Best when viewed in HTML format or online
August/September 2010 issue | Volume 4, Issue 1 Latest Information | Issue Archives | Unsubscribe
Laura Mufson, 1989-2010

The Department of Psychology joins the entire Rollins community in mourning the loss of Laura Mufson, an accomplished Psychology major admired and loved by friends, faculty and staff for her warmth, enthusiasm, dedication, and achievement. Laura was born on April 17, 1989 and arrived at Rollins College in the Fall of 2007 after graduating from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami Beach. She made many friends in the Psychology Department as she pursued her major and also in the Natural Sciences as she pursued a pre-med track during her time at Rollins. Laura leaves behind many friends at Sutton Hall, where she lived this year, and across campus. Laura's life was remembered and celebrated at a memorial at Tiedke Hall on September 11, 2010. We join the Rollins Community in sending our thoughts to her family.
Psychology Summer Scholars
One of the great benefits of attending a small school like Rollins College is the opportunity to work one-on-one with professors on research projects that can lead to publication and national exposure. This summer Bennett Garfinkel (pictured) and Shakirra Meghjee worked with Dr. Steven St. John on projects related to Dr. St. John's interest in hedonic modulation in the sense of taste. Jeni Collins and Morgan Frost initiated a research project this summer with Dr. St. John and Dr. Alice Davidson to study environmental factors that contribute to the development of maladaptive eating attitudes and behaviors in school-aged kids. Kaitlyn Reynolds continued her work with Dr. Davidson examining the conflict coping strategies of Fern Creek Elementary School kids by analysis of their written narratives. Tiffany Frizzell teamed with Dr. Roger Ray on the topic of training sign language skills using Dr. Ray's expert software system Train-To-Code. All 6 students received a Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Scholarship, a competitive program that provides students with a stipend, an equipment and travel budget, and the opportunity to interact with other researchers across the Rollins campus. Applications for the program are due in early March. If you are interested in the program, it is a good idea to talk with a faculty member in Psychology early in the academic year.
What's New At The CDC?
The Child Development and Student Research Center, a laboratory preschool of the Department of Psychology, has new extended hours for its children from 9-2:30. Carol Gray joins the staff as a new assistant teacher, and Sarah Stoub continues her work at the CDC now as an extended hours teacher. This year Dr. Davidson's students are studying gender differences in young children and the development of self concept. Dr. Carnahan's Developmental Psychology students are observing first-hand the developmental concepts (in both typically developing children and children with developmental delays) that they study in class. The CDC continues to use the Reggio Emilia approach to curriculum.
Drs. Harris and Houston Publish Article
For several years, Dr. Paul Harris and Dr. John Houston have been interested in the topic of competitiveness. As with many complex psychological topics, one of the most important initial steps in starting to understand the concept is to develop reasonable working definitions and, crucially, valid and reliable means of measurement. In a recent issue of the journal Psychological Reports, Harris and Houston demonstrate that their Revised Competitiveness Index has a high test-retest reliability - meaning that measurements are stable over time - a high inter-item reliability - meaning that the index is highly self-consistent. They also propose that competitiveness is a fairly stable trait. The results were based on a sample of 280 undergraduates, some of whom might be reading this issue of Shrink Rap.
The Psychology Major Gains Perspective(s)
Students beginning a Psychology major during or after Fall, 2010 will now follow a new major map. Gone, as a requriement, is Introduction to Psychology. Instead, the first-year experience for Psychology majors is two courses called Perspectives In Psychology I and II. These courses, PSY 150 and PSY 155, which can be taken in either order, provide a very different experience than Introduction to Psychology (PSY 101), which is still offered for non-majors. Whereas Intro is a "survey course" designed to expose students to the broad content of psychology (but somewhat superficially), Perspectives is an in-depth course designed to show how Psychology trains interdisciplinary methods and analysis on a given, "big issue" in the field. To accomplish this, each course is team-taught by 3 professors, each an expert in one subdiscipline. Perspectives In Psychology I is currently being taught by Dr. Paul Harris, Dr. Bob Smither, and Dr. Alice Davidson, addressing how self-concept can be studied from the perspectives of social psychology, personality psychology, and developmental psychology. Students entering the major are thus introduced to 6 professors over the two courses and gain an earlier and better understanding of the diversity of the field.
Dr. Farkash Heads FPA-Central Chapter
Dr. Martin Farkash was recently elected president of the Florida Psychological Association - Central Chapter. In their recent newsletter, Dr. Farkash attempts to define how members of this organization are unique. He writes "[O]ur uniqueness primarily derives from the fact that we have the uncanny ability to connect with people, engage them in a healthy relationship, and have the emotional stamina to offer hope and encouragement in the process of helping them cope with their problems." He points out that members of the organization specialize in one-on-one communication and in basing their techniques on empirically related research. As both a Rollins Professor and a practicing clinician, Dr. Farkash is an excellent resource for students interested in therapeutic psychology. He teaches Hanging Loose In An Uptight World, Suicide and Depression, and Psychopathology, among other courses.
Common sense would seem to indicate that groups reach more moderate positions of compromise than individuals - and indeed, important decisions are often entrusted to groups (juries, committees, congresses) rather than individuals. Psychologists studying decision-making in groups have reliably shown, however, that groups often reach more extreme positions than those held by individual members prior to group discussion! This phenomenon, known as group polarization, shows that, at least in some circumstances, discussion within groups can have the effect of increasing individual members certitude in their previously held opinions. While certitude can sometimes be desirable, the potential for groupthink arises in which there is a lack of self-criticism and exploration of alternative opinions and strategies, which often have negative or even disastrous consequences. Social and Industrial/Organizational psychologists are interested in discovering ways to protect groups from polarization and groupthink processes.
Dr. Alice Davidson hiked 28 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River and back in 115 degree weather over the summer. The best part of the trip: her husband traded their fishing pole for ice-cold beer down at the Colorado River. (Editor's note: This must be a variation on the old adage: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he can trade his equipment for an ice cold beer.)
•10/9 - 10/12 Fall Break
•10/29 Last day to drop (WF)
Shrink Rap is an email publication of the Rollins College Department of Psychology. This issue can also be found online. The newsletter is sent monthly during the academic year to Psychology majors and minors in A&S and Holt, students in A&S psychology classes, psychology faculty and staff, and friends of the department.