Research Methods

My main method of research will be engaging with the texts – that is, the episodes I will be watching. I plan to watch these episodes several times, first to get familiar with the story lines, characters, and recurring jokes. I am already very familiar with these things, but it is important to refresh my familiarity, particular when it comes to the specific brands of comedy employed in each program. After engaging with these texts in an informal way, I will begin to collect data. I plan to code these episodes – my criteria, however, remains undecided. I could code instances of sexual harassment, identifying different actions such as sexual jokes, glances, and comments. I can also code leadership behaviors, perhaps through the lens of “masculine” vs. “feminine” leadership traits and behaviors. Once I have this data, I can start to hypothesize about the relationship between female leadership and the occurrence of/response to sexual harassment onscreen.

I can manipulate this data in any number of ways in order to understand the relationship between female leadership and sexual harassment onscreen. We spoke about creating a timeline of events and themes that occurred on the shows, and how those events correspond to real-world events and trends. Relating the ideas I present in my thesis to the “real world” is a crucial part of my research.

I will also look at secondary sources. In order to write about something in the field of cultural studies, I will need to be familiar with the literature that already exists. I can consult reference books, encyclopedias, and books that detail the history of comedy, of female leadership, of women in the media, of American television, etc. I will also consult news sources to examine the newsworthy events in American culture that may have shaped the way certain things were portrayed onscreen. I can also look at journal articles that have been written about the shows I’m interested in. Not only will these help with brainstorming and coming up with ideas for the content of my paper, but they will help me get acquainted with how scholarly articles are written in this field. Since the majority of the papers I write at UR are for English classes, I am accustomed to writing in that specific way.

Although I intend to use theoretical sources in my research, most of my time will be spent close reading “passages” that I find particularly relevant to my thesis. I will analyze the content of the scenes – what is said, what actions are done – as well as how different setting, lighting, staging, and blocking choices convey certain messages.


For my project, I will be conducting psychological research about the effects of awe on a person’s psyche. It will be using methods from the social sciences.  I need to look into specifics on measurement scales to use to measure my constructs. Some further research might include looking deeper into previous research studies to see how they measured awe, and how they separated awe from other emotions that might have been felt during awe-inducing situations. I think I will need to use a variety of techniques to extract all the variables I am hoping to measure from my participants. I know I will need some self-report survey questions to measure not only the feelings of awe, but the self-rated health and well-being as well. I think I will also need an extensive literature review at the beginning of my thesis to explain how I developed my hypothesis and why I think that awe is related to well-being in the first place.

I will need access to participants. I think one of the biggest challenges that I will face is gathering a large and diverse enough sample to make large, generalizing conclusions. I haven’t decided yet whether it would be better to focus my sample on real live people coming into a lab situation on campus, or whether I want to create a strictly online experiment that can be administered through Amazon Turk. There are definitely pros and cons of both types of audiences, and I will need to discuss further with an advisor on which would be the more appropriate technique. I also will need to get my experiment approved by the IRB. This could be difficult if I choose to use a lab setting in which I expose my participants to awe. If awe does create lasting brain changes like I’m hoping I can prove, then it might be tricky to get participants to agree under such conditions.

If I do obtain significant results from my experiment, I think I can use my findings in a variety of applications. Depending on what I discover are the aftereffects of experiencing awe, I can use manufactured experiences of awe to get people to be healthier, more pro-social, or just happier. These applications can be relevant in a business setting to make more cohesive work groups, in a therapy setting to help a person deal with mental illness or overcome trauma, or even in recreational settings to enrich people’s lives in general with more positive emotions. I hope that I can frame a situation in which people can experience awe at all ages that has positive effects on their wellbeing in general.

Research Methods

My topic is very much in the social science field as I hope to discover why people vote as they do and what’s most important to them in their voting decision. Therefore, my research will likely include a fair amount of empirical secondary source research as well as some original experimental or survey research. If possible, I would love to map something or create some interactive way to engage with my findings as well.

I have already begun my reading of secondary sources, and as I’m starting to comprehend the multitude of readings which I will need to complete for my research, I’m beginning to think that it might be worth my while to do a separate literature review on my topic as I way to organize the readings and my thoughts on them. While most of my sources will be secondary sources from prior research related to my topic, I would also be interested in investigating some primary sources such as interviews with voters or raw data of voting behavior. I believe that doing so would bring more originality to my project and allow me to reach a more significant conclusion.

