Below is a brief synopsis of the research Snow College students and faculty have
been doing. Recently, the research was presented by students at a National Conference
and the students are in the process of preparing it for publication.
Here is what we have been doing. We noticed that there is research saying that
texting and driving is potentially lethal, there are also reports of students staying
up well into the night texting…. But NO research is out there that explains WHY students
do this. So we started talking in one of my upper level classes and had the idea
that when students receive a text they have a need to answer it… so much so that
if they are unable to they actually have negative emotional consequence such as
So last year we started a pilot study. We surveyed over 300 students here at snow
and asked them about their texting habits, frequency, etc. But we were sure to include
a question about how they felt when they could not respond to a text. Here are some
of the amazing results from last year’s research:
- 86% of snow college students text and drive
- Many students do not consider it texting and driving if they only do it once and
a while (their vision is the person who is doing it all the time)
- For About 80% of students texting regularly disrupts their studying time and class
- Most students know 0 people who do not have a cell phone
- The best correlative predictor of if a student will text while driving or wake up
to text is if they will text in class.
Probably two of the most significant findings are these:
- Students were on average woken up 2-5 times a week due to texting
- About 65% of students report depressive or anxiety related emotions when they are
unable to text
This year we have given the survey to over 1800 students (both college and high school)
and have refined the study somewhat gaining even more insight into the phenomena
- We have had numerous students when taking the survey say that they don’t wake up
to text because they STAY up texting
- The average student stays up over 2 hours past their intended bed time. Many students
stay up until between 3:00-5:00am texting
- Students are getting their first cell phones at younger ages
- The highest number of texts sent and received so far is 45,000 a month – which would
mean that the student would be texting just over one text every minute every day
for a month.
- We also have found that students grossly underestimate the number of texts they send
& receive (they may report 500 but it is more likely to be 8 or 900)
- **We did find that the younger students were the greater the emotional impact was
if they received a text and could not answer it.
- **Another big finding is that over 75% of students have negative emotional impacts
from constant texting – 65% say they are anxious or depressed when they can not answer
- We also found: girls are more emotionally impacted by cell phones
- In the future we plan on taking the research further. We will probably refine the
measure a little more, then we will give it to students across the nation (I will
be talking to people at a conference in January)
- We will be seeking grant money (which we will need for the next phase)
- The final phase of the research will be to actually hook people up to skin conductance
machines (kind of like lie detectors) so we can actually measure the emotional changes
when a student receives a text but can not answer it.
- The GREAT thing about this research is the student drive. Although I have helped,
steered, and worked with them, the students are the ones who are putting the hours
in to make sure it happens
On top of the great things that are happening with the texting research, the Psychology
Department is doing A LOT more than just that.
- Survivors Hope Project – We are starting to record the stories of survivors of sexual
assault, domestic violence, and abuse. We will share that with the wellness center
so when others are going through these events they can listen to know they are not
alone and there is hope.
- Project M – Next semester we will start collecting women’s and teen girl’s magazines.
Students will then start coding patterns in images, stories, etc… we want to see
the messages girls and women are being bombarded with all the time and see if they
- Sexual Assault Prevention & Healthy Dating – This is the ongoing service project
the psychology club does. I teach the students how to help teach sexual assault
prevention (self-defense & knowledge based) then we take our courses to the female
students here as well as out to the community. Over the last year we have taught
over 200 girls, and the psychology students who have been involved have individually
amassed over 30 hours of service each.
- Local Ghost Stories – In conjunction with my psychology of fear we are going to start
collecting local ghost stories. The end goal will be to make 10min short movies
that involve many of the other departments on campus (i.e. costume, acting, film,
special effects, etc)
- We have just started a new class to get students into volunteer experiences in their
respective fields. We are currently working with local mental health providers,
schools, and other organizations to see how students can be involved.
- We are actively taking student to conferences and helping them become published –
which at the freshman & sophomore level is amazing – last year we took about 20 students
to the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association (RMPA) conference
- We will be taking another large (over 25) group of students to Reno this year for
- My Psychology in the Popular Media class is getting some attention from other schools.
I will be presenting on the model I use to teach the class at an upcoming conference
Research endeavors and successes: I think it is important to identify that even though Snow is not a research institution
we are actively engaging our students in research experience. Some of it is research
that we have going on locally, some we work with our student to help create, and
some is in conjunction with other schools (currently working on solidifying projects
from University of Rhode Island, USU, SUU, Trident Tech, and Princeton). Here are
some of our current endeavors or successes.
- We took two sophomores to present research at a national conference in FL (they were
the only sophomores there.
- We recently had 3 submissions accepted at the National Conference for Undergraduate
- We have just submitted 8 proposals to the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association
- We help host a local conference – Central Utah Community Conference
- Some of the student driven research projects include
- Success of Long-Term Absentee Relationships in a Culturally Specific Group – (AKA
– Do girls really marry the missionary they wait for)
- Body Image Ideals Influenced by Prime-Time Television
- Cartoon Creep – (examining the influx of adult directed comments in cartoons)
- Self-Esteem's Influence on the Interpretation of Flirting
- Age-graded Influence on the Encoding of Public Flashbulb Memories
- Research on the social class of TV criminals (we are seeing that crime dramas are
over-representing wealthy individuals as the perpetrators of crime) – This was a
poster presentation at a local conference last year
- We are also planning on starting research on the level of congruence between parents
beliefs about adolescent drug use and the reality – specifically if the parents know
what drugs their children are even being exposed to now.
Still some more notes:
- In the last four years the number of psychology majors has over doubled.
- Snow used to have one course that transferred (1010) and two other small courses
that would not.
- Now we have six courses above Intro which all transfer, and are all full (over 30
students) each semester.
- Now we also teach ed-net courses to local high schools
- And online courses in psy 1010
- **One of these courses, Psychology in the Popular Media, is a fun and innovative
class that is unique enough that we are presenting on it at conferences
- We also teach the larger sections in the library rooms & use iClicker
- AND of course… now we have the Social Science Lab. Which has really made a lot of
these things much easier to accomplish.