Eighteen months of hard work culminate this week for senior psychology major Kayla Newman, of Hartford, as she presents her research on infidelity at the Honors Thesis Symposia in Reeve Union.
The University Honors Program event, which includes the work of 15 senior scholars who have conducted research for at least two semester, takes place Dec. 5, 6 and 8.
For Newman, the process to develop her thesis,“Predicting Variation in the Actor-Observer Discrepancy: An Application of the Dark Triad Personality Traits,” was not without its obstacles, including deciding what topic to pursue and how to approach the research. However, she gained quick inspiration from her adviser Ashley Thompson.
Thompson has been an assistant professor of psychology at UW Oshkosh since the 2015-2016 academic year. She teaches undergraduate and graduate statistics courses. Her research interests include intimate and sexual relationship structures, initiations and functioning.
As Newman worked to brainstorm with Thompson she found the dark personality traits that may contribute to infidelity especially intriguing.
“Dr. Thompson got me so interested in this topic because her passion for it is contagious,” Newman said.
Learn more about Newman’s research:
In summer 2015, Newman worked on the research. In the fall semester, she analyzed her primary findings and found they did not support her original thesis and hypothesis. Instead of getting discouraged, Thompson challenged Newman to look at the results with new eyes.
“Because I didn’t really find what I was hoping for and what I expected, Dr. Thompson helped me look a little more into the data just out of curiosity and for fun. She found an interesting relationship between psychopathy and judging a partner. We plan to work together in the next semester on a manuscript looking further into judgments of infidelity and the dark triad,” Newman said.
Thompson reflected on the research process: “It was after data collection was complete that I truly witnessed Kayla start to get her stride. She started conceptualizing infidelity on a more advanced level and would initiate discussions on future areas of study. Our conversations related to future research really highlighted how much she had grown and how much her critical-thinking skills had advanced.”
The duo worked together from start to finish and now are continuing to work together even after Newman graduates in December on future research and publications.
“Our intentions are to attempt to collect a little more data, to enhance our sample size and increase statistical power, allowing for more sophisticated analyses. After doing so, we will consider submitting the resulting manuscript to a journal specializing in sexuality or romantic and social relationships. Much of this will depend on the outcome of additional data collection,” Thompson said.
Only a few days shy of her senior thesis presentation, Newman said she is thankful to have an adviser that she connects with so easily.
“Dr. Thompson is not only a great adviser and professor, but a genuinely great person. She has become a mentor to me, and someone I can rely on for advice. This project has helped us form a great relationship that I look forward to staying in touch and working with her again in the future!”