Student Research Opportunities

Participating in research can enrich and broaden your academic experience. If you’re interested in gaining research experience you may offer to help a faculty member with ongoing research, assist a fourth-year student involved in the Undergraduate Thesis Program, or complete a project in the Undergraduate Thesis program as a fourth-year student.

The thesis is an original, year-long research project for academic credit, supervised by a Psychology faculty. After planning a research project, each student involved in the program will carry out the research and analyze his or her data. The student then has the opportunity to present the study at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference at the end of his or her senior year.

While a thesis course helps prepare for graduate school, many students have taken the course who don't plan to attend graduate school and aren't Psychology majors, so they can spend time on a topic they love.


Student Research Spotlight

Dog Self-Control Stephanie AuBuchon

Stephanie AuBuchon '16

Dog Self-Control: The Extent and Limitations

Stephanie AuBuchon's honors project was a pilot study researching dogs' self-control:

This study is based on the Walter Michel's Marshmallow Task that tested children's self-control. Those who have more self-control are likely to have a more academically, emotionally, and socially successful future. Whereas, those who are more impulsive were more likely to make poor decisions that could have detrimental effects on their futures. We wanted to see if self-control also varies individually in dogs, like it does with humans.

Nine subjects (various breeds) participated in this study. We created a self-control wheel that tested the dogs on various phases of self-control tasks that increased in difficulty as they progressed. They overall results indicated that dogs' self-control varies between and within the individuals. Furthermore, the dogs are able to pass the qualitative (rewards differ by preference/kind) phases, but not the quantitative (rewards differ by number not kind). The Dog Cognition Lab is continuing to collect data on these findings to increase the number of participants and answer some of the questions that were found. This study could have a huge impact on society by helping identify dogs that may need more attention because they are more impulsive. By informing owners or potential owners of their dog's needs, hopefully less dogs will be brought in or returned to shelters.