I’m not quite sure how I’ll go about my original experimental research, but I am certain that I would like to do it. I think that my biggest challenge with this will be finding a sample of participants outside of college students so that my research can adequately represent all voters in the United States. I am excited to work with Dr. Archer on this and to give it more thought so that I can successfully gather information that will successfully confirm or deny my research hypothesis.

Finally, I mentioned above that I would love to create something more interactive than a paper to represent my findings. I’m not sure that a geographic map could be created from my research, but maybe a mind map or some other tool related to my findings could be created. I would really enjoy the creative process involved in such a project, and leaving something more tangible than a paper behind when I’m done would be very satisfying.

Blog Post for April 2

I will be using methods from the humanities for my topic because my research will primarily involve reading sources, watching films, and analyzing films in conversation with the sources I have read. At the same time, however, I will also be pulling sources from the social sciences that have to do with Implicit Leadership Theories (ILTs) and the Social Identity Theory of Leadership, which both involve psychology and actual social behavior. I will be generating my own theory about superheroes in relation to ILTs and social identity research, and although I will not be testing my theory via the social sciences, my theory would open the door for future experimentation.

The materials I will need for my research include academic books, peer-reviewed articles, superhero films, critic reviews, comic books, and websites (for gathering box office dataand superhero film/fanfare information). The superhero films–and possibly some comic books–will be my primary sources (i.e., the things to be analyzed and critiqued), and everything else will be my secondary sources (i.e., the things to be used for analyzing and critiquing).

In terms of topics, the specific kinds of secondary sources I will be drawing from include those on leadership studies, Implicit Leadership Theories (ILTs), social identity theory (of leadership), comic book history, American exceptionalism, American history, feminist theory, critical race theory, toxic masculinity and violence, superhero history, film psychology, superhero films, heroism, and superheroes as cultural icons. For my primary sources, the superhero films themselves, I will focus on the historically and presently most popular/watched, such as (though this is subject to change) Black Panther (2018), Wonder Woman (2017), Deadpool (2016), The Avengers (2012), The Dark Knight (2008), and Superman (1978).


Research Method

Since my research has a large psychology component, I will address my research question mainly with a social science approach. Survey will be used to collect identity related information. An experiment may be designed depending on if the variables can be manipulated. If an experiment is not manageable, a correlation study will be conducted. Other than quantitative data, qualitative data like dialogue transcripts between subjects may be collected and analyzed to assess communication. The research mainly involves human subjects.

Methods/Conversation with Dr. Archer

Last week, I spoke with Dr. Archer about serving as a potential thesis advisor. We had a great conversation, and it was exciting to hear about some of the ideas that she had. My conversation with Dr. Archer, coupled with that with Dr. Bezio, has made me more confident in my desire to explore social media. That being said, however, I am less certain than ever about what my specific plan will be. As of now, I plan to take a theoretical approach and conduct my research from the humanities perspective. Dr. Archer, however, mentioned the possibility of conducting an experiment that measures how people’s perspectives on certain issues change as a result of being influenced by social media vs traditional news media (newspapers). This could be interesting, but is something I want to think a little bit more about. In addition, Dr. Archer gave me some great links to read regarding social media’s role in politics. I plan to look at these this week.

As of now, one of my methods will be to look for milestones in democracy. I will start with the Framer’s definition of democracy (pre-internet politics) and take the reader through the evolution of our political process. I will then look at internet politics, and end with a view toward social media politics. I will focus on how we have entered the age of social media politics, and address what it means for the future of democracy. I want to discuss the role of social influence, and I also want to include what we talked about with Dr. Goethals regarding complexity and length of message (what demographic does social media appeal to? Why? How did Trump use this to his advantage?).

If I conduct an experiment, I would like to do one that would involve having people read certain opinion pieces on some issue, and then read social media pieces about this same issue. I will see how individuals’ viewpoints are influenced differently in response to the news vs social media. What factors are more important in this influence? What do the results imply with regard to social media and democracy? This is just one idea that I have discussed with Dr. Archer, but I definitely need to think more about this, considering I have never conducted an experiment before. On the other hand, I have been planning to analyze tweets from the 2016 election cycle. If I take this route, I will look not only at Trump’s tweets, but also at other tweets from politicians, celebrities, and common people during the presidential election. How do these people view democracy and how do the commonalities in their rhetoric explain/refute the theories that I address? I hope to discover how social media has the power to influence more so than anything else.

