Recipients of the ANU Co-lab Honours Grants 2024

Congratulations to our psychology honours students who have secured ANU Co-lab Honours Grants in 2024.

Nadia Andrews (Supervisor: Dr Li Qian Tay)

Project: The Role of Gist vs Verbatim Memory Traces on Identity-Driven Truth Judgement

Vast amounts of conflicting information are now available with just the click of a button and the distinction between “fake” and “real” news is becoming increasingly fuzzy. Previous studies have shown that individuals’ salient identity can drive their judgements of truth, but there has been little research on how identity interacts with memory processes. My Honours project aims to begin filling this gap in the literature. Participants will complete an experiment in which they judge the extent to which the content of a series of social-media posts is or is not true. These posts will come from either in-group or out-group political sources. Additionally, we will manipulate whether participants undergo a memory-interference phase (i.e., see a series of unrelated posts) prior to making truth judgements. We expect memory-interference to reduce memory of the posts' verbatim details, leading participants to instead rely on the “gist” of the post to make truth judgements. We predict that participants will be more likely to accept false content as true when it is presented by in-group sources, and that this effect will be more pronounced following the memory-interference phase.

Henry Costelloe (Supervisor: Dr Olivia Evans)

Project: The Role of Perceived Family Support and Social Class on Wellbeing

For my Honours project, I am conducting a critical exploration into how family support and social inequality impact mental health in Australia. I will be working with a large representative dataset collected over 2023, which examines social class and mental health across three time points spanning six months. Each survey captured detailed information on demographics (e.g., age, gender, education level), both objective and subjective assessments of social class, wellbeing, and various forms of social resources and support. Importantly, the dataset includes specific measures of family support, which will allow me to investigate its role in the relationship between social class and mental health outcomes. The data is longitudinal, providing a unique opportunity to explore how these relationships evolve over time. My goal in undertaking this project is not only to deepen my understanding of statistical methods but also to gain insights into the complex interplay of social class, family support, and mental health within Australian society. As disparities in social class continue to be a prominent global issue, understanding the mechanisms through which family support can mitigate the adverse effects of such disparities on mental health is crucial. This could lead to targeted interventions that bolster family support systems as a means to combat the mental health challenges exacerbated by social inequality.

Maya Felice (Supervisor: Professor Michael Platow)

Project: The Influence of Social Identification on the Relationship Between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

This honours project will be primarily looking at the effect of group membership on people’s judgements of prejudice towards anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli statements, sourced from the discourse circulating online. Attitudes towards such statements will be of interest to discover whether legitimate political debate may be uncovering prejudiced attitudes, specifically anti-Semitic attitudes. A Facebook post will be presented to participants which will include an initial anti-Zionist statement and a comment written below judging that statement as either prejudiced or true. Each statement will be made by either an in-group member (a fellow American) or an out-group member (a person from another country). It is hypothesised that people are more likely to express anti-Semitic attitudes when the initial statement is made by an in-group member compared to an out-group member. When the comment interprets the initial statement as “true” rather than “prejudiced”, it is hypothesised that anti-Semitic attitudes will be stronger. Lastly, we predict that when the comment is made by an in-group member who interprets the statement as “true”, will have the strongest effect on anti-Semitic attitudes.

Sophia Hadjimichael (Supervisor: Associate Professor Stephanie Goodhew)

Project: Cognitive Empathy and the Useful Field of View

Cognitive empathy is a fascinating process enabling us to infer others’ mental states and understand their perspectives. It promotes important outcomes including prosocial behaviour and conflict prevention. However, past interventions attempting to enhance cognitive empathy have had limited success, suggesting a new approach is needed. A novel cognitive empathy intervention could be of utility to organisations aiming to promote teamwork and harmonious workplace environments. This project aims to act as a stepping stone towards developing such an intervention. I plan to investigate whether there is a positive association between cognitive empathy and performance on the Useful Field of View (UFOV) task. Unlike many other cognitive training protocols, UFOV training has an impressive array of benefits across a range of contexts, including reducing car crash risk and improving everyday functioning. UFOV also appears to involve general cognitive processes similar to those underpinning cognitive empathy. Since cognitive empathy and UFOV appear to involve similar general cognitive processes, and UFOV training shows far transfer, this raises the question of whether UFOV training could be used to enhance cognitive empathy. Given that training studies are labour-intensive and involve a significant time investment, this study will investigate whether cognitive empathy and UFOV performance are positively correlated. This could potentially provide a rationale for future research investigating whether UFOV training can enhance cognitive empathy.

Rachel Nguyen (Supervisor: Professor Giles Hirst)

Project: Developing collaborative Capabilities to Enhance Co-Creativity Between Humans and AI

My intended research topic is the interaction and collaboration between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and humans. This year, my Psychology Honours thesis focuses on the interaction between humans and AI to produce creative ideas. Given a problem, we explore how humans and generative AI interact together to form creative solutions. My motivation for undertaking research in this area stems from my interest in the crossover between the two different fields: AI and Psychology. As AI is still in constant development, I believe that the development of my intended research will be extremely helpful for maximising the benefits of using and collaborating with AI. I believe AI and human interaction will be an important element in the future for organisations and everyday life.