Senior psychology students at the College of Mount St. Joseph presented their senior thesis projects on Dec. 4 in the Seton Lobby.
Senior thesis is a required course for psychology majors. In the course, students design and complete their own scientific experiments to investigate a topic related to psychology that interests them.
The Senior Thesis Poster Session gives students the opportunity to share the results of their research projects with students, faculty and staff. This year, 14 students conducted a wide variety of studies on topics such as techniques that increase restaurant servers' tips, factors that affect the performance of athletes, methods for improving children's ability to delay gratification and how students' testing environments might affect academic performance.
"These students came up with ideas themselves, and carried them out over the course of the year," said Tim Lawson, Ph.D., chair of the psychology department at the Mount. "These are some of the most interesting studies that I've ever seen our students do."
One project focused on how to get customers to purchase add-ons, like desserts or drinks, to their orders at LaRosa's Pizzeria. Paige Hater, a senior from Bridgetown, works at the LaRosa's call center taking orders, and wanted to know what would encourage a customer to buy more.
"I work at the LaRosa's call center, and I'm really interested in industrial psychology, so I was really excited to do this project," she said.
Hater focused on two methods to get customers to add more to their orders: complimenting the customers to win them over, or telling them that lots of other customers were doing so, a method called the social proof theory. Through her calls with customers, she tried both methods, and ultimately found that the social proof theory encouraged them to purchase add-ons. This theory implies that if people hear that a product is popular, they will be more inclined to purchase it themselves.
Hater, along with four other students, will be presenting her project at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in Salt Lake City in April. These students will be presenting their research alongside undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professional psychologists from around the country. The students joining Hater are Kory Phelps, Megan Pfeiffer, Sara Vice, and Michelle Woelfel.
Undergraduate students who submit their projects to professional conferences can also apply for Psi Chi Research Awards. These awards are highly competitive, and only a select few win. Psychology majors from the Mount have won more of these awards than any other college or university in the area.
The College of Mount St. Joseph is an undergraduate and graduate Catholic college that provides an interdisciplinary liberal arts and professional curriculum emphasizing values, service and social responsibility.