Coleman Meadows ’22 and Jackson Eisele ’23 were two of just a handful of undergraduate students invited to present at the conference, and their advisor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Ivo Gyurovski ’09—who was also invited to present at the conference—says, “Their work was on par with what the first- and second-year graduate students were presenting.”
Dr. Gyurovski personally worked with both Coleman and Jackson over the past year as they developed their research topics, designed their experiments, refined their methodologies, and composed their presentations. “Both of them were interested in how identity information can shape moral judgments of other people,” Gyurovski says. “Using experimental vignette methodology, they developed hypothetical cases that were very carefully controlled with respect to a number of variables. The vignettes were presented to the study participants who in turn responded to various questions about the vignettes.”
Working with Professor of Psychology Jennifer Vitale as well as Dr. Gyurovski, Coleman—who has ambitions of becoming a school psychologist—studied how perception and approval of a marginalized group, in this case, gay men, was affected by age. Using experimental vignette methodology across four studies, he developed scenarios that aimed to gauge study participants’ level of approval of the subject—either a younger or an older man—engaging in stereotypically gay behaviors: wearing non-gender conforming clothing, showing affection, and participating in a Pride event. At the conference, Coleman presented two of the four studies he conducted. He notes that through the process of each study building upon the last, he was able to refine his approach, focus, and methodology. This programmatic approach enables Hampden-Sydney students to experience R1 institution-level work that prepares them for serious, professional research.
Jackson was interested in third party judgments of morally questionable behaviors that are likely to occur in a workplace environment. In his experiments, Jackson examined how participants would judge the same morally questionable behavior differently based on the race and sex of the people that were involved in the situations. Study participants were given vignettes that depicted a morally questionable behavior—such as taking credit for someone else’s work or continuously interrupting a boss or coworker—where the race and sex of both the person committing the offense and the person against whom the offense was committed was changed from scenario to scenario.
The conference took a slightly different format than in years past. Presenters uploaded their presentations to a virtual platform beforehand, and conference participants could view their posters and abstracts on the platform and then seek the authors out in person when at the conference to ask questions and further discuss findings. “They always had someone at their tables,” Gyurovski says, beaming. “They never had a moment where they were sitting alone. They each had over a dozen attendees, and to see them so at ease talking about their findings with people from around the world was incredibly rewarding. I enjoyed seeing them do well and take ownership of their work.”