Meet Jennifer Deren ’20

Gleaning Insights from Survey Data

Psychology major considers self-awareness of the blind

Do blind people have a clear sense of who they are? How does their concept of themselves correlate with measures of well being such as happiness, loneliness and self-esteem?

These are some of the questions that Jennifer Deren ’20, will explore in an eight-week research project with psychology professor Elizabeth Majka under the Creative and Scholarly Endeavors (CASE) program. CASE fellows work on a scholarly or creative project under the supervision of a faculty mentor; juniors and seniors earn a stipend of $3,000.

In her study, “Distinct Self-Views? Examining Self-Concept Clarity in Sighted and Blind Individuals,” Deren will analyze data collected by Majka in earlier surveys of blind and sighted respondents.

Her working premise: blind people may have a lower self-concept because they are missing part of the world, Deren said. Alternatively, it’s possible that they look inward and work harder to define themselves. She’ll collaborate with psychology student, Nazia Khan ’21, who is working on another project under Majka and psychology professor Jessica Sim.

A psychology major from Park Ridge, Deren plans to pursue a career in counseling and is finding it valuable to learn how social psychology research is conducted. “I’m learning how to set up experiments and consider the results in light of previously published research,” she said.

“She might come up with a new question to test,” Majka said.

Deren hopes to publish her results in a journal for undergraduate research and present at an off-campus conference for student researchers. That would be in addition to participating in the campus showcase for CASE students in September.

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