Research & Projects

Sandra K. Webster

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Professor of Psychology
Faculty Development Officer
Westminster College
New Wilmington, PA , USA 

McCandless Scholar 2005Overlooking the Labrang Monestary

One Westminster College Faculty member is awarded the McCandless each year based on the quality of the proposals.  I was selected for this honor in 2005.  The first part of my activities was a study tour of Western China and participation in the International Congress of Psychology in Beijing, where I presented my research on Korean Han to a mainly Chinese audience. (Abstract is in the next section.)

Project Title:  Turning Adversity into Character:  Further Explorations of the Korean Emotion Han and its Possible Counterparts in Other Cultures

 Purpose:  To investigate the concept of Han as it may apply to other Asian and/or oppressed cultures/people groups. Korea is an ancient land and a people tied deeply to its own history.  That history has been one of repeated external and internal oppression.   The Korean people have developed a specific emotional coping style that they believe not only protects them from the negative effects of the chronic stress they have experienced as a people, but that has also has built the character of the Korean people, nationally and individually.  The name for that specific emotional adaptive coping style is Han.  The mechanism by which adversity is translated into positive character is one that interests social scientists both inside and outside of Korea.  Yet the very nature of Han makes it difficult for Koreans to discuss or study, and foreign scholars show a marked lack of interest in a small nation which they unwisely view as marginal in importance.  The purpose of the proposed research program is to explore how much the Korean adaptation style can be extended into other cultures/people groups.  What are the situational constraints necessary to move from chronic stress to strong character and can they be generalized to other nations and/or groups of people? 

Faculty Development Initiatives 2004-05

Pursuing HanGraduate Class at Sungshin Women's University

Three separate empirical investigations into the Korean emotion "Han" have been conducted.  The first was a qualiative investigation with Korean students at an English Camp.  The second was an experimental survey of perceptions of Han as influenced by gender and generation with a sample of Korean families. The graduate students pictured above fielded this study as a class project.  The third empirical investigation was the same survey with American families.

Webster, S.K. & Ko, Y.G. (2004).  Gender and generation effects on perceived consequences of Han.  Poster presented at the International Congress of Psychology, August 2004, Beijing, China.

Abstract.  Han is a negative emotional state caused by something outside the individual’s direct control.  Its perceived consequences were investigated as a function of gender and generation with families of South Korean (105) and U.S. (104) students. A Han scenario depicted a 25 or 50 year old man or woman.  In both samples positive consequences were perceived to be less likely to result from Han than were negative consequences, although South Koreans perceived greater likelihood for positive consequences of Han than did Americans. 

Webster, S.K. & Ko, Y.G. (2003)  South Korean and American Negative Emotion Attributions: Gender and Age.  Poster presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, August 2003, Toronto, Canada.

Abstract:  Attribution patterns for Han, a negative emotional state caused by something outside the individual’s direct control, were investigated as a function of gender and generation. Families of South Korean (105) and U.S. (104) students made self, other and situational attributions for a Han scenario depicting a 25 or 50 year old man or woman.  South Koreans made higher other attributions and Americans made higher self attributions.  South Korean self attributions were greatest for women rating young male scenarios but lowest for men rating middle aged male scenarios. Situation attributions were highest among South Korean middle aged people rating young scenarios.

Webster, S.K. & Ko, Y.G. (2002).  Generational and gender effects on Korean perceptions of Han.  Poster presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, August 2002, Chicago, IL.

Abstract: Perceptions of the Korean emotion/mood/trait of Han were examined as a function of age and gender.  A scenario describing a person (male or female) aged 25 or 50 experiencing Han was evaluated by family members of 90 Korean women university students (81 daughters, 88 mothers, 85 fathers, and 55 brothers or male cousins).  The results showed that perceptions of Han were influenced by gender and age of both the person described in the scenario and the participant.  Despair and frustration were rated higher for women, by women and by the young.  Pain and sorrow ratings were highest by young women perceiving a young person. Other dimensions of Han perceptions in this report include pain and sorrow, self-concern, anger and character development.

Webster. S.K. (2001).  Pursuing Han:  A psychological investigation of Korean College Student Perceptions.  Fulbright Forum, March 2001, Korean American Education Commission, Seoul, South Korea.

Fulbright Lecturer in Seoul, Korea 2000-2001

Reunificatin Attitudes Research Team

In addition to the Han research described above I worked with students in my psychometrics class on a study of student attitudes toward reunification of North and South Korea.

Webster, S.K. (2001).  Teaching psychometrics in South Korea through a reunification attitude study.  Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 2001, San Francisco.

Abstract. The introduction of a team term project into a Korean psychometrics class is described.  Students developed an item pool of attitude statements regarding the reunification of South Korea and North Korea.  Then teams of students used the item pool to develop attitude questionnaires, survey other students, analyze the results and recommend which items to include in an Attitudes Toward Reunification Questionnaire.  Evaluation of the project focuses on practical course administration issues and cross-cultural considerations.

