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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Jonathan Doriscar

Miami, Florida

Major in Psychology, Self-designed Minor in Composition and Rhetoric

Jonathan is deeply involved in research at Knox.

Jonathan Doriscar on the Knox campus.

What are you involved in at Knox?

At Knox, I am quite involved as a resident assistant, an Admission ambassador, Anime Club president, and a research assistant. During my time at Knox, I have had the opportunity to work on research with five different professors: Frank McAndrew, Andy Hertel, Patricia Xi, Amelia Goranson, and Ben Farrar. I have also had the opportunity to conduct research at Michigan State University, as well as conduct an Honors research project in psychology. My research spans multiple disciplines, including psychology, political science, and sociology

Can you explain how you’re doing research here at Knox? How you applied for research, how does it fit into class schedules, etc.? 

Most of my research opportunities have resulted from me applying to professors' labs via email, conducting independent studies, and taking 300-level research courses. Because of these research opportunities, I am now very prepared to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the basis of your research? i.e., Why did you choose this topic? What is the purpose of this research?

Currently, I am studying creepiness, political identity, morality, and cognitive aging. That being said, I am most interested in studying the "self." Most of my research revolves around understanding how factors in our social spheres influence our identities.

Dr. Frank McAndrew is the first psychologist to study why and what "creeps" people out. His theory of creepiness suggests that in situations in which the intent of an agent is ambiguous, people experience feelings of creepiness. For example, imagine you were walking home late at night. If you noticed that someone had been following you for about five minutes, you will start to experience a cognitive appraisal. In other words, your mind will be trying to determine whether the situation itself is dangerous or safe. In ambiguous situations, in which your mind does not want to make an error (assuming safety when it's dangerous or assuming danger when it is a safe situation), you will experience creepiness. Thus, creepiness is an emotion you experience in ambiguous contexts.

Our research was trying to determine whether certain personality constructs such as tolerance of ambiguity could predict variations in experiences of creepiness. Our statistical analyses suggested that participants' tolerance for ambiguity did significantly predict how creeped out people were by the creepy images. Although it is understudied, the ability to be creeped out is a surprisingly important ability, thus we researched this to help us better understand why people get creeped out.

What would be your advice to someone considering Knox?

The professors at Knox are very accommodating, so it has not been too difficult to juggle all of my research responsibilities alongside my academic responsibilities. Knox is a school that provides students with unrivaled academic freedom, so if you come to Knox please be sure to utilize Knox's resources to the fullest!

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Printed on Sunday, June 23, 2024