possible relationships between the aforementioned variables. It is imperative to understand the underlying causes of long-term adherence to a weight-loss regimen, what motivates an individual to adhere, what demotivates that individual, and how these discoveries can be applied to specific weight-loss programs in order to maximize adherence and long-term results.

Other students attending the MPA meeting with Stein are Nicole Moffitt, Samantha Turner, Anqi Hu, Kyle Manley, Amanda Shanesy, and Shytance Wren.

When asked about the importance of this type of work for undergraduate students, Stein said, “Research is hands on. Students learn by doing. They ask their own research questions, develop hypotheses and design studies to test those hypotheses.  Thus, students have choices and ownership of their work. They collaborate with one another and with me to improve their ideas.  There is a great deal of critical thought involved as the student progresses from idea to implementation to analysis. High expectations coupled with positive support from the instructor improve motivation and confidence. The effects of such an experience have been widely studied. ‘Undergraduate researchers learn tolerance for obstacles, how knowledge is constructed, independence, increased self-confidence, and a readiness for more demanding work. These benefits are an advantage in any career path.’  Importantly, these experiences make them better students, thus increasing student persistence and retention. Research conducted by the National office of Psi Chi (Psychology Honorary) also suggests that the independent research experience is THE factor that sets students apart on graduate school applications.”

The students were asked about what this opportunity means to them and their academic career.

Said Sleva, “As an undergraduate Psychology student, presenting my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Meeting is quite an honor! Not only does it provide me the opportunity to network with my peers and professionals in the field, it gives me experience presenting, discussing, and analyzing my work. I plan to further my education by earning a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience; this experience can give me the ‘edge’ I need as a candidate in the sea of graduate school applications.”

Mohamedally added, “I am very excited and honored to be presenting my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference this year. I’m proud of my research, and the work Dr. Stein and I put into it and look forward to being able to share it with the psychology academic community. These conferences give us a chance to share our knowledge and hard work as well as gain further insight into our work by answering questions about our studies we may not have considered. Presenting our research helps us to envision ourselves as future professionals and experience the results of how we have evolved academically. For those us who have graduate school aspirations it is particularly valuable as it gives us a chance to meet representatives, talk to experts in our fields and show the value of our work.  Even just attending will be akin to an artist attending a new art exhibit or museum; seeing everyone’s research will provide us with new ideas, and inspiration for future research.”

For more information on the Psychology Department, and the learning and research opportunities they offer their students, visit the Psychology Department website.