Butler trip 2014

On Friday, Profs. Olofson and Schmitzer-Torbert traveled with the senior Psychology majors to attend the 2014 Butler Undergraduate Research Conference.  A total of 23 students presented the results of their year-long senior capstone research projects, presenting either a 15 minute oral presentation, or in an hour-long poster session.

It was a busy day, with Fracisco Huerta delivering the first Wabash talk at 8:45am, and Brad Wise capping the end of the day at 4:30pm. The seniors all did an excellent job presenting their work, and it was satisfying to see the results of their capstone research: projects that were begun in the fall of 2013, if not earlier. The Butler URC is a diverse conference, with about 500 presentations were scheduled for the day, from 45 different college and universities.

After the conference, Profs. Gunther, Aubele-Futch and Rush met up with the group at Abyssinia on 38th street to celebrate with Ethiopian cuisine before returning to campus. It was a busy day, but a great way to cap the senior research projects.

And, it was great preparation for the last Psychology event of the year, the Psychology Research Symposium (Thursday, April 24th, 5pm in Detchon International Hall), where our seniors will present posters based on their capstone projects.  Following the poster session, we will have a keynote, delivered by Barron Hewetson ’08, who will be speaking about his career path from a psychology major at Wabash to pursuing graduate studies in biological engineering at Purdue.

Some photos from the day are posted on the Psychology Department Facebook Page:


And, the seniors who presented, and their presentation titles are all listed below:


  • Francisco HuertaCompetition and the Effects on Interpersonal Interactions
  • Shane Brown & James LaRoweHow the Number of Competitors Moderates Performance Between Avoidant and Approach Motivated Individuals
  • Alex HirschNarcissism and the Moderating Effect on Performance and Competition
  • Andy WalshDwell Time in Preschoolers During Nonverbal Theory of Mind Tasks
  • Bobby ThompsonMaternal Mind Mindedness, a Predictor of Theory of Mind
  • Connor O’RearThe Effects of Scaffolding on Children’s Dwell Time in an Implicit False Belief Locations Task
  • Kenton Armbruster & Patrick MarlattValidation of Self-Paced Slide Shows as an Implicit Measure of Theory of Mind
  • Spencer BurkThe Effects of Rivalry on Competitive Performance
  • Spencer PetersAlcohol and Impulsivity
  • Joel BeierAn Investigation into the Effects of Hangover on Memory
  • Fidel OjimbaThe Effects of Video Games on Stress Through Testosterone and Cortisol Activation
  • Trevor YoungEffects of PHA-543613 on the Rodent Anterior Cingulate Cortex: a Study in Rodent Schizophrenia
  • Jacob OwensHow Changing the Contrast of a Visual Stimulus Affects Neuronal Responses in Humans
  • Andrew FultonThe Effects of Local Administration of Flutamide and Fulvestrant in the Right Orbitofrontal Cortex on Impulsive Decision-Making in Male Rats
  • Nathan BryantThe Effects of the Serotonin Agonist Sumatriptan on Aggression in a Neutral Cage in Adult Male Rats
  • Brad WiseThe Impact of Estrogen on Risky Decision-Making in Female Rats


  • Jorge Diaz-Aguilar & Marc EscobedoFacebook and Narcissism
  • Jonathan AnleitnerA Parent Report to Measure Earlier Developments in Children’s Theory of Mind
  • Andrew GibsonThe Impact of Empathy in Physician-Patient Relationships on Malpractice Lawsuits
  • Rudy DuarteThe Relationship between Color Vision and Sleep


New publications: 2013 edition

Each year, the faculty in the Psychology department spend a considerable amount of time working on research projects, most of which are done in collaboration with students.

Stephen Prunier ’09 was the keynote speaker at the Psychology Research Celebration in April 2013

Through independent studies, Senior Capstone projects and summer internships, all of our psychology majors have an opportunity to conduct research in psychology, and many of those projects are presented at regional or national psychology/neuroscience conferences.  And, some of these projects will go on to be published in research journals.

Looking back at 2013, we had four research articles authored by faculty in the Psychology department c0me out in print.  Two of these articles had student co-authors (Stephen Prunier ’09 and Tanner Tritch ’10), who designed and conducted the research project as part of their Senior Capstone research. Links to the abstract for each article are given below, if you would like to read more about their research projects.

