Junior’s Research Presented at Professional Psychology Conference

Posted on February 21, 2014.

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 21, 2014 – High Point University psychology major Ashlee Branch recently had her research presented at the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference held in Austin, Texas.

Branch’s presentation, entitled “Beauty and the Billionaire: Evolutionary Psychology and Risk Regulation as Predictors of Partner Preference,” examines why people may leave current romantic relationship partners for a romantic alternative.

In the study, Branch gave people different relationship scenarios and asked if they would recommend a person stay with their partner, or date someone else. She found that males were more likely than females to encourage “trading up” for physically attractive alternatives when rejection concerns are primed. Additionally, males showed a tendency to encourage the pursuit of romantic alternatives described as physically attractive over ones described as wealthy, particularly when made to think about rejection.

Branch is a research assistant of Dr. Sadie Leder Elder, assistant professor of psychology and associate director of the HPU Poll. This work was part of a year-long research project extending Elder’s research program examining risk regulation in partner selection.

“Being able to have my work presented at the SPSP conference was an unbelievable opportunity. It is an honor to share my work at the national level as an undergrad,” says Branch. “Dr. Elder helped me every step of the way, and under her leadership I have developed the research skills necessary for grad school and my professional career. When I begin preparing for grad school, not only will I know how to conduct research, but I will know how to present and discuss my findings with other professionals in the conference setting.”

“I am very proud of Ashlee’s hard work,” says Elder. “This research project has led to presentations both at SPSP and at the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium, as well as earned a travel grant from HPU’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Works. This is the type of opportunity that makes HPU so special. Unlike larger schools where undergraduates may have a more limited role in research, students here are able to not only design and conduct their own research projects, but also compete for grants and present at the national level.”

A presentation on this research project also received first place at the Big SURS Conference last year.

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