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Lander Psychology Students Earn Third Place for Horror Film Research

Appearing left to right are Lander students Alex Hatfield of Greenwood; Kathryn Spence of Columbia; and Hanna Wilkerson of York. The three students earned third place honors in the poster competition of the South Carolina Psychological Association's spring conference in Myrtle Beach for their research on how watching horror films relates to a person's personality.

Three Lander University students won third place in the student poster competition for their research on how watching horror films relates to a person's personality.

Collectively, 14 posters were entered in the competition hosted by the South Carolina Psychological Association as part of its annual Spring Conference. The event was held March 31 in Myrtle Beach. The competition is a venue for students from colleges and universities across the state to showcase the results of original psychological research they conducted with faculty sponsors.

Alex Hatfield, a senior from Greenwood; Kathryn Spence, a junior from Columbia; and Hanna Wilkerson, a senior from York; won third place in the competition for their presentation titled "Why Horror? Demographic and Personality Correlates of Enjoyment and Frequency of Viewing Horror Film."

Their presentation was the culmination of two semesters of work including designing and implementing the project as part of an undergraduate research class supervised by Dr. Jonathan Bassett, professor in the Department of Psychological Science at Lander.

The students' research involved surveying other Lander students about how often and how much they liked watching horror movies and asking them to complete various established measures of personality. The results showed that more frequent viewing of horror was associated with being more afraid of death, more easily disgusted and holding more superstitious beliefs.

Greater enjoyment of horror movies was associated with higher scores on the personality traits of sensation seeking and benevolent sexism.

"I was very proud of these three students. Participating in undergraduate research is a great example of experiential learning and helps students learn critical thinking and problem solving skills," said Bassett. "Presenting the results of research in a venue like this a great way to gain confidence and hone communication skills."