Bost, P.R., & Prunier, S.G. (2013). Rationality in conspiracy beliefs: The role of perceived motive. Psychological Reports: Sociocultural Issues in Psychology, 113, 1130-1140.

Montoya, R. M. & Horton, R. S. (2013). A meta-analytic investigation of the processes underlying the similarity-attraction effect. Journal of Social and Personality Relationships, 30, 64-94.

Horton, R. S., & Tritch, T. (2013) Clarifying the links between parenting and narcissism. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied.

Rush, R. A., & Clark, S. E. (2013) The Social Contagion of Correct and Incorrect Information in Memory. Memory.

Prof. Olofoson receives award

Earlier this month, Dr. Eric Olofson received the good news that he had earned tenure at Wabash College.  This week, we were happy to hear that he has been named the 2014-15 McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Scholar at Wabash!  The award provides for a semester of sabbatical support, which Prof. Olofson will use to to develop his work on the ”The Science of Fatherhood.”

During his sabbatical in the 2014-15 academic year, Prof. Olofson will be researching a new book which reviews the empirical research on the effects of fathering on children. The work comes out of Prof. Olofson’s course, Fatherhood, and will aim to translate the research on fathers’ effects on children, and children’s effects on fathers, for a popular audience.

Fall Newsletter – 2013

It has been awhile since the Psychology Department last sent out a newsletter, but this year seemed like a great time to start again!  Alums should expect to receive a copy by mail soon, and a PDF of the newsletter is available now!

Psychology Newsletter Fall 2013

We’re very thankful to Max Gallivan ’16, who put the newsletter together, and has spent many hours folding and preparing the paper mailing!

Summer research – O’Rear ’14

This summer I worked on several different research projects with Dr. Horton. We focused our efforts on projects relating to narcissism and parenting.

O’Rear (left) with Jacob Owens presenting on another summer research project at the 2013 Midwestern Psychological Association Meeting in Chicago.

The main focus of my summer internship was to collect data for a temporal analysis of child reports of parenting behavior. A temporal analysis allowed us to see how reports of parenting behavior have changed over time. The idea being that changes in parental behavior (like parents becoming less strict with their children over time) may be linked to the rise in narcissism over the past several decades. Unfortunately, the measure that we were investigating was not used in as uniform a way as we had hoped, so despite the collection of nearly one hundred research articles we were not able to get a clear picture of the changes in parenting behavior. This project did provide me with good insight into how research articles should be written, and what data to include for researchers interested in performing meta-analyses later on. It also introduced me to the methodology behind meta-analyses and gave me the opportunity to run new, more advanced statistical analyses.

In addition to the temporal analysis, I worked on a few side projects this summer. One of these projects was a continuation of research I had done with Dr. Horton during the semester. I investigated the physiological responses of narcissists when they are confronted by an achievement threat (they are given either purposefully easy or hard word scrambles and told how they should perform). This project allowed us to investigate the difference between the two types of narcissism, vulnerable and grandiose.

I also helped Dr. Horton set up an account for Amazon’s M-Turk system. This system allows researchers to post questionnaires for “turkers” (workers in the M-Turk system) to fill out in exchange for Amazon credit. M-Turk is relatively new and its possibilities for future research make it an exciting research tool for the future.

Overall, the summer provided me with valuable and much needed experience. The ability to design novel research projects and analyze past research is something that graduate schools demand from their students, and my experience this summer provided me with the opportunity to do just that. The research that Dr. Horton and I carried out this summer gave me the opportunity to sharpen my research skills and be ahead of my peers when it comes time to apply to graduate schools. Dr. Horton took a hands-off approach, allowing me to work mostly independent, while at the same time being readily available to guide me when I had questions. This approach allowed me to hone my research skills and work in a capacity similar to what will be expected of me in graduate school and for that I am thankful to both Dr. Horton and the entire psychology department.

Wu ’15 uses Dill funds for summer research at Harvard

Poster presentation that is open to the social sciences community at the William James Hall at Harvard University

Hi, Wabash! This summer, I worked at the Laboratory for Developmental Studies at Harvard University with Prof. Jesse Snedeker and a graduate student at the lab.

