Science / Technology and Health

Hypotheses Tested

Written by Annie Beckmann

May 21, 2014

the fountain at the Quad with Fall trees in the background

The Celebration of Research showcased the scholarly pursuits of SU students.

Extroverts more creative than introverts? That's what junior psychology majors Danielle Lozano and Kirsten Smock figured would be the case when they launched their research project.

Yet what makes Seattle University's undergraduate research presentations especially interesting is that their hypotheses might not always prove true. In this case, introverts can rejoice that they're just as creative as extroverts. (President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., who considers himself an introvert, says he sure is glad to hear that.)

When Lozano and Smock started their research on creativity, they figured they'd be on the right track because extroverts have an easier time expressing themselves. They surveyed more than 70 SU undergraduates using demographic questions, an introversion-extroversion scale, divergent thinking questions and a seven-point scale for self-reported creativity.

Their conclusions?  In addition to the fact that there was no correlation between extroversion and creativity, Lozano and Smock recommended that employers-along with anyone else-should not be looking at extroversion as a way to predict creativity.

This was just one discovery at the annual event of the Seattle University Undergraduate Research Association (SUURA), which boasted 119 presenters along with 64 faculty mentors at the Student Center and Pigott Building May 9. More than 20 of the presenters have been accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Nalini Iyer, director of the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Projects, notes that giving students the opportunity to present locally and nationally at conferences provides them with professional development opportunities.

"My favorite part of SUURA is talking to students about their work and seeing their excitement when they describe their projects and share their new ideas. We are shaping the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers," says Iyer.

The SU campus event continues to grow each year. As recently as 2010, 82 undergraduate presenters and 50 faculty mentors took part. Because of its success, the Graduate Student Council now puts on its own research conference on the same day, this year in the Admissions and Alumni Building. For each of the last two years, 12 graduate students have participated with their own as well as faculty presentations. 

Presentations were short, typically 20 and no more than 30 minutes for the graduate students. Some were packed. In fact, some-like "The Linear Complexity of Partially Ordered Sets"-were standing-room-only. Other topics included the punk rock scene, hip-hop culture, over-privileged apps and mobile malware, strategic fouls, the power of pre-school, civil disobedience in women's movements, quality of THC quantification in oral fluid, porn and prejudice, the state of science education, camouflage and color change abilities of marine isopods, bully prevention and several projects related to war and reconciliation.

In her lively PowerPoint presentation, junior strategic communications major Katie Smith examined video games for social change to find out if they're achieving the change they seek and, if not, how they can be improved. Games can be entertaining yet lack a bridge to the real world and have no substantive takeaway, Smith says. As with other games, serious games have computer technology and advanced video graphics, but their focus is learning and training. Better games for social change, Smith recommends, call for a multifaceted activity structure, humor and debriefing.

Poster presentations were another element of the day. Among them, senior psychology majors Jordan Skalisky and Roxanne Guiney aimed to determine whether pet owners might have better strategies for coping in life than those without pets. With 237 participants in their study, they also investigated differences between genders, pet species and pet attachment.

They did find correlations specific to gender and pet species that should be taken into consideration in any further investigation of the relationship between pet ownership and coping strategies. Male pet owners-especially dog owners-had lower scores for self-blame than those without pets. Male cat owners showed lower scores for their planning abilities than male non-pet owners. Female dog owners were found to engage in venting less frequently than female cat owners.

Still, much like the introverts who turned out to be as creative as the extroverts, those who don't own pets can sigh and celebrate. Skalisky and Guiney ultimately determined that people without pets are just as well equipped to cope in life as those who find comfort in their furry companions.