Amelia Watson

Amelia Watson, Undergraduate student, psychology and criminology

Tracks development of shyness

“Amelia works hard. She is a self-supporting student who has made research a priority, even though it has hurt her financially. She has been working multiple jobs while going to school and making time for unpaid research.” -Melinda Licht, program coordinator, Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates

Hometown: Coralville, Iowa

Faculty mentor/advisor: Grazyna Kochanska, PhD, Stuit Professor of Developmental Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

What is your degree program and expected graduate date? BS Psychology, BA Criminology, May 2023

Please describe your research: My research focuses on preschool children’s shyness. I observe their behavior in a laboratory task in which they are asked to perform a song or dance in front of an unfamiliar adult. Our coding system captures a variety of children’s behavioral and emotional reactions. Because our current research is longitudinal, I will be able to examine how factors such as child temperament and qualities of parenting (assessed at earlier ages) contribute to the development of children’s shyness.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? Although most typically developing young children display some degree of shyness in unfamiliar or stressful situations, excessive shyness may indicate a risk for future anxiety disorders. Understanding biological and environmental factors that contribute to shyness is important in that it can inform parenting prevention and intervention programs.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began participating in research my second year.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research has given me opportunities to meet people like me and has affirmed my interest in a research-based career. My involvement has helped me develop in every area of my life.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation, I hope to pursue a PhD in social psychology and to conduct research as a career.

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