I will take a theoretical approach to my research, and look at recent statistics that involve social media in politics, such as the amount of Tweet’s that Trump issued during the presidential election or the amount of retweets, etc., to say something about these theories. The theories that I plan to investigate will surround democracy and populism, aiming to answer the questions of “how are we behaving and how is this reflected on twitter? What does this mean?”. As you can see, I have a lot of ideas that I need to organize. This week, I plan to sit down and compile my notes in one place and organize my thoughts in a more coherent manner.


Additionally, I completed IRB training:

-If I plan to look only at Tweets/online postings, do I need to receive IRB approval of those whose tweets/posts I look at?

Conversation with Dr. Hoyt – Ashley Gross

I spoke with Dr. Hoyt and one thing she advised me to do first is familiarize myself with what has been done already. She sent me four articles to read about the gender biases in academic settings and one particularly interesting one that she is working on that incorporated growth mindset. It looked at the effects of it on women and men in computer science. She suggested that we go broader before narrowing down, which is exactly what we’ve been doing! I continue to be intrigued while reading articles about this as well as speaking with different people, including Dr. Hoyt, about it. I look forward to learning more and figuring out what a good thesis topic is!

Conversation with faculty

I have talked with Dr. Forsyth and Dr. Johnson about my research interests. During the meeting with Dr. Forsyth, we talked through the potential areas and came to a possible research question that how activated or inactivated in-group vs out-group identity influence the communication process like the extent of sharing personal stories? During the meeting with Dr. Johnson who is an expert in interpersonal communication and relationships, I talked about what I care about and why I am interested in certain research topics; he introduced me to two new related concepts that are dialectical theory and cognitive complexity. I also briefly learnt about research methods used in rhetoric and communication studies which are “everything”!
I am a little worried about choosing my adviser. I still want to talk to some professors like Dr. Goethals, Dr. Hoyt, Dr. Lundberg, and Dr. Hobgood. Currently I am at a point where it seems to me that my topic is specific but actually it is not. I cam a little concerned about what direction I am heading into. It is difficult to choose useful readings too.

Blog Post for March 26

I have been meeting with Dr. Bezio, who is the my primary faculty advisor for my senior thesis. Early on in the semester we discussed what sources I should be reading (at least to start), but because my area of research is not strictly in one discipline, there are multiple important sources for me to read to get a good grasp on my topic. If I were to break it down into groups, I will be reading sources on comic books, on superheroes, on implicit leadership theories, on social identity and leadership, and on the film industry. I am also thinking about looking at critic reviews on the superheroes movies I end up analyzing for my project (once I get to that point).

Other faculty I have talked to here and there have mentioned articles or books to consider for my research as well, which I have taken note of, and more than once Dr. Allison’s name has surfaced. In the near future I hope to meet with him because of his own extensive research in heroism and leadership.

Overall, I feel pretty comfortable at this point with the direction of my thesis. It is now a matter of reading the sources I have gathered and actually doing the research. One thing that did come up in my last meeting with Dr. Bezio was whether I will be focusing on either DC Comic or Marvel movies, or both, and I think I am leaning toward focusing on whatever superhero movies have the highest box office ratings, regardless of producer. My rational is that to understand the extent of the cultural and social affect of these movies on Americans (or vice versa), I should pay special attention to the most popular and most watched movies. My remaining question to consider, however, is whether I want to include a range across time or focus solely on the ones that caused the most stir, regardless of release year?

Paragraph about Faculty Meeting

A while ago I met with Dr. Hoyt, and she passed along a bunch of important sources to look at in regards to my topic. She suggested a few different articles, and some of them even overlapped with articles suggested by Dr. Allison, a psychology professor that researches heroism. I am concerned about methodology of my study. I want to create an experiment that encapsulates what it is like to truly feel awed by nature or an incredible experience, but I don’t know if this can be captured in a laboratory setting. I also don’t know how easy it will be to get approval from the IRB for something like this. I think working on Amazon Turk would be a good strategy to getting a widespread, diverse population sample, but I am worried that this sort of scenario will not produce the genuine feelings of awe that I am after. I think I need to do more research into the types of awe that I want to elicit, and I also need to narrow down what variables to look at as my independent variables. I want to use variables that might be effective in a therapeutic setting that focus on personal wellbeing and health, but I don’t know how I will be able to measure such things especially if I am using Amazon Turk as my platform. The details of my research design are going to be what need the most work.