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2016 Q&pAy Competition Participants: Where Are They Now?

Q&pAy is a small research grant competition held at the SPSP annual convention, and our version of the “Shark Tank” television show. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2017 competition. We had a chance to catch up with the 2016 participants, Tina Sundelin, Ashley Whillans, and Adam Morris to see how their research is progressing, what they gained from taking part in Q&pAy, and more.

Tina, you received a $5,000 grant for your research on whether sleep deprivation negatively affects social interaction and first impressions during a collaborative task. Where is your research project now?

Tina: The project is (slowly) on its way toward completion. We are about to start analyzing videos, as soon as we can recruit two coders blind to the hypotheses!

Ashley, you received $2,500 in funding to examine the potential benefits of using money to change the way that people spend their time. What’s currently happening with your research project?

Ashley: The project is days away from being at its first pre-registered stopping point. After this time, we can look at the data, and decide whether or not to keep going.

Adam, you were given a $2,500 grant to test your hypothesis that explicit beliefs get translated into implicit reactions through imagination – that people acquire implicit reactions to a stimulus by imagining the stimulus with its expected outcome. What’s the status of your research?

Adam: We ran a bunch of participants with the original paradigm, but didn't get the results we were hoping for. So we're currently modifying the paradigm and hoping to run more people soon! The ideas of the original project, however, have spun off into a couple other more successful experiments.

How did participating in Q&pAy benefit you professionally?

Tina: One thing it definitely did was help me overcome my fear of public speaking. I have never been as nervous as I was going up on that stage, and every talk I’ve given since then has paled in comparison. Even now, months later, I still have the feeling of “I did that, I can do anything!” I also very much liked making the video. It was great to think about how I could present the study in a different, creative way and I’m absolutely inclined to do more fun things like this with my research in the future.

Adam: It gave me a chance to try to sell an idea to people who had very different perspectives from mine, in a high-pressure environment. I assume that's what job talks will be like. So it was really good practice. The exposure was also excellent - I had lots of people come up to me afterward and be like, "Aren't you that guy in that competition thing?"

Ashley: The experience helped me to refine my ideas and to gain the necessary funding to complete an extremely challenging and costly experiment. Defending my work to savvy superstar academics was a totally worthwhile experience. It never hurts to “throw yourself to the sharks” before defending your PhD proposal for real. Also, “Shark Tank” is approximately my favorite show ever. I love watching the creative ideas that people come up with and critiquing their pitches (read: shouting at the TV). So, being on the psychology version was pretty much a nerdy life dream come true. Everyone I know was like, “Uhh, of course you did that.” My advisors were 0% surprised.

What advice do you have for future Q&pAy applicants?

Adam: Have fun with it! I spent waaay too much time preparing answers to potential questions. The Q&A really flies by quickly, and the questions are meant to be more fun than serious.

Tina: Enjoy it and have fun (while of course being serious about your research)! Although I was too terrified to realize at the time, even the final part of the competition was actually really enjoyable.

Ashley: Go for it! It is awesome! And...make your videos fun. Tina and Adam killed it on the video production skills. My biggest regret is that my video did not feature a puppet and/or a dramatic story line?!

You can view Tina, Ashley, and Adam’s engaging semifinalist videos, or learn more about this year’s competition. Once you’re ready to submit your application, you can do so until November 1st. Good luck to all of this year’s applicants! 

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