APA's Science Student Council awarded psychology graduate students Celia Gonzalez and Julie Milligan with its first annual Early Research Awards in October.
The predoctoral research competition rewards two categories of outstanding student research projects completed before the dissertation-one each in basic and applied psychological research.
"It's nice to know that others think my work is interesting and relevant," says Gonzalez, who is a fourth-year social psychology doctoral student at New York University.
Gonzalez's studies, which won the basic award, examined the manner in which people manage their social connections. She found that participants with a negative mood are more likely to be concerned about their status within their in-group-such as their place in their university's social hierarchy- than those with a positive mood. As a result, negatively induced participants were more dependent upon explicit information about their in-group role from other members of their in-group than were positively induced participants.
Gonzalez hopes to publish the award-winning set of studies and plans to continue investigating human social behavior.
Milligan, a third-year doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, won the applied award for investigating the development of racial attitudes in middle childhood.
Her research interests stem from attending a multicultural elementary school where she witnessed a large amount of racial tension.
"[In my research] I found a way to make the tension work," she says, by seeking the most effective multicultural educational experience for children. Her study compared the effects of teaching children about racism and teaching them about accomplished African Americans. She found that lessons that included learning about racism produced more positive and less negative attitudes toward African Americans than did race-based lessons, such as those taught during Black History Month.
She hopes to continue investigating ways to encourage the development of integrated multicultural communities.