Psychology Department Newsletter



Psychology Department Newsletter
Psychology Department Newsletter
Comments from the Chair—by Dr. Bonnie G. Kanner
As we come to the end of
the Spring 2014 semester,
there is much to celebrate
within the psychology
department. First, we had
two successful searches
for new faculty this year,
and are very happy to welcome our new developmental psychologist, Dr. Nicole Rosa, and our
new biopsychologist, Dr. Ryan Mruczek. Both
new faculty will start in Fall 2014.
A Transgender Awareness Event, held on
March 12, 2014, was organized and hosted by
Dr. Lauren Mizock. It involved a lecture given
to 200 students and was very well received by
On April 11, 50 of our students were inducted into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society
for Psychology. A summary of the event and
student inductees’ names are featured on page
two. It was a wonderful celebration of the stellar accomplishments of these students. The psychology department faculty greatly enjoyed the
opportunity to express our pride not only to our
students, but to their family and friends as well.
During the Celebration of Scholarship Day
on April 16, we had undergraduates and faculty
present their research. Everyone’s presentations
were poised, informative and well-organized:
they did us proud! Their scholarship is featured
throughout this issue.
Senior Sandy DeCastro, under the supervision of faculty member Dr. Vrinda Kalia, successfully completed her Honors Project entitled
Mindfulness and decision making: The effects of
emotion regulation when faced with risk. The
department is very proud of her accomplishment.
Congratulations in advance to all of
our graduating seniors! We will miss you
and hope you will stay in touch and apprise us of your future successes. Look
for us at graduation, as we will be lined
up to shake your hands as you receive
your diplomas.
In this newsletter, you will also find
an extensive list of publications and
presentations produced by our faculty and
students this year. I am extremely proud
of the hard work and productivity of your
professors and your fellow undergraduates.
As you can see, it’s been an exciting
semester within our department. And
next year will be the first in which we
will have 16 full-time faculty. The
growth in our department will produce
many new opportunities for you our students, including brand new course offerings and more opportunities to engage in
independent study and independent research.
As the semester winds down and you
gear up for your final papers and exams,
remember that your faculty are here to
help you. Don’t hesitate to come to office hours, or to contact your professors
for extra help. It is our goal to facilitate
your success.
Good luck wrapping up your coursework this semester and I look forward to
seeing you in the Fall.
Campus Events
Transgender Awareness Event, March 12, 2014
Dr. Mizock hosted a guest lecture to 200 students by Jesse Pack in the
Eager Auditorium, Promoting Awareness, Sensitivity, and Respect Towards Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals. Jesse
Pack is the Director of Prevention and Screening at AIDS Project
Worcester (APW); co-founder of APW's New Horizon program, and co
-founder of the Transgender Emergency Fund.
Jesse Pack
Recovery and Stigma Photovoice Exhibit/Lecture, November 12, 2013
Dr. Mizock also hosted a lecture and exhibit of photography and narrative written by people with serious mental illness from the Recovery
Photovoice intervention developed during writer’s postdoc fellowship
and the Stigma Photovoice developed at Boston University. As a part of
the WSU Diversity Lecture Series, Jordan Burnham of Active Minds
spoke on mental health recovery.
Jordan Burnham
Volume 2, Issue 2
Dr. Amy Cota-McKinley
Important Dates:
 May 6
All classes end
 May 8 –16
Final Exams
 May 17
 May 27—July 3
Summer Session 1
 July 7—August 15
Summer Session II
Inside this issue:
Psi Chi Banquet
Celebration of
Celebration cont’d
Celebration cont’d
Celebration cont’d
Publications and
Page 2
Psychology Department Newsletter
Psi Chi Initiation Ceremony
2014 Inductees
Bethany M Anderson
Tara A Bassi
Crystal D Beckwith
Kristin E Bell
Kaitlyn M Blais
Amberly A Bliss
Katelyn S Booth
Kimberly L Brady
Heather A Bruyere
Jessica L Burris*
David B Erickson
Molly R Callahan
Jennifer R Chiacchio
Alanna R Delahanty
Megan M Doherty
Ellen J Duhamel
Alicia K Farrington
Yokasta Gray
Whitney A Harding
Michelle R Henault
Alyssa L Herrick
Maggie E Ingraham
Jennifer C Jackson*
Mallory A Johnson
Brittany E King*
Michelle N Kosinski
Melissa P Kwiatkowski*
Robyn A Lilly
Michael R Maisch
Cameron P McCarthy
Kelsey A McCarthy
Sarah B McNulty
Courtney M Miller
James P Miller
Marisa E Molinaro
Chesney F O'Neill
Marieda Pelteku
Jadrienne E Phillips
Nicole L Powers
Jillian L Quirindongo
Christina M Rocheleau
Erika F Romeo
Stepfani M Roskey
Mark S Servello
Joey R Stilwell
Erica L Stolpinski
David T Stronach
Hillary J Waugh
Melanie A Wheeler
Patricia A Woodbury
*Psi Chi Officer Inductees
Induction of 2014/2015 Psi Chi Officers
Julia Squiers, Deborah DeSouza, Jonathan Quiles, Melissa Kwiatkowski, Jessica
Burris, Brittany King, and Jennifer Jackson
Banquet Program
At this year’s Psi Chi banquet, 50 students were
initiated into Psi Chi; 21 inductees were in attendance. The event was hosted at the Leicester Country Club. The guests included friends and family
of the Psi Chi Initiates and faculty.
