Ruscher's Current and Former Thesis Students

Brian Thiel

B.S. 1992. College of Arts and Sciences at Tulane University (Psychology)

Honor's Thesis: How the revelation of a negative characteristic changes impressions in a social interdependent situation

Brian's honors thesis built upon my doctoral dissertation of the previous year by focusing on "discovered" stigmas. Following Brian's interest in the physical attractiveness stereotype, his study concerned the stigma of being unattractive.


Lawton (Posey) Cummings

B.S. 1993. Tulane University (Psychology, with Economics Minor)

Honor's thesis: No ifs, ands, or buts: Anticipated communication encourages attribute-based processing

After assisting with several research projects during her junior year, Lawton conducted her honor's thesis under my direction; the paper based on her thesis is published in Social Cognition. Her thesis examined communicators' and non-communicators' efforts to resolve discrepancies. Lawton received a Truman Scholarship that funded her study in law school. She now is on the faculty at Washington and Lee School of Law.


Debra (Lurie) Polun

B.S. 1994 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology and Sociology)

Senior Project: Competing with the enemy: The effect of group membership and type of interdependent situation on impression formation and affect

Debi assisted with numerous projects conducted in our lab. In her senior year, Debi initiated an independent study as a senior, on group competition. Debi earned her PhD in social psychology at the University of Connecticut, and currently is employed in the public sector.


Anne Rodriguez-Jones

B.S. 1995 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology, with Political Science minor)

Honor's thesis: Cognitive capacity and biased impression formation

Anne's honor's thesis built upon Ruscher and Hammer (1996), by examining whether cognitive load interfered with biased perception. She graduated from Harvard Law School, and obtained employment at the White House.


Catherine T. Hastings

B.A. 1996 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology)

Honor's thesis: The effects of cognitive load on defensive processing

Tess's honor's thesis addressed bias processing of threatening health messages; the manuscript based on that paper was presented at the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. She completed her master's degree in clinical psychology at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, and now is working in Arizona


Kim Lee Gratz

B.A. 1996 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Social Psychology and Gender Studies)

Honor's thesis:The indirect and direct aggression of men toward female and male provocateurs

Kim assisted on several projects during her junior year. For her senior honor's thesis, Kim examined male covert aggression toward women. Her project won the Shelley Coverman Memorial Award for research on women. Her experiment was a follow-up to a study conducted by Sherry Schnake, and the two-experiment paper based on their research appeared in JSBP  Kim completed her MS and PhD at UMass-Boston, and is currently is a research assistant professor at the University of Maryland.


Kathryn Welsh

B.A. 1997 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology)

Honor's thesis: Stereotype use in impression formation: The effects of counterstereotypic exposure and group-level communication

Kathryn began working in our lab as a freshmen, and consequently assisted on numerous research projects, mostly with Laura Duval. After her junior year abroad in England, Kathryn conducted on honor's thesis as a follow up to Duval'sdissertation, which appeared in BASP. One year after graduating from Tulane, Kathryn opened Bluestockings a women's bookstore in New York City's lower east side.


Sarah P. Catanese

B.A. 1997 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology)

Honor's thesis: Communication of counterstereotypical exemplars by ingroup vs outgroup members

After serving as a research assistant during her junior year, Sarah conducted a honor's thesis as a follow-up toLaura Duval's dissertation, which appeared in BASP. As a senior, she was a co-recipient of the Rosa Cahn Hartman Medal for excellence in Psychology by a Newcomb student. Sarah earned the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Chicago Medical School/Finch University of Health in the fall of 1998, and focused on health psychology. She completed her clinical internship at UCLA's neuropsychiatric institute.


Stephen H. Axelrad

B.S. 1998 Tulane College of Tulane University (Psychology, with Spanish minor)

Honors Thesis: Distraction attenuates defensive processing of risk messages.

Stephen's honors thesis built upon one conducted by Tess Hastings in 1996, and is concerned with people's reactions to threatening events, such as hurricanes. During his junior year, he assisted Laura Duval with her dissertation research. Stephen entered St. Louis University's Ph.D. program in industrial/ organizational psychology in Fall 1998.


Vania Gauthreaux

B.S. 1998 Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology)

Honors Thesis: Effects of pretrial publicity, judicial instruction, and thought suppression on ratings of guilt: White bears in the courtroom. Vania conducted on honors thesis on jury decision making, which was based substantially on a project that she developed in experimental social psychology; this paper appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. During her junior year, Vania assisted with several experiments, in particular with Ruscher and Duval studies of multiple communicators that appeared in JPSP. At commencement, Vania was awarded the Alpha Lambda Delta Award, which is awarded to the senior with the highest grade point average. She intends to pursue graduate work in psychology and/or law.


