August 17, 2022

By Haley Dittbrenner ’25

John Monopoli, assistant professor of psychology John Monopoli, assistant professor of psychology

National headlines reporting the declining mental health of college students highlight the struggles many students are currently facing.

Emma Piel ’23 and Andrew Jacques ’23, both psychology majors, spent their summer with John Monopoli, assistant professor of psychology, studying emotion socialization — or how others react to a display of emotion and how those reactions impact mental health outcomes — in college students. The two-part study began in the spring 2021 semester.

“We were basically looking at how people react to your emotional displays and how that affects you and how this affects the mental health of college students,” Jacques, of Yarmouth, Maine, said. “Our hope is to help universities create programming for peer interaction to help colleges support mental health on campus.”

Monopoli’s research seeks to develop a questionnaire of self-reported emotion socialization in emerging adults (ages 18-22) and explore how emotion socialization impacts mental health outcomes. Although there is a considerable amount of research on this in children and adolescents, we know very little about this topic in emerging adults – even though we think it’s important for this age group, Monopoli said. The first step was to collect data about emerging adults’ daily experiences with socialization.

“In the spring, we asked students open-ended questions about how their peers typically responded when they showed emotions. My research assistants grouped the responses into different themes,” Monopoli explained. “We need to do that because in order to develop our own survey measure of socialization, with specific items/questions, we need some sort of qualitative foundation.”

The Susquehanna University students had two primary responsibilities over the course of their research. The first was entering the data collected last spring into statistical software for analysis. The second task involved coding the responses related to student socialization.

“Over the summer, Andrew and I have been analyzing data regarding socialization as a protective factor, as well as working on a socialization questionnaire development project,” Piel, of Selinsgrove, said of their work.

She and Jacques say they learned important skills, such as team collaboration, the importance of gaining understanding versus production, and conducting independent studies, as well as how to code qualitative responses and conduct literature reviews and preliminary data analysis.

After graduating, Piel hopes to pursue a master’s degree in elementary education and begin her career in teaching, eventually entering a doctoral program in school psychology or counseling. Jacques intends to pursue a master’s degree and eventual doctorate in clinical psychology.