The program opened with welcoming remarks
given by Psi Chi advisor Dr. Cota-McKinley and
Psi Chi President Julia Squiers, followed by congratulatory remarks by Dr. Kanner. The featured
speaker, Dr. Kalia, gave a talk titled “The Value
of a Good Story.” The initiation ceremony began
with Dr. Racicot providing a historical view on
“What is Psi Chi,” followed by a reading of the
Platonic Myth by Dr. Soysa. The initiation ceremony included a candle ritual and the induction
of new Psi Chi officers. The ceremony ended with
a presentation of the “Psychology Department
Academic Distinction Award” awarded to the
2013/2014 Psi Chi President Julia Squiers by Dr.
Psi Chi President and Secretary
Julia Squiers
Deborah DeSouza
Volume 2, Issue 2
Page 3
This past year was busy and productive for faculty and student research. Many paper and
poster presentations were given at a variety of convention venues. Listed first are the
poster presentations highlighted at the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, followed by Eastern Psychological Association, and then UMASS Amherst undergraduate
conference. Recent publications can be found on page 8.
Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, Worcester, MA, April 16
Celebrating Academic Excellence in and out of the Classroom
We have always prided ourselves on excellence in the classroom. After all, we have been focused on teaching
since we began as Worcester Normal School in 1874. More and more, though, we have recognized the importance of continuing student learning outside of the classroom—in the studio, the laboratory, and the library.
Our faculty have greatly increased the work that they do with students on experimental research, on scholarship using primary materials and sources, and in original creative work. This Celebration provides an overview
of the dedication, innovation, and intellectual effort of our students, and of our faculty who mentor them, with
regard to scholarship, research, and creativity at today’s Worcester State University.
Charles Cullum, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Amy Cota-McKinley and Kathleen Martin:
Old Masters to Remastered at the Worcester Art Museum.
Paper will be presented at the Visitor Studies Association, Albuquerque, NM.
Summative evaluations were conducted in the Old Masters Gallery and the reinstallation titled “Remastered” at WAM. The summative data was used to determine pre- and post-design changes to
the gallery. Tracking maps and visitor interviews addressed the
following questions: 1.) how visitors were utilizing the space, 2.)
what was the level of engagement within the gallery and 3.) how
visitors responded to the design changes in the Remastered gallery.
Kathleen Martin
Dr. Amy Cota-McKinley:
Developing applied skills within social psychology through the
use of rubrics. Paper presented at APA, Honolulu, HI.
The American Psychological Association published guidelines for
the undergraduate psychology major that suggested goals and related student learning outcomes (SLO). One of those goals addresses application of psychological principles. This research examined how grading rubrics improved student writing. Findings
revealed a significant increase in performance from utilizing the
additional grading criteria.
Dr. Amy Cota-McKinley
Volume 2, Issue 2
Page 4
Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, Worcester, MA, April 16
WSU Presentations Continued
Dr. Champika Soysa has studied mindfulness, locus of control, perfectionism, self-efficacy, and self-esteem in predicting college adjustment, depression, anxiety, stress, and well-being among college students in the posters produced in the
past year. During this time, she worked with nine students, including Psychology Honors students, independent study
students, and recent graduates, on this research. In addition, she presented two pedagogical research projects at
conferences last year collaborating with faculty at Assumption College, Dr. Keith Lahikainen and Dr. Paula
Fitzpatrick. At the 2014 Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, Dr. Soysa’s current independent study students presented the posters that were presented at conferences in the past 12 months. These current students read recent research and learnt new statistics in preparation for these oral presentations. Three of these posters were presented
at the Association for Psychological Science in May 2013, three at the American Psychological Association in August
2013, and one at the Eastern Psychological Association conference in March 2014.
Dr. Champika Soysa
Dr. Champika Soysa and Paula Fitzpatrick:
Writing in Introductory Psychology: Teaching text, technology, and
transdisciplinarity. Poster presented at APA, Honolulu, HI.
