Directed Master’s Thesis

One of the things that gets me excited about academic career is the opportunity to work with graduate students. This year I got the opportunity to direct my first Master’s thesis. My advisee–Sophia Taylor-Burton– was an ideal graduate student, hardworking, motivated, and gifted! For her thesis, she conducted an online-survey experiment with a remote facial expression analysis measure embedded to it. Her initial plan of conducting a lab experiment with Galvanic Skin Response and Facial Expression Analysis was impacted by Covid-19 pandemic, but she didn’t let this deter her zeal to incorporate a physiological measure in her thesis.

Her thesis demonstrated that efficacy perceptions moderated the effects of threat perceptions on message evaluations. In addition, Fear had an indirect effect in the relationship between efficacy stimuli and behavior intentions and surprise had an indirect relationship with threat stimuli and defensive avoidance. Finally, positive facial expressions were predictors of self-report happiness and contentment. Sophia’s thesis offers suggestions for extensions to fear appeal research, in particular the evaluation of multiple discrete emotions and increased utilization of physiological measures.

It was indeed great to see Sophie’s growth and perseverance over the last two years. So proud of the work she did! I wish her the best in her future endeavors!

Sophie’s Virtual Thesis Defense on April 13th, 2021

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