Hometown: Zionsville, IN Preferred name and pronouns: Katie, she/her
Psychology major and Spanish translating and interpreting minor
Why did you decide to major in psychology?
I never took psychology classes in high school, but I took Psychology 100 my first term at Knox, and really loved it. I’ve always wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how exactly I was going to do that. Psychology was easy for me, and really made sense, and it was something that I was passionate about. Through taking classes at Knox, I realized being a therapist is something I want to do and all these classes have always been really interesting for me.
You’re a research assistant in the Knox Cognition and Aging Lab run by Patricia Xi, assistant professor of psychology. Can you tell us about that lab?
A lot of professors receive grant money to start a lab or do their own research as they're teaching. When Professor Xi started this lab she was looking for research assistants and a couple of other students and I joined her lab. We do different studies in cognition and aging.
One of the recent studies we did was on attribution theory. This theory explains why we make judgments about the cause of another person's behavior. Specifically, we are researching where people place blame with the financial exploitation of older adults and different issues with memory and cognition as you get older. We also research what kind of personality types lead to people endorsing conspiracy theories, as well as look at a phenomenon called tip of the tongue. If you're trying to remember somebody's name, or just feel like something's on the tip of your tongue, why does that happen? In what scenarios are you more likely to experience the tip of the tongue state? We're doing a study with facial recognition, where if you show someone a picture of a famous person, can they think of their name? Can they think of their character's name but not the actor's name? Things like that are the kind of studies and work that we do.
How do you research this? What kind of processes are you going through?
The first thing we do is a literature review. If one of us comes up with an idea, we spend maybe a week or two browsing library resources to see what literature there is, and what previous research has been done. Through the literature review, we develop what specifically are we looking at, and then what question we want to look at. Once we have that, we have a hypothesis, and then we start developing an online survey or creating stimuli. For the picture study with tip of the tongue, we have to compile photos of famous people, and adjust them, put them in a survey, and distribute it to people collecting data. Then we write up an analysis of those results, and either present it as a poster at a conference, which we're doing later this term, or write a manuscript about it.
What brought you to Knox?
I have a lot of family who went here. I always knew Knox was my dad's school, and my grandpa went here as well, but I never felt pressure from my family to come here. It was always on my list of colleges, but then I came here and I really liked it. I'm on the volleyball team as well so I had a connection to people at Knox. Being here for pre-season before my first year was really nice to meet people and develop that mini family before branching out and making other friends from different disciplines.
What are your plans for after you leave Knox?
I'm going to stay for a fall term. I'm a senior now, but I'm going to do one more term and play volleyball again because we lost a year of eligibility due to COVID-19. Then, I think I'm going to travel a little bit and go to some Spanish-speaking countries. I'm looking at programs in Argentina and Ecuador right now for the winter and spring of 2023. I’ll graduate in November, travel a little bit and then I'd like to go to graduate school full time in the fall of 2023 in psychology to become a therapist.
Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
I’d like to credit my fellow research assistants, Maddie Tucker '22, Jonathan Doriscar '22, John Brent '22, Miranda Zuckerman '22, Nancy Do '23, and Samhita Rao '24. Also, I’d like to thank Patricia Xi for starting the lab.