Honour’s Student Projects


Don’t Fret, You’re Not in Treble: The Effects of Music Genre and Personality on Performance in Different Cognitive Tasks 

Robyn Flores, Shayna Rusticus


The Mozart Effect suggests that listening to Mozart’s classical music (specifically the Sonata K.448) leads to enhanced spatial ability performance. However, past research shows mixed results, which raises the question of whether other variables may impact the relationship between music and cognitive performance, such as personality. According to Eysenck’s Theory of Cortical Arousal, further stimulation exposed to over-stimulated introverts leads to poorer performance and under-stimulated extroverts to enhanced performance on tasks. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to investigate the effects of different music genres and personality type on performance on three different exam types. The hypotheses are as follows: (1) There will be a significant main effect for music type wherein participants in either musical condition will perform better in all exams than those in the silent control; (2) There will be no significant main effect between extroverts and introverts in all exams and; (3) There will be an interaction between music genres and personality type, wherein extroverts will perform better than introverts in all exams under the musical conditions, while introverts will perform better than extroverts in all exams in silence. Using a sample of 143 participants (55.24% male), we analyzed the data, separately for each exam (spatial ability, reading comprehension, numerical reasoning), using a 3 (music genre) x 2 (personality type) ANCOVA, using sex as a covariate. The results suggest that listening to classical or lo-fi music during spatial ability and reading comprehension exams results in no performance differences compared to  silence and that introverts perform better in both of these exams. Results also show that doing a numerical reasoning exam in silence results in greater performance than in the music conditions. . Finally, no interactions were found between personality type and music genre.

Video, Audio and Chat: Impact on Presence and Student Engagement

Omar Jessa, Shayna Rusticus

This study fills a gap in research by examining students’ choice of engaging in synchronous online communication in online classrooms by video, audio or chat only. It seems this choice would have implications for presence as well as student engagement. The hypotheses for this study are as follows: 1) Students using video to engage in online classrooms will score higher on social presence, student engagement, and motivation than students who engage in online classrooms using audio only, who in turn will score higher than students who only use the chat feature and 2) Females will score higher than males in measures of student engagement. The results we obtained did not evidence this to be the case as we did not obtain any significant results. However, this is not to say that a difference does not exist. Given the sparse sample lacking in male participants, it is likely our analyses would miss catching a real effect in the population should one exist. Should future studies address this research question, we recommend obtaining a larger and more representative sample.


Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Online Teaching of Introductory Psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Amanda Dumoulin, Shayna Rusticus


In response to COVID-19, KPU switched to mandatory online courses for the 2020-21 academic year. This created a new and challenging environment for students and faculty and raised questions about how to best teach students in this online environment. This study was a formative program evaluation to identify the facilitators and barriers to the switch to online learning in introductory psychology courses due to COVID-19, and to determine the effectiveness of teaching online. Questionnaires on aspects of the course including engagement, delivery, assessments, skills, work-life balance, and flexibility were administered to 144 students and 12 faculty involved in the courses in Fall 2020 and/or Spring 2021 semesters. Participants identified that schedule flexibility and varied materials/assessments were significant facilitators to their experience, but the lack of socialization was a barrier. This evaluation will assist instructors in improving the delivery of course material and provide strategies to ensure students receive a quality education in an effective online learning environment.

This project has been submitted to the 2022 American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting.

Are We Really That Different? Evaluating Gender Similarities in Masculinity and Femininity

Jonathan Lau, Shayna Rusticus


Masculinity and femininity are defined as the possession of social role behaviours that are presumed to be characteristics of men or women, respectively. If masculinity and femininity are characteristics of men and women, one would expect large gender differences between the two constructs; however, Hyde’s (2005) gender similarities hypothesis argues that men and women are more alike than different. The present study aimed to extend this argument to investigate whether ratings of femininity and masculinity were more similar than different between men and women. In a systematic review, 142 records were assessed across seven different databases. Results indicated a moderate difference (g = -0.52), with an overlapping coefficient of 79.5% in femininity and small-moderate difference (g = 0.38) in masculinity with an overlapping coefficient of 84.9%. While our hypothesis was not supported in terms of overall effect sizes, the large percentage of overlapping scores between males and females does suggest a high degree of similarity in masculinity and femininity between genders.

Alone Together in the Social Distancing Era of Academia: Pandemic-Imposed Online Learning and Student Mental Well-Being

Stephanie Ng, Shayna Rusticus


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, KPU had abruptly shifted to an online format to comply with social distancing measures and to slow the spread of the virus. This study aims to examine the mental health status of the KPU student population during this pandemic using an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. In the qualitative first phase, semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with 15 students to explore any changes to their lives and mental well-being that had been affected by taking online courses during the pandemic. The goal of this phase is to identify any factors, not presented in the literature, that may influence student mental well-being due to the pandemic. In the quantitative second phase, an online survey, taken by an estimated sample of200 students and analyzed using a series of multiple linear regressions, was used to explore factors which may predict student mental well-being (depression, anxiety, loneliness).


Can’t Live Without my Phone: A Mixed-Methods Study Identifying Contributing Factors to Problematic Smartphone Usage

Brittney Stobbe, Shayna Rusticus


Over the past decade, smartphones have become an integral component of daily life for most of the developed world. Smartphones have led to various benefits to society such as productivity, communication, and entertainment; however, over-reliance on these devices can also potentially lead to smartphone addiction. This study utilized a mixed-methods design to identify factors that may contribute to smartphone addiction in a sample of young adults. In the first study, 23 individuals under the age of 25, participated in one of six focus groups targeting their motivations for smartphone use and the positive and negative aspects of smartphone use. Conventional content analysis identified four key themes related to smartphone usage social communication, entertainment, utility, and mental health. The purpose of this second study was to quantitatively explore the impact of these factors on smartphone addiction. A total of 70 participants completed an online survey to identify whether, fear of missing out (FOMO), depression, anxiety, stress, social support, utilitarian attitudes, and hedonistic attitudes could predict smartphone addiction. Analysis of a multiple linear regression found that FOMO was positively correlated with smartphone addiction and social support from peers was negatively correlated with smartphone addiction. This new understanding of the various factors that may contribute to smartphone addiction may help to identify ways to prevent smartphone addiction in the future.


Can Talking to Myself Help Me Win? The Impact of Two Dimensions of Self-Talk on Video Game Performance

Brandon Justus, Shayna Rusticus



While self-talk has been shown to improve sports performance, no research has examined its impact on sports-related video game performance. In Study 1, participants (n = 24) were asked to pilot a speed skating and snowboarding video game which would be used for Study 2. In Study 2 (n = 34), 2 three-way ANOVA’s were conducted to look at valence, function, and gender for each video game to determine the feasibility, limitations, and piloting of self-talk sentences. The results from Study 2 informed materials and methodology for the Main Study. The Main Study (n = 81), investigated the impact of two dimensions of self-talk –valence (positive/negative) and function (motivational/instructional) –on video game performance. For the Main Study, a 3 positive/negative/control) x 2 (motivational/instructional) mixed factorial ANOVA was used, and the study’s preliminary results indicated that these self-talk dimensions did not impact performance. A key limitation of the research study included the self-talk sentences lacking adequate manipulation strength –potentially resulting in the lack of significant findings.

Justus, B. J., & Rusticus, S. A. (2019). Can talking to myself help me win? The impact of two dimensions of self-talk on video game performance. Kwantlen Psychology Student Journal, 1. https://journals.kpu.ca/index.php/KPSJ/article/view/408