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Shelby Boggs

What advice do you have for undergraduates who are just starting out in research?

My advice is to do as much as possible. Get involved in several studies and find what lab best fits you and your interests.


Boggs, S.T.; Ford, C.J.; Shook, N.S. Dangerous World Beliefs and Prejudicial Attitudes as Possible Mediations between Disgust Sensitivity and Conservatism. (In Preparation)

When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was 10, I was obsessed with CSI and crime shows. I always wanted to be a forensic investigator. I even had a CSI drawing kit to identify criminals.

What are your current plans/career goals beyond the undergraduate?

After finishing undergrad, I plan on going to graduate school to obtain my Ph.D. in Social Psychology, though I have entertained the idea of attending law school, or potentially joining the Peace Corps to do service work internationally. Ultimately, I want a career that fosters my interest in understanding and helping individuals.

When did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I began undergraduate research in the fall of my sophomore year working in Dr. Metzger’s adolescent lab.

How long have you been involved in undergraduate research?

I have been involved in undergraduate research for a little more than one year. I have had the privilege of working with four great graduate students, Kaitlyn Ferris, Benjamin Oosterhoff, Matthew McNally, and currently Cameron Ford, and two professors, Dr. Metzger and Dr. Natalie Shook, that truly want to help undergraduates gain experience in the field of psychological research. I also had the opportunity to participate in the 2015 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program at WVU, working in Dr. Shook’s Social Psychology lab.

Why did you choose get involved in undergraduate research?

I first got involved in research because I wanted to understand how psychologists, through the decades, conducted their famous experiments. I wanted to gain firsthand experience when it came to research.

How did you find/connect with your first faculty research adviser?

A mass email was sent out in search of research assistants. I applied and interviewed for the position and was chosen to work with a doctoral candidate on her dissertation.

What is your current research?

Humans have adapted many strategies (physiological and psychological) to avoid disease and infection in order to increase survival. One psychological process in particular, the emotion of disgust, has evolved to aid in pathogen avoidance and limits the transmission of diseases. Previous research has found that disgust is part of the “behavioral immune system” which also contributes to the avoidance of other people or situations that are potentially harmful or toxic to the individual. As a result, some humans are more sensitive to experiencing disgust than others, particularly people who tend to be more conservative. Currently, Dr. Natalie Shook, Cameron Ford, and I are conducting research looking at the relation among disgust sensitivity, beliefs the world is a dangerous place, racism, and conservatism. We hypothesize that disgust sensitivity will have a causal relationship with conservatism, and that dangerous world beliefs and prejudicial attitudes may serve as mediators of this relationship.

What skills have you learned by doing research that you would not have learned otherwise (i.e., from lecture alone)?

Research has taught me so many useful skills that cannot be obtained in lecture. From research I have learned to use 3 different statistical analysis programs, as well as different statistical methods. The most important skills I have learned have been how to design a study, and handle problems that arise when studies go awry.