Four Butler University students working with Assistant Professor of Psychology Mandy Gingerich have won the Outstanding Student Poster award from the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology.

JR Bullard, Amber Denton, Tony Bergamini and Hilary Shepherd won for their poster “Often Wrong, But Never in Doubt: The Effects of Mood on Reality Monitoring.” Butler alumnus Waylon Wright ’11 also was an author of the poster.

Psychology Award WinnersThe poster documented their study investigating the effect of one’s mood on the accuracy of their reality monitoring – meaning their ability to differentiate actions that they performed from actions that they imagined performing.

This was the first conference presentation for all four students and it was the first time the results of this project have ever been presented at a professional conference.

In their research, they investigated the effects of mood on reality monitoring accuracy in 24 undergraduate students by first inducing them into either a sad or happy mood. Then they saw a series of 40 tasks presented on the computer, each of which was preceded by instructions to perform the task or to imagine performing the task. Tasks were simple actions such as ringing a bell or touching one’s knee.

All materials necessary for completing such actions were available to the participant. After a delay in which participants inspected photos portraying neutral scenes and scenes consistent in valence with their induced mood, participants completed a 60-question recognition-source test in which they indicated which tasks were previously part of the study and which were new tasks.

For tasks endorsed as “old,” participants specified whether they performed or imagined performing that task. Participants rated their confidence in their old-new and imagined-performed decisions.

Results showed that although neither old-new recognition accuracy nor imagined-performed accuracy were affected by mood, the relationship between confidence and accuracy for both recognition and reality monitoring decisions varied as a function of mood. Specifically, participants in a happy mood were less accurate, but more confident in their correct responses than participants in a sad mood, but participants in a sad mood were more accurate in their responses than participants in a happy mood.

In conclusion, participants in a happy mood were less accurate, but more confident than participants in a sad mood, in both their ability to differentiate old from new items and in their ability to remember which actions they performed and which actions they simply imagined performing.

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