A different report of this research was the basis for the article:
Webster, S.K., Kim, Hee-woung, Kim, Soyeon, Jeon, Jin-su, & Lee, Jung-im. (2001). University of student attitudes toward reunification.  The Korea Fulbright Review, Summer 2001, 4-9.

Collaborations with members of the Class of 2004

Senior Studies Team 2004

Ries, Amanda Effect of Learning Proactive Coping Skills on Stressors in the First Year College Transition
Scilla, Tiffanie R. Influence of Cognitive Load and Gender on Affect in Jealousy Situations, The
Smith, Rachel E. Honors--The Influence of Emotion on Spatial and Verbal Working Memory: Completing the n-back Task with Varying Degrees of Cognitive Load
Wallace, Damaris Effects of Emotion Regulation through Talking on Math Anxiety and Math Test Performance

Collaborations with members of the Class of 2003Senior Studies Team 2003

Dougherty, Elizabeth The Effect of Mood and Type of Help on Volunteerism
Henry, Courtney L. Relationships Among Workplace Situational Stress and Control, Personal Control, and Coping, The
Moore, Diana Influence of Positive and Negative Emotion and State-Dependency on Facial and Verbal Content Recognition, The
Thomas, Anna Effects of Regulated Positive and Negative Emotions on Episodic Memory
Wertz, Holly Effects of Gender and Relationship Type on Nonverbal Emotion Expression Efficacy, The

Collaborations with members of the Class of 2002

Brooks, Myrande Qualitative Study of Individuals with Cancer and their Issues of Control, Attributional Styles, and Experiences of Anger, A

Greenwood, Kristen Effects of Threat Type, Realism, and Gender on Anger and Jealousy in Romantic Relationships, The
McCandless, Anita M. Roles of Musical Recognition and Perception Based on Different Levels of Musicanship, The
Zelezniak, Lisa  Role of Parental Conflict in Conflictual Independence and College Adjustment

Collaborations with members of the Class of 1999Seniors on break from their theses presentations in December 1998.

(I'm at 12:00 in the picture.  Moving clockwise around the photo:)
  • Autumn Pontius.  THE EFFECTS OF UNCONSCIOUS TRANSFERENCE ON THE ACCURACY OF EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION. (Autumn presented this research at the National Science Foundation and Council on Undergraduate Research co-sponsored poster session April Dialogue in Washington DC.)
  • Laura Remaley (Dr. Sciutto's thesis advisee who wanted to be in my picture.)
  • Laura Grove.  COUPLES IN CONFLICT: AN EXAMINATION OF RELATIONSHIP, POWER, AND GENDER. (Laura received a Psi Chi Regional Research Award for her presentation of this research at the Eastern Psychological Association Meeting.)

  • Collaborations with members of the Class of  2000

    1998 Henderson Lecture

    Art by Dee Drisko.

    Coping and the Class of '98

    This research is a follow-up and combination of projects done in collaboration with Amy Herschell, Susan Gardner and Jennie Willison.  Outcome data were provided by Westminster College registrar Biz Hines and Dean of Students Neal Edman.  The Henderson Lecture is an annual award for a faculty member to complete a project and present it to the campus community.  It is named for it's sponsor Joseph  R. Henderson, Westminster Professor Emeritus, who was also the person who began a separate Psychology department at Westminster.

    Lecture Abstract:

        Within hours of entering college on September 1, 1994, virtually all the first-year students completed a psychological assessment that measured their styles of coping with stress. This lecture presented the relationships among coping styles then and academic outcome as of Graduation in May of 1998.
        Two major approaches to coping with stress were used in the 1994 assessment. The behavioral approach is defined by the way people act in stressful situations. The cognitive approach relies on the way people think about stressful situations. Each approach is characterized by a number of different styles (e.g., planful problem solving, escape-avoidance). The styles that were used by the class of '98 as they entered into college were profiled. The main portion of the lecture focused on the relationships of the coping styles to academic outcome. Although there are many different ways to define academic outcome, in this presentation it was defined by the number of terms completed at Westminster, the number of terms required for graduation, most recent cumulative grades, and disciplinary actions taken against a student. The lecture concluded with suggestions for effective coping drawn from the example of the class of '98.


    Click here to visit my Virtual Museum exhibit of CyberPsychoCeramics.
    The exhibit on the left was part of Koop's Clay-Mates which showed at the Hoyt Institute of fine arts in March of 1999.  The 20 pots I chose to show all connect to psychology.  The Internet exhibit has a close-up of each pot with an explanation of the psychological meaning and a link to a relevant internet site.  You may visit the exhibit by clicking the picture.  We also put the rest of the show on the internet.  To visit it please click on the show announcement to the right.  

    Click here to view pictures of the entire show.

    Teaching with Technology

    Technology Integration:  Hitting a moving target.  Part of the symposium, Toward a well-integrated, research rich undergraduate psychology curriculum:  One department's journey, presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 1999, Boston.

    Cyberfluency in the 21st Century: Vive le Cyberspace.  Presentation  co-authored with Thomas P. Kelliher and Jill Zimmerman, at ASCUE '99 (Association of Small Computer Users in Education).

    Laptop Computer Use in Inquiry I and Web- Augmentation for courses.