Research Highlight: Lauren Powell

by Alexis Rowsey on November 9, 2020

I had the opportunity to speak with Lauren Powell concerning her experience presenting research she conducted with Dr. Bucholz at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Annual Convention in New Orleans. 

Can you describe what your research project is about?

The most recent research Dr. Buchholz and I have conducted was a study about the empathic differences between conservatives and liberals. Right now, we are looking at the use of fear appeals in politics, and may focus it on the use of fear appeals within the Trump Administration. 

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

I’ve always thought political psychology was interesting – it’s fascinating to me how two people can have totally different opinions on one single topic, such as gun control or who is deserving of the presidency. Dr. Buchholz is interested in empathy, so for our last project we just merged our two interests together and came up with our topic. For the study we are planning on doing this year, we wanted to continue with the political psychology route and apply it more specifically to today’s political climate. Fear appeals are really interesting because if they are used strategically, it makes persuasion really easy especially in politics. 

Talk about how different it is doing research during these times?

Doing research is definitely a little different, but for my psychology lab at least it isn’t too bad. The only real difference I have seen so far is that Dr. Buchholz and I are meeting via Zoom rather than in person, but we are still doing the same things that we would be if we were in person. Luckily for psychology, or at least my lab in particular, a lot of the research is conducted via surveys that are online anyways, so everything being virtual doesn’t really impact us. It’s just as easy to get in contact with Dr. Buchholz or Dr. Lassiter through email, which is nice. Having technology is definitely helpful! 

Talk about being a Research Fellow?

Applying to become a research fellow was hands down the most useful, productive, and important thing that I did at Roanoke. I remember before I started college, my brother told me that it was important to try and get involved in research especially as a psychology major with plans for graduate school. The Research Fellows program is awesome! You not only get the experience that is absolutely crucial for pursuing a masters degree or Ph.D. early, but you also get course credit and you get paid. Having the extra GPA boost each semester from the course credit I receive in return for doing research is always nice – I know that I work hard in our lab and it’s nice that my hard work and dedication to the research reflects on my institutional GPA. It’s also nice getting paid to do something I love to do!

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