Current and Past Research

Synchronization and Complex Systems Theory

Eastern Psychological Association Conference, March 2011

My primary research interest is in examining how human emotion is derived from a process of our synchronization to the various rhythms of life. Berscheid (1987), for example, found that we are happiest when we are moving towards progressive coordination or closeness with a significant other. Ironically, once this coordination or synchronization has been achieved, most couples become dissatisfied and bored. Once you have become synchronized with another, the actions of the other, as well as yourself, become predictable. Hsee and Abelson (1991) suggest that emotion is only triggered by movement or change; stasis leads to a lack of emotion or even negative affect. Thus, paradoxically, our experience of the positive emotions we call love may be dependent on moving toward but never reaching full synchronization with one's partner. Marriage counselors, for instance, often talk of spontaneity and changing interaction patterns in order to spice up a stagnant relationship.

I believe that these principles (synchronization and emotion) apply to a wide variety of phenomena (e.g., music, social interaction, the perception of humor, and personality). Songs with simple catchy patterns, for instance, are easy to like, but we just as easily fall out of love with the pop song of the week. Songs that tend to stand the test of time often include some level of complexity that keeps surprising us (e.g., Jazz). These songs are catchy enough to promote synchronization, yet they are, ironically, complex enough to simultaneously disrupt this synchronization.

Eastern Psychological Association Conference, March 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last several years, I have been working out the details of synchronization theory and I am designing a series of experiments in an effort to find support for this theory. So far I have focused on the interaction between music, personality, and emotion. I have conducted multiple experiments on this topic and have found that each experiment provides some answers but also leads to new questions. Each experiment has built on the previous one, and this has led to a gradual refining of the design in order to find evidence for the synchronization phenomenon. The next phase of this research involves applying synchronization theory to other areas (e.g., dyadic interaction, romantic relationships, humor, mystery novels, theatre, film, etc.). Below are conference posters and papers that represent the research of the lab over the last several years.

Conference Presentations

Buchholz, C.T., Pena, J.S., Hurst, K.Q., Keith, V.E., Hord, E.K., Urecki, C.Z., & VanNess, K.L. (2013). The complexity of music: Complex song choice may reflect a general preference for unpredictability. Poster presented at the twenty fifth annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

Urecki, C.Z., Pena, J.S., Buchholz, C.T., VanNess, K.L., Keith, V.E., Hord, E.K., Hurst, K.Q., Smith, R.D., & Fujimura, L.M (2013). The development of the preference for complexity scale. Poster presented at the twenty fifth annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science, Washington, DC.  

VanNess, K., Hord, E., Keith, V., Urecki, C., Pena, J., Hurst, K, Buchholz, C., Fujimura, L., & Smith, R. (2013). The relationship between personality and film preferences. Poster presented at the twenty fifth annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science, Washington, DC.  

Keith, V., Hurst, K., Pena, J., Urecki, C., VanNess, K., Hord, E., Buchholz, C., Smith, R., & Fujimura, L. (2013). The tall dark stranger: Does uncertainty make people seem more attractive? Poster presented at the twenty fifth annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science, Washington, DC.  

Pena, J.S., Buchholz, C.T., Hord, E.K., VanNess, K.L., Keith, V.E., Hurst, K.Q., Urecki, C.Z., Fujimura, L.M., & Smith, R.D. (2013). What's your favorite song? Examining the complexity of musical preferences. Poster presented at the twenty fifth annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science, Washington, DC. 

Buchholz, C., Pena, S.,Hord, E., Keith, V.,VanNess, K., Bankert, M., & Urecki, C. (2012, February). The effects of cognitive load and complexity on music preference. Poster presented at the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA.

Urecki, C., Keith, V.,Hord, E., VanNess, K., Pena, S., Bankert, M., & Buchholz, C. (2012, February). Examining close-mindedness and uncertainty's effects on the likelihood to hire ex-convicts. Poster presented at the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA.

Bankert, M., VanNess, K., Hord, E., Pena, S., Keith, V.,Urecki, C., & Buchholz, C. (2012, February). Individual preferences for uncertainty: An ironically pleasurable stimulus. Poster presented at the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA.

Urecki, C., Buchholz, C., Marsh, G., VanNess, K., Hoover, B., & Bankert, M. (2011, March). The complexity of melancholy: Music preference and the perception of music. Poster presented at the eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Cambridge, MA. 

Bankert, M., Buchholz, C., Hoover, B., VanNess, K., Babbitt, A. & Urecki, C. (2011, March). Examining the relationship between individual differences in musical knowledge and music preference. Poster presented at the eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Cambridge, MA.

