Psychology majors study mental health in students – Susquehanna University

August 17, 2022

John Monopoli, Assistant Professor of Psychology

National headlines reporting deteriorating student mental health highlight the challenges many students are currently facing.

Emma Piel ’23 and Andrew Jacques ’23, both graduates in psychology, spent their summer with John Monopoli, assistant professor of psychology, studying the socialization of emotions – or how other people react to an expression of emotion and how these reactions affect mental health outcomes – in college students. The two-part study started in the spring semester 2021.

“We were basically looking at how people react to your emotional displays and how that affects you and how that affects the mental health of students,” said Jacques, from Yarmouth, Maine. “Our hope is to help universities create peer-to-peer interaction programs to help colleges support mental health on campus.”

Monopoli’s research aims to develop a self-reported emotional socialization questionnaire in emerging adults (18-22 years old) and explore how emotional socialization affects mental health outcomes. Although there is a considerable amount of research on this in children and adolescents, we know very little about this in emerging adults – although we think it is important for this age group, a declared Monopoli. The first step was to collect data on the daily experiences of emerging adults with socialization.

“In the spring, we asked students open-ended questions about how their peers typically react when they show emotion. My research assistants grouped the responses into different themes,” Monopoli explained. “We need to do this because to develop our own survey measure of socialization, with specific items/questions, we need some kind of qualitative baseline.”

Students at Susquehanna University had two main responsibilities during their research. The first was to enter the data collected last spring into statistical software for analysis. The second task consisted in coding the answers related to the socialization of the pupils.

“Over the summer, Andrew and I analyzed data regarding socialization as a protective factor, as well as worked on a project to develop a socialization questionnaire,” Piel, from Selinsgrove, said of their work.

She and Jacques say they learned important skills, such as team collaboration, the importance of understanding in relation to production, and conducting independent research, as well as how to code qualitative responses and conduct literature reviews and preliminary data analyses.

After graduating, Piel hopes to pursue a master’s degree in elementary education and begin her career in teaching, eventually enrolling in a doctoral program in school psychology or counseling. Jacques intends to pursue a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate in clinical psychology.

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