A research study conducted by Daemen psychology graduate Deven Nestorowich ’20 and Daemen faculty members on perceptions of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was recently published in the European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education.
Shannon Lupien, associate professor of psychology at Daemen, helped Nestorowich, who is currently studying for a master’s degree in mental health counseling, conduct a survey to examine if having an explanation for an individual exhibiting behaviors associated with ASD could improve perceptions of those behaviors.
The study found that people tended to view someone who exhibited behaviors associated with ASD more positively, particularly on dimensions of warmth and competence after being given a diagnosis that could explain those behaviors.
“Deven was an amazing student who was very involved and independent on the research project,” said Lupien, noting that Nestorowich is currently completing a master’s degree in mental health counseling. “The data from the survey was very compelling, and he was so interested in the project, he continued to work toward publication after he graduated.”
Lupien also noted the group effort involved in the project, crediting Vicki Madaus Knapp, associate professor, executive director, and chair of the Behavioral Science Department at Daemen, with helping to format and edit the paper before it was submitted to the journal. The entire process, from writing and surveying to submission to the journal and publication, took approximately two years.
“The effort that went into the publication of Deven’s study is an example of how Daemen faculty share expertise and collaborate for the benefit of the student,” said Knapp. “He initiated the study, did the research and was lead author – we all worked together in submitting the work to the journal.”
Prior to graduating and before publication, Nestorowich presented his work virtually – due to COVID-19 restrictions – to an audience of Daemen faculty and students. Denise Emer, chair of the Psychology Department at Daemen, was part of that audience.
“Daemen students have the opportunity to go beyond just coursework to experience hands-on research that can lead to publication on a national level,” said Emer. “Such research is what makes our degree programs so special – it can give students a competitive advantage as they go on to graduate school, medical school, or in starting their career.”