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Psychology senior earns spot at international conference

Nov 12, 2020
Two women in masks talk over laptops
Two women in masks talk over laptops

KOKOMO, Ind. — Does giving your child an unusual name make it more likely he or she will be a narcissist? 

Research on this topic, along with the correlation between permission parenting and narcissism, won Indiana University Kokomo senior Amber Beatty a slot as a poster presenter at one of the top international social psychology conferences.

Beatty will present as part of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s (SPSP) virtual conference in February, with support from  her faculty mentor, Kathryn Holcomb.

“I never thought I would have this kind of opportunity,” said Beatty, a senior from Kokomo. “The idea of research was intimidating for me. I was able to get my fingers in and see what it’s like, with guidance and constructive experience. It’s been a very rich experience, and I’m grateful for it.”

Holcomb, associate professor of psychology, added that they are preparing to submit their research for potential publication. When Beatty applies to graduate programs, an international conference poster presentation and a publication credit will give her the leading edge.

“These are both huge deals to graduate schools,” she said. “It is definitely setting her up for success.”

Beatty began working with Holcomb in January examining if there was a relationship between parents choosing an unusual name for their child and being a permissive parent, and that child having narcissism, or a disorder in which he or she has an inflated sense of self-importance.

Previous studies had looked at parents and their narcissism, and correlated it with the selection of unusual names. Holcomb and Beatty looked at the children themselves and how common their names were, related to their narcissism and their parents’ parenting style.

They developed a questionnaire distributed through Amazon, then analyzed the returned data.

Findings included that while narcissism and parenting styles did have a correlation, there was no link with an unusual name.

“We went against what the other research was finding,” Beatty said. “The trend is there for less common names. Whether that’s due to narcissism is the question, and we’re not finding it. That was shocking to me. It was reassuring to see there was a relationship between permissiveness and narcissism, as we thought.”

Holcomb said having a research experience, especially when results aren’t what was expected, is valuable for all students, and in particular those who are interested in continuing to master’s degree and doctorate programs.

“I hope they get excited about how you can answer questions with research, and see it’s not so intimidating,” she said. “Students at any level can be involved and see the process.”

Beatty appreciated the opportunity to spend time on a research project with faculty.

“The experience I gained here has really shaped who I am,” she said. “It’s made me very comfortable with research, and the possibilities and opportunities that can come after I graduate in December. Overall, I’m very grateful.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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