Research Highlight: Cody Dillon-Owens

by Kristal Mainsah on December 10, 2018

Cody Dillon-Owens is a senior at Roanoke College majoring in Psychology. His research investigates how group biases in empathy can affect our judgements in moral decisions. Essentially, people can make moral decisions based off of emotions or gut reactions rather than logical reasoning. These emotional processes can be influenced by empathy, or putting oneself in someone else’s shoes. Depending on who that ‘someone else’ is, emotional processes may be influenced in different ways. The end goal is to find ways to increase rational thinking in order to combat these biases. His project stems from his fascination on how people interact with one another.

“There are a lot of terrible events in our human history that are the result of discrimination or other negative consequences of group dynamics. I would like to find ways that we can increase our positive experiences with each other.”

He states that working with his research advisor Dr. Buchholz has been a wonderful and enriching experience. He has learned so much about not only research in the field, but how to conduct research of my own.

“There are a lot of valuable skills that I’ve gained from the last couple of years and I hope I can develop my skills as a researcher even more.”

Cody recently had the opportunity to present his research at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference.

“The conference was a ton of fun! There were a ton of highly intelligent people all in one building presenting new and exciting research in the field. You definitely learn a lot in a short amount of time, it’s overwhelming. My presentation went well, I actually presented research that someone else in the lab did on making moral decisions in the modern context of self-driving cars. I had the opportunity to present at the morality pre-conference so it was a much more intimate setting.

He is looking forward to the opportunity to present at a conference again.

To anyone considering doing a research project, Cody recommends getting involved.

“Definitely take advantage of the resources Roanoke College provides to be a part of research at such an early time. It will give you the experience and skills to be both competent and competitive in your future endeavors. Plus it’s a lot of fun to actually contribute to a field that interests you!

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