We evaluated two assignments where students built connections between their everyday psychological experiences and Introduction to
Psychology. We identified student learning outcomes (SLOs) based on
the APA (2011) goals for the undergraduate curriculum in psychology.
We presented assessments of those SLOs using grading rubrics for
each assignment, and we concluded by linking our SLOs to the proposed revisions of the goals for the undergraduate curriculum in psychology. In these ways, students in Introduction to Psychology learned
the beginnings of psychological literacy.
Champika Soysa, Samuel Lapoint, Keith Lahikainen, Paula Fitzpatrick, & Colleen McKenna:
Psycho-educational outcomes in underprivileged students: Culturalcapital and self-esteem. Poster presented at APA, Honolulu, HI .
Alison Kahn
Samuel Lapoint, Champika Soysa, Colleen McKenna, Ashley
Kabasinsky, & Kaleena Wheeler:
Dissatisfaction and high standards not LOC predict stress and
well-being. Poster presented at APA, Honolulu, HI.
Marisa Molinaro
Volume 2, Issue 2
Page 5
Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, Worcester, MA, April 16
WSU Presentations Continued
Carolyn Wilcomb, Colleen McKenna, Samuel
Lapoint, & Dr. Champika Soysa:
Mindfulness and self-compassion but not self-efficacy
predict depression and anxiety: Gendered patterns. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science
annual convention, Washington, D.C.
We investigated predictors of depression and anxiety in
148 undergraduates for this project. Aspects of mindfulness and self-compassion, but not self-efficacy, were predictors of depression and anxiety in both male and female
college students. Our findings may inform symptom prevention programs for undergraduates.
Agathe Cretzu
Dr. Champika Soysa & Dr. Keith Lahikainen:
Teaching the psychological dimensions of mindfulness
benefits public and private college students. Poster presented at the Teaching Institute, Association for Psychological Science annual convention, Washington, D.C.
Mindfulness is a component of an internationalized psychology curriculum. Shared and non-shared facets of
mindfulness predicted well-being in public (N = 86) and
private (N = 88) college students. The ability to identify
facets of mindfulness and a willingness to use mindfulness increased after a teaching module, with a greater increase in the latter at the public institution.
David Erickson
Shaelah Farrell
Samuel Lapoint & Dr. Champika Soysa:
Great expectations: Perfectionism and LOC as socialcognitive predictors of college adjustment. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science annual convention, Washington, D.C.
We investigated dimensions of locus of control and recently-identified aspects of perfectionism as socialcognitive predictors of college adjustment (academic, social, personal-emotional, and institutional attachment)
among 174 undergraduates. Dissatisfaction (inversely)
and high standards, both aspects of perfectionism, most
consistently predicted college adjustment, which could
inform institutional retention efforts.
Volume 2, Issue 2
Page 6
Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, Worcester, MA, April 16
WSU Presentations Continued
Dr. Colleen Sullivan,
Amberly Bliss, Jennifer
Jackson: An Examination
of the relation between academic entitlement and academic motivation.
Students’ emphasis on receiving an undergraduate
degree and above average
course grades has risen
above “learning for the sake
of learning.” This study examined the relation between
academic entitlement and
academic motivation among
a sample of Worcester State
University undergraduate
students. These results provide
Amberly Bliss, Jennifer Jackson, and Dr. Colleen Sullivan
preliminary evidence that academic motivation and classroom learning may be influenced by students’ expectations of paying for an academic service,
faculty requirements, and effort needed for a satisfactory grade.
Dr. Colleen Sullivan, Amberly Bliss, & Jennifer Jackson: Analyzing the relations between academic motivation,
learning strategies, and academic performance.
To be academically successful in a university setting, students must demonstrate both academic motivation and the use
of appropriate learning strategies to set themselves apart from others. In this study, adaptive forms of academic motivation and learning strategies were expected to positively influence academic performance. The results show that in a highly competitive university setting, academically motivated students who apply these learning strategies will likely experience greater success throughout their academic career.
Sandy DeCastro & Dr. Vrinda Kalia:
Mindfulness and decision making: The effects of emotion
regulation when faced with risk.
Emotion regulation influences how individuals experience
emotions. Research indicates that mindfulness is related to
emotion regulation because it may enhance emotional differentiation. When one is unaware of emotions, decisionmaking may become more difficult, especially decisions
about risk. The current study predicted that brief mindfulness training would affect risky decision-making. The
findings suggest that being mindful can enhance clear and
conscious decisions.
Sandy DeCastro
Volume 2, Issue 2
Page 7
Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA, March 13-16
Vrinda Kalia, Ethan Anderstrom, Kristyna Manley, Maria Laura Valdes, & Makeba Wilbourn:
Narrative and vocabulary development in Spanish-English dual-language learners. Paper presented.
