Projects in Personality Psychology

Supervised by Gregory Pierce


Professor Pierce will be supervising one- and two-semester projects in several areas of personality psychology. One-semester projects will be completed in the Fall Semester, and will consist of an analysis (literature review) of original empirical research on an approved topic. Continuation of thesis work into the Spring Semester will be contingent on satisfactory performance in the fall.

Cognitive Interference and Performance
One line of investigation will focus on the study of cognitive interference and its role in performance in a variety of domains, including academic and athletic settings. Of particular interest in recent years has been the specification of the mechanisms by which intrusive thoughts undermine—and sometimes facilitate—performance. In a recent project, a student investigated the role of cognitive interference in students’ performance in mock interviews conducted at the Hamilton College Career Center. Two additional investigations studied the impact of cognitive interference on high school students’ performance in their Hamilton College admissions interviews and on Hamilton College students’ performance in their interviews when they applied to become Residential Advisors.

Coping Behavior and Adjustment
A second line of inquiry will examine the dispositional and situational features of coping behavior and their relations to a range of outcome variables. For example, students have investigated the role of Introductory Psychology students’ coping behaviors in their performance on course examinations. One important aspect of this study was the assessment of coping behavior using daily reports from the students (obtained via the internet) and their recollections of their coping behavior after the exams were completed; we were especially interested in examining the psychological processes that may have led some students to misremember their actual coping behavior.

Peer Relationships and Bullying
A third direction for investigation will be the study of relational aggression, including the development of a new self-report measure of relational aggression and a series of laboratory experiments to understand better causes and consequences of relational aggression. Projects on these topics are conducted in collaboration with Professor Penny Yee.