Jules Merguie:  Effects of Confidence on Visual Perception

This semester I traveled to Houston, Texas, to participate in the Southwestern Psychological Association conference from April 12th to the 15th. I have been working on research throughout the year in Dr. Ken Sobel’s lab, and my lab partner and I were accepted to give a talk at the conference. This was the first time I had gone to any sort of professional conference in my field, much less give a talk about our research in front of a group of people, so I was very nervous the Friday of our talk. I had no idea what to expect as we were traveling to Houston, but I was just thankful to be presenting with my lab partner.

The conference’s theme this year dealt with how psychology might be helpful when it comes to future challenges, such as climate change and geopolitical issues. The first lecture I attended featured one of the invited speakers and ended up being one of my favorite talks of the whole weekend. The speaker discussed engaged psychology and how paying attention to the element of human thought processes and behavior instead of focusing only involved numbers would be helpful in preventing things like the bubble pop in 2007 from happening again. The speaker incorporated how the field I am interested in could be used in multidisciplinary collaboration, and that was incredibly useful for me to hear. After that speaker’s talk, I went to look around the main floor to check out some of the research posters on display and some of the graduate schools that were there advertising to undergraduates. It was genuinely fun being able to talk to professionals about their different graduate schools, but I ended up camping out at the UCA booth a little more than I should have because my professors were there talking to potential grad students.

As the day progressed, it started to sink in that I was going to be presenting my research soon, so I was thankful that I had the opportunity to present in front of Dr. Sobel beforehand because I knew he would be upfront with me. After tweaking some my presentation and moving things around, my lab partner, Aisha, and I were about as ready as we could have been. The talk went so much better than I thought it would, not because it was free from errors, but because the tone I could have with the crowd was more conversational than I expected. We are researching a phenomenon that tends to be a little bit more comical than other concepts in psychology, so as we presented our audience seemed to be laughing with us. I think after noticing how fun and genuinely interested our crowd was, it allowed me to take a more casual tone with the people I was speaking to. This big, scary, formal presentation turned into something much more fun and memorable than I expected because of the audience participation. I was so touched to see that many of my professors that were at the conference had made it to our talk, and they had conversations with me about the research we were doing and added their own expertise to the conversation.

The rest of the conference continued without a hitch. I was excited to see a plethora of topics covered by talks or poster sessions throughout the conference. My favorite session was one of the clinical poster sessions because of the genuine curiosity and wonder it sparked within me. It was incredible considering the time and hard work that went into all that these people were doing, and it was inspiring for me to think about how this could definitely be my future.