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Undergraduate Research Day 2017

2017 Awards

Phi Beta Kappa Award for Integrative Excellence in the Liberal Arts ($1,000) to:

Jasper E. Hunt, “How Telling is Author Voice? Further Associations Between Personality and Writing”


Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in the Liberal Arts ($500 each) to:

Sydney T. Stein, “Intertwining Origin Stories in How I Met Your Mother

Anne M. Chenchar, “The Use of Magic in Roman Sexuality”


Integrated category:

How Telling is Author Voice? Further Associations Between Personality and Writing
Jasper Hunt with Dr. Robin Barry; Psychology; University of Wyoming; Poster and Oral Presentation; Department of Psychology; Laramie, WY

Just as everyone has a unique personality, so too does everyone have a unique style of writing. The differences in writing styles are so pervasive that individuals’ writing styles persist across writings on different topics, and writing styles are distinguishable in samples from several different domains (e.g. academic publications, diary entries, and school assignments; Pennebaker & King, 1999). Indeed, the consistency of writing styles is on par with individuals’ responses to questionnaires (Pennebaker & King, 1999). Existing research into differences in writing style focuses largely on formal writing samples, such as letters (Broehl & McGee, 1981), published books (Foster, 1996), and the aforementioned academic publications, diary entries, and school assignments (Pennebaker & King, 1999). Yet these analyses do not capture the breadth of things people write. Individuals often write informally, as when they make notes to themselves. The present study aims to address this issue through a novel application of linguistic analysis, thereby supporting the ecological validity of studies examining associations between writing styles and personality characteristics. In this study, 86 cohabiting couples completed self-report questionnaires that assessed multiple personality characteristics. Each couple-member then wrote for 10 minutes about a time when they felt emotionally vulnerable, with many writing in list formats. Afterward, couples had conversations about their vulnerabilities and completed further questionnaires. Writing samples were later digitized and analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker, Francis, & Booth, 2001) software. Finally, correlational analyses were used to examine the associations between individuals' writing tendencies and their personality characteristics.

Liberal Arts category:

Magic Use in Roman Sexual Performance
Anne Chenchar with Dr. Laura DeLozier; Classics; University of Wyoming; Oral presentation; UW Classics Program; Cheyenne, WY

The Roman civilization was incredibly dynamic as it grew and accepted new citizens over the years of its rule. Through the diversity of the culture Romans integrated superstition, and magic use into their society. Roman society put value on the ability to produce viable offspring, and be a competent sexual partner in marriage. Through the stress of this value, Romans who fell short sexually turned to magical practices to help heal them. This idea was so prominent in the society that Gaius Petronius wrote Satyricon a novel about a man and his journey of magical sexual healing. The goal of this project is to investigate the different magical practices that the Romans utilized to cure them of sexual dysfunction. Primary texts in translation from the Roman Empire were used as well as secondary scholarly articles to gain a better understanding of the practices used by the Romans. Magical use through spells and potions were examined, as well as the social aspects of magical use to increase sexual performance.

The Blue French Horn: Intertwining Origin Stories in How I Met Your Mother

Sydney Stein with Dr. Leah LeFebvre; Communication and Journalism; University of Wyoming; Oral presentation; Honors; Breckenridge, CO

This study investigates the intertwining origin stories in the television show, How I Met Your Mother. The TV show follows the main character, Ted Mosby, as he tells his future children about his search for their mother with the help of his best friends – a commonly asked relationship question. While minimal research regarding origin stories exists, this popularized show enables a wider audience and room for investigation. Therefore, this study bases its conceptualization from Sternberg (1986), who proposed love be portrayed in triangles encompassing intimacy, passion and decision/commitment. Through application of intersecting love stories in How I Met Your Mother, origin story research will be expanded to include fictional familial and romantic love. Ted, the narrator, tells the story of how he met the mother to his future children to reaffirm his love for the Mother, while subtly using it to position himself close to another main character, Robin. The narrative analysis demonstrates key components of non-fictional love in a fictional analysis and allows the audience to explore the antenarrative in which Ted re-lives his husband-wife origin story and explores how he ignited a flame for an old love.

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