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fourth biannual research journal

Westminster McNair Journal 2010 & 2011

2010 Research Scholars

Peter Dien, University of Utah
Mentor: Rebecca Utz, PhD, Sociology, University of Utah

Public Attitude and Opinion toward the US Health Care System: A Focus on Age Group and Health Status Differences 

 Purpose: This study evaluates whether age and health status affect public attitude toward the U.S. health care system. Opinions about health care are measured by confidence in and quality of care received as well as a perceived need for health care reform. Design and Methods: This study uses a sub-portion of the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), a nationwide survey which asked a representative sample of 1,000 participants several health-related questions. Results: Findings from this survey suggested an association between the participants' age and health status and their attitude toward health care. Interestingly, confidence in medical technology and quality of care was consistently high among all persons, regardless of age and health status. However, younger participants and those with worse health were less confident in their ability to pay for health care and were significantly more likely to support major reform. Those with worse health were also more supportive of universal health coverage, especially for children, than those participants with better health. Discussion: This study suggests an association between health status, age, and public opinion about the health care system and provides an urgent message for both policy makers and health care professionals to further investigate the underlying mechanisms causing these associations and to unsure that future health reform garner favorable public opinion.

Kamille Noor Sheikh, Westminster College
Mentor: Jennifer Simonds, PhD, Psychology, Westminster College

 The Relationships Among Shyness, Fear, and Effortful Control During Middle Childhood

The current study explored the relationships among shyness, fear, and effortful control during the middle childhood years.  The goal of the study was to learn more about the direct relationship between shyness and fear, and to examine the possibility that effortful control may attenuate the association between shyness and fear in children between the ages of 7 and 10.  The Temperament in Middle Childhood Questionnaire for Children and Parents (TMCQ-C, TMCQ-P) was used to measure shyness, fear, and effortful control through both self-report and parent-report. A significant direct correlation was found between child-reported shyness and fear, but no shyness-fear relationship was found in the parent-report data. The hypothesis was not supported. Continued research may also explore what other factors, such as age and negative emotionality, are related to these constructs during middle childhood.

Benson W. Stevens, Westminster College
Mentor: Brian Avery, PhD, Biology and Neuroscience, Westminster College

Developing an Assay for Polymorphisms in the 5-HTT, DAT1, and BDNF Genes to Determine Their Effects on Attention and Emotional Regulation

Dailey Haren, Dacia Holliday, and Takwa Sharif
Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Psychology and Neuroscience, Westminster College

 English Proficiency in Mathematical Acquisition: A Case Study of a Math-Intensive Workshop

2011 Research Scholars

Nicole True, University of Utah
Mentor: Daniel Levin, PhD, Political Science, University of Utah

Preaching to the Choir: Framing Incompatibilities in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

As a political institution used to define citizenship, marriage is a promising field for gay rights advocacy. Framing—a cognitive schema that gives direction for interpreting and responding to information and events—is employed by social movements to gain governmental and public support. The Christian Right utilizes morality frames to create a religious-political ethic, whereas the gay rights movement situates same-sex marriage in liberalism frames based on principles of liberty and equal rights, therefore applying civil rights rhetoric and comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, morality frames and liberalism frames are incompatible with each other because they are based on different values. Incompatibility in argument frames leads to rhetorical misfire on both sides, making it ever more difficult to come to a resolution.

Duke Cruz, Westminster College
Mentor: Michael Popich, PhD, Philosophy, Westminster College

"I'm Late! I'm Late! For a Very Important Date!": Down the Rabbit Hole in Search of Rationality

What reasons could I offer for researching such a difficult and demanding problem such as rationality? Throughout my philosophy education, the issue of rationality has been lingering on the internal edifice of my intellect; waiting for words to give a meaning to its purpose. I wonder: why are some humans counted as rational and others as apparently irrational? What makes an action rational? What set of criteria could be given for rational actions? Is it possible that rationality is a function of our social surroundings? Could rationality be unconscious? Could other non-human beings be rational? These and other conjoining questions have confounded me, and thus I have decided to seek answers to a few of them. Thus, rationality is my primary research area. Specifically, I seek to discover whether rationality can be cut down into criteria; by doing this, ideally anyone could have identifiable characteristics to locate rationality in the world. The aim of my research is to see whether rationality can be enclosed in criteria—contained in a definition. By criteria, I mean that which defines essential characteristics of rationality; those properties that are needed for any discussion of rationality or needed for a being to be accounted as rational. For example, one major criterion of rationality is the ‘use of a language’. So, in order for anything to be accounted as rational, it must fulfill this essential criterion. I’m researching rationality through a specific lens of the criteria needed for its existence, and this is aimed at proving my thesis that a private language-game exists. My analysis of rationality is a scientific account approached in a philosophical manner. That is, I seek an account of rationality which is concrete, and leaves no room for dispute. The result of whether this goal is accomplished will be seen in the pages to come.