Does the presence of a randomly assigned group “leader” make followers lazier? What are the United States’ ethical obligations to mitigate climate change? What does the growing popularity of satirical news shows mean for the future of journalism?

These were just three of the questions students considered at the 2017 Jepson Research Symposium on Friday, April 21. Students developed their projects through independent studies, directed studies, summer research, and collaborative studies, and eight of the 16 student presenters showcased their senior honors projects.

One of the students recognized for honors research was leadership studies major Amy Alexander, ’17. Alexander completed her senior honors thesis, “Thanks but No Tanks: A Look at Charitable Giving and Marine Mammal Parks,” with Dr. Haley Harwell, assistant professor of leadership studies.Amy Alexander, '17, with her research adviser Dr. Haley Harwell

Alexander became interested in this project after watching the documentary Blackfish. The documentary tells the story of a performing killer whale at SeaWorld that was responsible for several deaths, raising questions about the ethics of keeping these animals in captivity. Her project investigated how a campaign about a company’s negative ethical behaviors impacts consumer behavior.

“I found that in my study the campaign had no effect on charitable giving and that there is a corporate cycle in which over time consumers disregard unethical company behaviors,” said Alexander.

The broad range of topics showcased at the symposium highlighted the multidisciplinary nature of the Jepson School. AJ Accomando, ’17, explored how perceptions of leaders are formed and the different factors that can influence perception. Working with his honors thesis advisor, Accomando examined how height affects initial perception of potential leaders across varying socioeconomic statuses.

Alana Wiljanen, ’17, presented “MacBheatha” a retelling of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Wiljanan not only wrote the retelling, but she also directed a cast of 13 students in a performance, which included acrobatics and aerial silks. The hour-long piece will be performed at the DC Fringe Festival this summer.

Leadership studies and psychology double major Elizabeth Bodalski, ’17, integrated her areas of study in her project “ADHD and the Dark Side of Leadership.” In her project, she asked, “Do ADHD participants have higher psychopathy/dark triad scores than non-ADHD participants?” And if so, what is this impact on emergence as a leader?

See below for a full list of exhibits from the 2017 Jepson Research Symposium.

AJ Accomando, "Assessments of Potential Leaders: The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Leadership Perceptions"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Al Goethals

Amy Alexander, "Thanks but No Tanks: A Look at Charitable Giving and Marine Mammal Parks"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Haley Harwell

Aggy Barnowski, "Heroes and Gender"
     Research advisors: Dr. Crystal Hoyt and Dr. Scott Allison

Elizabeth Bodalski, "ADHD and the Dark Side of Leadership"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

Liang-Yun Cheng, "The Follower Effect"
     Research advisor: Dr. Don Forsyth

Chelsey Davidson, "International Environmental Law: Global Leadership & Collective Action"
     Research advisor: Dr. Javier Hidalgo

Rachel Forsyth, "The Power of Mindsets: Exploring the Role of Implicit Theories on Social Dominance Orientation and Volunteering"
     Research advisor: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

Ryan Foster, "A University's Moral Compass: Improving Honor Codes and Academic Integrity"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Jessica Flanigan

Hayley Gray-Hoehn, "Communication, Technology, and Leadership: A Preliminary Communication Base"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Kristin Bezio

Joseph Han, "uRVA—Connecting the University to the City with Uber and Local Business"
     Research advisor: Dr. Thad Williamson

Patrick Hughes, "The Rise of Stalin and Mussolini: The Importance of Historical Context in the Study of Leader Emergence"
     Research advisor: Dr. Peter Kaufman

Mitchell Parry, "Understanding the Role of Political Ideology in Contemporary Sexual Discrimination"
     Research advisor: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

Alyssa Ross, "Training in Virtual Reality"
     Research advisor: Dr. Kristin Bezio

Annette Schieffelin, "The Effect of Implicit Theories and Gender on Self-Efficacy, Confidence, Interest, and Resilience in the Domains of Computer Science and Psychology"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

Caroline Utz, "The Original Fake News: The Leadership Impact of Satirical News in Today's Media Landscape"
     Research advisor: Dr. Kristin Bezio

Veerle Verhey, "Gender Wage Gap in For-Profits Versus Non-Profits"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

Alana Wiljanen, "MacBheatha"*
     Thesis advisor: Dr. Kristin Bezio

* Denotes Honors Project