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Mary Sampson

Mary Sampson ’20

"Sexual Orientation and Change Blindness"

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

Briefly describe your project.

We were studying how biases to same-sex couples may have pulled participants’ attention and how the age of the participants may have affected their attitudes.

Describe the origin of your project.

I pitched another idea to Dr. Johnson, who suggested collaborating with Crystal. After speaking with Crystal, we decided to work together and pitched our idea to Dr. Johnson.

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

Dr. Johnson and I have worked together previously, so she knows my skill level and my capabilities. I feel that she always pushes me to think critically about experimental design and the implications of our research. I value the structure she provided to the project because it helped to keep us on track. While she let Crystal and I manage ourselves for the most part, she met with us regularly to make sure we understood the theories surrounding our project, keep us on target and help us when needed.

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

For our project, I think the biggest obstacle is needing to learn a new analysis that none of us have heard of before. I think this is really exciting, but challenging because this analysis isn’t used very often it seems.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

I learned a lot about how to design effective stimuli, which is a skill I will certainly need in the future, but have not had a chance to explore until SOAR.

What was the result of your project? 

So far, we only found significance in the relationship between exposure and attitudes such that when exposure to people who are not straight increases, attitudes become less negative. Other relationships we analyzed were not significant, and the results for our change blindness task are pending. 

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 value this opportunity because it gave me a lot of freedom to explore my own ideas and design my own experiment. Dr. Johnson allowed Crystal and I to really own our work and be independent while guiding us along the way. I believe other students should take advantage of SOAR because of the opportunity to learn about a topic that interests them.

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

I do not plan on expanding on this research specifically, however my Honors Project will study how to potentially reduce the connection to a stereotype in our memory which may be relevant to this project.

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

We plan to present our research at EPA and potentially NCUR this year. We also would like to hold bagged lunch sessions to discuss our results with the LGBTQ+ community at Moravian.