Faculty supervisor: Dr. Catharine Echols
Name of project: Using Moral Identity as a Strategy to Increase Sharing Behaviors in Children (Heroes Study)
Please give a brief, simplified overview of your research project.
My psychology honors thesis investigates how age, the ability to take someone’s perspective, and moral identity strategies may affect sharing behaviors in 3-6-year-old children. Past studies have shown that young children have difficulty sharing with others because they would need to give something valuable to someone else. This led me to examine if moral identity strategies might increase sharing behaviors in young children.
Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
Most of the early tasks I engaged in were focused upon coming up with a research question and developing my methods. I had to read a lot of articles to learn about my topic and start writing my proposal, which I am now developing into a thesis. The tasks I am engaging in now are those related to data collection, such as recruiting participants and running the experiment.
Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
As a first-generation college student, I was not sure what to expect at UT. I first thought it would be similar to my past school experiences except with more independence and responsibility. While applying to college I never really thought about research; I thought going to classes would be enough. I soon discovered that I had many other valuable learning opportunities outside of my coursework.
How did you get involved with your research project?
I got involved with my research project through my work in the Psychology Department’s Language Development Lab as well as my engagement with various other projects located within the Human Development and Family Sciences Department. I so enjoyed working on these studies that I applied to the honors program at the Psychology Department to conduct my own research project.
Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
I would definitely like to conduct similar research in the future. This project has greatly strengthened my research skills, teaching me how to develop a study from scratch as well as all the work that needs to be done to write a thesis.
What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
Coming up with a question I wanted to answer and developing an approach to answer it; establishing my project’s design and methods was incredibly rewarding, as was the ability to actually conduct my experiment with participants.
What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
My advice would be to get involved as soon as you can. It is one of the best ways to learn about your interests and develop skills that will be helpful in the future. No matter your major or track, by doing research you can develop the core values and skills UT wants to provide to its students as a research-oriented university. I would recommend not only getting involved in academic research as a research assistant but also developing your own independent research project.