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Crystal Yautz

Crystal Yautz ’20

"Sexual Orientation and Change Blindness"

Major: Psychology
Hometown: Catasauqua, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Johnson

Briefly describe your project.

Our project focused on attention in relation to sexual orientation during a crime scene. We were looking at people’s attitudes toward sexuality through questionnaires and a change blindness task that was used to help us identify where their attention was drawn. If people’s attention was drawn away from the crime scene towards a non-heterosexual couple, then their eyewitness testimonies would be inaccurate considering they didn’t visually see the crime happen. 

Describe the origin of your project.

Dr. Johnson came to me with the idea of doing SOAR with Mary, who I have been previously working in the lab with. However, Mary and I came up with the idea for the project ourselves. We took Mary’s interest in stereotyping and combined it with my interest in the legal field to create a unique study. 

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

The best part of working with Dr. Johnson was the amount of knowledge and passion that she brought to the research. Having her to share our passion made our research that much more exciting to do. We were able to take advantage of her expertise by looking in-depth at complicated stimuli and results that was only made possible through this program because of the extended period of time during the summer without other classes fighting for attention. 

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

The biggest obstacle in our study was creating quality stimuli with very few volunteers since we come from a small school and it was summer. Also, we had little previous knowledge of Photoshop which made editing pictures difficult. Lastly, recruiting enough participants to run the analyses we wanted proved to be difficult as well.  

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest take away is learning from the mistakes that I’ve made throughout doing this research over the summer. I can take the knowledge that I’ve learned about conducting research and apply it when creating stimuli or recruiting participants for my upcoming honors project. Overall, I learned that it is okay not to be perfect. 

What was the result of your project? 

The results from the change blindness task are still being worked out. Due to the small number of participants we recruited and the results from the change blindness task, we suspect that we will have to perform a complicated analysis that we are reaching out to the math department for help with. As for the questionnaire data, we have found that negative attitudes and exposure correlate. This means as exposure decrease negative attitudes increase. 

In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?

I feel honored that I was able to expand my research capabilities through the SOAR program. It has helped me plan for future research, given me a sense of accomplishment, helped me practice my public speaking skills, and overall was a ton of fun. Others should take advantage of SOAR because it’s a good opportunity to meet people, learn new things, become connect with professors, and work on something that you are genuinely interested in not just something on a syllabus. 

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, how?

I do not plan to expand on this exact topic. However, I do plan on continuing research for my honors project on the topic of false memories. False memories ties in indirectly through this project when eyewitnesses who did not visually see the crime try to make testimonies involving the crime. This is what my honors project will focus on: eyewitness false memory in combination with other theories that might affect it. 

Have you, or do you plan to present this research outside the SOAR presentations?

Yes, we plan to present our research both at the Eastern Psychological Association conference and The National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the spring semester.