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BCC students present findings at state conference
Apr 30, 2012
Two pairs of BCC students brought results of their psychological studies to the 18th Annual Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference on Friday.

James Haley and Andrew Allen of Pittsfield, Nathan Besnoff of Dalton, and Joseph Schwarz of North Adams displayed posters describing their original studies involving human subjects, conducted for a BCC course on Research Methods in Psychology.

The statewide conference, held Friday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is a showcase for original research in all fields by students in the state's public higher education system. Several hundred students took part this year. Abstracts of their research are available at

The study by Besnoff and Schwarz, titled "Too tense to care? The relationship between stress and empathy in an undergraduate population", unexpectedly found that, among 120 research participants, those who reported more stress also tended to report more empathy. The pair found that females reported more of both feelings than males.

Haley and Allen's project-"Do nationality and socioeconomic status predict views of poverty and wealth?"-compared the ways in which 450 Russian and American college students explained these conditions in an online survey.

The duo found that Russians were more likely to identify social circumstances as the cause, while Americans more often identified personal characteristics of the rich and the poor. Among Americans, those of lower income were also more likely to mention circumstances. The researchers concluded that people's worldviews are influenced by national histories and personal financial status.

"These studies ask questions that haven't been asked before," said Dr. Wayne Klug, Professor of Psychology at BCC. "And the answers contribute new knowledge to the field. It shows the educational-and social-value of research by community college students."

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