Commencement May 19

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James Blair ’23, Psychology and Math double major, and Dr. Kelly Kane, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Elmira College, recently traveled to Boston to present the results of their research at the Eastern Psychological Association conference.

Blair, who’s planning to attend graduate school for social psychology after graduating this spring, wanted to conduct research ahead of attending grad school, so he reached out to Dr. Kane and together they jumped into the research process.

“I want to go into the field of social psychology,” said Blair. “There are more studies that I can complete and this experience gave me a view of what it will be like in graduate school and how I can prepare.”

The research that Kane and Blair completed looked at the effect of visual prompts in getting people to adopt helpful behavior. In the study, participants watched a two-minute news clip about an incident where Atlanta residents helped a stranger on a highway after he suffered a medical emergency while driving. After watching the video, participants were randomly put into one of two groups and were asked a series of questions regarding the video. One of the two groups had language regarding helpful behavior in their questions and the other group had the opposite. The participants were then asked to help the researcher by staying after the study and providing additional written answers to more questions.

“Participants who chose to help the researchers after watching the video reported that they did so because of spare time and a desire to aid the research, but there was no difference in helping behavior by prompt condition,” said Kane.

“This study didn't receive statistically significant results, but the outcome of responses was still interesting to analyze,” said Blair.

At the conference, Blair and Kane presented their research in a poster session. Blair received many questions and comments from participants, giving him ideas about where he can take the research further.

“For example, one of Dr. Kane’s colleagues suggested I add personality types into the research,” said Blair.

“This was an incredible experience,” said Blair. “We were able to showcase the work that Dr. Kane and I had been doing for months at a regional level. Not only that, I got to learn so much about other projects, meet so many people, and make a lot of connections.”

The Eastern Psychological Association conference is a large, regional conference that includes faculty and students from colleges across the Northeastern states.

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