Investigating Morality

Originally posted: April 18, 2012

Allison Midden ’12 and Sarah Stringer ’12 are the first to admit their dream of establishing the first undergraduate psychology research conference within The Claremont Colleges was a long shot. “We encountered a lot of obstacles along the way,” says Midden. “Finding the right location, booking speakers, raising funds – the list seemed endless. But we overcame them.”

Indeed – and the result is a fascinating peek into morality, empathy, and emotional intelligence as researched by students from Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Pomona College. The one-day conference, which will be held Saturday, April 21, also features a keynote address by Kristen Monroe, political psychologist and professor of political science and philosophy at University of California, Irvine.

“I am especially excited to be participating on a student-led conference dealing with critical issues in political psychology,” says Monroe, whose talk will delve into moral choice in an age of terror and genocide. “I find psychological issues central to understanding political life, and students often ask the most trenchant questions, going directly to the heart of the matter.”

“We wanted to bring a speaker to campus who would appeal to students in multiple disciplines,” says Midden. “Dr. Monroe’s work is incredibly interesting, and it’s amazing someone this accomplished will come to Scripps at the request of two students.”

Funded through a grant provided by the International Psychology Society and sponsored by the European Union Center of California and the psychology and philosophy departments at Scripps, the conference is free and open to the public. Eighteen students will present their own research on topics such as videogames’ ability to induce empathy and the effect visual images have on memory between younger and older adults. Seven of the presenters are Scripps students.

“The presentations provide excellent examples of the kinds of diverse, high-quality research undergraduates are performing at the Claremont Colleges,” says Stringer. “I am consistently impressed with the amazing work students are doing with their resources here, and I am so excited to learn about what my peers have done. I also appreciate the support we’ve received from faculty from all the campuses.”

“I think the work Allison and Sarah have done is outstanding,” says assistant professor of psychology Michael Spezio. “It underscores the creativity, intellectual depth, and collegiality of students here at Scripps. I think the conference will be of great interest to anyone who thinks about questions like what it means to be moral in extremely challenging circumstances.”

“We have all these amazing examples of what Scripps women can do,” says Midden, “but it becomes a little more real when you sit back and realize you were the one who did it.”

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