When Joey Greener, ’13, began researching voter perceptions of presidential candidates, he had no idea it could help him in his future career as a lawyer.

“One of the major findings of the research was that persuasion is more effective when the candidate is warm,” he says. “I expect to find that persuasion in the courtroom is similar.” 

He plans to attend law school in the fall and has been accepted to Wake Forest University and Emory University.

Since politicians and lawyers both deal in the art of persuasion, Greener says he is grateful for the opportunity to study it. His primary research focused on the 1976 presidential debates between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and “why voters prefer one candidate over another.”

The research was his senior honors thesis in leadership studies.

He had an opportunity to showcase his findings in April at the Jepson School’s second annual Research Symposium and Honors Recognition Ceremony.

“I was so excited to present my work,” says Greener. “It was a great forum to explain my work to some of my past professors and other members of the community.”

Students presented posters or exhibits and answered questions. Topics included leadership in films and the film industry, the government’s obligation to regulate food and maverick leaders in sports, politics and business.

Jepson School students conduct research during the summer, for honors or concentrations, or as part of an independent study.

The first annual symposium only featured work by students pursuing honors. Thanks to the success of it, “we decided this year to give all Jepson students who conducted research an opportunity to showcase their work,” says Terry Price, senior associate dean for academic affairs. “This event gives everyone a chance to see the great work our students are doing.”

Greener’s thesis adviser was leadership studies professor Al Goethals, an expert in presidential leadership.

“Working with Dr. Goethals was both a pleasure and an honor. His background in presidential leadership continually challenged me as a scholar,” says Greener. “At the heart of sorting through the data, we would sometimes meet three times a week for a couple of hours each time.”

The intense experience was worth it and good preparation for law school, he says.

“Before this, I had never worked on a paper for this extended a period of time. This work taught me the importance of perseverance.”