Name: Samantha Lopez
Title of Project: Expectancy Effects on Memory Performance and Affect
Western cultures have become fascinated with the stimulating properties of energy drinks and herbal supplements. Last year I personally observed classmates on this campus using energy drinks to enhance positive mood, increase alertness, and even improve testing conditions. I took these personal observations into the laboratory by designing a research project to test whether powerful expectations can improve performance capabilities. Despite the outcome of this study, my primary motivation for undergoing this research was to show students how the effects of popular commodities on human cognition and mood can be evaluated. This study explored expectancy effects and how they change cognitive performance and mood using the assumption that participants may or may not receive an energy drink. Previous research revealed that expectancy effects have the capacity to change physiological and possibly even cognitive functioning. The premise for this study was that expectancy effects would improve memory performance and mood for participants who generated a strong belief that the stimulant they received would increase memory capabilities. No results were found for memory tasks, but significantly high ratings were given to mood descriptors such as “jittery” by those who believed they consumed an energy drink. This relationship shows that, although expectancy effects were not strong enough to change memory processes they do exist. This study also revealed a controversial finding that mood varies across gender and age.
Name: Ashley Dorsey
Title of Project: Dead to the World
I wrote my short story “Dead to the World,” as a response to an assignment to write about death. I have honestly had very little contact with anyone who was dying, so I feared that any story I might write about coping with death would come across as cheesy and unbelievable. I do, however, have experience with feeling like nothing but a body to guys whose attention I would genuinely like to have. Thus, I wrote this story about a girl who must come to the realization that she is being used as a mere body—a realization that is the result of a confrontation with an actual body. The girl, who I have purposely not named, believes herself capable of manipulating all of the guys around her. She goes to parties, gets drunk, and “convinces” the guys to go to bed with her. Of course, she is truly the one being manipulated, because, while the guys get the sex they wanted, she never achieves the love and affection that she truly desires. One night, in the midst of one of her manipulative games, she walks with a group of guys to a creek in a suburban neighborhood, where the group discovers a body. While her back is turned, the girl hears noises that she mistakes for the sound of the guys having sex with a corpse—though really, the guys are only pulling the body out of the water. This realization that the guys would have sex with literally any body sparks her realization that she, too, means nothing to them. Thus, I attempt in this story to reveal the emptiness both of casual sex and the party culture.
Name: Sarah Fendley
Title of Project: Clarity Series
This series consists of several mixed media portraits of women. These works talk about the struggle women go through, and have historically always gone through, to be what society wants them to be while trying to be themselves as well. This is their search for clarity, their way of sorting out the various sides of their existence. These paintings are the beginning of this series; they depict binding undergarments and hair styles that we mock and think we have risen above. This feeling of superior intellect we have when we look at them is doubled with the realization that we are still doing cruelties to our bodies and wearing ridiculous fashion trends because it is what makes us feel included in society. The medium and technique of the work also holds significance with the shared theme. Some paintings are created using encaustic painting and some are made with ink on a primed surface. Don’t we scald ourselves every couple of weeks, trying to get rid of tiny hairs that no one really sees anyway? And don’t most women begin their days by priming their face and painting on it? Though these women, and us, women throughout time, search for clarity, the viewer finds them hazy, unfinished, and unframed. We have not found it. We have not learned about true fashion, true beauty, or our true selves.