At the beginning of the semester, first year Master’s student Joey presented his Master’s thesis presentation titled Understanding the Cultural Differences in Behavior During a Global Pandemic with updates on his preparations for conducting the study.
Joey’s thesis focuses on how individuals with different social identities engage in prosocial behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic and how pandemic circumstances contribute to depression symptoms. In regards to his thesis, social identity refers to participants’ identification with either an individualist or collectivist cultural background. Individualists are commonly independent and prioritize personal goals while collectivists are most often categorized as interdependent and concerned with in-group goals above personal goals. Joey predicts that collectivists will be more likely to report prosocial behavior in response to the pandemic (e.g. wearing masks) than individualists. He also hypothesizes that collectivists will report higher levels of depression and suicide ideation than participants who identify with individualism due to the protective measures taken during the pandemic that resulted in prolonged socially isolating circumstances.
The hypotheses will be tested using samples from university students in the United States, which has an individualistic culture, and Japan, which has a collectivist culture. The main goal of Joey’s study is to examine a possible relationship between perceived social identity and prosocial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Joey is also interested in the mental health effects of the pandemic based on social identity and if social identity priming can influence one’s alignment with individualism or collectivism. This work has the potential to give insight into individual priorities and subsequent reactions to a global pandemic and develop a better understanding of how necessary limited social interaction can adversely affect mental health. We are excited to see how things go once data collection begins!
In other exciting news, Joey’s abstract submission titled Impact of Racial Discrimination on Academic Motivation and Academic Achievement was accepted for the Midwestern Psychological Association conference! This project focused on the relationship between racial discrimination, academic motivation, and academic achievement in undergraduate students. Congratulations to Joey, fellow lab member Kayla, and PTG alumni Alvin, who worked on this project together!