Teresa Rafello

Teresa Rafello, Psychology major, plays around while waiting at the airport

Major: Psychology

Class of: 2016

I have a complicated past, and it’s been challenging juggling my personal life, two part time jobs, and my academic goals – I want to be the best damn student I can be!

Teresa Rafello, Psychology major, becomes immersed into another culture while traveling abroad“I chose to major in Psychology because my personal experience got me interested in how we let ourselves think, why we accept difficult situations, and how we work toward viable solutions.”

Psychology isn’t just about the emotions and thoughts that go through your brain; it’s WHY you have those thoughts. How we develop emotionally and physically. How we can work with neurology and cognition to diagnose in greater depth. How we can ultimately help people who have inner demons that cannot be seen.

I’ve been challenged on many levels in the program, and it’s fine tuning my focus and determination to amazing levels. My senior research project, Taste and Emotion: The Impact of Flavor on Emotion, has been the most strenuous journey of my academic career. It’s amazing how dedicated Christina Frederick (the chair of the Psych Department) is, and how she transfers this energy to her students. All the students in my senior experimental design course have been accepted to present our research at the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference in May, the top conference for undergraduate psychology students!

Now that I’ve (almost) achieved my Bachelor’s degree, my future seems calm and bright to me. My long term goal is to become a nurse practitioner. I am very interested in the physical sciences, and I’ve always enjoyed helping people and making them happy, so nursing has always seemed like a good fit. Every time I’ve gone to a doctor’s office, I’ve always admired what the nurses and Physician Assistants have done, so that’s what I decided upon.

I’m my own person, on my own path for my own reasons, on my way towards a balance of happiness and stability.

Research Abstract

Research shows psychological variables affect taste ratings (Platte, Herbert, Pauli, & Breslin, 2013). Additionally, Yoshimura, Honjo, Sugai, Kawabe, Kaneyama, Segami, and Kato (2011) determined there was a relationships between the consumption of preferred foods and participant’s experience of emotional pleasantness. The present study examined the reverse: whether various flavors elicit affect in the form of pleasant and unpleasant emotional identification.

Pleasant and unpleasant affect were collected using the Geneva Emotion Wheel (GEW; Scherer, Shuman, Fontaine, & Soriano, 2013). Participants (n=90) were identified via convenience sampling and randomly assigned to one flavor condition (sweet, salty, and flavorless). A double-blind methodology was employed. After a baseline gustatory cleansing using drinking water, participants sampled their assigned flavor and indicated their emotional state via the GEW. The GEW was divided into halves categorized by pleasant and unpleasant emotions. By comparing expected participant emotional identification for each flavor condition, a Chi-Square test of independence showed a significant difference (p =.029) between flavor conditions and emotional identification.

Results of the current study may indicate consumption of specific flavors produce varying pleasant and unpleasant emotional states, which may be applicable to future research exploring the relationship between taste and emotional affect.

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