In our study we explored the relationship between executive function and sentence processing. People encounter a lot of sentence ambiguities in our everyday life. For example, “The old man the boat.” The sentence might seem awkward at first, but as adults we are able to eventually understand that the sentence means “the old people are sailing the boat.” But children have difficulty tackling these ambiguities. Previous neuro-imaging studies have suggested that cortical areas responsible for executive function might be involved during sentence processing. Thus, the deficit might be related to children’s underdeveloped executive function. Therefore, in our study, we directly measure children’s executive function and see if previous premises are true. To do this, we compare the differences of executive function between bilingual children and monolingual children because bilinguals are found to have an advantage in executive function compared to their monolingual counterparts. We will continue collecting data to obtain significant results.

The experience was phenomenal. In terms of career development, the internship offered extraordinary opportunities to meet and talk with the director of a big research lab, who is one of the biggest names in the field, and get hands-on experience on an ingeniously designed research topic. I helped with participant recruitment, data collection, data coding, data analysis and presentation of my work. It was my first time to work in a developmental lab with children. It is different than but every bit as rewarding and challenging as testing adults. The process is a lot of fun as well. Not only was I able to call and schedule subjects from an extremely diverse pool in the greater Boston area (where there are a lot of Chinese bilingual families and I spoke Chinese with them on the phone!), but I was also able to actually operate on delicate and expensive facilities like the Tobii eye-tracker!

My Wabash education has prepared me well for the internship. Thanks to my first research experience with Prof. Gunther, I was very detail-oriented when I was learning the research design and conducting the procedure. The statistics class had also familiarized me with data analyses. I was able to figure out what tests to run, and how to run them on SPSS (with the help of my stats binder!). During the internship, we had three presentations including a poster presentation at the end. I was so surprised at my level of clarity and confidence when I was presenting to a room full of Harvard PhD students, post-docs and professors!

Besides serious and dedicated work in the lab, there are a lot of interesting activities for interns who represent 5 countries and 16 different prestigious institutions. We had reading groups every week where we read well-known theoretical and empirical articles from different fields of psychology and discuss some big issues including free will, Sapir-Whorfian theories, computational neuroscience, the origin of human concepts etc. Some discussions were so heated that they were carried on for hours at the barbecue after the reading group. Further, interns have coffee hours every week, which is an informal meeting where interns get free coffee while chatting and bonding with each other. Other “interntainments” including Harvard museum tours, Chinatown tours, Bowling nights and so on brought us very close. As a fellow intern commented on the internship, “It finds me talented people who share the same interests and can talk about psychology at the same level of understanding. These people help me understand better who I am and what I want, and thus make me feel less lonely.”

Thanks to the Wabash Psychology Department and the Dill Grant for making the internship possible!

-Charles Wu ’15

Summer research experience – Andy Walsh ’14

This summer, Dr. Olofson and I worked diligently on a new project. We collaborated with his graduate advisor, Dr. Dare Baldwin, from the University of Oregon on studying children’s dwell time during theory of mind tasks. We are attempting to measure changes in children’s understanding of others’ mental states by observing how long they dwell on a certain stimulus. This project is very interesting to us because we may be able to pinpoint the exact time in which a child begins to develop his or her theory of mind.

This internship benefited me far beyond what I expected. I attended the Association for Psychological Science conference in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Olofson in May and was able to take a lot away from it. I attended different symposia and poster sessions that allowed me to better understand how to structure methodologies in experiments and broaden my understanding of other fields of psychology, such as cognitive and clinical. In my time on campus, I researched many empirical articles and had many intellectual conversations with Dr. Olofson regarding our topic. Dr. Olofson was also involved with another project, so he trusted me to continue working on our project on my own. Therefore, I worked alone in finding relevant research backing up our questions and hypotheses, as well as critically thinking about our methodologies and stimuli.

