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BW psychology students selected for elite regional honor

Two students were recognized by psychology honorary Psi Chi for a regional research award given to only 16 individuals among a pool of 800.

phot of Emily Hathcock-Abby Rodriguez of psychology

BW psychology seniors Emily Hathcock of Medina, Ohio, and Abby Rodriguez of Grandview, Washington, recently presented their lauded research at the Psi Chi Midwest Regional Conference in April. The prestigious recognition puts them among the top 2% of entrants receiving the award.

Focus on Parasocial Relationships

Hathcock's study is an extension of her 2022 Summer Scholars research. "My research findings indicated that participants use fictional characters for processing their emotions or situations in life. Since my generation is the first to grow up with near unlimited access to the internet from a young age, I was interested in learning about the long-term effects of the exposure," explained Hathcock.

"The focus of my current project examines if a higher use of fictional characters for processing emotions is related to the participants forming parasocial* relationships with fictional characters," continued Hathcock.

"This research opportunity has helped me gain new career skills. I had never created a measure before nor done certain statistical analyses prior to this study. Now I have some basic knowledge that I hope to hone during graduate school. My goal is to become a psychology professor and engage in academic research at a university," added Hathcock.

Researching Risks for Female Athletes

Also intriguing is Rodriguez's research, which looked at the effect being a female track and field thrower has on an individual.

"For female throwers, there are two identities present - a woman and a thrower ­- that can have potentially conflicting norms and expectations both physically and socially. These conflicts can potentially put athletes at risk for developing body-related distress and disordered eating habits," said Rodriguez.

"I hope my study will bring to light any unique risk factors these athletes face so that coaches and other personnel can be more aware of potential struggles," Rodriguez went on to say.

"Conducting an independent study has helped me for my future career, as I hope to eventually earn my Ph.D. and conduct research in an academic setting. Further, the practice with qualitative interviewing will assist me in working with future clients because I hope to also be a practitioner in the field of clinical mental health counseling," she noted.

*Parasocial relationships are a one-sided dynamic whereby an individual extends emotional energy, interest and time without reciprocation from another party. An example of a parasocial relationship is that of a celebrity and a fan.

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