Discovering Solitude in Hawaii

Featured Image: Kaloko-Honokohau National Park, PC: me

Saint Mary’s is on a 4-1-4 schedule, which means that in between the regular semesters, there is a 1-month term in which students only take one class. This period is called Jan Term. This January, I had the opportunity to take a class called “Disconnect, Power Off, and Unplug: Embracing the Lost Art of Solitude—An Immersion Experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.”

During the duration of the class, we were prohibited from browsing the Internet and social media. We were only allowed to be on our phones for 1 hour per day to check emails and make phone calls. The class allowed me to reflect on my own technology usage and the lack of solitude in my own life. There were so many beautiful sights and sounds that I could take in because I was not distracted by my phone.

One my favorite sights was the sea arch at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Pictured below). Watching the ocean crash over the jet black cliffs and feeling the cool ocean breeze and the light mist of the sea, I felt truly connected to nature. IMG_8318


Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) 2017

This past November, I presented a project entitled “More Than Fake News: How Article Sources Affects the Perceived Objectivity of Information.” I conducted the project for my second Psychological Statistics and Methods class, which I took in Fall 2016. I worked with Jessica Lopez, a fellow student, and we were overseen by Professor Paul Zarnoth. The goals of this project were to find whether the source of a news article and a participant’s cognitive style (intuitive vs. analytic) affected recall of the article and the perceived objectivity of the article. To test this, we wrote a fabricated news story and digitally manipulated it to appear to be from either The New York Times (NYT) or People Magazine. We administered personality assessments to obtain the participant’s cognitive style, then gave them the article which appeared to be from either NYT or People, and then provided questionnaires about the participant’s recall of the article’s details and perceived objectivity of the article. These questionnaires included reverse coded questions and used a 7-point Likert scale.

Jessica and I independently conducted this project for approximately 4.5 months during Fall Semester 2016. I collected one half of the participants through convenience sampling, wrote the article which we digitally manipulated, and took part in writing an APA style report about the project. This research contributed to the overall research mission of the methods class by creating a unique and relevant project that included a social justice element. The purpose of the class was to synthesize psychological research methods we had learned in class, such as statistical analysis using SPSS, academic journal research, writing and creating surveys, and the experimental method, so by executing a successful project, we contributed to the overall quality of the professor’s lab and class.


Western Psychological Association Conference 2017

I worked with Prof. Paul Zarnoth and two other students to study gender, confidence, and social influence. We administered personality assessments to over 60 undergraduate participants and consolidated that data to be analyzed with statistical software. We found a “confidence gap” female participants when answering quantitative questions in mixed-sex pairs. We presented these findings in a poster session at the 97th Annual Western Psychological Association conference in Sacramento, California. With a new research team, I was selected to continue to expand this research project in the coming year.