Ouachita Baptist University students Taylor Bartel and Whitley Berry had their psychology research accepted to the Southwestern Psychological Association’s annual conference. The students both presented their research at the April conference in Oklahoma City, and Berry’s work earned a Psi Chi Regional Research Award from Psi Chi international honors society in psychology.
The SWPA includes psychologists from a nine-state region and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. The organization seeks to “promote and strengthen psychology’s scientific, professional and educational facets,” according to its website, and involves students, who are “welcomed and treated as active and valued participants in the discipline.”
Dr. Randall Wight, dean of Ouachita’s Sutton School of Social Sciences and professor of psychology and biology, explained that Bartel and Berry took the initiative to submit their work for the conference. “Whitley and Taylor are two of the most self-motivated people I’ve seen come through here,” he noted. “It’s been truly a pleasure to work with them.” The peer-reviewed acceptance process is highly selective, and psychologists across the region evaluated the students’ abstracts.
“We want our students to do research, but research has two parts,” Wight said. “You need to do the work, and then you need to share it. Galileo’s commandment is to always contribute to science, so you can do the work but if you don’t present it to your peers, the scientific community, you haven’t followed through. It’s important to enter that conversation.”
Berry is a May 2012 magna cum laude graduate of Ouachita with a degree in psychology. The Arkadelphia native’s research, “Love your neighbor as yourself? An exploration of intergroup bias,” explored the perceived physical attractiveness and stereotypes that students from Arkadelphia’s rival universities may hold about each other.
Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia have one of the longest standing sports rivalries in the country and have the unique circumstance of being divided only by a state highway.
The Psi Chi Regional Research Awards are presented to the best research papers submitted at regional conventions, with cash awards of up to $300 presented to winners.
Berry said she especially appreciated the opportunity at the conference “to meet and talk with people who have done similar group bias research and share ideas about our work.”
Bartel, a May 2012 magna cum laude Ouachita graduate with degrees in psychology and biology, presented his research, “What would you do? The effect of moral decisions on decision fatigue,” at the conference. His research evaluated the effects of making a variety of decisions by willpower.
“My favorite part was presenting my research to a very diverse audience and talking with people who are interested in my topic,” explained Bartel, a native of Lucas, Texas. “It’s a good opportunity to get experience presenting research.”
“I was walking around the poster session, and frankly I thought they had two of the best pieces of research down there,” Wight noted. “They were standing next to colleagues from the nine-state area, so that’s pretty impressive.”