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March 13, 2019
By Kelsey Johnson, communication assistant
A Northwest Missouri State University student presented her research and networked with professional psychologists Feb. 7-9 at the 2019 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Rachel Francisco, a junior psychology and criminology major from Carlise, Iowa, presented a poster of her research to psychologists from throughout the nation. Her research, “Law and Order and Facebook: The effects of traditional and online media on perceptions of police,” investigated how media consumption relates to the perceptions people have of police.
“The results were not what I was expecting,” Francisco said. “What stood out was the relationship between following law enforcement accounts and the perceptions, as well as interacting with posts involving police content. More accounts related to more positive perceptions and more interactions with such posts related to more negative perceptions of police.”
She co-presented with Dr. Bradlee Gamblin, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwest. The pair presented Gamblin’s poster, “Pilot testing a criminal trial transcript for investigating racial bias in the courtroom.” Francisco is listed as the second author of the poster and Gamblin mentored her throughout her research.
“He is very knowledgeable and helped me out quite a bit, especially with the statistics side of the research,” Francisco said. “He helped me mentally prepare for the conference because this was my first one, and I tend to have stage fright.”
Francisco said her favorite part of the two-day event was the preconference, where she met a professor mentored by Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist who performed groundbreaking research on eyewitness testimonies in court.
“Elizabeth Loftus is a big name in psychology and the person who was presenting worked very close to her,” Francisco said. “It was so interesting to meet so many different people and make connections like that.”
Francisco added, “It was nice to make connections and network with prestigious professors from different universities like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for example. There were even a few Canadian professors who presented their research, too.”
Francisco says Northwest courses such as Introduction to Psychology Experimentation and Experimental Psychology prepared her for an international conference environment.
“These classes were like a how-to manual on research and helped me a lot,” Francisco said. “It’s been a while since I’ve taken them, but luckily working with Dr. Gamblin, who teaches Experimental Psychology, was extremely helpful in doing this.”
Francisco hopes she and Gamblin will have future research on social media and the role it plays in political orientation for the 2020 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Francisco plans to continue her education by attending graduate school and pursue her doctorate degree. She wants to study counseling and be a resource to law enforcement for psychology evaluations.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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