Exploring New Frontiers in Psychology

Students Present Psychology Research to Peers and Professors at Poster Session

At a poster session held in Belfer Hall last week, Yeshiva College students shared the results of experimental psychology studies they had designed and conducted with their professors and fellow students. “Students teamed up to conduct an actual experiment, collect and analyze human data, and present it to their peers,” said Dr. Anna-Lisa Cohen, associate professor of psychology and department co-chair.

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Students presented their findings in experimental psychology studies at a poster session last week.

Groups of students took turns presenting their studies, which were completed under the mentorship of Cohen and Dr. Ariel Malka, associate professor of psychology. Research topics included an examination of whether reading an article on a computer screen reduces retention of information versus reading the article on a sheet of paper, by students Eli Muschel and Yoni Olson; whether and how subtitles might influence the likelihood of recalling the visual details of a film, by students Ariel Adler, Yosie Friedman and Isaac Telio-Bejar, who concluded that narrative transportation was probably driven by something else, perhaps an emotional component; and if viewing news reports of suffering influenced the nature of the viewer’s belief in a personal God, by students Zachary Green and Yonatan Pollock.

“Exposure to carefully selected visuals of human suffering doesn’t appear to effect the viewer’s faith, although this could be because of the characteristics of the population we studied,” said Pollock. “This study whetted our appetite to expand our research, which Dr. Cohen has encouraged and supported.”

“Analyzing data was very educational,” said Muschel. “I’m considering pursuing a career in psychology, and this project definitely helped get my feet wet. Working so closely with my professors provides excellent exposure to actual research techniques and will definitely help shape my career goals.”

“It’s nice to see the fruit of your labor in a real research project,” said student Benjamin Barman, whose poster, “Knowing the Outcome – The Effects of Prior Knowledge of a Narrative’s Conclusion on Narrative Transportation and Recall,” explored whether advance knowledge of the ending of a suspenseful film makes it less likely that the viewer will become engaged by the story. His collaborators in the study were Joshua Eisenberg and Chaim Goldberg.

20151216_Psychology_Poster_Session_015“We were surprised to find out that knowing the outcome had virtually no effect of the viewer’s engagement in the narrative,” said Eisenberg. “Regardless of whether they knew the outcome in advance, viewers were invested in a well-told story. There seemed to be a difference between intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge that really mattered. We really did not predict that result.”

“This course is a very unique educational experience,” said Cohen, who co-chaired the event with Malka. “Only after carrying out their own projects do students truly understand the nuances of the research process and often students are surprised at how much they enjoy it. It is very gratifying for me as a professor to observe.”

In addition to peers, faculty were on hand to view the posters and discuss the presentations, including Dr. Scott J. Goldberg, vice provost for teaching and learning, and Dr. Karen Bacon, the Mordecai D. Katz and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“The professionalism with which the Yeshiva College students prepared their posters and described their work attests to the quality of the mentoring they receive from our outstanding faculty,” said Bacon. “Whether or not these students go on to graduate work in psychology, they have been exposed to the joy of doing original research and they have gained rigorous analytic skills in the process. This is undergraduate education at its very best.”