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UT Psychology Students Showcase Research

Published: April 27, 2009

UT senior Tim Harter wanted to see what he could do to expand the boundaries of virtual reality technology. So, he built his own virtual reality simulation using video game technology to compare data with users of a computer-based simulation.

Harter, a recipient of a UT Honors Research Fellowship, will be among 29 other UT student teams April 29 presenting the results of their research at UT’s 4th annual Psychology Student Research Conference from 4-6 p.m. in UT’s Fletcher Lounge.

A crowning event for UT’s undergraduate psychology majors, the conference has, in the past, served as a stepping stone for student research that has gone on to make an impact at various regional and national psychology conferences.

“It’s a chance for psychology students to present the research they’ve done, whether it’s in cognitive psychology, social psychology, personality types, or biopsychology,” said Dr. Stephen Blessing, associate professor and one of the organizers of the conference.

UT junior Lorian Knapp, who is also a recipient of an Honors Research Fellowship, along with Dr. Jeff Klepfer, associate professor of psychology, wanted to see if investment decisions achieved more positive results if they were made logically rather than emotionally. So, they designed and administered their own “investment game,” offering extra credit points to students in UT psychology classes.

Students who participated in Knapp’s project were offered three extra credit points toward their final grade for the year. They had the option of keeping the points and walking away, or investing the points to either gain two – for a total of five points – or lose two – for a total of one point.

“Dr. Klepfer and I are asserting that in investment and other decisions that have a success-failure element, it’s better to approach it rationally and logically,” Knapp said. “We found that those who were emotional in their decision won less points overall.”

The conference includes psychology students ranging from those completing empirical research for general psychology classes to those doing independent studies with UT faculty members.

Past projects that have been presented at the conference have gone on to various regional and national scholarly conferences, such as the International Conference of Cognitive Science and the conferences of the Southeast Psychological Association.

For more information on the conference, contact Dr. Stephen Blessing at (813) 257-3461 or