Monday, February 8, 2016

A psychology research lab prepares students for graduate school

At the May 2015 Association for Psychological Science convention in New York City,
Anne Cathrine Krebs Bahn (BA ’14), Natalie Pierson (BA ’15),
Assistant Professor of Psychology Katherine Aumer, Ph.D., Cortney Janicki and Nic Guzman (BA ’15).
Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Assistant Professor of Psychology Katherine Aumer, Ph.D., first came to Hawai‘i in 2003. This is when Aumer’s research focus, studying relationships and the correlation love has to hate, began while she volunteered in the lab of University of Hawai‘i at Manoa professor Elaine Hatfield, Ph.D. 

"What we found in the current literature is that most of the discussion around hate surrounds people who are outside your in group,” noted Aumer. However, she and Hatfield found “that love and hate are quite common together,” whether it be in relationships with a significant other, a step parent, parent or a sibling.
Aumer eventually went on to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, and following dissertation work and serving as a lecturer at UH Manoa, she joined the faculty of Hawai‘i Pacifc University in 2010.

At HPU, Aumer teaches psychology and leads a research lab with student collaborators. Students currently in the lab are undergraduate Psychology majors Michelle Britt, Ning Hsu, Christina Imada, Michelle Poirson and Shion Pritchard, and master’s in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling majors Cortney Janicki and Natalie Pierson (BA ’15).      

The team is involved with the research Aumer started with Hatfield, continuing to better understand the presence of hate in relationships. They are currently doing a study in their lab with couples, conducting an activity and using the Google Glass. One person interviews while the other wears the Google Glass and then they switch.

The research experience these students are gaining in the lab, similar to what Aumer experienced working in Hatfield’s lab at UH, is preparing them for graduate school and Ph.D. programs.

“A lot of it here is developing professionalism for the students,” said Aumer. “This is what a lab can be like (in graduate school). This is what an advisor is going to want from you.”

Another opportunity for students to prepare for graduate school is through conference participation, and Aumer and her student lab team members have done that for the last three years. Students get to network, hear speakers they read about in their psychology textbooks, learn about other people’s research, and present the research they have worked on in their lab.

Last May, the HPU team attended the Association for Psychological Science (APS) convention in New York City. Student poster presentations included “I loved hating you: Measuring the relationship between hate and love,” by Anne Cathrine Krebs Bahn (BA ’14), Natalie Pierson (BA ’15), Cortney Janicki and Nic Guzman (BA ’15); “Assessing racial preferences in movies,” by Devin Blas (BA ’15) and Donna Mabuti (BA ’15), who could not attend; and “Male birth control and its effect on perceived attractiveness” by Abigail Rooney (BA ’14), who was unable to present. Additionally, Aumer chaired a panel, “Diverse environments and their diverse outcomes,” and presented “Being a white minority: Experiences of microaggressions in diverse settings.”   

The 2016 APS convention is being held in Chicago in May. In January, Aumer and her students worked on grant proposals, hoping to finance their attendance at this year’s conference.

“The (APS) experience is huge because it brings people from all around the world and across the United States,” Aumer said. 

See Aumer (starts at 6:05, then 10:10, 20:35) on this HuffPost Live panel interview, “Inside the Culture of Hatred,” which originally aired December 2014.

More information on HPU’s BA in Psychology, Psychology minors and MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, posted here.

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