Babbitt, A., Buchholz, C., Urecki, C., Bankert, M. (2011, March). The effects of uncertainty on interpersonal relations in terms of prolonged satisfaction ratings. Poster presented at the eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Cambridge, MA.

Buchholz, C., Babbitt, A., VanNess, K., Hoover, B., Urecki, C., & Bankert, M. (2011, March). Cognitive ability and the complexity of music: Complex systems seeking complex stimuli. Poster presented at the eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Cambridge, MA.

Mutispaugh, L., & Beavers, M. (2008, April). The importance of music versus musical experience in music choice. Poster presented at the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA.

Beavers, M., & Mutispaugh, L.(2008, April). Does our personality predict music preference? Poster presented at the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA.

Ford, B., & Ray, J. (2008, April). The effects music on the perception of time. Poster presented at the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA.

Mutispaugh, L., Buchholz, C., Recher, J., & Beavers, M. (2007, October). Music preference and personality: An examination of how simple or complex music relates to personality. Poster presented at the 9th annual Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship, Sweet Briar College, VA.

Recher, J., Buchholz, C.T., Mutispaugh, L., & Beavers, M. (2007, March). Music preference and locus of control: Do we use music to control our moods? Poster presented at the 78th annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Beavers, M., Buchholz, C.T., Sullivan, M., & Ennis, R. (2007, March). Why do we like sad music? Poster presented at the 78th annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Ennis, R., Buchholz, C.T., Beavers, M., & Mutispaugh, L. (2007, March). Music and personality: A closer look at the relationship between the Five Factor Model, self-esteem, and music preference. Poster presented at the 78th annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Sullivan, M., Buchholz, C.T., Martin, S., Ennis, R., & Recher, J. (2007, March). Sensation seeking and music preference. Poster presented at the 78th annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Publications

Beavers, M., & Mutispaugh, L. (2008). Does personality predict music preference? Proceedings of the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA., 63- 66.

Mutispaugh, L., & Beavers, M. (2008). The importance of music versus musical experience in music choice. Proceedings of the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA., 72-74.

Ford, B., & Ray, J. (2008). The effects music on the perception of time. Proceedings of the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA., 75-77.

Sandras, C., & Lamma, B. (2008). Self-monitoring and social conformity. Proceedings of the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA., 54-56.

Young, G. (2008). The effects of empathy and group size on helping behaviors in emergency situations. Proceedings of the second annual L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Charlottesville, VA., 124-126.

Published Abstracts

Urecki, C., Buchholz, C., Marsh, G., VanNess, K., Hoover, B., & Bankert, M. (2011). The complexity of melancholy: Music preference and the perception of music. [Abstract] Eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 17.

Bankert, M., Buchholz, C., Hoover, B., VanNess, K., Babbitt, A. & Urecki, C. (2011). Examining the relationship between individual differences in musical knowledge and music preference. [Abstract] Eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 92.

Babbitt, A., Buchholz, C., Urecki, C., Bankert, M. (2011, March). The effects of uncertainty on interpersonal relations in terms of prolonged satisfaction ratings. [Abstract] Eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 52.

Buchholz, C., Babbitt, A., VanNess, K., Hoover, B., Urecki, C., & Bankert, M. (2011). Cognitive ability and the complexity of music: Complex systems seeking complex stimuli. [Abstract] Eighty first annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 16.

Mutispaugh, L., Buchholz, C., Recher, J., & Beavers, M. (2007, October). Music preference and personality: An examination of how simple or complex music relates to personality. [Abstract] Ninth annual Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship, 25.

Buchholz, C.T., Mutispaugh, L., Recher, J., & Sullivan, M. (2007, March). The complexity of music: An examination of the relationship between personality and music preference. [Abstract] Seventy-eighth annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 150.

Recher, J., Buchholz, C.T., Mutispaugh, L., & Beavers, M. (2007, March). Music preference and locus of control: Do we use music to control our moods? [Abstract] Seventy-eighth annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 150.

Beavers, M., Buchholz, C.T., Sullivan, M., & Ennis, R. (2007, March). Why do we like sad music? [Abstract] Seventy-eighth annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 150.

Ennis, R., Buchholz, C.T., Beavers, M., & Mutispaugh, L. (2007, March). Music and personality: A closer look at the relationship between the Five Factor Model, self-esteem, and music preference. [Abstract] Seventy-eighth annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 150.

Sullivan, M., Buchholz, C.T., Martin, S., Ennis, R., & Recher, J. (2007, March). Sensation seeking and music preference. [Abstract] Seventy-eighth annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 150.

 

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