Erin Donohue, Jonathan Quiles, James Miller, Sandy DeCastro, Jennifer Bohanek, & Vrinda Kalia:
Effect of emotion regulation and information modality on recall of negative events. Poster presented.
Colleen Sullivan, E. White & Amberly Bliss:
Understanding students’ perspectives of a first-year experience program: A qualitative study. Poster presented
Gina Lapriore & Dr. Seth Surgan:
The truth about lying. Poster presented.
This study investigates how people use physical cues to draw conclusions about the truth of statements. Participants (n = 56) watched a video of a card game in which players make claims about their cards. After
each turn, participants indicated whether the claim was true and how
they came to that conclusion. Findings indicate which cues are used
most frequently, most effectively, and which may be differentially effective for detecting lies vs. truth.
Carolyn Halfpenny
Dr. Seth Surgan and Gina Lapriore
Dr. Champika Soysa, Samuel Lapoint, Alison Kahn, Kathryn Fant,
Carolyn Halfpenny, & Gaelen Chinnock:
Self-efficacy and perfectionist dissatisfaction but not self-esteem predict college adjustment. Poster presented.
We examined self-esteem, self-efficacy, and perfectionist dissatisfaction as predictors of 4 types of college adjustment in 142 undergraduates. In partial support of our first hypothesis, self-efficacy, but not self
-esteem, predicted academic adjustment and institutional attachment,
but both predicted social adjustment and personal emotional adjustment. Partially supporting hypothesis two, self-efficacy and perfectionist dissatisfaction predicted academic and personal-emotional adjustment, but only self-efficacy predicted institutional attachment. These
results speak to the need for differential interventions for the four types
of college adjustment.
UMASS Undergraduate Conference, Amherst, MA, March 25
Sandy DeCastro & Vrinda Kalia (faculty advisor)
Stop! Focus on the here and now. The effects of mindfulness on risk
taking. E-Poster presented.
Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment that one is experiencing (Ruedy & Schweitzer, 2010). Recent research has shown that
mindfulness may aid in adaptive decision making (Lakey et al, 2007).
Most of the previous research has used long-term mindfulness training
as interventions. Example, 8 weeks of mindfulness training was used by
Robins et al (2012). The study found that a short-term (15 minute)
mindfulness intervention influenced risk taking behavior.
Sandy DeCastro
Volume 2, Issue 2
Page 8
Mizock, L., Russinova, Z., & Millner, U. (2014). Acceptance of mental illness: Core components of a multifaceted
construct. Psychological Services, 11(1), 97-104.
This article features grounded theory analysis of a qualitative study on the process of acceptance of a serious mental
illness – the awareness and coping required of managing a serious mental illness. This publication is an American
Psychological Association (APA) journal.
Mizock, L. (2014). Supporting mothers in training and early career. The Feminist Psychologist, 41(2), 7, 17.
This article is part of Dr. Mizock’s role as chair of the Motherhood Committee of the Society for the Psychology of
Women (Division 35 of APA). This article addresses feminist issues in parenting among mothers in training and in
professional academia.
Mizock, L., & Rowland, D. (2014). Transgender identity and sex reeassignment surgery. Cultural Sociology of Mental
Illness, Andrew Scull (Ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Mizock, L., & Harrison, K. (2014). Ageism and aging among older adults with mental illness. Cultural Sociology of
Mental Illness, Andrew Scull (Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
These two chapters were co-authored with Dr. Mizock’s former students at Worcester State and Emmanuel College, respectively. One chapter addresses issues of gender affirmation surgery and the latter explores the double stigma of ageism and serious mental illness.
Dr. Champika K. Soysa had three publications recently, two of them with student co-authors:
Soysa, C. K. & Gardner, J. M. (2013). Social capital, self-Esteem, popularity, need for accessibility to friends, and stress
predict cyber technology use. International Journal of Cyber Behavior Psychology and Learning 3(4), 28-43. doi:
Soysa, C. K. & Wilcomb, C. J. (2013). Mindfulness, self-compassion, self-efficacy, and gender as predictors of depression, anxiety, stress, and well-being. Mindfulness, Online First doi 10.1007/s12671-013-0247-1
Soysa, C. K. (2013). War and tsunami PTSD responses in Sri Lankan children: Primacy of reexperiencing and
arousal compared to avoidance-numbing. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 22(8), 896915.
Lauren Mizock, PhD received the WSU Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Award in April 2014.
Lauren Mizock, PhD was elected Professional and Associate Representative of the Society for the Psychology of
Women (Division 35 of the American Psychological Association) for 2013-2015.

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