Joy L. Terrell

B.S. 1999. Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology)

Honors Thesis: Differential reactivity of the Modern Racism Scale and the Linguistic Intergroup Bias

During her junior year, Joy assisted with projects on linguistic cues to age stereotyping (which appeared in JLSP and also on the linguistic intergroup bias with Dan Beal. Following these interests, her honors thesis focuses on measurement aspects of the linguistic intergroup bias. After completing her master's in counseling at the University of Pennsylvania, Joy completed her Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Temple University.


Victoria Ervin

B. A. 2003. Newcomb College of Tulane University

Honor's Thesis: Intrinsic motivation for volunteering and satisfaction with service learning

During her part of her junior year, Tory served as a research assistant to Seth Kaplan; during the remaining part of her junior year, she studied in Ghana. Her honors thesis examined students' expectations about their service learning experiences, as a function of their underlying reasons for pursuing those experiences. Tory expects to pursue graduate work in public health.

Patricia Metzger

B. S. 2003. Newcomb College of Tulane University

Honor's Thesis: The Effects of Body Image Consciousness on Negative Metaperceptions

During her sophomore and junior years, Patty served as an assistant to Alecia Santuzzi, working primarily on research appeared in Social Cognition. Her honors thesis examined body consciousness as a proxy for eating-related physical stigmas (e.g., anorexia; obesity), and how body consciousness may be related to social anxiety and negative metaperceptions; the results of her work appear in Current Research in Social Psychology. Patti earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Wyoming.

Lindsay Bell

B.S. 2005. Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology with German minor)

Honor's Thesis:Differential Feedback in Cross-Race Settings

During her sophomore year, Lindsay served as a research assistant for former Ph.D. student Alecia Santuzzi. Following her junior year abroad, Lindsay conducted an honors thesis that builds upon current Ph.D. student Kristin Walker's work. Using the MOTIF model of intergroup feedback, Lindsay's study examined how feedback could be influenced by accountability for accurate feedback and fear of appearing prejudice. Her thesis is part of a manuscript that appeared in GPIR on which she is an author. Lindsay was the 2005 co-recipient (with Taylor Newton) of the Rosa Cahn Hartmann prize for research in psychology. Lindsay worked with Teach for America in post-Katrina New Orleans, and currently is a developmental psychology doctoral student at the University of Michigan.

Katherine Brody

B.S. 2005. Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology and Women's Studies, with minor in Sociology)

Honor's Thesis: Sexism and perceptions of women's persuasive speech

Katie's honors thesis grew out of a course paper for the "Research Methods in Prejudiced Communication" course junior year. Her thesis examined the role of sexism in perception of hyperfeminine persuasive speakers, and satisfied requirements for honors in both Psychology and Women's Studies. Katie earned her law degree in 2008 at Georgetown University.

Sarah Covert

B.A. and B. S. 2005. Newcomb College of Tulane University (Psychology and Women's Studies)

Honor's Thesis: Hey, Baby: Benevolent sexism and terms of endearment

Sarah assisted with several laboratory studies prior to her senior year, and her thesis grew out of the "Research Methods in Prejudiced Communication" course. Her thesis examined women's endorsement of benevolent sexist beliefs predicted their reactions to hearing others use terms of endearment; she is co-author on a submitted manuscript addressing this topic. Sarah's thesis satisfied requirements for honors in both Psychology and Women's Studies; she was named senior scholar in Psychology (with Sara Debus) and in Women's Studies. Sarah also was awarded the Shelley Coverman Memorial Award for research in women's studies, and was class speaker at Newcomb Commencement. After working with Teach for America, Sarah began a pet-sitting service in New Orleans.


Usman Mian

B. S. 2007. Tulane University (Psychology and Cell&Molecular Biology )

Honor's Thesis: Prejudice post-Katrina: The effects of social dominance orientation and competition for resources on perceptions of evacuees

Usman entered medical school upon completion of his BS


Caroline Tipler

B.S. 2011 Tulane University (Psychology and Philosophy). 

Honor' Thesis:  Exemplars: The Effect of Forced Upward Social Comparisons on Overall Mental Health

Caroline was named 2011 senior scholar in Psychology, along with Erin Hedemann.  She then entered Tulane's PhD program in social psychology to continue her interest in stereotyping and social cognition.


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