Psychology Research Assistants Presenting at the 2024 MPA Conference

Theo Thompson-Guldseth, Halle Bretz, Mounika Karri, Palwasha Khan, Paul Krenik

The following undergraduate research assistants, under the mentorship of Dr. Alex Ajayi, presented their work at the 2024 Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, April 18th - 20th in Chicago, Illinois.

The Undergraduate Psychology Mortensen Travel Award provides up to $500 for undergraduate psychology majors who are presenting a poster or paper at an undergraduate research conference or professional psychological conference. 

Theo Thompson-Guldseth and Palwasha Khan 

The Longitudinal Relationship Between Smartphone Use and Well-being

This longitudinal study investigates the impact of screen time on various psychological and physiological variables among young adults, including depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness, physical activity, and sleep quality. Participants engaged in data collection at four intervals over a month-long period. This research, supported by the Mortensen Travel Award, culminates in a presentation at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. The study was conducted under the guidance of Alex Ajayi within the Identity and Well-being research lab.

Halle Bretz and Mounika Karri

Interpersonal Predictors of Psychological Help-Seeking among Black Americans

Our study examined the influence of interpersonal variables, namely racial discrimination and positive social relationships, and psychological distress, on psychological help-seeking attitudes among African Americans. We analyzed self-reports from 353 adults across different age groups. We found that cisgender men reported less willingness to seek professional help compared to cisgender women. We also found that psychological distress notably impedes the willingness to seek help for men but not for women. Thanks to the Mortensen Travel Award, we had the opportunity to present our findings at the Midwestern Psychology Association, representing the University of Minnesota.

Paul Krenik 

Coping Strategies and Resilience Among Sexual Minorities of Color

There are many permutations of multiple minority statuses, but among these, there has been significant interest in the stress and resilience among sexual minorities of color. The present study interviewed 18 people who identified as a sexual minority of color and coded their responses for coping strategies that are used in response to this stress. Using thematic analysis, we identified four broad coping strategies reported by participants, including avoidance for self-preservation, selective social support and affirming spaces, impression management, and acceptance and self-empowerment. Interviews included experiences regarding coming out, familial acceptance, and conformist behaviors that they engaged in. This paper illuminates multiple explorational and clinically significant findings that can help inform future interventions that can be better targeted toward supporting people with dual minority identities. An important piece of this research has been the Mortensen Travel Award which has given me the opportunity to go to the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago the weekend of April 18-20.


Composed by Madison Stromberg, communications assistant.

Share on: