Honors Research Projects
Helen Meckstroth '23, "Social media Usage and Levels of Consumerism of College Students in the United States "
Advisor: Dr. Adams O’Connell
Austin Boguski '23, "A Mixed Methods Study on Opioid Addicted Individuals"
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Malinski
The opioid epidemic impacts over 50,000 individuals across the United States annually and harbors particularly detrimental effects on individuals in rural communities. Locally, Wayne County, PA experiences a relatively high rate of opioid addiction in comparison to the country. However, despite its prevalence, the concept of addiction faces heightened stigma. As a result, opioid abuse has become a particularly troubling topic for many individuals, with the impacts of abuse drastically affecting family members and communities as a whole. This epidemic has allowed for further research into the effects of substance abuse on the individuals who engage in it. Still, it has failed to include the individuals closest to the abuser, such as their family, friends, and community more generally. This population is essentially forgone during the research process but holds critical data in relation to the label’s impact, and the stigma associated with the label. Therefore, this study intends to examine the impact of labeling someone as an addict on not only the labeled individual but also the individuals closest to them. In determining the effects of the label, this research will provide much-needed data on a population that is closest to the labeled individual, which has the potential to encourage the restructuring of available treatment and support agencies or even the expansion of these programs. This research deals directly with Labeling Theory and will further examine the theory's effectiveness while also dealing with essential concepts such as stigma and providing a vastly misrepresented group a platform. In doing so, this research will focus primarily on the experiences of the family members of individuals who have been labeled addicts. This misrepresentation stems from the lack of research completed on the group.
Caitlin Roth '21, "Sex Role Socialization in Childhood in Relation to its Impact on Future Career Choices"
Advisor: Dr. Virginia Adams O'Connell
Sociologists will argue that gender is a socially ingrained concept, that we “perform” in certain ways that represent traits of masculinity and femininity to other members of a society in order to express our gender identity. Gender identity is introduced from a young age, and is reinforced by gendered play, parental influence, and interactions with peers. All these interactions further reinforce the gender identity that is given to the child, which carries with them throughout their life. Expected gender roles have a strong impact in our society, which can be seen in the workforce, as certain careers are predominantly “male” or “female” dependent on the assumed attributes they possess based on their assigned gender fit. If we know that gender is a social construct, then why do we still associate certain behaviors with certain genders? Why do we impose a gender identity on our children? What impact do these rigid gender expectations have on children later on in life, especially in the workforce, and how does it affect the way they see themselves? How does it affect the way they see their peers and the world itself? In this study, I propose to ask current college-aged students about their experiences with gender roles and sex role socialization in their childhood, as well as their views on certain career choices in terms of femininity and masculinity. This information will be gathered from surveys and interviews given out on Moravian University’s campus. By examining the toys that these college-age students played with in their childhood, their current views on gender roles in children’s play and career choices, as well as their prospective career goals, we aim to test if there is a correlation between future career choices and sex-role socialization in formative years.
Sara Yitzchaki '20, "Assessing Meanings of Stigma within the Experience of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Members in the Lehigh Valley"
Advisor: Dr. Akbar Keshodkar
The research seeks to explore meanings attributed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members to their AA identity and notions of stigma by examining their experiences in various social spaces. In particular, the research seeks to understand how through the AA identity, notions of stigma are shaped, and how it influences the participants' interactions inside the AA community and outside. The meanings participants assigned to their AA identity and stigma were explored through semi-structured interviews and participant observations in AA groups in Hellertown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This research reveals that participants frame their AA identity through the AA narrative, which in turn shapes specific notions of stigma. The research highlights the intersection of the participants' AA identity and other identities as a complex and contradictory relationship at times, characterized by the participants' renegotiation between their desire to escape notions of stigma and the perceived meanings of their AA identity.
Nina DePalma '17, "Are We Truly the “Land of the Free?” Mass Incarceration, Prison Reform, and the MacArthur Foundation"
Advisor: Dr. Virginia Adams O'Connell
The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any developed nation in the world. With over 2 million people in prisons and jails, it is becoming an issue of attraction for activists, humanitarians, and politicians alike. The United States has developed a prison-industrial complex, which is explored by using sociologist Charles Wright Mills’s theory of the Power Elite. Looking to alleviate the condition of the criminal justice system, in this case specifically in Philadelphia, the MacArthur Foundation has given 3.5 million dollars to the city. This money aims to reduce the incarcerated population by 34% as well as address racial and ethnic disparities. This paper uses a journalistic approach to explore connections between the power elite, the prison industrial complex, the issue of mass incarceration and the MacArthur Grant in Philadelphia.
Stephanie Canate ’17, “Predictors of Abstinence"
Advisor: Dr. Debra Wetcher-Henricks
This Honors project investigates attempts to connect two currently unrelated lines of study to identify particular personalities and past experiences common among college students who abstain from drug use, alcohol use, and sexual activity. One set of findings, stemming from Self-Control Theory (Hirshi & Gottfedson 2000) and Ego Depletion Theory (Levy 2014) claims that the socio-personal characteristics of fear and traditional beliefs are closely associated with levels of self-control. Another set of findings identifies an association between levels of the same socio-personal characteristics and degrees of abstinence among college students (Merril et al. 2005, Rosenberg 2008, Mbotho, et al. 2013, Grimaldi, et al. 2016). But, each of these studies has used separate samples of subjects. This study determines whether these two sets of findings can apply to the same individuals, meaning the level of self-control can predict the degree of abstinence, with SPCs acting as a mediating factor. Data, gathered through surveys containing Guttman Scale and typology items, provided measures of college students’ levels of self-control, SPCs, and abstinence.
Jordan Sweeney '17, "The Role of Physical Activity in the Overall College Experience: How Students and Athletic Directors Perceive the Challenges and Benefits of Staying Physically Active while in College
Advisor: Dr. Virginia Adams O'Connell
This Honor's Project investigates the correlation between physical activity and the overall college experience for students. We define the "quality" of the college experience in terms of students' academic performance, an assessment of their relationships with classmates, faculty, and staff at their institution, students' general health, and students' reports of their own happiness. We are doing this through student surveys, a focus group interview with students, and one-on-one interviews with athletic and fitness directors at the participating institutions. This study is being conducted with the hope that we can provide the directors from participating institutions with useful information for the continued promotion of healthy and happy lifestyles to their students.