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Four JSC Students to Present Research on Infant Social Development to Major Academic Conference

Four JSC Students to Present Research on Infant Social Development to Major Academic Conference in New York

February 27, 2013

Four Johnson State students are presenting research on infant development at the Eastern Psychological Association’s annual conference in New York on March 1-4.

The four – seniors Kelly Woodard, Sarah Sienna and Chelsea Lamore and junior Christine Pettinato – submitted a poster titled “Temperament and Social Referencing in the Development of Humor in 6-Month-Olds.” The students are undergraduate research assistants on an ongoing project under the direction of Gina Mireault, professor of behavioral sciences.

As part of their research, the students collect data from participants, maintain equipment, prepare and enter data for statistical analyses, write and present research, read theoretical and empirical work on the variables they are studying in babies, provide insight into understanding their observations, and make important recommendations to improve current and future research projects.

“They are on the front lines of psychological research doing the work that graduate students do if the project were to be conducted at a larger research institution,” Mireault said.

The Eastern Psychological Association’s annual meeting “is a large and well-attended conference,” she said, “so I would expect at least a couple of hundred scientists and students to be in attendance at their poster session.”

In the study of 16 infants, the students measured how often babies looked away from or toward their mothers in two controlled events, a way of measuring social referencing. As predicted, the student researchers discovered that a baby’s temperament – whether positive or negative – determined how often they would look toward their mother (social referencing).

Infants with positive temperament took longer to look at their mothers; the research indicated they may require less emotional guidance during ambiguous events because they inclined to interpret such events positively.