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Smart Home Project records movement, behavior

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

If anyone ever noticed, which is unlikely, it appears that Linda Moulder and Jerry White have smoke detectors in every room of their home and a few other peculiar places—inside the refrigerator, for instance.

Visitors are much more interested in watching the cat wait for her automatic food dispenser to activate.

Yet to a cross-disciplinary team of WSU researchers, the 30 or so gadgets on the ceilings and walls are perhaps the future to helping the aging live safely and independently in their homes as long as possible. The technology that can keep tabs on mental and physical well-being could also ease the job of caregivers (often adult children who are still working and raising families), perhaps boosting their mental health and decreasing burnout.

This is critically important as the population ages and more people want to remain at home, avoiding nursing homes and other care facilities.

Learn more about this smart research by the Department of Psychology and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Tools can help aged keep independence

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

Sometimes a simple tool to assist with putting on socks or opening jars can keep an elderly person or someone with disabilities living independently in their own home for longer.

WSU researchers are finding many people don’t know about helpful devices readily available on the market—such as medication reminders that talk, knives that rock to ease food cutting, large-grip utensils, electric door openers, money identifiers, and automatic electricity shutoffs.

That’s why students in the Department of Psychology and the College of Nursing recently made a series of informational videos highlighting common tools to assist people with everything from hearing, vision, and remembering important tasks—like taking medications—to daily duties such as cooking, dressing, and using the bathroom.

For many elderly, the discovery means freedom.

Find out more and take the survey to view several assistive technology options

Sociologist, psychologist named first WSU Honors College distinguished professors

Monica Johnson
Monica Johnson
Raymond Quock
Raymond Quock

A professor of sociology and a professor of psychology are the first distinguished professors of the Honors College at Washington State University.

Sociologist Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson and psychologist Raymond Quock were selected based on their demonstrated excellence in teaching, research, and outreach service, said Daryll DeWald, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences which partnered with Honors to create the new professorships.

“Both Monica and Raymond are outstanding teachers and researchers in their respective fields,” DeWald said. “Formalizing this partnership between the two colleges enables our outstanding professors to enrich the Honors environment in a dedicated manner while strengthening both programs overall.”

Read more at WSU News

Growth mindset study seeks to expand to area high schools

Joyce Ehrlinger
Joyce Ehrlinger

Believing in your ability to learn can make you smarter. This is the idea Joyce Ehrlinger, assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University, is bringing to high school classrooms in the Inland Northwest.

For the last year, Ehrlinger and a team of researchers have worked with math students at Pullman and Moscow high schools to develop a growth mindset, the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed by your IQ but can be developed through dedication and hard work. She is currently looking to expand the study to high schools in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and elsewhere in the region.

“Say you fail a math test. For someone who thinks math is an ability you either have or don’t have, this negative feedback makes them pull away from math completely,” Ehrlinger said. “For someone with a growth mindset, failing a test is not a complete overarching statement about them as a person and their abilities; rather, it gives them specific information about where they can improve.”

Ehrlinger’s post-doctoral work with Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck provided conclusive evidence a growth mindset ultimately leads to higher grades, higher SAT scores and greater confidence to tackle difficult subjects. However, psychologists do not have a strong understanding of why or how the growth mindset helps overall performance.

Ehrlinger’s hope is to fix this with her current study.

Learn more

Women make great leaders – now they just need to start believing it

Joyce Ehrlinger
Joyce Ehrlinger
The fact that women are vastly under-represented in high-level leadership positions is well known, but the exact reason for it is still the subject of much debate.

Research has long shown that men are more self-assured in general, and often overestimate their abilities and potential, while women are far more prone to underestimate and second-guess themselves.

Research by WSU psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger and Cornell psychologist David Dunning also shows that women tend to rate themselves more negatively.

In the study, male and female college students were given a quiz on scientific reasoning, after which they were asked to assess how many questions they thought they had gotten right. On average, the male students thought they had gotten 7.1 answers right, while the female students thought they had answered only 5.8 correctly.

In reality, though, the average for male and female students was almost exactly the same – 7.5 correct answers for the female students and 7.9 for the male students.

This negative self-perception can prevent women from taking on new challenges or opportunities.

Find out more about the gender gap in leadership assessment