About halfway through the internship I was already far more advanced in my psychology career than I ever was before. I was able to work on my own and think about effective manipulations and how different theories correlated. I could effectively research articles and pull out specific details relevant to our topic. These characteristics that I developed this summer are none that I could have gained if it were not for this internship and that I know will prepare me tremendously well for graduate school. Many of the tasks in which I completed are those equivalent to a graduate student experience. Due to this internship, I believe I will be ahead of the game when it comes to graduate school and other students who may have taken broader classes but did not receive similar research experience.

Brain Day is back for 2013

The 5th annual Brain Day will be held at the Carnegie Museum in Crawfordsville on Saturday, July 28th from 1-4pm. This year’s theme is the “Carnival of Brains!”

Prof. Karen Gunther demonstrates the Rubber Hand Illusion at Brain Day 2010.

On the Fairway, test your hand-eye coordination in prism-goggles cornhole, and the Humpty Dumpty brain puzzle. Visit the Fun House to see amazing visual and tactile illusions. Test your friends with the lie detector game, and much more!

Since 2009, Wabash faculty and students have partnered with the Carnegie Museum to lead an afternoon of brain-related activities for all ages. Like Brain Awareness Week, which is organized by the Society for Neuroscience, Brain Day is intended to demonstrate basic principles of brain function, and to help us all better appreciate and care for our brains.

Wabash Psychology Department Intern Romeo Amao ’13 shows Dr. Keith Baird ’56 and his grandson, Nicholas Johnson, one of the sheep brain samples at Brain Day 2010

This year, three faculty from the Wabash College Psychology Department will lead Brain Day (Karen Gunther, Teresa Aubele and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert), who will be assisted by several Wabash students.

Prof. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert points out structures in a sheep brain at Brain Day 2010.

We hope that you can join us to celebrate five “brainy” years!

Big Bash Reception – 2013

Last month, the department welcomed back our psychology alums for Big Bash, in a reception held in the Bankart Lounge, in Baxter Hall. This was the third year that the Department has hosted a reception for alumni who majored in Psychology at Wabash, and the event was a great success.

Mark Rain (’73) and Nestor Matthews (Dennison University) at the Big Bash 2013 Psychology Reception

About ten psychology alumni were present, whose graduation years spanned from 1960 to 2003.  We enjoyed the chance to hear how our alums’ careers have developed since their time at Wabash, and to hear some of their Wabash stories.

Ralph Olsen ’83 talking with Bobby Horton (left).

From the faculty, Karen Gunther, Eric Olofson, Bobby Horton, Terri Aubele and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert were able to attend.  We were also joined by Brad Wise (’14), a rising senior who is working on a summer research internship with Dr. Aubele on the effects of nitric oxide on sexual behavior in female rats.

Were you at Big Bash this year, but didn’t make it to the Psychology reception? Feel free to used the comments section below to tell us about your favorite Psychology at Wabash stories, and what you are doing now with your Wabash degree!

And, plan to join us next year at Big Bash for our next gathering!

Arthur Howe ’82 at the 2013 Psychology Reception

Juniors present in Chicago

There is no rest for the weary psychology major at Wabash: on the Friday of finals week this year, junior psychology majors Connor O’Rear ’14 and Jacob Owens ’14 traveled to Chicago to present their summer research projects with Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert.  Their poster was presented in the Psi Chi poster session of the Midwestern Psychological Association’s annual meeting, and was titled: Facilitation of habit-learning by post-training infusion of cocaine into the infralimbic cortex.

Owens and O’Rear at their MPA poster.

Previous work by other Wabash students had shown that addictive drugs, such as cocaine, could bias rats towards the use of habitual behaviors in a lever pressing task, and that damage to the prefrontal cortex could block this effect.  O’Rear and Owens presented the results of their summer internships, in which they tested if directly injecting cocaine into the prefrontal cortex could have the same effect on habit learning (as giving the cocaine to the whole brain through systemic injections).

The research project, including the summer internship positions, was funded by a grant by the National Institute of Drug Abuse to Wabash College.  Funds to support O’Rear and Owen’s travel to Chicago was provided by a grant from Wabash’s Undergraduate Research Celebration Committee.

Other Wabash students who also worked on this research project in summer internships include  include Josh Stowers ’14, and recent grads Steven Apostolidis ’12, Drew Casey ’12, Romeo Amoa ’13, Xumin Sun ’13.