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Research Awards: Humans and Humanities

The Student Faculty Research Awards are used to advance the scholarship of graduate students and faculty working in partnership. Grants up to $5,000 are awarded to the selected student/faculty pairs and are intended to help support student research/scholarship/creative activity; give students experience writing grants; and foster the mentoring relationship between faculty and graduate students. This spring, 22 student/faculty pairs were selected to receive the awards. Read some of the winning proposal summaries below that include topics in psychology, social work, and music.

Family Discrimination Among LGB Individuals: A Trauma, Alcohol Use, and Dating Violence Prospective Daily Diary Study

Evan Basting—PhD student, psychology
Gregory Stuart—professor, Department of Psychology

Experiencing violence occurring in the family of origin before the age of 18 is consistently related to negative outcomes, such as alcohol use and dating violence (DV), in young adulthood. Sexual minority individuals are at elevated risk and can experience this family of origin violence (FOV) in unique ways related to their sexual identity (being expelled from home, having their identity rejected, withdrawal of parental financial/emotional support, etc.). Using a daily diary study, Evan Basting, a PhD student in psychology, and Gregory Stuart, professor in the Department of Psychology, intend to examine the daily association between symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol use, and DV and the potential roles of traditional FOV, parental discrimination and emotion dysregulation in sexual minority individuals. This work has the potential to inform the development of inclusive dating violence prevention efforts that target stressors unique to sexual minority individuals.

Mechanisms and Enduring Impact of Prejudice Reduction through Longitudinal Evaluative Conditioning

Laura Gill—PhD student, psychology
Michael Olson—professor, Department of Psychology

Attitudes are our positive and negative evaluations of people, objects and ideas. They guide our judgments and behavior and learning how they form and change is an important part of our understanding of human behavior. One way in which attitudes form and change is evaluative conditioning, in which a conditioned stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus, resulting in an association between the unconditioned and conditioned stimulus. Laura Gill, a PhD candidate in Psychology, and Michael Olson, professor in the Department of Psychology, propose to investigate the capacity for evaluative conditioning for long-term attitude change in efforts at racial prejudice reduction. Through studies of prejudice reduction based on evaluative conditioning involving learning content provided over time or all at once, the investigators hope to provide insights into the development of ways to reduce prejudice in an enduring fashion.

Why Side with Intuition Over Reasoning? Disentangling Whether People Acquiesce to Intuition Wishfully, Reluctantly, or Willingly

Andrew Langbehn—MS student, psychology
Jeff Larsen—professor, Department of Psychology

Researchers such as Daniel Walco and Jane Risen have found that when people are presented with two choices to succeed, there are those that will choose the option that intuitively offers a better chance of success even when they know that the other option is rationally the better choice. Andrew Langbehn, a PhD student in psychology, and Jeff Larsen, professor in the Department of Psychology, plan to investigate this phenomenon, termed acquiescence to intuition. In particular, they wish to distinguish between three paths to acquiescence: wishful, reluctant, and willing acquiescence and the interaction between gut feelings and rational analysis in making these decisions. These studies are part of a larger research program on the interaction of individual differences and feelings in decision-making.

Identifying Tornado Warning Needs and Barriers to Protective Action for Individuals with Disabilities during the December 10–11, 2021 Tornado Outbreak

Sangwon Lee—PhD student, social work
Jennifer First—assistant professor, College of Social Work

During the overnight hours of December 10–11, a late-season outbreak of tornadoes across areas of the Ohio Valley and the southern United States resulted in catastrophic damage and 90 fatalities. Such severe weather events are increasing in prevalence and severity in the United States, particularly across the southeast and Tennessee, but these disasters do not affect all people equally. Individuals with disabilities are less likely to receive timely warnings and often find shelter options difficult to access or even inaccessible. Sangwon Lee, a PhD student in social work, and Jennifer First, assistant professor in the College of Social Work, propose to study the impacts of such disasters on individuals with disabilities by combining empirical evidence of their experiences with readily available exposure and vulnerability metrics of the areas in which they live. Their intention is to provide comprehensive understanding of barriers that exacerbate existing risks and vulnerabilities, ensure that the needs and resources for individuals with disabilities are part of disaster planning, and to identify policies and practices that can enhance warning communication and protective options for these populations.

Exploring Drivers of Opioid Use Disorder and Barriers to Treatment Access Among Gender Diverse Sexual Minority Women in South Central Appalachia

Erin Murphy—PhD student, psychology
Dawn Marie Szymanski—professor, Department of Psychology

As of 2019, the Centers for Disease Control have indicated that drug poisoning has become the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, due in large part to a recent rise in opioid-related drug overdose deaths. This opioid overdose epidemic is disproportionately damaging in the Appalachian region of the U.S., where the overdose rate is significantly higher than in non-Appalachian regions. Further, gender diverse sexual minority women (women, including those who identify as cisgender and transgender, who also identify as non-heterosexual) experience disproportionately high rates of opioid misuse relative to their heterosexual, cisgender counterparts. Erin Murphy, a PhD student in psychology, and Dawn Marie Szymanski, professor in the Department of Psychology, intend to explore the complex and contextual factors that contribute to opioid misuse and create barriers to treatment access among these populations. Findings from in-depth interviews with members of this population will serve as the first phase of a study which aims to lead to preventative and culturally adapted interventions developed specifically to meet the specific needs of this population.

Volunteer Brass Quintet Recording Project: Music for Brass Quintet by Underrepresented Composers

James Roddy—MMusic student, music
Alex van Duuren—assistant professor, School of Music

The Volunteer Brass Quintet is a standing, endowed student ensemble of the School of Music. Part of the mission of this ensemble is to create opportunities for professional development, as well as community outreach, for the students selected to perform in the quintet. James Roddy, a Master of Music student, currently being coached and instructed by Alex van Duuren, assistant professor in the School of Music, has been researching works for brass quintet written by underrepresented composers. This SFRA will allow Roddy and the Volunteer Brass Quintet to work with the Free Spirit Conservatory of the Arts (FSCA) to rehearse, record and perform these works in a professional studio. This work will impact the larger musical community by focusing on these works, which are less frequently performed and recorded.

Development and Validation of a Measure of Emotion Regulation Processes in School-Age Children

Alayna Watson—PhD student, psychology
Chris Elledge—associate professor, Departments of Psychology

Emotion regulation, or the ability to manage one’s emotions, is an important part of a child’s development. Deficits in emotion regulation are associated with issues such as anxiety, depression, impulsive behavior, and peer conflict. Because these processes are internal in nature, assessments based on observation of external behaviors, such as those made by parents or teachers, are informative, but limited. This limitation on assessment is significant, as understanding the use of emotion regulation processes has implications for interpreting a child’s emotion management choices. Alayna Watson, a PhD student in psychology, and Chris Elledge, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, propose to evaluate a self-report assessment of emotion regulations in 3rd and 4th grade children that addresses the limitations of existing measures. If this assessment is well-validated through this study, future studies will be able to use this tool and further progress the study and understanding of emotion regulation in middle childhood.