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Home > SVCPulse > News Archive

SVC Grad Wins National Psychology Research Award

Public Relations
Posted: Wednesday Aug 31, 2011
Jessica M. Legg, a 2011 graduate of Saint Vincent College from Hollywood, Maryland, won first place award in the the Psi Chi/Allyn and Bacon Psychology Award competition for her research thesis, “Post-event, but Not Pre-event, Misinformation Hinders Memory Accuracy for a Virtual Environment.”

Ms. Legg also won the Psi Chi Eastern Regional Research Award for her project at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association this past spring in Boston.

While at SVC, Ms. Legg was a student blogger for the College, member of the soccer team, completed an internship in neuropsychology at Allegheny General Hospital in summer 2010, and served as secretary of Psi Chi.

In August she began doctoral studies in neuropsychology at Widener University.

The Psi Chi/Allyn and Bacon Psychology Awards, sponsored by Allyn and Bacon Publishers, are open to all undergraduate Psi Chi members and are awarded to those who submit the best overall empirical research papers. The awards are $1,000 for first place, $650 for second place, and $350 for third place. The abstracts of the winning papers, as well as photographs and brief biographies of the top three winners, are published in Eye on Psi Chi.

Ms. Legg’s study examined the effects of pre and post-event misinformation on memory of a stressful event. The activation mode of arousal – heightened blood pressure and heart rate – can have an adverse effect on memory, and is the type of arousal most likely to be experienced by the victim or eyewitness of a crime. Participants were 67 undergraduates from Saint Vincent College exposed to either pre- or post-event misinformation, both, or a control condition, and entered a stressful, immersive virtual reality scenario of an urban environment containing a “dangerous” target character. A significant interaction of pre- and post-event misinformation on number of accurate free recall responses was found: participants receiving inaccurate pre- and post-event misinformation recalled significantly less accurate information than participants receiving inaccurate pre-event misinformation and accurate post-event information. A post-event misinformation effect was found: participants receiving post-event misinformation reported inaccurate information regarding qualitative height (shorter) and weight (heavier) descriptions, and for numerical estimations of weight. No significant correlation of arousal with height, weight, or free recall was found. These findings are consistent with research on post-event misinformation effects, and suggest that post-event misinformation effects are stronger or easier to elicit than pre-event.

The research was supervised by Dr. Mark G. Rivardo, associate professor of psychology at Saint Vincent College.


Photo: Jessica Legg