### Thesis Conference

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Stats Forum for Keller-plan Course : One Thread

Hi all. It's great to see people still contributing to the site. Paul suggested that those of us who went to the thesis conference put in a note about it, so here it is. The Experiment: My study looked at whether manipulated personal uncertainty would 'cause' people to drink more beer than when personal uncertainty was not manipulated. Students signed up to the study, which was under the guise of a beer sampling study, and were told that advertisers wanted to find a narrow target market for two new beer by looking at personality, aptitude, and beer preference. They completed nine personality questionnaires, then the manipulation. The manipulation was an in-depth exercise asking students to write about an unresolved, important, interpersonal dilemma. Half the students were asked about a personal dilemma, the other half about a dilemma that a friend was facing (controls). Students were then asked to complete a 'taste test' for two new beers, filled out a rating sheet for them, and finally a suspicion probe. Students were then thanked and given a debrief about the entire nature of the study.

Hypotheses: 1. That people who experienced 'personal' uncertainty would drink more than those in the control condition (assuming that the 'tension-reduction hypothesis of alcohol would be supported)

2. That certain personality characteristics would moderate the relationship between uncertainty and alcohol consumption (i.e. neuroticism, need for simple cognitive structure, rumination, etc.)

3. Exploratory analyses were expected to emerge using several variables that would moderate the relationship between personal uncertainty and beer consumption. In this sense, we expected that something stress-related, like neuroticism, would strengthen that relationship.

I used regression for all analyses. I found VERY many significant results, but focused on only a few (THAT was really hard to do - narrow it down to a few things). Most surprisingly, I found that people in the control condition drank more than those in the experimental condition (p = .034 using ANOVA, and marginal [p = .071] using regression). So, after some high-stress times, and much more lit review, I took a different approach with the study. It appears that people, university students especially, drink for fun! (SURPRISE) When something spoiled the party, like thoughts of an important personal dilemma, they didn't drink as much. A big possibility is that a phenomenon like using alcohol to reduce tension is a learned behaviour that takes some time to become 'instilled' as a habit, even though we see it all the time in media, and possibly among older associates. Most of my other results pointed to moderators of the relationship between uncertainty and alcohol consumption. A really neat one was that WOMEN with a high need for simple cognitive structure DID drink more when in the 'personal uncertainty' group (p = .009 or something like that). ALSO, people with high need for structure who drink more than once per week showed this same effect (p = .034), and more than twice per week showed it stronger (p = <.001). MEN high on reflection scores (a sub-factor of self-focus) also increased beer consumption when faced with personal uncertainty (p = <.05, I can't remember exactly). It might be that when these men were highly aware of a dilemma, they fully engaged in the problem, and this might be more indicative of a real-life, real-time situation.

The study was super-intensive. I had 218 participants, they each took one hour, and did the study alone, so I put in about 350 hours of lab time just for that. The analyses were incredible, and I learned a ton about regression, and how to use SPSS. It is almost addictive, analyzing data. I spent hours and hours doing it, and couldn't get enough of it.

NOW - the conference! It was amazing to watch presentations or see posters from all over the province (and some from outside of the province). The presentations were short enough so that interest was not lost. This can sometimes prove detrimental - some students tried to fit their whole package into 15 minutes, and that can be overwhelming. My prof (I. McGregor) warned me well of this danger, so I tried to keep it super-short, and extremely simple. This strategy worked well. I used a power-point, and had VERY brief points on each slide, just enough to maintain focus while I expanded on each one. Another bit of advice that was given to me by Dr. Lalonde was that one canNOT talk slow enough, so I strived to keep it well paced. That is not the easiest thing to do when one is shaking like a leaf! I was lucky enough to have about 15 people watching me, even though I was one of the very last presenters. That was about par for attendance, from the ones that I saw. I highly reccommend that if anyone is going to this, to try and request something in the middle of the day, when everyone is there, and everyone is still attentive.

Publication: I hope to have the results published this year. Dr. McGregor will re-work my thesis to get it up to par. Hopefully, if it goes, he will be the primary author, and I the second. The rest of the results also warrant more attention, which I plan to do through the coming year. I'm hoping to get another one or two articles from them, for which I might be the primary author.

This thesis was amazing, tough, rewarding, and often frustrating. The presentation went so well, though, that it all seemed worth the effort. I recieved a great grade for the work, which also made me feel totally gratified.

Next year: This coming year, I have a year to finish up my degree. I'm doing full summer courses this year, and then I'll do one more LAST course via internet over the fall/winter, and graduate in June. During this time, I will be working full-time at a center for people with mental illnesss, where I've bee part-time for a year now. Also during the year, I'll be preparing for and writing gre's, and applying to grad school. I'm probably going to apply for social / personality, and Waterloo looks good, but I'm not too keen on the area. Grad school is a wait-and-see plan for now.

Well.... for a first entry, it's been a LONG one. Hope you are all well. Cheers Laura Mills

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2003