November 15, 2012
By Jakeb Maryott '15
Knox College senior Chris Holland of Lenexa, Kansas, has a knack for raising his own intellectual bar.
A psychology major who plans to attend graduate school and become a professor, he has completed two undergraduate research projects through the Ronald McNair Program. The McNair Program helps students from traditionally underrepresented groups prepare for academic careers.
Holland's most recent McNair project, "Sexual Fantasy and Human Mating Strategies," involved surveying 204 people and asking them to anonymously respond to questions about sex. He collected 197 usable surveys.
With this material, he then studied specific trends and analyzed how they might have originated through the evolution of human consciousness, drawing partly on the work of noted psychologists and partly on his own intuition.
Holland's previous McNair research project, conducted during the summer after his sophomore year, focused on psychological attachment between humans and their pets, especially cats and dogs.
He explained how he came up with the idea.
"I was talking about pets one day with some friends, and we started arguing whether cats or dogs were better pets," said Holland. "That led me to wonder why certain people develop these interspecies bonds, and others don't."
As he did on the more recent project, Holland also used surveys to collect the necessary data about people and their pets. He concluded that people with certain psychodynamic attachment styles are more likely to form strong emotional connections with their pets.
Holland said he appreciates the guidance and assistance he has received from Knox staff and faculty.
"The McNair Program teaches skills that are applicable to any discipline and allows students to conduct serious, funded research. All four of the McNair staff members have been immensely helpful," he said.
Holland also praised Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology Frank McAndrew, faculty tutorial director for the McNair Program.
"I have had a great experience at Knox, and in my opinion, I have received an amazing education," he said.
"The entire psychology department is stellar and full of different theoretical viewpoints," added Holland. "Professors like Kelly Shaw and Heather Hoffmann know how to effectively increase a student's knowledge of the subject. It's been challenging but very rewarding."
Outside the classroom, Holland has participated in a variety of extracurricular activities. He is president of Sigma Nu fraternity, president of the Psi Chi psychological honor society, a member of the Sigma Xi scientific honor society, and a member of the Knox College Choir.