Michael Elliott and Zach Rose- Contributing Writers
Research experience can be an exciting extra-curricular activity for students at SUNY Oneonta and a great way to earn credits toward graduation. Two Oneonta students, Michael Elliott, a junior, and Zach Rose, a senior, along with Dr. James Zians, assistant professor in the psychology department, have begun a “Mood & Emotion Study” nested in a larger study conducted by Dr. Zians. Research is a word that can sound dull and uninteresting. However, the experience of doing research is anything but.
The Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) holds an annual conference that is a big draw for psychology professors, professionals and students in the eastern United States and elsewhere. At an EPA conference, researchers present findings from their studies, interesting lectures are given covering the gamut of psychological topics and attendees (both professionals and students) are given a four day crash course on new theories presented by fellow scholars.
This conference provided an opportunity for Elliott, Rose and Zians to present their efforts at developing a new type of assessment, a “state-measure pivot scale.” A state scale, in the world of psychology, measures the level of an emotion that subjects are feeling at a specific moment. This differs from a trait measure, as trait measures study what the person tends to feel most of the time. Subjects participating in this research project were given intriguing questionnaires and underwent mood inductions by reading passages designed to alter their mood states. After a mood induction, subjects completed sets of pivot scales which the researchers compared to “pivot scales” that subjects completed before the mood induction.These data assessing how emotional states changed were analyzed and presented at the EPA conference in Boston on March 15.
The conference spanned four days and was held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers. The bulk of the activities and presentations were held on Friday and Saturday. Elliott, Rose and Zians presented their work Friday morning with a group of other clinical psychology posters. The poster presentation gave them the chance to discuss their work and receive constructive feedback from other students, professors, researchers and even editors of professional scientific journals.
Afterwards they had time to view the other poster groups that were organized by areas of interest including developmental, applied, social, neuroscience and cognitive psychology. In addition to students presenting their work, there were also various professors giving talks on their research. Despite the name being the Eastern Psychological Association Conference, by no means were all lecturers from the East Coast; some of the lecturers came from universities in other countries, such as the People’s Friendship University of Russia.
The data and analytic results of Dr. Zians, Elliott and Rose suggest pivot scales are a promising new type of a state measure. It is clear that they will conduct additional research on this type of assessment and the questions that it can address. Any student at SUNY Oneonta can choose to start his or her own research with the guidance of a faculty member. Besides the excitement of the research itself, this experience also looks good on a resume.
The research work of Zians, Elliott and Rose will continue to develop into more new and exciting research endeavors. They note that carrying out an original research study is a thrilling and rewarding experience and would hope that other SUNY Oneonta students seek such an opportunity.